1. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.

    Making vampires scary again

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by WriterDude, Dec 1, 2011.

    Not sure if this should be placed here or in the Plot Development, but I guess it can go either way. Basically I'm planning a novel where three or four people decide to become vampire hunters as a joke after watching too many vampire-movies and reading too many vampire-stories. According to most stories, anyone can kill a vampire, so why not have some fun and make it your profession? So they set up a headquarter, design a website, make a gmail account and so on, then advertise their services as vampire hunters. It's mostly a joke, and they don't expect to get any jobs. And if they somehow do, they expect vampires to be like in the movies or tv-series like Buffy, where anyone can kill them. The problem is they do get a job... and it turns out real vampires are nothing like in the movies or tv-series. Real vampires are scary and dangerous. In fact, not all of the vampire hunters makes it home. Maybe none of them will.

    And that's the problem, right there. How do you make vampires scary? I want them to be deadly and scary, but how? So far I've managed to put together a short list on what makes a vampire scary, and I'll keep adding to it when I get tips. The list is in random order, as everything is important.

    * Have less vampires, but make each one count:. I learned this from computer games, of all things. If you have 50 vampires, but can slaughter them all with a kitchen knife, what's the big deal? However, if you have only a single vampire that can't be killed, it's a different matter entirely.

    * Change the rules: It's simple, really. We all know vampires follows a certain set of rules. They burn to dust in sunlight, can't take garlic, can't look at a cross and so on. But what if the rules suddenly change? What if a vampire attacks you in broad daylight, you toss a buckload of garlic on it and hold up a cross, but the vampire keeps attacking? Basically what if everything you knew about how to kill it doesn't work?

    Vampires are not sexy: Forget Twilight, House of Night, Buffy and so on. Vampires are not humans. They are not undead. I think a way to make them scary again is to turn them into animals that barely resemble humans at all. If they really are undead, make them look like humans that crawl on all four feet like animals, and make their skin decay. Instead of a sexy vampire, make it look like a decomposing corpse.

    * Vampires are not undead: It's fun to think of vampires as the undead, but what if they were an actual species? They are carnivores that hunts in packs, nothing else. Not undead. Not intelligent. Not superstrong. They are just animals.

    Register to remove this ad


    * Don't break the laws of physics: Meaning a vampire isn't superstrong, superfast and all that. It's stronger and faster than a human, yes, but not superfast. Also, it can't fly. It can't read your mind. It can't even see well in the dark. (it could be more like a bat, or perhaps it uses smell to locate the pray.)

    * They don't need to drink blood. This is just a myth. If vampires are carnivores, they would eat the victims and get blood all over their mouths. This could have been mistaken as vampires drinking blood to survive.

    That's a few points, but I could use a few more. Any ideas?
  2. Allan Paas
    Offline

    Allan Paas New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Estonia
    The way they act with their prey. Sadistic "games" like ripping their food into pieces slowly so the victim could feel as much pain as possible. They take great pleasure from that.

    They regenerate any tissue. Say you wound one of them but don't manage to kill it. It gets away and heals. They heal from almost any damage, a little faster than humans, a broken bone takes a month or so to heal completely. Even a stick through the brain they survive if not killed, or left alone thinking it must be dead. Since they're animal-like, memories aren't important, they have instincts.

    They don't back down, just keep coming and playing with their prey, even if they themselves are the ones hunted.

    Hunting in packs or small groups.

    Bats use sonar to "see". Smell is a good idea too. Maybe they don't have eyes at all?
  3. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    Thanks for the ideas. I like the bat-sonar, but wouldn't it require them to make noises all the time? That kinda ruins the whole 'stealthy' bit. Smell would work, though. Anyway, I love your ideas. Not so sure about regenerating tissue really fast, but it could work if they do it slowly. Much faster than a human, though. Interestingly, it could be a reason for the "stake through the heart" myth. Back in the very old days, people didn't have as powerful weapons as we have now, so vampires would be harder to kill. As a result, vampires could frequently be badly injured, left for dead (though they are only unconscious) and come back to life later with no injuries at all. That again could give life to the undead-myth.

    Any more ideas?
  4. Allan Paas
    Offline

    Allan Paas New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Estonia
  5. james crofoot
    Offline

    james crofoot New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    michigan, usa
    in fiction vmpires can do many things, some of the things that make them really scary are these abilities.

    How about their ability to turn to mist or they can summon mist to hide themselve. imagine u have a vamp on the run and it suddenly turns into a cloud of mist and comes back later (maybe fully healed)

    Or perhaps it can charm a mere mortal into betraying comrades at a critical point. It doesn't have to be a zombie like trance-it could be something like "Can't you see how wonderful he is? How beautiful?" Or maybe the charmed one just leaves the freind at a critical point-imagine u think someone has your back and u turn to find your backup gone just as you face a vamp or vamp minion.

    Maybe it can transform into a beast. Maybe something half human and half ferocious beast that is huge with the fangs of a wolf.

    Also, dont forget about the creatures a vamp can control and or summon. Wolves to terrorize, how would you feel if you're somewhere dark and alone when you see a timber wolf bared fangs and all and red eyes coming at you. or maybe a pack of the wild things surronding you in the mist. The sound of a wolf's howl alone in the night was enough to make the hair stand up on the back of a man's neck.

    And don't forget the vamp wanna-bes who lead you right into the trap. or even lesser vamps who appear perfectly human until you're in a vulnerable place and maybe one is seducing you with kisses on the neck.

    how are those ideas. and remember-part of a vamps horror is it can be anywhere and appear as anyone. you never know.
  6. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    NYC
    I would sort of go towards something like their interpretation in Deadliest warrior (latterly just finished that episode) . so basically make the vampires and apex predator. Its got tactics, its got strength, its got speed, to add to a strong hunter instinct.
  7. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    @james crofoot: Thanks for the ideas. But you are missing the point a bit. I want vampires to be monsters, not humans. (see the "Not sexy" bit), and they shouldn't be allowed to break the laws of physics (turning to mist etc.) And sure, hearing a wolf hown and seeing a pack of wolf come at you is scary, but that's scary even without the vampires. The point is I want a new type of vampire, not the classic ones. The classics, even Dracula himself, are simply not scary anymore. So what if all those vampire are fake, but the real vampires are very different from what we think of as vampires? For instance, think about werewolves. We could have them as part wolf, part human (walking on two legs like a human, but are bigger and look more like wolves). But instead of literally being part wolf and part human, they can't shapeshift. They are just animals that looks like part wolf, part human. Maybe the human-side can make them operate on their own, or maybe they prefer to stick to packs? Either way they too can be scary again if they are changed.

    @James Berkley: I have never seen that episode (and honestly didn't think they would go with fantasy creatures), but it sounds interesting and right on the spot. :)
  8. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    NYC
    Its pretty good, it’s the season three finale, I sort of hand pick the ones I watch based on my interest so I don’t see many. it is the first (and so far only) fantasy one they have done, sort of as a special.
  9. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    Thanks, I'm watching it now. (if you know where to look (aka use google), you can watch a lot of stuff online for free.) ;)
  10. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis magnetismus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    California, USA
    Vampires are pretty nasty in the novelization of 30 Days of Night (Tim Lebbon did a pretty nice job of it). I assume they are the same in the graphic novel. There are plenty of scary/horrific vampires out there in literature, still. They just don't because the big cultural phenomena of some of the more romantic works.
  11. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    I saw the 30 Days of Night movie, but hated it. I didn't think those vampires were scary at all, for some reason. Not sure why, but maybe it's because vampires generally look like humans with bad teeth. Personally, I would want them to look more like this, only scarier:

    [​IMG]
  12. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis magnetismus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    California, USA
    The movie is no good. The novelization, on the other hand, is well done. And the vampires are vicious.

    I like the vampires in your picture as well. More of the Nosferatu look (or Subspecies, if anyone remembers that movie lol).
  13. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    Thanks, I might check out the book soon. :) Right now I've finally started House of Night 9: Destined, the final book in the excellent series. About, uh, seductive vampires girls. With magic. :D

    Anyway, just finished watching the Deadliest Warrior-episode with vampires vs zombies. It wasn't bad, but as usual, they didn't exactly have a fair fight. I mean they kept saying the vampires were intelligent, so how come the fight was entirely based on brute strength? Why didn't the vampires use tactics, stay together, draw the zombies into a trap and so on? For that matter, they could probably set the place on fire if they wanted to. Still fun, though.
  14. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis magnetismus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    California, USA
    I haven't read that series (or seen that show). Maybe I'll check them out :)

    If you look up Tim Lebbon's novelization of 30 Days of Night on Amazon, you'll find that it gets a lot of good reviews and also good marks for making vampires horrific again. I just went and looked, to see if I was the only one who thought that was a really good novelization (I usually think novelizations suck, and I only bought that one when I was about to get on a plane and it was the only thing that looked remotely interesting).
  15. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    I love House of Night, but it's not for everyone. If I were to compare it to something, I'd say Harry Potter. Just with a mainly female cast, and most of the characters are teenagers. And as for the vampire-stuff, it's not that important. I mean they are vampires, but other than one episode in one of the later books, it's not mentioned much. They don't drink blood, can walk around in the sunshine (though they get weaker), can eat garlic and so on. Anyway, why not give it a try? ;)

    I usually hate novelizations too, though there are some great ones. I love the Resident Evil novelizations by SD Perry, the Friday 13th- and Nightmare on Elm Street-novels (even have the Freddy vs Jason-novel, but haven't had a chance to read it yet), and some Aliens and Predator-novels are supposed to be pretty good. I have a few, but haven't had a chance to read them either. I think the difference is most of these books are new stories, not directly novelizations. (some of the Resident Evil-books are based on the games, though). I even have a Godzilla-novelization, based on the US movie. Haven't read it yet, and are not really looking forward to. :p Still, it's gotta be better than the Tomb Raider 2-novel. :p (geez, that's a lot of novelizations when I think about it. And I didn't even mention Mortal Kombat-novelization or Escape from NY.) :redface:
  16. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    NYC
    Very true, it seems like they try to figure that in with the “x-factors” but still. The biggest mistake in there dramatization I think was by the first vampire that gave up the choke point. vampires with tactical minds could make themselves very frightening very quickly.
  17. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    Not to mention the vampire just stood there hitting the zombies until he was overrun. If that had been real, he would have killed one and made a run for it. There was several obvious openings he could have gone through, if he had killed a single zombie. And how come those vampires didn't use weapons? If zombies are that deadly, the vampis should have attacked from a distance.
  18. JJ Hungry
    Offline

    JJ Hungry New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2011
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    When you say the skin decaying, or falling off, and walking on all fours, it made me think of the the movie "the decent"
    I think it would be really cool to have vampires like that. Going in a different direction than the "norm". The only thing I worry about when reading all these ideas, is the vamps could almost be unstoppable. I love the idea, but I would be hesitant to give them too much. You don't want to get stuck in your story because you can't destroy the vamps. Although that could make for good sequels until you do find a way to kill them. I love the idea though. There are so many directions you could take. Good luck!
  19. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    I don't remember much of The Decent only that I didn't think it was any good, but the monsters there could work as vampires. And don't worry, I don't intend the vampires to be immortal or anything. They are just regular animals and can be killed just like any other animal. Sure they regenerate quickly (compared to humans), but they don't have to be killed with a stake through the heart or anything. They will be difficult to kill, but only in the way a bear is difficult to kill without proper weapons. ;)
  20. GillySoose
    Offline

    GillySoose New Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    1
    You know, I hate to be that guy who points it out and I really don't want to intrude on your story, but if you're making vampires that are everything vampires traditionally aren't then, you know, why are they even called "vampires"? :D I understand what it is you're trying to do but to be completely honest the description in your first post kinda gives me the impression of zombie-mutant hybrids or some such, which isn't scary to me at all given today's plethora of games, movies and stories involving those things. Just two cents on that.

    But so as not to be really grating about it I do have some points to contribute :p
    - Make them supernatural. Maybe it's just me, but what I've always found creepy about (traditional) vampires is that they may look human but obviously aren't. Maybe they act weird or something. Make it so it's obvious they're not governed by quite the same rules as living creatures and people. Not in the super-strength/super-speed sort of way but something a little more eerie and subtle. I'm doing a bad job explaining things but I hope you get what I'm trying to say.
    - The surefire way to make vampires not sexy: smell! Vampires weren't nearly as sexy until this detail started getting left out of their description. That blonde bombshell might be babelicious but-oh dear!-she smells like snake's skin! They don't even need to look like their skin is rotting, but if they smell like it it'll make them about equally as gross. Additionally you can build tension by using the smell bit; say your characters are investigating an abandoned old house/having a morning cup of coffee when suddenly they sense the smell-uh oh, either a vampire's been here recently or he's in here right now with us!
  21. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,404
    Likes Received:
    193
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    WriterDude,

    I commend you on wanting to do something nontraditional, but in a good way -- making vampires monsters and nonhuman. The part that matters isn't whether you call them vampires or something else -- it's the fact that you're striving to create something truly scary, not just the same regurgitated Twilight crap. :)

    On another writers' feedback website of mine, someone wrote a truly chilling story about vampires, and they fit many of the description items you listed: rotten and haglike, more powerful than humans but not unbelievably so, etc. It was the only story I've read in the horror section of that site that actually kept me feeling uneasy afterward. The vampires were definitely vampires similar to what you've described (rather than unspecified monster beings), but instead of "vampire," it [there was only one] was referred to with some long, unpronounceable, foreign word meaning vampire.

    There are a few elements held by the scary stories/movies/etc that genuinely scare me:

    1. When something starts off benign, or creepy but still in a normal way, but then slowly get worse, all within one appropriately-paced scene or chapter or short story. For examples of this, read the short stories "Dog" by Joe R. Landsdale and "Where are you going, where have you been?" by Joyce Carol Oates. In both of these stories, the bad situations aren't just bad for the reasons they would be in real life. There are extra levels, things that make the situations extra unsettling, because there are major tipoffs that the entire situation is unnatural (even by rapid dog or rapist/stalker standards).

    2. When you do not have full knowledge of what the monster/villain is, what it will do to you, or what exactly it wants and why. Actually, I believe your story is the exception, because I'd be scared reading the book even with all your details spelled out -- and I'd want to keep reading. But leave the details for later, and take advantage of the unknown horror element for as long as you can. There's a really good 2002 made-for-TV movie called "Disappearance" (the one with Susan Dey) that, while cheesy in some regards, follows this guideline really well and was a frightening movie. The plot is similar to that of "The Hills Have Eyes," but the difference is that you NEVER see the monsters, nor do you even find out what they are or what they want. The radiation/mutant thing is only a theory brought up by a character during conversation. Also, the people don't die and turn up dead and bloody the next day. They just....vanish. Another movie that scared me is "The Blair Witch Project." People make fun of me, but those are the only two movies I can think of where I was genuinely scared the whole way. I'm pretty jaded and have been watching horror movies since I was 6. Movies that dumb everything down and spell it all out are not scary.

    3. Another disturbing idea is what if the vampires were once humans? For this one, I'd recommend sticking to the "break the rules" rule: don't use the classic "you turn into one if you get bitten by one" meme, because that's how it is with everything. But maybe there is some other disturbing way that the humans ended up that way. If vampires mate and make vampire babies (gross) like every other naturally-occurring animal type, it's just like any other species that is ugly and dangerous. We don't have a horror-story fear of alligators, hyenas, etc, because they're just part of nature. But if you can find a way to make the origination of vampires something that's unnatural, evil and sinister....

    Hope I helped! I'll check this thread out later and post more tips if I can think of any.
  22. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,404
    Likes Received:
    193
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Oh, and you know what else is scary? Lack of any facial features. Maybe slits for a nose, and some nasty scary-looking jaws, but no eyes or ears or extended nose. And I like the idea of it using smell to hunt prey, like a shark that smells blood.

    Its skin would be really pale, maybe even translucent, if it lives in dark habitats.
  23. seelifein69
    Offline

    seelifein69 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2011
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    SW Florida
    @ Writer Dude,

    I agree, the Nosfaratu vampire model is the best! Perfect mix of human and beast, but I can understand why in your story you'd want them to be more carnal.

    Great ideas! I think it's great to have some vampies that aren't twilight freaks. (And btw, I watched a few minutes of Twilight the other day, I get why girls like it, but still no for me.) I want the mass media to be afraid of scary things again.
  24. seelifein69
    Offline

    seelifein69 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2011
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Great idea Mallory, the lack of facial features is pretty creepy.

    What about them using echo-location, like bats and dolphins, to locate prey?

    It makes them even one step farther away from being human.
  25. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    419
    Likes Received:
    7
    Personally, I think human-looking vampires can be way scarier than ones that look like monsters. Think about it - if vampires look human, then that guy who says he knows a safe place to hide from the vampires, and convinces you to follow him, could turn around and bite you unexpectedly. You wouldn't know who to trust.

    And if you aren't making them supernatural, don't call them vampires. Vampires are supernatural creatures. They just are. If you try to take the supernatural out of them, either you'll epically fail at science or you'll make them no longer vampires. And besides, if they don't have superpowers, they're a lot less of a threat.

    Personally, I recommend you rename them zombies, because that's basically what you've got.
Similar Threads: Making vampires
Forum Title Date
Setting Development Making the Disgusting or Weird Normal? Jun 9, 2013
Setting Development Story Mapmaking Jul 21, 2012
Setting Development Troubles with making rooms Sep 2, 2010
Setting Development Fantasy, and making the story feel less modern Sep 9, 2009
Setting Development Making up animals/creatures Jul 17, 2008

Share This Page