Sunday, March 11, 2012

8 Ways You Can Be a Nonconformist and Renew Your Love for Vampires

Do you cringe when you see vampires (other than a certain muscle-bound, black Daywalker) strutting around in daylight? Are you tired of seeing airbrushed posters of angsty teenaged vampires who would never dream of killing humans? Does your thirst for blood take you time and again to the movie theatre, where the only terror on the screen is a scene of a vampire wedding?

These are MONSTERS! They aren't supposed to go to high school proms or get their wives pregnant.  They don't love you.  They don't wish you loved them.  They don't invite you over for cake.  They hunt you down and eat you and don't give a passing thought to the fact that you might be cute in a pair of boots.

Are you afraid to even whisper the word vampire for fear that someone will take you for a Twihard? Are you cowering in shame because you knew what that phrase meant when you read it? Are you old enough to remember thinking that Rick Springfield was the worst thing that could happen to the vampire genre?

Fear, no more! Lift up your copies of Bram Stoker and repel the adolescent and adolescent wanna-bes.  Take back your genre and unleash the real meaning of being undead! Below are 8 titles that will renew your faith in the end of humanity as we know it and have you donning your garlic necklaces once more!

Climb under the covers, kiddos, for here there be monsters!

1.  S.P. Somtow's Vampire Junction - Before Justin Beiber.  Before a 10 year old Kirsten Dunst played a 5 year old vampire.  There was Timmy Valentine.  Timmy was a rock idol who would send the Twilight crowd crying for their mommies.  Festering with the power of 2000 years and a Jungian psychiatrist, Timmy is the true monstrosity that we all long for from days of old.  And the book is not lacking in sensuality.  I read this sometime in the early '80s and fortunately still have my original copy (though a bit worse for wear) because it has become very pricey on Amazon at about $14 for a paperback. There is a sequel, Vanitas, that I cannot vouch for, but as it was written prior to the influx of paranormal romance novels, I'd be willing to bet it's worth a shot.

2.  The original I...Vampire - J. M. DeMatteis' comic featured in House of Mystery from 1981 to 1983.  This was a comic that I devoured as a young child.  I could not wait to get  my hands on each issue. It was the story of Lord  Andrew Bennett who, after being made a vampire in the 1500s, turned his lover Mary into a vampire.  Mary, bless her heart, did what any self-respecting monster would do in such a situation.  She promptly titled herself Mary Queen of Blood, left Andrew, and formed an army of vampires called The Blood Red Moon. Lord Andrew chases Mary throughout time, rescuing people from her clutches, trying to destroy The Blood Red Moon, and leaving little tidbits that would later fester into Edward Cullen (though I seriously doubt THAT author has ever heard of Lord Andrew Bennett!) If you are unable to find a copy of these originals, I understand that DC has resurrected the series recently.

3.  Mr. Vampire (Hong Kong, 1985) - The Mr. Vampire series features Chinese hopping vampires.  Lots of humor and horror rolled into one can wipe away the glitter residue from  your evil little heart.  Three men, whose job it is to be keepers of the vampires, are stalked, teased, and tormented by ghosts and all manner of the undead while one of them is slowly changing into a vampire himself.  No scowling emo lip biters here! These vampires are UGLY. We're talking Nosferatu level ugliness. Grab you a pound of rice for protection and pop this in when  your Team Edward friends come over.  They won't know what bit them!

4.  The Passage (2011) - Justin Cronin's epic novel takes a monstrous look at the undead like no one has taken in decades.  Slightly in the future, the government has been doing super secret studies with a virus discovered in the jungle.  Like everything the government does, the studies go bad and hell is unleashed on earth.  Or at least in North America.  Spanning hundreds of years, Justin's creatures will make you double check the locks on the windows before you go to bed at night.  These aren't the kind of vamps you want to be taking home to Mama.  These are grotesque former death row inmates with a hive mind out to devour the living at all costs.  Bill Compton, they ain't. And there is a 2nd installment of this very wordy piece coming out in the fall of this year! Intelligent, well-written, and populated with vivid, realistic characters.

5. The Vampire Tapestry - Suzy McKee Charnas' anthropology professor was not your average vampire. Equipped with a stinger rather than fangs, he cultivated a lifestyle that allowed him to become so complacent that he fell into the hands of humans more monstrous than he. Murderous ladies and psychotic satanists threaten the existence of this biological mutation.  I read this book decades ago and only just recalled it to memory.  That happens when you have several centuries to claw through for tidbits of the past.  Unforgettable little read. It's even available on Kindle now!

6.  The Vampire: the Masquerade Clan Novels - No, I don't mean for you to go off and read the Clan Books with all their statistics and attributes and disciplines.  But some of the 20 or so novels, including the 13 Clan Novels, were very entertaining.  Limited romance, a LOT of war, politics out the wazoo because we all know how scary that can be, and blood blood, gallons of the stuff! The 13 main clans are represented with a novel for each, and there are others as well, telling the story of the World of Darkness for those of you who remember LARPing with fondness and still eagerly pour over your clan books to see how you could have sneaked a Baali into that Camerilla city in your tabletop game back in 1995. Yeah, I know, I lost some readers about now.  Pay no attention to the woman behind the keyboard!

7. Cassidy in the Preacher comics -  Despite the name, Garth Ennis' 75-issue Preacher comic contains not a single redeemable character.  From the irreverently named Arseface (a boy who was the victim of a failed suicidal shotgun blast to the face) to the resident vampire, this comic is guaranteed to make you nauseous, hysterical, and ashamed of the human race in dizzying cycles. Cassidy is a swaggering, whiskey-drinking Irish vampire who pals around with the possessed Jesse and his floozy girlfriend Tulip. There is also another treat buried in the comic series: The Saint of Killers.  Look 'em both up.

8. The Hunger - Whitley Strieber's tale of Miriam Blaylock, immortal, and her aging husband, portrayed titillatingly by David Bowie in the movie version, is full of that stuff we were wanting to avoid: romance. However, it is nonetheless intriguing, well written, and mature.  Do not mix up the sort of pre-pubescent posing and bellyaching with the aching desire to not be alone in a world that changes around you while you remain the same.  Check it out, then go watch the movie for Mr. Bowie and the music video of Bela Lugosi's Dead.

So, there you have it, folks.  8 tried and true methods for you to worship the darkness and all that exist within it without looking like a pathetic old woman trying to be a teenager again.  Love the night.  Drink the blood.  Be proud of who you are, as you were before you ever heard the term paranormal romance!

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