VAMPIRE SPECIAL FEATllRE
he young woman lies prone on her ornate bed. white blouse undone around her neck. Behind her, curtains billow in the night wind and a sliver of cloud passes over a full moon. And towering above her is a distinguished-looking man. He raises his arms. filling out his black cloak and. as he bends forward. his face takes on a more sinister twist. Two needle-sharp canines glitter in the moonlight. lt's one ofthe most familiar images in
: cinema history. one that has followed us
down the decades from the silent screen to the latest $40 million Hollywood blockbuster. Francis Coppola‘s adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s 1897 novel Dracula. The vampire has become a cultural icon. charged with a potent sexuality. Generations of film-goers and book-readers have
; discovered that they don‘t have to believe in
‘It is the underlying eroticism of that opening image that makes each generation come backto the vampire.’
the existence of vampires to find them frightening: by drawing deeply on themes of repressed sexuality. this is one monster that makes us desire what is forbidden. something seductive yet tainted.
This sexual outlaw exists on such contradictions. Immortal but not invincible, he desires mortality as release from centuries of longing. while mortal human beings desire nothing more than his Dark Kiss ofeverlasting life. Although the vampire is a less plausible threat than. say. a serial killer. his roots go deeper into our collective mythology. There is a certain xenophobia surrounding this handsome
stranger who invades our bedrooms. as well
as a sense that he is a perversion ofthe Christ figure who also returned from the grave. bidding us to 'drink his blood.‘
‘These are not pock-marked. drooling. suppurating. horrible monsters.‘ explains Stephen Jones. editor of The Mammoth Book of Vampires and the forthcoming Illustrated Vampire Movie Guide. ‘they are guys who are very smart and sophisticated.
v There is a romantic element to vampires in
I that you can look young forever. live forever 1, and take what you want when you want it. There‘s also this psycho-sexual thing, the
exchange of body ﬂuids. Ifyou tie all these
2 things up. it‘s a pretty good life for just one i small fact that you can‘t go out into the ‘ sunshine. It‘s wish fulfilment fora lot of
readers and viewers.‘
It is the underlying eroticism ofthat opening image that makes each generation come back to the vampire. Stoker‘s Dracula is virtually a tract on the repressed sexuality of the Victorian female. coupled with a pinch of misogyny when she is allowed to show her own sexual appetite. The vampire can be anything from eternal lover to supernatural rapist (he seduces a virgin and leaves only a single blood stain on the sheets). while his female counterpart is lesbian icon or unbridled whore. In fact, during the 1970s. the vampire film merged with soft core porn in the likes of Lust ForA Vampire and The Vampire Lovers. Not that bloodsuckers haven't got their teeth into each and every exploitation bandwagon
With Francis Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula about to be unleashed on British audiences, the vampire is more popular than he has been for years. Alan Morrison examines the lasting appeal of a very different kind of batman.
rolling — witness kung fu ﬂick The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1973), the funky Blackula (1972) and yuppie paranoia movie Vampire’s Kiss (1988). But you can be sure that whenever the sex content gets too hot, someone will be there to thrust a phallic stake into the offending body.
The vampire may be the hero ofthe promiscuous, an undead Don Juan, but allegations that the current fascination has been triggered by AIDS scares don‘t really
hold. Sure, blood and infection, death and desire. are tied up in the one image, but the vampire does not feed on human blood alone; he taps into the different fears of different generations. gaining his strength when we are at our most vulnerable.
The Illustrated Vampire Movie Guide by I Stephen Jones ( with an introduction by Peter } C ushing ) is published in January by Titan Books, priced f 9. 99.
The List 18 December 1992 — 14January 199313