1. Jeremiah Windhelm

    Jeremiah Windhelm New Member

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    Before they began to suck, vampires and Anne Rice

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Jeremiah Windhelm, Oct 31, 2017.

    So I grew up watching vampires like The Lost Boys, Fright Night, and Near Dark which features, to my mind, the best versions of vampires in fiction. Ruthless, monstrous, dangerous, and powerful. Nothing you would want to tangle with if you were sane. Then a book and a film came around called Interview with the Vampire which was the first real work of fiction to delve into the world of the vampire and try and understand them on a personal, human level. It took the monster and made it into something we could recognize and sympathize with, something that we might almost identify with on a complex level. Since then vampires have taken a slow decent into the realm of the ridiculous with the sexual, gothic aspect of vampires turned way, way up and the bloodthirsty killers part turned way, way down. What we as viewers are left with is still the brooding, moody vampires of yore, but with a little more sparkling and a lot less interesting personalities. I don't fear vampires anymore, and neither does my 5 year old. She told me so.
    With this in mind I have began to work my way through The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, starting of course, with Interview with the Vampire. I am currently working my way through The Vampire Lestat which so far I find less depressing than the previous novel, and much more fun. Instead of Louis' ever-present attitude of "what vile monster am I become?!" we get Lestat's much more entertaining "Yea I'm a monster, let's fucking party!".
    What do you think Anne Rice brings to the table with her series? What do you think she has done positively or negatively for vampire fiction? For horror? For historical fiction? Do you think that her work helped steer vampires in the direction we find them today? Or was she the last raspy breath of a dying concept?
    I am loving her work so far and have no one to talk to about them! I don't know a single person in my life system who has read them so I would love to hear what this beautiful community has to say about the novels.
     
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  2. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I found a real creepiness in Anne Rice's vampire books that is missing in the modern vampire fantasy stories I've read (I have not read the Twilight series, let's be clear on that point:)). Plus, Rice is an exceptional writer. That always helps for whatever genre of fiction we're talking about.
     
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  3. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I always thought vampires were kinda sexy. Nosferatu is kind of an exception, but even Bram Stoker's Dracula had some dark, suave allure to him, and that, to me, was one of the reasons they were as scary as they were. They could draw you into their web with charm and beauty and you wouldn't even realize what was happening until it was too late. Then they would show their true colours and kill for the pleasure of it, not just as a means to survive. Twilight vampires are decidedly less scary because a lot of what they do is sparkle, and gas on about how they're killers and have remorse and all that ("It's so beautiful!" "My diamond plated chest, isn't' beautiful, Bella, it's the skin of a killer. Geez, I thought you'd understand.") and with that that she kind of killed the dynamic. They're no longer dark and brooding, they're whiny goth kids. I also never really thought Edward was any kind of sexy. I thought he was actually kind of creepy. He was after all going to a high school when he's like 400 years old for unexplained reasons, then basically stalks Bella until Stockholm Syndrome takes over for the crush she had on him.
     
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  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I loved Anne Rice to a point, and then she just kept going and going, until now I feel something between despair and contempt. Interview was good, and a lot easier to understand if you know her life story (young daughter who died, Rice became an alcoholic, etc). She denies that that had anything to do with the story, but.....

    The Vampire Lestat was the god of my idolatry when I was in high school. Gothy little boy before they invented emos, all in black all the time, Lestat being the ultimate monster and loving it, way cool. The Queen of the Damned was pretty good, mostly more of the same, but after that, Lestat started to get overpowered.

    There's a thread about that somewhere here, when a hero becomes over-powered.

    But Rice kept going with him for two, three more books. No spoilers, well, little ones, but eventually Lestat becomes pretty much the most powerful thing on the planet by several orders of magnitude, and she hasn't put him back into his toybox, so I gave up.

    She reportedly refuses to have so much as a single comma of her work edited, and it starts to show after a few books.

    Preternatural.

    I can never read that word again without pausing to retch.

    I think she did a good thing that became a bad thing though. The books transformed the vampire, not only from the villain to the (anti-)hero, but from a simple force of evil to characters with their own hopes and fears and motivations. To characters, in other words, not simply antagonists.

    I'll end with this:

    [​IMG]

    edit: Found the overpowered thread
    edit 2: typo
     
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  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think your chronology is a bit off... Interview with the Vampire was published in the 70s, and Lost Boys wasn't out until the 80s. Also, the vampires in Lost Boys were pretty sexualized/glamourized - they were the sexy party creatures, right?

    I agree with @The Dapper Hooligan that vampires have been the sexy monsters for quite a while. There's always been a sort of seduction aspect to it that adds, in a subtle way, to the horror.

    So, yeah, I'm not crazy about the modern, "sensitive" vampires - I think they're way sexier when they're dangerous! But I don't think we should blame Anne Rice for pulling their teeth.
     
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  6. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    The very height of the genre:

    [​IMG]

    Charlatan! :D

    ...In all seriousness, the male lead in my work in progress is, practically speaking, a vampire. The number of parallels between him and the protagonist of @Mom2PruQ's work in progress is almost annoying. (Be interested in your thoughts on this, actually, if you see this.) In fact, the concept I began with for him is that he's the source of many of the evil things we fear in myths and legends--that is, his story has been twisted into the story of Dracula, werewolves, etc... But I couldn't actually make him into a vampire, because vampires are basically just cannon fodder for vulnerable female protagonists these days.

    I have never read anything by Anne Rice, and I've never liked her work. I hated what I saw of the movies, and her Amazon review debacle left a terrible, terrible taste in my mouth. However... I don't think you can pin all of this on her. You also have to look at series like Blade, which I love (shut up), and Underworld, which I like significantly less (but, you know, skin-tight clothing... meh), both of which take a previously frightening creature and put it on basically the same level as an Imperial Stormtrooper who is unfortunate enough to be shooting at Luke Skywalker. When that caliber of performance is your point of reference for "bad" vampires, it's little wonder that the best we can do is try to redeem them a little when they're "good."
     
  7. Jeremiah Windhelm

    Jeremiah Windhelm New Member

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    Am I reading this wrong? You have never liked her work but also have never read any of it? I'm a little confused
     
  8. Jeremiah Windhelm

    Jeremiah Windhelm New Member

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    I definitely think you should at least give the first one a read. I've read the first two and they are total, uncompromisingly awful ass-water. But, I only know that because I read them. Even though we all sort of know that they are bad, you shouldn't really write them off until you've sampled them. Also gives you a good insight into what really doesn't work in writing that kind of fiction. Or writing in general.
     
  9. Jeremiah Windhelm

    Jeremiah Windhelm New Member

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    You make a good point about when they came out, but I'm talking more about when her vampires began to take hold in the public's mind. It really wasnt until the movie adaptation of Interview that people began to really to examine her take on vampires. And yes vampires have been sexy for a long time, but not always. Vampires as we think of them is definitely a 20th century idea. But you are right Anne Rice's vampires did come first. I was speaking more about how and when they found a place in the public consciousness.
     
  10. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    By "her work," I am referencing the movies, which I did try to watch at one point. I'm sorry that wasn't clear.
     
  11. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    This is not true. In fact, the very first vampire story (Stoker's Dracula was not it) was about lesbian lovers.

    Edit: found you a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmilla
     
  12. Jeremiah Windhelm

    Jeremiah Windhelm New Member

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    Ah yea hahaha that makes way more sense. I personally enjoyed Interview even though its a little rushed but the rest of the movies can honestly just get lost in a hole somewhere.
     
  13. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The first movie was poorly done, badly miscast, and just generally a waste of time. The second movie was an abomination that she should have had her name removed from.

    I'm not saying that you'll definitely enjoy her books, but to say you don't like her work based on having watched those two movies is like saying you don't like BBQ because you tried a McDonald's McRib once and it sucked. Personally, I'd recommend giving The Vampire Lestat a shot, it largely stands alone (I read it first), and is, IMHO, her best book.
     
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  14. Spammy

    Spammy New Member

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    Teenage me read all the way up to Memnoch The Devil. Also maybe a couple of Rice's other spinoff books about the other vampires like Pandora and Armand. Though I'm not too sure on the specifics since teenage me was quite awhile ago, I can say that The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, and even Tale of the Body Thief were good fun. Fun enough to hold my attention, anyway. Memnoch was... interesting. Also I'd heard her Mayfair Witch trilogy was good too.

    The question of what impact she had on modern vampirism in fiction is a bit more tricky though, (loaded as it may be.) If you want to blame her for Edward Cullen I suppose you can. She certainly made her vampires beautiful and at a certain point went off the deep-end into awful superhero fan-fiction. But that ignores the more humble beginnings of her just creating characters whose own monstrous acts were all born of very human flaws. In terms of characterization I don't think she was a bad writer. All of her characters are imbued with a certain humanity in terms of drive, motive, and nature something I just can't say for those Twilight cardboard cutouts. However impish the character of Lestat might have been I could never see him posing as a high school student for years.
     
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  15. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    This seems contradictory to your own views. You state you prefer the more traditional vampire, but then in this sentence convey a preference for the more modern.

    Anyway, I grew up with vampires that go back even further than your own. For me it was
    Peter Cushing's Helsing battling Christopher Lee's Count, and even now they're the only vampires I have any time for. But then I always did prefer Frankenstein.
     
  16. Jeremiah Windhelm

    Jeremiah Windhelm New Member

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    I'm actually not following you at all here. If you look at vampires like the ones in The Lost Boys and Once Bitten, Near Dark, etc there is a sense that being an immortal is not only desirable but fun. That's the main message idea behind The Lost Boys , it was originally going to be a twist on the Peter Pan story that the lost boys could fly and stay young forever because they were vampires. It was this sort of idea of freedom that comes with never needing to deal with responsibilities or the pain and strain of growing old and eventually facing death. Lestat is a great example of this sort of vampire because he wants to use his powers and his immortality to enjoy himself. He uses the ages to master skills and hobbies and indulge in whatever he wants. Its the more recent versions of vampires that seem to be overly brooding, seeing their condition as something to be ashamed of or that is vulgar to be proud of. Maybe I didn't make my point clear enough which lead to the misunderstanding, but I assure you I don't view modern vampires as the devilishly carefree monsters that the mid-80s provided us with.
     
  17. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe it was I who misunderstood then, but from your post I got the impression you preferred the more traditional type, but then maybe I'm basing that on my interpretation of traditional.

    The bit that confused me was you saying that having a vampire say, "Yea I'm a monster, let's fucking party!", was 'much more entertaining' than "what vile monster am I become?!"

    Well to me, the former of those lines is everything that is wrong with the modern vampire.
     
  18. Jeremiah Windhelm

    Jeremiah Windhelm New Member

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  19. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Correct.
     
  20. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    Take from this what you will, but I always found Anne Rice's version of vampires to be infused with the fact that, if you spend enough time in the South in the US, and hang out with enough people there, you will meet people who really do believe vampires exist. Around 1992 I met such people in New Orleans as well as in Florida. Some of them were terrified of the goth kids because they believed the goth kids were vampires. Others were goth kids who believed some of the others were vampires and (y'all might want to sit down for this one) hoped that by hanging out with them, they'd get bitten and become immortal. I wish I was kidding.

    I was reading the Anne Rice books during those trips to the South, and vampire culture in Anne Rice's books felt similar to the vibe of the culture of the "vampire believers" (for lack of a better term) I met. Her fiction seemed well-researched enough that I thought she must have known people like the ones mentioned above ^^^.

    ETA: Oh! Forgot to mention the adults who were terrified of bats because they believed they turned into vampires. These were otherwise normal seeming people. I was flabbergasted.
     
  21. Mom2PruQ

    Mom2PruQ Senior Member

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    Awesome thread. I've been a bit obsessed about my obsession with vampires since reading the Twilight Saga (I know, but I had just given birth to twins, had no sleep and needed light reading materials between feedings--my teenaged neighbor left it for me). I loved the first 2 Anne Rice's back in the day--the books, not the movie so much-- and devoured HBO's True Blood. I liked the series more than the first 2 novels of Charlaine Harris' that I read. FUN FACT. Charlaine Harris' series has a poorly turned vampire called Bubba who is Elvis. He wasn't "reborn" well and came out simple. He's sort of a Hodor without the pathos.

    ANYWAY, I decided to stop hating myself for getting obsessed with Twilight after hearing a lecture by writer/ journalist Margot Adler called "Out for Blood." In the lecture, she explains that she too, a grown woman, got sucked into (har har) Twilight at her dying husband's bedside. It was simple reading that kept her distracted but not taxed, and it dealt with immortality in a way that opened the floodgates of questions for her. Me too. The thing I found so sad about the Twilight vampires was that they could not sleep. They have all the time in the world and no escape whatsoever. I find that profoundly disturbing.

    Nina Auerbach, another feminist writer, wrote an academic book called "Our Vampires Ourselves," reminding us how each generation resurrects (har har) the monster for it's' own needs. Dracula was about foreign otherness on Western soil. I think Interview with a Vampire was about wrestling with morality in an immoral world, and the Twilight series is about the loss of innocence that comes desire and the fear of aging.

    My favorite vampire movies, however, are The Hunger and Let the Right One In. Both are terrifying and beautiful. Only Lovers Left Alive is great, but slow.
    A great vampire novel that's a short read is the Silver Kiss. I forget the author. It's from the vampire's pov and it's full of blood and loneliness.
     
  22. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    The vampire thing may be a cultural thing, but there's kind of a similar thing up where I am where some mostly normal people are scared to go into the bush in winter because the think a werewolf/wendigo will get them. I think a fear of the supernatural is pretty much a human constant, that's why vampires and such can be so terrifying.
     
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  23. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Just about the only modern take on vampirism I've enjoyed. But then I am a massive Jarmusch fan.
     
  24. Mom2PruQ

    Mom2PruQ Senior Member

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    For some fun, "What We Do in the Shadows" is hilarious.
     
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  25. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Ooh, you know I think I read that when I was younger and really enjoyed it, but I haven't thought about it in ages. Thanks for the memory.
     

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