Monday, September 10, 2012

Top 10 Vampires That Aren't Really Vampires (and Some That Might Actually Be)

Professor Thomas C. Foster said it best: Stories about ghosts and vampires are never only about ghosts and vampires. Especially when stories about ghosts and vampires are shoehorned into other genres, such as Science Fiction. Such stories usually involve someone mysterious, alluring, and, well, vampirey -- ready to take the life force of others and make it his own. Here then, in honor of Fantasy Matters' Vampire Week, is the following tongue-in-cheek (and tooth-in-neck) top ten list:

Top 10 Vampires That Aren't Really Vampires

10. Buck Rogers, "The Space Vampire." Ok, the title says it's a space vampire. And it has pale skin and preys off the lifeforce of a lovely young lady, in this case Colonel Wilma Deering, in the 1978 TV revival of Buck Rogers. But it's called a "Vorvon," it has the forehead of a Ferengi, and it has the world's worst unibrow. And it has fake plastic fingernails. It was the scariest thing on TV in 1978. The memory cheats.

9. The Great Vampire, Doctor Who, "State of Decay." The Great Vampire was originally defeated by Time Lord President Rassilon, and buried under a giant spaceship that the Fourth Doctor ends up using as a massive stake through the heart. This serial was postponed a few years because of an actual Count Dracula series on TV at the time. The BBC clearly did not trust the public to understand that Doctor Who is fiction whereas Dracula is serious BBC drama.

8. The Vampires in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. What??? She's a vampire slayer. She slays vampires. How can Buffy not be about vampires? Because the show is an allegory for teen growth and angst. Which means in reality, Joss Whedon has taken home movies of your high school years, put them on the small screen, and cleverly superimposed supernatural creatures in place of bullies, pimples, and bad dates. That's right, Buffy fans have blotted out high school so well, their subconscious mind has made up anything anything to not to sit through it again. (Just kidding, I love Buffy).

7. The "Vampires in Venice" (New Doctor Who, series six). Not really vampires at all, but fish-like aquatic aliens from a planet called Saturnyne (they just happen to act like parasitic vampires and look like them thanks to the holodeck-y gimmick of "perception filters") Speaking of filters, these aliens technically appeared in the same season as the Christmas special that had flying fish in the atmosphere of a planet -- which leads one to wonder if the Doctor Who production staff dreamed up these show after having bad post- sushi dinner dreams.

6. The Salt Vampire from Star Trek: "The Man Trap." It doesn't eat blood. It eats salt. Who wants a vampire story about seasonings and condiments?!

5. Dracula from Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Should, in fact, be called Leslie Nielson Does Frank Drebbin in a Bela Lugosi Cape and Accent and Loving It While Critics Pan It. This Mel Brooks "spoof" -- I use the term loosely, because it's just not that funny (even though I love Mel Brooks) -- just, well, sucked.

4. Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone's Wall Street. When Thomas Foster wrote, "As long as people act toward their fellows in exploitative and selfish ways, the vampire will be with us," he may have had this film in mind. Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko embodies this idea, and the film's message about greed infecting everyone around money presaged real-life events on Wall Street over two decades later.

3. Mitt Romney's sons: In a recent NPR interview, reporter Alix Speigel interviewed Glenn Schellenberg, who studies the psychology of music at the University of Toronto, about the emotional evolution of pop music and the presentation of "unambiguous happiness" to the public. In one tangential aside, Speigel made the following observation: "I will say that after I hung up with Schellenberg, I read a story in the newspaper about Mitt Romney. The story was about his five handsome sons and how at the beginning of this campaign, his handlers tried to keep them out of public view." Fortunately, the next sentence didn't mention sunlight, but one has to wonder sometimes...

2. (This space represent the mirror that you are looking into at this very moment. You are in an M. Night Shyamalan movie with Haley Joel Osment and are unaware that you are, in fact, a vampire. Remember, stories about ghosts and vampires are never only about ghosts and vampires. Don't spoil the surprise!)

1. Twilight. Even before the final book and all of the fuss about Kristen Stewart, I knew I had to include Twilight here. It's about Vampires the same way Star Wars is about Science Fiction. Yeah, I know it claims that it has vampires. And I know it was popular at one time. But considering how even the fans no longer care about the last film, how the focus has turned to the stars and not the characters, and how the phenomenon has been "eclipsed" by a piece of fan fiction-turned-erotic-trilogy involving 50 shades of the same achromatic color, I have put Twilight here. Sorry.

By Adam Throne