A darkly handsome man with danger in his eyes looks deeply into a young woman's eyes and she is mesmerized. Could it be his dark good looks or his expensive clothes, the way his hair curls and curves down over one eye, the depth of his gaze, or the glimmer of perfect white teeth through the deep natural red of his lips? Or is the glistening fangs like milk white daggers? He utters those immortal words, "I vant to suck your blood," and the dream turns to giggles and nightmare.
Okay, so the stock line didn't work and there were shivers at the sight of the fangs, but there's more to love about vampires than the fangs, and so many different vampires to choose from. They do fall into broad categories: angsty, arrogant, murderous, pompous, dangerous, and romantic. So much to choose from once you get past the whole sharp fangs, soft neck, and gushing blood. Then there's that whole death thing to contend with. Talk about safe sex.
For Victorians in the wake of Bram Stoker's Dracula, the thrill was in the repressed sexuality of the vampire. Dracula's brides were voluptuous harlots, but the Count was different. He was suave and continental. Dracula was aristocratic from a time when a title meant something, long before the upheavals that left aristocratic heads in baskets beneath the find stroke of the guillotine or tossed out on their red coats. Such power was tied up in oppression of the serfs, owning land, largess, noblesse oblige, fighting wars with the Turks, and fields of pointed stakes where strange fruit (usually impaled bodies) grew.
All that cruelty and power and the seductive kiss that left women swooning, and men dead, was a powerful aphrodisiac and created a legend that spawned immortal children in many veins.
Out of that fertile soil (Victorian repression and the safe sex of a vampire's bite) came future generations of children of the night. From Max Schreck's creeping shade under the direction of F. W. Murnau, which was an unauthorized version of Stoker's book, to modern day vampires with retractable fangs and unexpurgated flesh fantasies, Dracula is indeed immortal. Dracula even made a rare appearance in Sunnydale where Buffy bested him, no matter how many times he came back to life. One word from the Sunnydale Slayer and Dracula didn't dare to coalesce from the smoke of his temporary demise.
There are vampires taking bites out of apples, and the Big Apple, while fighting crime in the always sunny Los Angeles, alongside the escapades of fanged sheriffs, Kings, and Queens in Louisiana, while vampires brood about their lost humanity from New Orleans to Collinsport, Maine. The first black vampire emerged in the 1970s around the time that a werewolf traded his fur for fangs and changed his name to Count Alucard, and along the way a cult was spawned where teens could pop fangs in their mouths and play nightwalkers while a daywalker terrorized the immortal ranks with cutting edge technology and an aging hippie with a limp to take down Dracula, a shapeshifter with an insect hinged jaw and a voracious appetite for blood. That Dracula was protected by a muscular dimwit with steel fangs who fawned over a Pomeranian with lethal fangs instead of a lethal case of shedding.
In all shapes, sizes, and origin mythologies, Bram Stoker has come out of the shadows and into the mainstream in every color and endless possibility, and even mating with werewolves to spawn a generation of dhampires and vampires birthed by vampires who crave blood from their daywalking lives until they die and rise again with a much deeper thirst.
Cincinnati, Collinsport, New Orleans, Bon Temps, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Texas, and all points east, south, west, and north from the forests of Transylvania the vampires come with new tricks and treats to enliven our movie and television screens and envigorate the pages of books of every genre in a dark romp that can only end with fangs in the jugular. It's not just the fangs that make us crave that sharp kiss, but the endless possibilities that immortality confers -- as long as we keep our souls and stay away from Sunnydale or anywhere a pointed stake once again grows bodies and hearts.