Monday, October 19, 2009

Random Geekery:Horror, Twilight, vampire overkill and Why I defend the sparklepire

Sooo... Yeah. I like Twilight. The movie. I've read the book. That's a separate issue, which I will address.

I've been into vampires since 1979, when I was 6. Why? Frank Langella, because well: OMG, HAWT. Now, I should mention that horror is practically a part of my DNA. My mom is a horror fangirl, old school. We're talking Hitchcock, James Whale, SERIOUS Vincent Price/Hammer horror kinda stuff. Also, she both read and saw The Exorcist while preggers with me. (I've always claimed this explains a lot about me, if you buy into the in utero learning thing.) I was watching Claude Rains as The Invisible Man before I could write my own name. So, the seminal event, 1979 Dracula, (which, btw, TOTALLY FUCKS UP THE NARRATIVE. WTF, W.D. RICHTER!?!) It was at the drive in, my mom and her boyfriend up front, me and his daughter in the back. The first feature on a double bill happened to be Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, (aka Flesh For Frankenstein, 1973.Rated X, btw.) This, scarred me for life. My mom thought we were asleep. I wasn't. Nope. Not at all. (No, I really don't want to talk about it. No, really.)
If you've never seen Frank Langella as Dracula, DO IT NOW. Even my little 6 y.o. brain went, ZOMG!  He's all dark and smooth, with that whiskey-chocolate voice. *sigh*
I've been reading and watching vampires ever since. Oh, I read Bram Stoker's original Dracula in the movie tie-in format when I was 6. It came with creeeeepy pics of the underground tomb where, "Mina," (yeah, I know, s'posed to be Lucy, and in this flick, Mina is somehow Van Helsing's daughter. Don't ask,) is all undead-corpsified and looking not at all unlike a really serious Goth.)
I started reading Anne Rice when I was 12, due to my mad crush on Sting, (Moon over Bourbon St., Dream of the Blue Turtles. Google it.) Salem's Lot kept me awake like a motherfucker and had me digging out my rosary from my 1st communion, (I'll say this for Stephen King, that man has caused me more sleepless nights from sheer terror than just about any horror writer I can think of.)  The lush prose and the way she paints the scenery led me through the entire Vampire Chronicles, including the non-Lestat books, and The Mayfair Witches, Rameses the Damned and...oh, you get the picture. Tanith Lee's Personal Darkness, not exactly a fave, but still noteworthy. The Lost Boys, (be still my fluttery 14 y.o. heart, Keifer Sutherland AND Jason Patric, a girl could swoon. No, not the Coreys. Never.) My consumption of vampire fiction ebbed and flowed. The Hunger, by Whitley Streiber, (loved the movie, the book...meh, it's ok. It lacked...verve.)
I've always see-sawed between heavy lit and the fantasy/horror genres as a reader, same with films. Always drawn to the darkness, because that's where the secrets are. Always drawn to that which is, "Other." (Hey, when you're a shy, unpopular kid, losing yourself in a book can save your life. They can take you places where, "Other," is the norm.)
Now, given my fondness for vampires, Buffy, (movie, series, books, comics,) was a natural fit. While the film was fun, the series really did help me work through my post-adolescent angst. Yes, HIGH SCHOOL IS HELL. No, really. It also introduced the idea of a, "neutered," vamp. Angel, (who I never really found that damn fabulous, honestly,) is the precursor to Edward Cullen. To my mind, Spike was always a helluva lot more interesting. I don't mind angst, but I need a little snark to liven things up.
My favorite vamps in print, during the 90's, was Christopher Golden's Shadow Saga, (soon to be reprinted, *squee* so, check it out.) It was world-building and a mythos that challenged the expectation of good and evil. I'm always down for that. "Bram Stoker's Dracula," and, "Blade," were my films of choice, and I'd be hard-pressed to choose between Gary Oldman's fully-fledged performance and the abyssinian grace of Frank Langella. (Won't, actually.)

Which brings me, at last, to these 21st century vamps. Oh...dear. I can live with the Southern Vamps, I love True Blood, as another layer of mythos. My sticking point, is the sparklepires. I will absolutely applaud Stephenie Meyer's ability to make not-sex as sexy as humanly possible. However, I've only read the first book, because...I don't really see a mythos. I need substance to my vamps. Also, better prose. I don't even have a problem w the sparkling, per se. (Go back to Rice, by QOTD, they're all glowy and buffed marble, with the diamond-shiny nails, hair and eyes. Get over the sparkle.) I have a problem with the not-entertainingly narcissistic narrative, and the omg-clingy-needy-addicted vibes between Edward and Bella. Also, HELLO: STALKER. Not good for young women to find that shit romantic. No, SERIOUSLY. You don't want your daughter, little sister,, to think that a guy creeping in her bedroom to watch her sleep is...sweet. EWWW.
Do I like the movie? Yeah, it's way less suck than the novel. Plus, Rob Pattinson is totally dreamy. *facepalm* Yeah, I said it. Deal with it.  I like Kristen Stewart. The soundtrack's pretty awesome, and you know, a little unresolved sexual tension will do ya good, sometimes. I read The Vampire Diaries when I was in HIGH SCHOOL, I don't need to watch the show. I just don't. I'd like to see some serious adult vamps. Kim Newman's Anno Dracula would make a FANTASTIC film, for example. So would the Shadow Saga. Maybe it's time adults took back the Vampires. We need to stop further marginalizing horror and fantasy. I don't mind if the vamps sparkle, but I'd rather venture into the dark. That's where the secrets are.  I'm hoping that all these girls and women will realize that there are better tales to dive into, better books, better films. Women control an awful lot of the disposable income in this country. Imagine what would happen if they all said, "Wow, the sparklepires were fun, but...I really need something with a little more...BITE." We might actually get it.


  1. Clare Applegate - LifemapperOctober 19, 2009 at 7:19 PM

    Ahh, kristen. All I know is I read the 1st Meyer book by accident (somewhere where there was nothing else to read) I got about a 3rd in and threw it across the room. Disgust, not fear. Would never give ANYONE who perpetrates that bullshit money, certainly not the film industry. I didn't even get as far as the romantic/sexual social commentary, it was just crappitycrapcrap writing. Some of it literally made my teeth grind.

    But your other vamp passions, i can totally relate to. Anne Rice is a guilty pleasure, and I've read a LOT of her books, and have a very very guilty pleasure of being hugely preciously adoring of Exit to Eden too (okay okay, i know i just blew it, but..c'mon...the sheer unadulterated romaticism and shift of power play. I forgive anyone who in one scene will write a female to male anal sex scene, and then in another will write a marriage proposal by a handsome tough guy to a lady in a white dress.)

  2. Oh, I understand, totally. Hey, I've read the entire Sleeping Beauty trilogy without laughing. The first time, anyway. :D (Belinda's the one that was A. A Lolita rip-off, and, B. EWWW, pedo-bear approved.) I'm actually a fan of trashy romance, and even a good supernatural-romance, (Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, I like,) but...Truly atrocious prose and characterizations? Not so much. Then again, I've always read anything I can get my hands on, dictionaries and the backs of cereal boxes, included.