Kelly, who is currently hard at work writing up Defining the Genre for the Fantasy Genre, has been pondering vampires, both historic and modern and poses the question: Vampires: Fantasy or Horror? HELP!
Please reply in a comment with your thoughts. I have recently been trying to decide what makes a vampire horror and what makes a vampire fantasy, or whether there is such a thing as a fantasy vampire. What started this argument? Dracula has long been a favorite of mine. Bram Stoker knew how to terrify and intrigue at the same time. I remember reading Dracula for the first time and literally wanting to stay up all night reading it because I knew that if I went to sleep I would have nightmares. My perception of vampires has always been that of “horror”. They are the creepy monsters in the night, willing to prey on unsuspecting humans and suck them of their life. Needless to say, I spent many a night with my covers wrapped around my neck and wondering if I should get some garlic just in case.
As with many, my fascination with vampires was also fostered by the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel. Characters such as Darla, The Master, Drusilla, and Angelus proved that vampires were horrific and capable of truly evil deeds, thus horror. However, Angel, a vampire with a soul, shed a different light on vampires. They could be soft around the edges, lovable even, hence the beginning of my horror vs. fantasy argument. Once you bring in romance it doesn’t seem like horror anymore; it smacks of fantasy.
More recently I became another of the number obsessed with the story of Bella and Edward from Stephenie Meyer’s hit Twilight Saga. While James, Victoria, the Volturi, and the southern vampires are truly monstrous (even if some are more civilized than others) we’re given a new look at vampires. Similar to the Angel prototype, they clearly have a conscience, and they choose to abstain from drinking human blood. Beyond that, however, the story revolves very much around the relationship between Bella and Edward. While it certainly has blood sucking scary antagonists, the story is essentially a romance, pushing it more into the fantasy realm, in my mind.
When is a vampire horror, and when is it fantasy? Is is always horror because of the very nature of a vampire? Even one with a soul or one who abstains may slip. Or does the context make the difference? Should I discuss vampires with Fantasy or Horror? I want to open the floor to you to hear your thoughts and opinions, because I am stuck between a rock and some really sharp teeth.
Oh my dears cousin,
I do love how your mind works. This very question that you ponder leads me to the answer that vampires are both. The classification of horror and vampires are most common and usually when people think of a blood sucking creature they become apprehensive, uncomfortable their mind lead them to the darkness of evil and the fear of mutilation. Although in it’s own way this has a desirable appeal, the appeal is a bit tainted. The evilness of ones ability and desire to devour another with out even a flinch of remorse is horror real or fiction.
Yet the cross over of vampires into these more human like beings bring at least to me a different appeal, it brings another level into play a level of control of conscious decision making, an ability to understand ones instinct but to choose a different path. A path that entails the vampire itself to be the one making a sacrificed rather than sacrificing another. It is romantic and thus i believe it not to be horror.
Although i enjoy the ability Dracula has to make me question if i want to walk down that dark alley at tonight wondering what blood sucker might be coming out for it’s nightly feeding. The ability Edward has to make me long for someone so passionate and full of self control even if he want to suck my blood is not at all the same category
I think vampires, as an entity / species / whatever, are independent of genre. It is the surrounding story that determines the genre in which they appear. The vampires in the Elder Scrolls games, for example, are fantasy, due to the heavily fantasy laden nature of their surrounding setting and story. Anne Rice’s vampires, on the other hand, would be horror, because, to a great degree, The Vampire Chronicles are all about the horror and beauty of their existence and unlives. And Twilight? I’d have to drop Edward and his kin firmly into the Mary Sue genre, if one exists ;)
I have to agree with the previous posts. Although placing Vampires in both the fantasy and horror genre might be viewed by some as the easy way out, straddling the fence instead of taking a position and defending it, Jason’s point about the type of setting in which a Vampire appears determining the genre of the vampire itself is an extremely valid one.
Take for example the vampires of Christopher Moore’s “Bloodsucking Fiends” and “You Suck”. The vampires in these books feed only on the blood of the already sick and dying and focus mostly on trying to avoid the sunlight, affording an apartment, and navigating the waters of your average (as average as a relationship between two vampires can be) romantic relationship.
These books are different from all of the books, shows, movies and characters you mentioned in your post because the main focus is really comedy. Christopher Moore writes sidesplitting dry humor that takes virtually every frightening aspect away from the vampires in his books. The situations, supporting characters, and dialogue of Moore’s stories place his vampires smack in the middle of the comedic fiction/romantic comedy genres.
Contemplating where vampires “belong” is like contemplating where ninjas or zombies inherently belong (you’re probably thinking horror, but read Ryan Mecum’s book “Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry for Your… Brains” and you’ll be having second thoughts about that). The genre is a characteristic of a work itself, not of its individual elements. It’s that old the whole being more than the sum of its parts thing.
Hope that helps, and thanks for reading my posts!
could darwin’s theory of evolution work here? survival of the fitest. Once in a great while a person is born with a major defect, like a cow with 5 legs etc. could the first vampire been born with a major defect of not being human. the first new species of human???
James, that’s an interesting concept. I’d even be interested to see/read a story to that effect. Most stories only mention a long parallel past of human and vampire, prey and predator but don’t really discuss evolution of vampires. I really enjoy a good origin story, I’d love to learn how someone envisions vampires came about, even if it’s just in their fictional universe. So, to answer your question, I don’t see why that couldn’t be a valid argument.
In the context of evolution do you envision the story being horror or fantasy?