Friday, 24 September 2010

The trouble with modern vampire fiction

It's time to lay my cards upon the table. I blame Anne Rice. It was she who inspired a lesser band of pale imitators, all of whom ignored the subtleties of her work and went straight for reproducing the angst-ridden supernatural melodrama. Due to Ms Rice, vampiric southern gothic is back with a vengeance. And all because Brad and Tom simpered with their handsome, pale faces in 'Interview with the Vampire' and Buffy kicked vampiric ass while falling in love with a 'nice' vampire called Angel.

One of the best examples of the modern form of the genre is 'True Blood'. I started watching this series with high expectations. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. 'True Blood' tries too hard. It's too self-consciously cool. It's more about sex, religion and the American South than it is about the vampire genre. The vampiric trope simply acts as a symbol for themes about relationships, alienation, family, persecution and evil. In the right setting this can work but 'True Blood' dwelled too much on the fates of Bill and Sookie, who I didn't even find particularly interesting characters. I also found it too much of a soap opera with supernatural elements, a bit like Twin Peaks with the surreality drained from it or a cross between Knots Landing and Buffy. A big disappointment. Not frightening, not disturbing, not suspenseful and not even atmospheric or interesting. How did it win an Emmy?

I've already mentioned my dissatisfaction with the likes of Twilight (Harry Potter with fangs) on this blog and also the Vampire Diaries. It all appears to be the legacy of Anne Rice/Buffy and I'd like it to stop now please! Let's get back to the portrayal of the vampire being saturnine, dark, powerful, ambitious, morally ambiguous and ultimately tragic. I have been inspired to pick up my pen, and I will write my own vampire novel.

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