Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vampires Don't Suck: An Anti-Rant

It's Halloween! Rejoice, fuckers!

Well, technically the day before Halloween.The eve of All Hallow's Eve. But if I have to look at Christmas decorations going up already, ya'll get to suffer through a premature Halloween.

And what better way to suffer than with that most abused of folkloric monsters, the vampire? Ever since Anne Rice struck it rich with her yaoi fantasies, vampires have been getting squeezed through one cornball work of girl porn after another. It's a shame because the vampire retains plenty of good horror uses - in the hands of a competent writer.

So here it is, your Halloween 2013 guide to vampire fiction that doesn't suck!

Let the Right One In
Leave it to a Scandinavian to do a grim, uncompromising exploration of childhood. Protagonist Oskar has little to fear from blood-sucking Eli, at least when compared to the bullies at his school. And rather than turn into some stoic Protestant masochist, he seeks to strike back at the world that abuses him. And as it fits her own utterly selfish interests, Eli is happy to help...

Lost Souls
Anne Rice ain't the only one who can do gay vampires - Poppy Z. Brite's little dip into the genre is all the gothy homoeroticism you gals out there crave. But unlike Rice, she crafts a very un-romantic coming of age story out of it all. Her modern vampires travel the back roads of the south in a busted up van, drinking blood and booze in equal measure, and wreaking horrible life-destroying violence on anyone who crosses their path. They're the Near Dark crew after an extended stay in New Orleans, goth meets southern gothic. And there's not a moment of pity for anyone!

Before Vlad Tepes took the ladies of London by storm, Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu gave literature an equally sexual predator. Except his is another girl in one of - if not the! - earliest lesbian romances. The titular Carmilla has a sweet scam going, ingratiating herself into a noble family and slowly bleeding their impressionable daughter, in every sense of the word... It's a bit melodramatic compared to the rest of this list but it's also the shortest. And I know what really matters to you all.

Salem's Lot
When you write as many books as Stephen King, a few of them are bound to be decent. This not so little tale about Old World vampires descending on the New England town of Jerusalem's Lot is one such book - and in so many ways! On the surface, you've got a solid little horror tale full of vampires that are actually scary. But as you dig deeper, you see that King is a serious craftsman - the inversion of the Superstition versus Science theme that dominated the original Dracula, the misery and petty malice endemic to small town America, all conveyed in a style at once literary and familiar.

I Am Legend
No book has been adapted to screen so poorly so many times. From Charleton Heston to Will Smith, Hollywoood keeps trying to focus on the man and not the monster. Matheson not only wrote the definitive post-apocalypse survival tale, but turned the entire vampire genre on its head in a way that no other work has managed to deal with since. I won't just say it, as I'd be giving away a big part of the ending, but what do you think when you hear about a guy who wanders around while you're asleep, murdering all your friends and neighbors?

Sunglasses After Dark
Okay, this is a purely personal indulgence. The vamp slayin', face stompin' heroine of Nancy A. Collins ain't gonna be made into a movie anytime soon. It's not just too raw but too cosmologically confusing - Sonja Blue inhabits a world full of much more than vampires, slipping unnoticed among humanity in a manner Joss Whedon ripped off shamelessly. And neutered. But the Blue woman's breakout adventure is a rollicking good time of revenge, unapologetic monsters, and I swear to God a cameo by John Constantine!

So there ya go! The vampire books you can really sink your teeth into. And there's one more, but you'll have to wait until midnight...


Fiend has been revamped - har har - and re-released, now on the ereader of your choice! 

So come get your fang on!
And for all you luddites, check back here for details on a spankin' new Fiend paperback!

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