Vampires are my favorite folklore creature/entity. I’ve mentioned this before, I think. But regardless! I have always loved vampire myth, folklore, and fiction. — I mean real vampires. The ones that are somewhat terrifying, that have folklore behind them. The ones that stick to what a vampire is: a terrifying creature of the night, sometimes (especially in Victorian times) seductive–but never stupid or a joke.
So, when I heard about the Castlevania series on Netflix, I was extremely excited.
Yes, now is where I admit that I’m no gamer; and I had no clue that Konami had made…like 20? games about this. I learned that last week, after watching the series. Sorry!
It’s about Dracula. It’s about his family. Vampire legends. Wallachia…just, all sorts of stuff that’s interested me since I was 7 years old. Throw in some good story lines, a long-going conflict with another family–and it’s just an amazing premise.
So, I watched it. I’m generally, overall, a fan of the series. It had slow points, and some things that I think could have been better worked out. But, overall it was good. And I was immediately hooked, couldn’t wait for more. Which makes me happy that the news is that Netflix renewed it for a 2nd season to come out sometime next year (hopefully sooner rather than later!).
It’s always been interesting for me, to see how different people play out the vampire in pop culture.
Going back to Dracula by Bram Stoker–absolutely not the first vampire novel (there are probably 20-30 known works of poetry, novel or opera that precede his); but unarguably the most influential and popular with long standing. His is the one that cemented the vampire in our psyche & cultural understanding, at least here in the west. There are earlier ones, some of which I’ve read, others are on my ‘to read’ list–but there are none better (to my opinion) than Dracula. But, bias is a thing, and I admit I’m very biased in favor of my favorite novel.
One of my favorite of the original vampire things I’ve read is Gottfried August Bürger’s Lenore:
Denn die Todten reiten schnell
For the dead ride fast
This I first learned of in Dracula, as Stoker quoted it. But I have read the whole since. It’s nice, and plays to my love of German literature. I know that technically it is not writing about a vampire, not as such. But it’s been intertwined with the vampire literature for a long time by now.
There’s a German opera I would love to see: Der Vampyr by Heinrich Marschner–but, it’s not very often played. One day perhaps though, I’ll be able to see it. That would be great; since I would love to see a vampire opera (so…clearly I have a bit of tunnel vision here).
I’ll whole-heartedly deny any interest in anything like Twilight though. That’s claptrap and utterly…well, I hate it. For multiple reasons (that other people have covered far better than I ever could, beyond my rage-screaming about the problems) beyond the problems with the vampire mythos. But I’ll focus on the vampires here, obviously.
Who the hell makes vampires sparkle?
There’s no excuse for that. None, whatsoever.
I can excuse other things (even though I’m really…well, I’m a bit of a purist), such as playing a bit with vampire weaknesses or certain vampire powers, even turning them into some kind of tragic persona–within reason. But when you go so far as to make them brooding, abusive “teenagers”, who sparkle…that’s just not acceptable.
I understand playing up mythology and folklore, modernizing things to make it relevant to the modern world. I even can get behind the change of modern vampires to more often than not tragic figures–rather than the unholy horror that was more common in the original stories, even back to folklore. It’s a sign of the modern times, really.
But once it strays into sparkling, brooding teenagers who are abusive–nope. That’s when the line is crossed & I no longer have any respect or interest in the story.
This is the same reason that while Angel was a good series–I’m not fond of it either (or of Buffy — sorry, guys). Same issue. There’s…less than savory aspects there, in terms of behavior that I find egregious; some of it with “no reason”.
I can understand a vampire that kills people to live, to eat. I can understand a vampire that kills for revenge. Or a host of other horrid vampire behaviors. Let’s be honest: vampires have a host of horrid powers, that if they were real, I would despise them in real life. I can be quite honest about that. If a vampire were real, I would probably not like them. I mean, mental manipulation & compulsion are not the kind of powers you want anyone to have–let alone a creature that would use it to ensure their victim does what they want, or to lure them in to feed off them & potentially kill them. So, I’m honest about that.
But–outright abuse? No. That’s something I can’t get behind. And when there’s no point in the vampire story but the abuse; well, that’s a nope too far. That’s my inherent dislike of Twilight and all its sequels. There is no point to it. The vampires are abusive (well, so are other characters, from my understanding)–and the author justifies it.
And that brings me back around.
Because most of the recent vampire press has been…less than interesting, satisfying, or in my mind appropriate. Castlevania was a nice change. I’m sure there’s probably stuff in the backstory of all the games that I don’t know. But, the show was refreshing.
It was a terrifying vampire. “Evil” powers. Mastery of beasts, demons, elements…just like “traditional” vampires have had. And it was back in Eastern Europe–which is where the vampire got it’s huge popularity, and where a lot of the western folklore has come from. It was nice to have vampires back ‘home’, so to say? Yeah.
I’m excited for more vampire goodness from this show in the next season. It’s refreshing to have a pop culture vampire again that is terrifying and has some real power and horror. I’m a fan of its story arc, the history behind the war in the show–it’s nice to have some depth.
So, here’s to hoping that it doesn’t disappoint. That perhaps there are some good, traditional vampires that come out of this. I’m excited for a real vampire again–that it’s back more to the horror and darkness that made vampires creatures that terrified people for centuries.*