Bite Me! Why Are Vampires So Appealing?

Posted Jun 8 2011, 2:19 am in , , , , , , , , , , ,

Since Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt donned fangs for Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, I’ve had a weird attraction to all things vampyre. I’m totally Team Edward, I can’t wait to do Bad Things with Bill Compton and Eric Northman, I drool at Damon Salvatore and just wanted to give poor heart-broken Angel a hug.


I will admit it – I – along with a few million others – have a vampire obsession. But where did the vampire legend start? Were vampires real? What’s behind the shift from undead monster to romantic ideal?

Vampire Origins

Most accounts list Vlad Tepes as the first vampire. Better known as Vlad the Impaler, Vlad became known as Son of the Dragon, which translates literally as DRACULA. ¬†Other claims put¬†Judas Iscariot as the first vampire, which even explains the silver connection. Dating back to the 1700’s, when medical science lacked accurate means to declare death with certainty, it’s believed that many people were mistakenly buried alive.

The legends endured perhaps due to the extraordinary burial practices that developed in response to so many bodies apparently rising from the dead. Stakes through the heart, boiling water over the fatal wounds, a la Holy Water, garlic in the corpse’s mouth – all of these things birthed the vampire canon both fiction and Hollywood movies would later adhere to.

(Well. Except for sparkling in sunlight.)

Okay. Let’s tackle the million-dollar question.

What about the blood?

Here’s my take on it. Vampire lore grew from a widespread misinterpretation of death and the human decomposition process. Isn’t it logical to believe that the opposite of death – i.e., life – would be considered the cure? What is life?


Blood has powerful and near universal religious implications. Judaism directs people to fully drain blood from kosher animals before consumption. Catholicism is based on the Body and Blood of Christ – communion. Blood is life, blood is the soul for beings long believed to be soulless.

Blood is also a bodily fluid and could be a metaphor for *clears throat* other bodily fluids that create life.

When did it all become sexy?

Consider the lore. Vampire killings were exsanguinations, not Freddie Kruger-esque mutilations. The wound begins with the same physical action as a kiss – i.e., placing the mouth against the skin. In a sense, it’s almost gentle – right up until the bite. And then, a moment of pain, followed by blood – communion, an exchange of bodily fluids, of life itself.

Does this sound familiar in any way? The whole damn thing is a sexual metaphor.

But wait, there’s more.

Literature is full of archetypes and perhaps none is more compelling than the Bad Boy, thus explaining its predominance in romantic lit. We just can’t resist the challenge – or perhaps, compulsion – to tame the bad boy’s wild ways. Deep down, we love the idea of submitting to the bad boy’s dark ways because submission and dominance absolve us of any guilt after the fact. And finally, we secretly yearn to be The One who finally cures the bad boy of his bad-boy-ish tendencies… in exchange for a little eternal youth without having to go under the knife, of course.

What do you think of the vampire’s appeal? Who is your favorite vampire? If you were to write a vampire novel, would you follow canon or create your own? I’m Team Edward but the whole bit about sparkling in sunlight? I’d toss it.



5 responses to “Bite Me! Why Are Vampires So Appealing?”

  1. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Coolest vampire ever.

    To be honest I always thought of the sparkling in sunlight thing as a cheat. Some things just shouldn’t be messed with. I guess that means I’d try to follow canon :)

  2. FINALLY, a fellow respected blogger who admits to being team Edward! ;) Back when Interview was out, I write like a 3-page love poem about vampires* I was so taken by them. Now, I love the Twilight saga, True Blood, and since I have a love of horror films, am looking forward to the Fright Night remake.

    (*this will never see the light of day)

  3. Catie Rhodes says:

    Team Jacob here. I thought Edward was stuffy. Jacob was too young, but that’s a different argument.

    The attraction of the vampire myth: Aging is scary. With each milestone, we see doors closing, time getting short.

    Though there are still things we want to do, our bodies begin to fail us. First in small ways, then in bigger ways. Even in perfect condition, we can’t do at sixty what we could at twenty.

    What if, you had all the time in the world to not only have the body of a twenty-five year old, but also have superhuman strength. If it was possible, I’d do almost anything to have that. :D

    Great, thought provoking blog.

  4. Debora Dale says:

    Loved this post, Patty. I think you’re absolutely right in your conclusion that the idea of submitting to the power of a bad boy frees us from guilt, and that we secretly long to be ‘the one’ that turns the bad boy around. Which is odd because it’s the ‘bad boy’ we fall in love with. Why would we want to change him? That’s what was so compelling, I think, about Bella’s submission to Edward. She didn’t want to change him. She wanted him to change her. Yeah. I’m team Edward as well… without the sunshine and glitter. :-)

  5. Tuere Morton says:

    OMG…u have both Eric and Damon on here…HOT!!! I DO agree in Spike being 1 of the hottest. I still have his magnet on my fridge ;)