For some people they encourage a good eye-roll. For others they represent a sense of romance and dark adventure. For me, they cause nightmares.
I don’t mind saying it. I am absolutely 100% terrified of vampires.
It all started my sophomore year of college. My favorite genre of books is easily the “Classics”, and I especially adore romantic literature. Having also a fondness for monster stories, I picked up Dracula from my local Barnes and Noble and dug right in. The first couple of chapters were breathtaking, captivating, creepy. I was in awe! Then the big cliff-hanger (what will happen to Jonathan Harker?!?!) as we switched point-of-views to a few lovely ladies back in England. And then it got terrifying.
Bram Stoker didn’t invent the legend of the vampire, nor was he even the first westerner to write about them. But his masterpiece was one of the most influential pieces of vampire literature ever written, and it’s really the backbone of vampire lore in western culture. Every vampire novel, movie, song, anything has been based, at least in part, on Stoker’s novel.
So yeah, I like to be terrified by my vampires. I am not a fan of lovey-dovey vampires with feelings, because that isn’t terrifying.
One of my favorite things about reading books or watching movies about vampires is the freedom to choose to either stick to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or to kind of do your own thing. I enjoy both, although I usually prefer them to be closer to Stoker’s if possible. Because, terrifying. So for your Halloween enjoyment I’ve put together a list of vampire movies and books that I am personally familiar with, and grouped them to how closely they relate to Dracula.
But first! What makes a Dracula vampire?
- Drinks blood. Does NOT necessarily kill victims outright, prefers to drain them over the course of time. They prefer to prey on attractive members of the opposite sex.
- Only comes out when the sun is down. Does not have to sleep in a coffin, but must sleep in earth from original burial site.
- To Kill: Decapitation, Stake to the Heart, Garlic in mouth. This can happen day or night. Sunlight does NOT disintegrate the body.
- Can turn into a bat, can summon fog, and can control wolves. Can walk on walls and the ceiling.
- No reflection in the mirror.
- To become a vampire one must drink the blood of a vampire. Then die.
So, without any further ado, here are a list of vampire novels and movies you might like to enjoy this October. I strongly recommend starting with Dracula if you’ve never read it!
As Close to Stoker as They Come
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon very strictly adhered to Stoker’s vampire rules as often as possible. The biggest exception is clearly Angel, but I didn’t mind that deviation, partly because he is the exception, what with having his soul, and partly because he was terrifying when he didn’t.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Anne Rice does a great job of making vampires that are frightening and a little deranged. Personally Louis, the main character, gets a little touchy-feely for me, but Lestat is definitely a great villain. The biggest deviation in this novel is that these vampires will be burned by sunlight.
Maybe not the best portrayal of other classic monsters, but Van Helsing gives a relatively clear picture of vampire lore, and incidentally does a great job with Dracula’s wives. Plus, fun.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
The biggest difference here is simply in the sheer number of vampires. It takes place in approximately the same time, if not a little before, and yet there are hundreds if not thousands, as opposed to just one. Book > Movie
In the Middle
I loved this book as a kid! My favorite part as an adult is how Chester, the cat, uses Bram Stoker’s actual novel as a manual for how to kill the vampire rabbit, but misunderstands a lot of it and tries to kill him with a steak instead of a stake. Obviously the vampire is a rabbit, so major deviations, but definitely in the spirit of Stoker.
Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood
Confession, haven’t read OR watched. I’m a terrible vampire fan. But based on the first couple of chapters of the book that I did read it seems like they’re on the right track. If, again, a little touchy-feely for my taste.
Not Even Close
Richelle Meade created a rather cool vampire lore that was so far removed from anything else I’d ever read that I remember complaining she should have just given her monsters a new name. This book has two types of vampires: the kind who drink blood and get sunburned, and the kind who are basically just people. Okay. They also have royalty. (Side note, I have always hated this cover.)
These vampires are certainly terrifying, but not anything like Stoker’s. They drink blood, but are born vampires, you can’t make new ones. Except by giving birth, I guess. Also, they have claws, which is petrifying, and they can come out any time of day. And steampunk is always a plus.
By no means is this a complete list, this is just my list. If you like vampires, it looks like there’s some really creepy vampire movies as well as some great old versions of Dracula. And, of course, if there’s something I haven’t read or seen that you think I need to, let me know in the comments! I’m always down for more vampires.