Thursday, August 04, 2005

More on Bloodsuckers

I know, I should have better things to do with my time. In fact, I do. There are any number of things I should be doing right now, including the dishes. But, as bad as Bloodsuckers was, it must have been successful on one level: I've been thinking about it a lot. I've been thinking about vampires and vampire-hunters, generally. Bloodsuckers chose to go with the John Carpenter (Vampires, 1988) vampire-hunter model, which is that the hunters are almost more bloodthirsty than the vampires. They go in, guns blazing, and kick vampiric ass into next week, swearing like sailors the whole time. I'm not at all adverse to guns blazing, ass-kickin', or cussin' up a blue streak in my action films, but there's something that happens to me when this is paired up with vampires. I find my sympathy shifts. I start asking myself deep philosophical questions, like, are these yahoos supposed to be the good guys? I think part of my problem is that I'm a vampire fan. I read and watch things in which vampires are imbued with a certain amount of humanity (tortured or demonized as it may be.) Frankly, I'm kind of a classic vampire fan. I don't mind people messing with the formula (no sun, pale skin, coffin-sleeping, what-have-you) but one part of the classic vampire that I really enjoy is the turned-human aspect... or even alien-among-us, you know? I like the vampire who thinks like a human being, albeit a twisted, potentially evil one. What I'm saying is about conflict. I found the "heroes" of Bloodsuckers unsympathetic because they were brutal against an equally brutal and brutish enemy. There was no level of skill or intellect needed to whoop vampire ass. There was no sense, even, of an intellectually equal (or superior) villain. I find I like the vampire who is smarter and more wily than his/her hunter. That makes the game a challenge. It also, strangely, makes the hunter more sympathetic. I mean, it's weird to think I can relate more to someone who is dumber than his/her enemy, but it's true. If I get a sense that the hero actually has to work to defeat the villain (who, in a best case scenario for my enjoyment, is also a wo/man struggling with his inhuman/inhumane nature). Also, I tend to question the line. You know the one. The line that differentiates between a hero and a villain. If our heroes are killers and the enemy must be destroyed because they kill, when does the cycle of violence end? One of the ways in which "Buffy" dealt with this issues was that the vampires literally turned into a pile of ashes at True Death. That served to remind the audience that these were *not* people, they were dead humans inhabited by demons. Thus, Buffy isn't a "true" killer, after all. (She does kill, but only demons). Also, Joss Whedon, being the wise and powerful writer that he is, also gave us Faith, who accidentally stakes a living human, so that we have to deal with the issue of what's the difference between a vampire hunter who kills and anyone else who kills. Also, just to mess with our heads he gave us Angel, the vampire cursed with a soul. And, of course, Spike, who was just plain hot. But, I'm getting off track. The point is, I think that when the enemy is a vampire, it's kind of a cheat to make them flesh-eating zombies without any real intelligence or humanity (or, in the case of Bloodsuckers, alien cultures.) Bloodsuckers could have been a much better film if the writers had done a little world-building and made-up some good reasons why these vampiric aliens did what they did. If they had rituals, relationships, lives, lovers... Anything vaguely resembling something human. Alas, they did not.

1 comment:

E.E. Knight said...

That's a lot of intellectual effort expended on something as lame as Bloodsuckers. I could almost hear the director hissing "move more like a vampire!" to the vamp-chica who was allied with the hunters.

I like (better than Bloodsuckers) vamp vs. vamp-hunter stories because you've got an easy-to-hate enemy, like the Nazis. Sure you can argue that the ass-kicking yahoos are jerks, but in their off hours they're not out killing Lucy Westerna. Vamps are. The vamps are also superior to humans in many ways, so there's a David v. Goliath thing going.

Dreck like Bloodsuckers makes me want to pull out my own teeth to blot out the pain, the vampires were so uninteresting. You've got to make the vampires crafty and as adept at exploiting human weaknesses (seven deadly sins for a start, I suppose) as humans are at getting the vamps when they're vulnerable or you've got nothing but these mindless slogging matches like BS (my new abbreviation for Bloodsuckers).

Da Wife and I are looking forward to your additon to the vampire canon.