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Posted: October 30, 2012 8:18 p.m.

Varying vampires and their evolution

Halloween is All Hallows (All Saints Day) Eve. Traditionally, it is when all the witches and other supernatural spirits get to play until midnight. All cultures around the world have traditional evil spirits of some sort. Western European spirits include witches, warlocks, ogres and dragons, to mention only a few.

Vampires come from Eastern Europe. I am sure parents used stories of these demons to impress on children the importance of obeying rules. (Don't go outside at night and keep your windows closed or the vampires will get you.)

Long before today's politically correct theories of child raising, it was OK for parents to scare the heck out of their children. Look at fairy tales. In Cinderella (before Walt Disney got involved), the two step-sisters cut off parts of their feet to fit in the glass slipper and birds pecked out the step-mother's eyes instead of flying and singing while creating a dress for Cinderella. Most fairy tales are pretty grim (pardon the pun) if you read the originals.

Some date the idea of vampires to a Transylvanian ruler of the 1450 Vlad the Impaler. His father was Vlad Dracul, and he was known as Dracula, son of Dracul. But he was human and didn't drink blood.

Bram Stocker's Gothic novel "Dracula," published in 1897, did not describe the vampire Count Dracula as a sexy, good-looking man. He had patchy white hair, a big nose, sharp teeth, pointy ears and was very pale. He had hair on the palms of his hands. Stoker's vampire had certain limitations. He could not cross running water and had to be in a casket filled with dirt while he was shipped to England. He could not see his reflection in a mirror and was a shape-shifter. He could turn into a bat or a wolf. And most importantly, he fed on the blood of living things. To protect yourself against him, you had to drape your windows and doors and even your self with garlic and always carry a cross which would repel him.

He was a scary character and had no redeeming qualities, and the book was a best seller. Humans like to be scared. That fact made Stephen King, and Hollywood a lot of money.

Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles," published in the 1970s, tells the story of the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, a French nobleman who turned into a vampire in the 18th century and now lives in New Orleans. Lestat is handsome and never ages. But he has many of the limitations of Dracula. Lestat seems to be the middle ground between Dracula and modern vampires.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a TV series airing from 1997 to 2003, began the trend in sexy and good vampires. Buffy's love interest is Angel, a (reformed?) vampire who is full of guilt for the anguish he has caused for over a century. He is an extremely handsome young man with a conscience. Suddenly vampires do not age, are handsome yet conflicted and can be a love interest.

Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight Sage" again is a story of a teenage girl who falls for a vampire. The vampires in these books live in Washington state because the weather is always cloudy. If the sun shines on them, they sparkle. They wear rings that will stop them from sparkling. They never age and move around transferring from school to school. They do not shape shift, can see themselves in mirrors and are enemies of werewolves. They still drink blood. However, there are traditional vampires who are evil and drink the blood of humans, and conflicted (good?) vampires who are remorseful, only drink animal blood and are not as strong as the traditional vampire.

The latest in the installment of the newer sexier vampire resides right here in Hollywood South. The TV drama is based on a book series of the same name written L. J. Smith. Again, a young woman falls for a vampire; in this case she is torn between two vampire brothers, one evil and one good(?). The story jumps back and forth in time as both brothers were in love with the same girl a century earlier.

These vampires are sexy, have few of the problems of earlier vampires, are forever young and can be either good or bad.
Most vampire literature is aimed at young women. The earlier ones were good horror stories that gave the ladies vapors. The excitement of getting scared is heady stuff. The modern ones give them a chance to day dream about handsome bad boys. Young women want to think they have the strength of character to reform the bad boy while resisting his charms.
Enjoy whatever kind of vampire you like. One trait of medieval vampires was that they were compulsive and liked to count everything. So my favorite vampire is Count von Count on Sesame Street.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

 

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