No other myth has endured as long as that of the vampire. And never has a myth ingrained so many stereotypes into the human psyche.
But stories get boring when we hear them over and over again. So people have to find new ways to put fresh twists on old stories. Here’s five twists that modern media has put on the vampire tale:
Vampires as legitimate love interests (i.e., LTR material)
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, which tells the story of Bella Swan, human girl, and her hunky vampire beau Edward Cullen, has captured the imaginations of millions. While you might be able to get the occasional guy to admit that Twilight is one of their guilty pleasures, the majority of the series’ sizable fan base is undoubtedly women taken by the thought of being romanced by an immortal hunk that thirsts for their blood, but has the self-restraint to resist giving in to the temptation.
Vampires as seducers are nothing new. But in traditional vampire tales, the vampire’s seduction is merely a ruse so they can feed on their victim’s blood. Twilight broke the stereotype: Edward doesn’t deceive Bella so he can feast upon her. He grows to truly love her, and that . . . ahem . . . undying love is dominant throughout Meyer’s entire series.
Not harmed by sunlight
Twilight broke another stereotype: Whereas traditionally vampires are vulnerable to sunlight–in fact, exposure to UV rays kills the otherwise immortal creatures–the vampires in the Twilight universe are not harmed by sunlight. Rather, they infamously sparkle when exposed to sunlight. So while they aren’t destroyed as a result of excess vitamin D, they nevertheless need to avoid the sun to avoid exposing their secret to unsuspecting humans.
No need for human blood
Vampires need to feast on human blood. Right? That’s the very definition of a “vampire.”
Well, not always. In HBO’s television series True Bood, based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, vampires “come out of the coffin” after Japan begins to manufacture synthetic blood.
Similarly, some of the vampires in the Twilight series choose to feast on animal blood instead of human blood. They call themselves “vegetarians.”
Vampires the majority; humans the minority
Traditionally, vampires are vastly outnumbered by human beings. That’s why they have to conceal themselves from the public; otherwise, an angry mob could form to kill them by shoving a stake through their heart.
But in the movie Daybreakers, things have been turned upside down: It’s vampires that are in the majority. They run society, and have even utilized technology to accommodate their vulnerability to the sun: skywalks, underground tunnels, and windowless cars keep them safe from UV rays. The only problem is, the human population is dwindling so much that there isn’t enough blood to go around anymore.
In True Blood, vampires still don’t exactly outnumber human beings, but they’re plentiful and represent a powerful political and cultural force after “coming out of the coffin.”
Of course, Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend features a world overrun with “vampires,” but in fact, the “vampires” in the novel more closely resemble zombies. In fact, the novel is credited by some as the inspiration for modern apocalyptic zombie stories.
Vampires as action heroes
Vampires like Dracula had a certain elegance and subtlety to them. But in modern times, in the age of the action flick, vampires can be a bit more bold. Modern-day vamps can be action stars.
Take, for instance, Blade, in which Wesley Snipes plays a human-vampire hybrid. The action film Underworld also put vampires and werewolves in action roles.
Stereotypes that live on
Some vampire stereotypes live on.
Stakes through the heart and sunlight can still kill vampires in True Blood or in movies like Daybreakers. In Daybreakers, vampires can’t be seen in mirrors.
Of course, some stereotypes have perished simply on account of their silliness. An aversion to garlic makes little sense; the ability to turn into a bat makes even less.