I’ve been watching The Strain, the FX series based on the novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. So far, I can’t say I’m really loving the show. The story reminds me too much of Dracula, complete with an old Jewish Van Helsing (played by David Bradley of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones fame), but tries to have it both ways by having its vampirism be both scientific and mystical at the same time. My biggest problem with the show and the story in general is that, despite the large array of focus characters, I haven’t found many of them to be at all interesting.
And the vampires?
Well, they might as well be zombies. They’re revenants with a bad case of worms and an over-developed case of Alien-mouth-envy. Aside from the novelty of watching them vomit their giant, lamprey tongues out, there’s not much new here. Lots of gross attention to the unpleasant transformations, but no personalities or real stories. The only exception to this is the sinister Nazi vampire played by Richard Sammell with wonderfully creepy subtlety, but even this character has very little substance when really examined. Maybe I went in with too many expectations after hearing about how incredible and different the novels were, but what did I see? Big box of earth, ship of the dead, minions, “The Master”, and the old vampire-hunter that no one believes. Sound familiar?
However, my purpose here isn’t to bash The Strain. Well, okay, not my only purpose. It just made me think about all the current rage for making vampires “scary” again and how that unfortunately gets translated to mean “mindless.” Sure, the vampires in The Strain and 30 Days of Night might technically have some form of intelligence, but are they interesting?
The savage, feral monster vampire may have its place in folklore and film, but I don’t really see the point anymore. We have zombies now to represent the mindless, cannibalistic dead, so why make vampires like that too? It’s boring, it’s repetitive, and it’s a waste of the natural potential of the vampire archetype.
I’ve always maintained that the thing which makes the vampire interesting and truly frightening is its ability to resemble us. Obviously, I’m not saying that all vampires should be sexy lovers or stereotypical aristocrats, but I love the potential for variety that the vampire possesses. Let the vampire have some personality! If you want them to be evil, fine, but make their evil an expression of their individual desires and needs.
Like this little bastard. Creepier than any vampire!
Keeping the vampire a monster isn’t a problem, but rendering them into monotonous beasts is just wasteful.