As I drove to the university yesterday morning, remembering that discussion, I made a mental list of my favorite horror films. Here it is in order from favorite to less favorite:
1) AliensI'm not into slasher films, but one thing struck me. Four of the ten are vampire films.
2) Fright Night
3) Lost Boys
4) Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992/Coppola/Gary Oldman)
6) The Exorcist III (George C. Scott)
7) The Thing (John Carpenter)
9) Dracula (1979/John Badham/Frank Langella)
10)The Thing (1951)
That fact started me thinking yet again about why women are so attracted to vampire novels and movies.
Isn't it amazing how you'll be thinking of something and suddenly you'll see references to it everywhere?
While I was eating dinner last night, I listened to Terry Gross' show Fresh Air on NPR. She was interviewing Alan Ball, the writer of American Beauty and Six Feet Under. He has a new show that started on HBO Sunday night based on the Southern Vampire series of novels by Charlaine Harris. The show is called True Blood.
Predictably, Terry, who is a terrific interviewer, asked him about the attraction of vampires. He said all the usual stuff about vampires being a metaphor for sex. He mentioned penetration, surrender and the exchange of bodily fluids.
The answer was so facile that I was feeling disappointed. But then Ball said something else that really caught my attention. He described the series as a metaphor for the terrors of intimacy.
He said he saw it as being about breaking that wall that keeps us separate and safe from a savage and dangerous world.
I liked that answer a lot. And it rang true to me. Letting another person into your life--permitting them to get close and to see you as you are--is a terrifying act. And the vampire metaphor is perfect for both the awful yearning and the terrible fear that the promise of true intimacy brings. It's much safer to stay safe within those walls and to play the games most people play.
You can listen to Terry's interview here.
I have read Harris' Southern Vampire series. She handles humor better than most writers. Although I don't have cable, I think I'll follow the series by purchasing the episodes for my computer.