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    • CommentAuthoracacia
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2008 edited
     (4328.101)
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  1.  (4328.102)
    @mlpeters: Very true.

    But likewise, I'd say about 50% of what we consider expected vampire traits -- from having fangs, to being killed by stakes, to being injured by sunlight, to infecting other people -- isn't from the folklore either. The vampires we read about today are the vampires that have survived a century and a half in the natural selection process of literature -- the elements of them that resonated with readers are the ones that've been passed down. And I think some of the most interesting subtleties and metaphors tend to get lost in the process, because pop culture doesn't necessarily reward those.
    • CommentAuthorScottS
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2008
     (4328.103)
    @redex

    not to toot my own horn, but:

    * ScottS
    * CommentTime5 days ago

    edit (4328.34)
    Tommy and Jody from Christopher Moore's "Bloodsucking Fiends" and "You Suck: A love story" are among my favorites.
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2008
     (4328.104)
    @Brandon
    "The vampires we read about today are the vampires that have survived a century and a half in the natural selection process of literature "

    Natural selection, or boiling down to lowest common denominator... you say to-mah-to, I say to-may-to. Though I think we actually agree here, that it's time to reintroduce some more obscure bits and see if we can make them resonate, since the "typical vampire" is pretty much played out.

    Like you suggested, you can take a bit of both -- older strains from both literature and folklore and mix with enough that fits expectation for the vampire to be recognizable.
  2.  (4328.105)
    @mlpeters: "Natural selection, or boiling down to lowest common denominator..." I think there's some of both. The paradigm of vampires spreading themselves like an infection, I think, is an example of natural selection of interesting ideas rather than a triumph of mediocrity -- it's far more interesting and has a lot more resonance today than the traditional idea that if you were unbaptized, born out of wedlock, or a cat jumped over your grave, you'd become a vampire. Meanwhile, I would argue the opposite of vampires as unsubtle killing machines in works like 30 Days, as well as endless vampire secret societies who wear leather.

    But yeah, both the folklore and the old fiction have a lot of interesting ideas that can be mined. The idea that sunlight hurts vampires, and moonlight heals them? I like the symmetry of that.
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2008
     (4328.106)
    @Brandon
    " or a cat jumped over your grave"

    I just read in another thread that "cats are evil", so... yup, just being silly, now. But still, I'd like to pull back in some of the discarded stuff, give it a coat of polish and see if it catches on. I like idiosyncrasy and those weird, idiosyncratic, folkloric vampire tales are far more terrifying than any vampire fiction I've read... their very strangeness and unpredictability adds to the immediacy.

    " The idea that sunlight hurts vampires, and moonlight heals them? I like the symmetry of that. "

    Yeah - -that's pretty neat -- where'd you find that? I've read a lot of folklore, but never seen that spelled out (or forgot -- mind like a steel sieve, I have...)... could have implications far beyond vampires... werewolves spring to mind, but also anything involving Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-leggedy Beasties of all stripes (or polka-dots...) - - maybe even involving a Moon goddess or two...

    I've wondered though, from a... slight science angle, how a bright, full moon might effect a vampire... I mean moonlight is just reflected sunlight...

    Then again, someone(maybe you?) up thread commented on vampires being "room temperature" and how in certain temperatures, they'd freeze solid and maybe break... I'm okay with saying, "it's MAGIC" and don't need science in every aspect... a little, here and there, though, helps suspend disbelief.
  3.  (4328.107)
    @ Indigo Rose
    Also, out of curiosity, any particular reason why you dislike Word of Darkness so much?

    It never settled with me, and we, in our oh so rural Pennsylvanian way, had some people who took it way too for their weekly games, going so far as to LARP at the mall. It was awful, and being the one kid in high school with long hair and a black trenchcoat, everyone just naturally assumed I was one of them. It was more of a personal thing than a dislike of the setting itself, which I found enjoyable when presented on its own, and though a lot of people didn't like it, I really liked the Kindred: The Embraced TV show that was based on the game. I've mellowed in my old age, and find the new World of Darkness core book and the new Hunter setting to be relatively interesting.

    @nick3.14
    dude rhona mitra >>>>>>> kate beckinsale

    Dude, I want to ask what the fuck kind of crack are you smoking, but I am aware that my love of Kate Beckinsale is simply unmatched and irredeemable. She rocks my world.
  4.  (4328.108)
    @mlpeters - Yeah, the weird, OCD elements in a lot of folkloric creatures tend to get left out these days. But partially I think that's because monsters are less scary if you can distract them by throwing seeds on the ground, compelling them to stop and count them all...

    The moonlight-healing-vampires thing isn't in folklore, but it was a standard trope in 19th century vampire fiction before Stoker's version eclipsed everything. (And Mike Mignola used it in Hellboy.) And it was indeed me who mentioned that vampires are at room temperature -- I personally think little things like that, little bits of basic scientific accuracy, add to folkloric monsters and stuff. But then, it's all Writer's Prerogative.

    Anyway, I think we've wandered a ways away from the topic at hand...
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2008
     (4328.109)
    @Brandon
    "monsters are less scary if you can distract them by through seeds on the ground"

    True... but funny. And it explains "The Count" on Sesame Street...

    "Anyway, I think we've wandered a ways away from the topic at hand... "

    Point taken. I have a high thread drift tolerance (so long as things stay interesting), but others may not.

    I like how Mignola has brought some obscure bits of lore (vampire and otherwise) back. I'd really like to see Mignola's reference book shelves - - Guillermo Del Toro and Neil Gaiman's too, for that matter. I wonder if there are any non-comics fictional equivalents, where obscure aspects of vampire lore, or forgotten tropes are used to refresh the sub-genre...? (and this brings things back OT)
  5.  (4328.110)
    @justineger i don't know man, i mean she's hot, dont' get me wrong but... rhona mitra's hotter, and i'm not even sure why.
  6.  (4328.111)
    @mlpeters - Yes, but Funny is the natural enemy of Scary. So it all depends on the tone you want to do.

    Yeah, Mignola does great stuff with folklore. I think he was on a good track with his vampire Giurescu, but I felt like the Giurescu story got derailed. (And you know, I liked the ideas for Project: Vampir Sturm, Hitler's doomsday vampire onslaught, in B.P.R.D.: 1946, although I didn't care for the execution.)
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2008 edited
     (4328.112)
    @Brandon
    "Funny is the natural enemy of Scary"
    That's debatable, their flip sides of the same coin, to an extent (both derive, in part from surprise, shock, the unexpected). It's hard to be funny and scary at the same time, but I think it's possible to flip that coin pretty fast. The 180 would provide the readers one hell of a shock - -of course it wouldn't be easy... like you said - -it all depends on the tone.

    Joss Whedon (and/or the other writers he worked with on Buffy and Angel) does this at times -- but usually deflating a scary moment with funny, so maybe it's about the order you do them...

    I haven't read enough BPRD - -but I know what you mean about the Giurescu story... which toward the end morphed into a Hecate story... Still great, though.
  7.  (4328.113)
    @mlpeters - While funny and scary can clearly be combined in a piece, I think it's really hard to keep a villain or a monster scary once the audience starts laughing at it. I think Joss knows that -- you'll notice there's not a single joke made about the Reavers at any point in Firefly or Serenity. Because if the characters aren't scared of them, it's unlikely we will be. (Which is the problem I think happened on Buffy and Angel with vampires -- once they started being the butt of too many jokes, neither the characters nor the writing team could treat them as serious objects of horror anymore.)

    Yeah, the Hellboy story is a great story, but I think Giurescu, who I found a really interesting villain, got totally shafted before his plot even really began.
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2008 edited
     (4328.114)
    I found this article about Dhampir quite interesting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhampir

    Also Lamia
  8.  (4328.115)
    @Darkest: I'm pretty intrigued about Dhampirs.

    @mlpeters: I've got a bunch of more traditional, folkloric stuff mixed into my take on vampires in Witch Doctor... but none of that's happened yet, so I can't really talk about it much. (One of which is a pretty novel take on why dhampirs exist, that makes a lot of sense with the folklore around them. I'm looking forward to telling that story.)
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2008
     (4328.116)
    @Brandon
    I suspect that Mignola wasn't entirely certain that he'd be able to do as much Hellboy as he wanted and crammed two stories into one -- it was only the second arc, the comics industry was imploding after the speculator bubble burst, so... I think he started with the vampire story, but halfway through got sidetracked by another idea... an idea that could have been developed into a full arc of it's own -- but hindsight is 20/20.

    I don't think it was humor that hurt the vampire scariness in Buffy, but shear repetition - -you can only "dust" a few hundred vampires before they start to seem... business as usual. The Master from Buffy season one and "The Wish" in season three (and a couple of brief flashbacks in Angel) was always creepy, but hada number of funny lines... which is something very different from being the butt of jokes. I would think a more sophisticated and confident vampire should have some wit... unless you do the whole semi-mindless killing machine thing.

    Joss' use of Reavers was a little different and depended on the limited exposure they had in the series and their being nearly mindlessly aggressive monsters, so characterization wasn't a factor. I'm not even sure they qualify as true "villains". There were a couple of dry quips around the Reavers... Jayne's reaction - - a tough guy like him, being so afraid of them, was at times both funny and chilling.

    Grim humor, black humor, "whistlin' in the graveyard" ... there are plenty of humor possibilities that don't weaken horror. The EC comics are a good example... though the TV series based on them, "Tales From the Crypt" didn't pull it off so well.

    You don't exactly avoid humor in Witch-Doctor, either, unless I'm mistaken (I haven't seen much of it -- liked what I saw, though).

    I look forward to seeing what you do with vampires and I look forward to trying a few things myself. The more different takes, the better.
  9.  (4328.117)
    @mlpeters -- I'm not saying anything about humor in horror stories. Just monsters with funny traits, or monsters that are the butt of jokes.

    One of my regrets about the first Witch Doctor story is that I wish I'd made the monster more scary and threatening, and less laughable and incompetent. (Thanks for the compliment, by the way.) It's a balance I think can be difficult to achieve, and I do think Buffy went off the deep-end in turning vampires into funny things instead of scary things. (Vampires in Hanson shirts? Really?) I think the writing staff may have written themselves into a corner where you *couldn't* have a big, scary vampire on the show anymore, without introducing a whole new breed of vampires like they did in the final season or vampires with a new set of powers in the Season Eight comics -- because they'd left the audience laughing at them for so long.

    I think really the problem is when a you start compromising a villain or a monster's competence for the sake of a joke, or for something the audience is likely to laugh at -- vampires distracted by counting seeds or rice until the sun comes up and they fry, in the original example, or the whole institution of Chinese "hopping vampires," as seen from a Western point of view. (Where an animated corpse that wants to suck your life out just isn't that scary if its mode of locomotion seems totally ridiculous.) Neither of those were perceived as "funny" by historical audiences, but these days, they both would be. And there's a *lot* of that in folklore -- like the Kappa, man-eating turtle monsters in Japan, who you can defeat by getting them to bow to you so the water they hold in a divot in their skull falls out and they die of dehydration. (One of Hellboy's strengths, I think, is how he reacts to these bits of classic folklore.)

    My only point here, really, is there are certain elements of the folklore that are fine if you're doing a more lighthearted take, but are just too hard for modern audiences to take seriously and detract from the scariness. Which is only a problem if you're going for scary. Likewise, I think there's also a natural tendency to try and make jokes at the expense of things that scare us -- which is why Dracula and the Universal Pictures version of Frankenstein went from being really disturbing for audiences to being a silly cliché in the course of only a couple of decades.
    •  
      CommentAuthordswood
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2008
     (4328.118)
    The Dhampir idea is an interesting one, but one I kind of feel is overdone in fiction - the "all of their strengths, none of their weaknesses" gimmick. Granted, that same argument could be made of vampires in general I suppose - it's all about the right twist in pitch, right?

    But what I found interesting in that Wikipedia link provided above, was the mention of the reverse occasionally being used in fiction as well - "all of their weaknesses, none of their strengths." Not something that I've seen much of, personally, and something I think I might have more fun with, were I to play in that sandbox.

    Maybe LARP isn't just a form of gameplay - it's a gathering of half-breeds pretending to be daddy when the sun goes down.

    Yeah, I'm going to bed now...
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2008
     (4328.119)
    @Brandon
    " I think the writing staff may have written themselves into a corner where you *couldn't* have a big, scary vampire on the show anymore, without introducing a whole new breed of vampires like they did in the final season or vampires with a new set of powers in the Season Eight comics -- because they'd left the audience laughing at them for so long."

    I think it could have been done... it's all about underestimating and the unexpected consequences. If the staff had made "re-scarry-ing" vampires a priority, have one of the core group get killed... and maybe turned. That'd do it. Imagine Giles as a vampire... (Watch -- they'll do it now and won't send me a dime, or even a free comic:) )

    "which is why Dracula and the Universal Pictures version of Frankenstein went from being really disturbing for audiences to being a silly cliché in the course of only a couple of decades. "

    Less than that, since it's hard to take anything seriously if proceeded by "Abbott and Costello meet..."

    "I think there's also a natural tendency to try and make jokes at the expense of things that scare us "

    Oddly there are also things that are supposed to be funny that can be terrifying... like clowns.

    Please, don't take this as argument - - just a discussion with no winner or loser -- maybe a little food for thought -- and your mention of "healing moonlight" has already got me thinking of a way to use it... though not necessarily for a vampire story. I'm also suddenly intrigued by "hopping vampires" (though not in the specifically Chinese Jiang Shi), now that you brought it up.

    Now Christopher Lee was scary as Dracula... for a while. I think the repetition and ease of killing him... and the lack of consequence, since everyone KNEW he'd be back, is what ruined much of the suspense. I think it shows even the supernatural equivalent of the Terminator can become boring, if consequences aren't actually consequential... then it's just the Energizer Bunny.
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    @dswood - The "all their strengths, none of their weaknesses" thing is pretty overdone, but not that accurate. In folklore, dhampirs were strong, fast, could sense vampires, and could cancel out vampires' invulnerabilities and kill them in ways they usually could die -- like shooting them with a single bullet. In some of the folklore dhampirs could control vampires, and in other legends they were afflicted by a bone disease that would turn their skeletons to gelatin over time, killing them at a young age. To my knowledge, not that many writers have done folklorically-accurate dhampirs, and I think they'd be interesting.