Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Things That Come Out At Night:

By: CK Webb

People all around the world are intrigued by the things that send shivers up their spine. While we are young, the idea of the unknown causes many sleepless nights, but as adults we seem to gravitate towards the very things that we feared in our youth.
As a small child, there weren't many things that I was afraid of. Children are often fearless in the face of dangers that would leave grown men trembling and soiling themselves. But, there were some things that absolutely tortured my young mind and those things I hid from the world.
As nightfall would draw closer, my fears would begin their torturous assault on my psyche. What did I have to fear really? It was after all, only darkness, but the dark is always capable of hiding many hideous things from human eyes. It was inevitably, those long hours of worry and anxiety, pulling the covers tight around my feet and head that forever changed the way I viewed the world and the possibility of the things that could be in it. Each night I met the darkness with the same goal... make it through, unscathed, to the glorious coming of the dawn. As you can see, I succeeded, though many might argue that I am far from normal and perhaps they would be right. I have heard it said, by those closest to me, that the fears of my childhood were the very thing that shaped and molded me into the weaver of dark tales that I am today.
For this I say, “Thank you creatures of the night and thank you impenetrable darkness.”
One of the most memorable obsessions I had, were with Vampires. How they held my fascination like no other creature could. They were scary and unexplainable and they were real, I would have bet any number of weekly allowances on that! Then, a strange thing happened...I grew up. Suddenly the fear that had once been prominent was replaced by captivation and an unusual, sensual allure. I had reached that precipice where we cross over from fear into understanding and all those things from youth become silly. After all, vampires can't be real, can they? I will tell you what I know and you can decide that for yourself.
Through the decades, vampires and their tales have changed exponentially. One thing however, has remained a constant. For whatever reason, we are helplessly drawn to these creatures that go bump in the night.
The beginnings of vampire tales in history are extremely difficult to trace. Many different cultures have often told stories of bloodsucking abominations that rise from the dead and prey on the living. So many in fact that some people argue, vampire tales date back all the way to the very origins of mankind itself.
Vampiric entities have been written of in dozens of cultures globally and called by many different names. The Greek referred to vampires as vrykolakus, while Romanians penned the more popular name, strigoi, for their bloodsuckers.
It wasn't until the early 18th century, that the Oxford English Dictionary introduced the world to the word, vampire. The catalyst for this move was a plague of vampire superstition in Eastern Europe so strong, some corpses still bare the stakes that were plunged into their decaying remains.
In these countries, where vampire legends had taken hold, the appearance of vampires ranged from bloated, flesh eating corpses to almost human, blood suckers. All these descriptions would soon change with the introduction of John Polidori's 1819 novella, The Vampyre.
With his tale, Polidori was able to transfer fear into awe by giving the vampire a charismatic, sophisticated and beautiful appeal. The Vampyre, would also influence another writer whose novel would provide the standard by which all other vampire novels would be judged.
Bram Stoker's Dracula is, to this very day, the major catalyst from which all vampire tales have sprung. What began as a single novel has spawned an entire, distinctive genre and what has followed are books, movies, video games and even television series that focus on this one thing...the vampire. There has never been another book like Dracula and dare I say there never will be. Fortunately for us, many authors and directors have tried their hand at new tellings of this classic tale.
In 1976, author Anne Rice introduced the world to the captivatingly cruel vampire, Lestat. Rice followed up her novel, Interview With the Vampire, with several sequels that came to be known as The Vampire Chronicles. Her books were well received initially, but gained a worldwide resurgence when, in 1994, the book was released as a major motion picture with an all-star cast.
Vampires would also find a place in the comedy/horror arena with the film Fright Night which hit movie theaters in 1985. Introducing a new take on this ages old tale, Fright Night brought in the second highest gross of any horror film that year, edged out only by A Nightmare On Elm Street 2. A novelization, video game and a comic book were all spawned from this masterpiece. To this very day, I still have a copy of the first issue, first printing, October 1988 edition. Yes, I'm a big vampire, comic book geek!
In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola brought his rendition of the vampire classic Bram Stoker's Dracula to the big screen. In this entrancing film, Gary Oldman gave the world a seductive portrayal of the sensuous beast that is, Dracula. Not only was the film highly acclaimed, grossing over two hundred and forty five million dollars word wide, but it also took home an Academy Award in three separate categories.
In a world where vampires have seen their fair share of demeaning take offs including Count Chocolate breakfast cereal and Sesame Street characters, what I am about to write may be disturbing for some readers....
One of my all-time favorite retellings of the vampire tale came in the film, Dracula 2000. Although it received mostly negative reviews and did not fare so well at the box office, the writers, Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier, wrote a storyline for Dracula's origin that was unlike any other. If you have not seen Dracula 2000, you should if for no other reason than to experience a brand new twist on this ages old tale.
Dozens of writers have taken on this creature that goes bump in the night and many have made a household name for themselves in the process. Lara Adrian, Laurell K. Hamilton and Sherri Lynn Kenyon have all written unforgettable books that center around vampires. But, there is one author whose books became a worldwide phenomenon and brought about a following that spanned every nation, gender and age. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga included four young adult novels and found its way onto the big screen to hoards of screaming fans that could not get enough of her characters, Edward, Bella and Jacob. The films alone have grossed over 1.7 billion dollars word wide. Yes...billion!
When all is said and done, readers and movie goers alike, have always had an obsession with vampires. Even the darker side of these creatures cannot take away from the allure that they hold. Just when you think you have seen enough movies and read enough books with vampires as their central theme, another one comes along. For some strange reason, we just can't give up our vampires. They are strangely intoxicating and no matter how afraid you may be, we are drawn to these dark, ominous and sometimes sexy blood suckers. Are vampires real? Yes, they are alive and well and living in our books and our movies and they are there in the darkness, waiting to go 'bump' in the night.

CK Webb
Co-author of Cruelty To Innocents

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