Done Right, Done Wrong – Part 1

I’m always interested in different takes on vampires. Which would seem kind of obvious, since the Night and Day series takes place in a world where vampires have swept across the United States and now live in uneasy coexistence with humans.

The series is not about vampires, though. The vampires are around, they’re part of the world, there are vampire characters. There won’t ever be a Night and Day book that ignores that aspect of the world – even when it’s not an overt part of the story (Bandit’s Moon), it’s there, you have some vampire characters, and the basis of the story is tied in with the vampire “occupation” (as some see it.) It would be like doing a “Charlie Welles’s Day Off” story – no detective stuff. Instead he goes to the grocery store, hangs out at Hanritty’s, takes in a movie, watches some TV, makes a new microwave casserole.

If a Night and Day book ever starts out that way (and it might be fun to do that), you can be sure that there’s going to be a turn up ahead that will take it into Charlie Welles land…pretty damn soon. Because I don’t see an argument with the ticket taker at the movie theater over a discount being the dramatic highlight of a story.

And though vampires aren’t at the heart of the series, what I tried to do with the vampire lore of my vampires was generally tie it into existing/conventional vampire lore. Show how aspects of my vampires could have given rise to the basis of more traditional vampires.

Mine is definitely a different take. And as I said, I’m always interested in other takes. Not so much the Twilight kind of take, where vampires are a metaphor for various aspects of teenage angst, but those where vampires are treated like realistic, non-human creatures. Once us, no longer us.

An early favorite was Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend – the novel and the first filmed version of it (The Last Man On Earth, which is stark and grim, tempered with some minor hamminess by Vincent Price – far superior to Chuck Heston’s sometimes-campy The Omega Man version of the story, or Will Smith’s souless I Am Legend). The vampires have risen because of a plague, they’re smart, and they rule the night. They’re not really organized into a society (though the subplot shows the beginnings of that), and the vampires have most of the common characteristics you might expect, but it’s a different, non-traditional take on the subject.

Daybreakers, from 2009, is a somewhat less-successful story – again a plague is to blame, and in this case almost everybody is a vampire, leading a normal kind of life, which is all fine and good except if everybody is a vampire, what’s for dinner? That’s the central point of the movie, with a search for artificial blood, a cure for vampirism, the hints of curing vampires to add to the food supply all the greater part of the mix. I like the movie, but it’s not really that good.

White Wolf Games released the groundbreaking Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem role playing games, which have their own deep mythology – the vampires are typical in a lot of ways to the traditional vampire, but the lore, backstory and vampire society are unique (full disclosure – I’m a big fan of The Masquerade, and never really got into it when they rebooted things with The Requiem). They tried to make a TV show based on The Masquerade (Kindred: The Embraced) which wasn’t very good, and didn’t last. Saw it, saw what they were trying to do, didn’t care for it.

There was, however, a British TV series with a very different take on vampires – which resulted in an American TV pilot version of the story that was so awful it wasn’t even aired, let alone picked up as a series.

But more about that in Part 2 tomorrow…I’ve got a Code 5 to retire and some fiction writin’ to do…

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