Is There A True "American Vampire" Myth?

The European settlers and African slaves brought the vampire mythology of their homelands to the New World. In some cases these myths became intertwined as settlers from many backgrounds melded into a single nation. While Native American mythology has some very fascinating monsters, some of them being flesh-eaters, others being shape-changers, none are true bloodsuckers. Yet, there is a true "American vampire," one born of this young nation, one found only here in America. This vampire is much more than a meld of the beliefs of the Native Americans and those of our forefathers. The true "American Vampire" would have to be that of Hollywood. Let me explain: The vampire has been portrayed in Hollywood, since the original filming of Dracula (Tod Browning) to the recent filming of Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola) as a creature of the night who is suave, debonair, quite beautiful and hypnotically seductive. This vampire is a desirable creature, one that many mortals would become, yet in the ancient myths of other cultures, the vampire is an ugly, vile, evil creature, one that no mortal would choose to become. While it is true that an Irishman wrote the novel that began it all, the story gave birth to two distinct interpretations of the vampire Dracula. F.W. Murnau (a German) created the first surviving film adaptation of the novel. In his "Nosferatu -- Eine Symphonie des Garuens" the Count was not suave, handsome, or even desirable. Count Orlock was ugly, with pointy ears, a bald head, and large pointy incisors. The vampire held true to the European myths, at least in physical appearance. Tod Browning brought a new image to the vampire with his filming of Dracula. Bela Lugosi portrayed the Count as a handsome creature of the night. He was very suave and debonaire, speaking in his Hungarian accent, hypnotizing women with his stare, and moving in a slow, yet smooth manner. Women all over America fell in love with this Count Dracula, men all over America desired to be this Count Dracula. The Hollywood Vampire was born, a creature of myths from the old world blended with the American dream of beauty, sexual irresistibility, and immortality. Rarely has Hollywood portrayed the vampire as a despicable and ugly revenant. We have seen them become hideous creatures when exposed to sunlight or when hit with a bit of holy water. The body of the immortal is perfect and the behavior seductive. However, you will be hard pressed to find any legend, regardless of origin, that paints this picture of the vampire. In a few cases, such as the Dearg-Due of Ireland, the vampire is a beautiful female that uses her beauty to seduce her victims. In most cases though the vampire is a walking corpse. It is not beautiful. It has no intelligence. He is no more than a re animated corpse that feeds on the blood of the living to sustain his re animated form. The vampire we all know and love today has been created and refined over the years by Hollywood. Movies such as Dracula, The Lost Boys, The Hunger, and Dance of the Damned have continually fed the legend of the vampire as a desirable, beautiful creature of the night. Hollywood (as well as America's fiction writers) has, in fact, created a true American Vampire by combining the old myths (yes, staking the vampire, garlic, crosses, sunlight, native soil, and the like are found in the old myths) and the American dream of power, beauty, sexual irresistibility, and immortality. That vampire has become the "True American Vampire."

Author: Andy Rose
Source: FangLady's Castle


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