First of all, why is it that vampires always seem so cheesy on the big (or in this case, little,) screen? I love reading about them, but the instant someone bursts through a glass skylight or their eyes reflect, cat-like, in the headlights, my brain thinks, "duuuuuuuuuu-mb.
I'm a big fan of WB's series "Supernatural." The story follows two brothers Sam and Dean Winchester as they X-Files their way across the country hunting down various spooks and things-what-go-bump-in-the-night. I've watched this show since its very first episode, and, for horror-TV, it's usually a hit rather than a miss. I was a bit nervous on Thursday night, however, when it seemed pretty clear we were dealing with vampires in "Dead Man’s Blood."
I should have trusted "Supernatural." They're usually very good at making what should be dumb monsters (possessed trucks?) into at least entertaining, if not downright creepy creatures. They solved the cheesy-vampire phenomenon deftly -- by acknowledging it. About five minutes after confirming that we're, in fact, dealing with vampires, Dean (played by Jensen Ackles, can you say: "yum?") says, "Vampires. Every time I say it, it sounds sillier."
That helped tremendously.
Also, they were willing to mess with the vampire mythos (while staying true to the folklore vampire.) The vampires in the "Supernatural" universe can go out in the daylight, ala Bram Stoker's very own Dracula (if you don't remember it, go read it again). They're transformed humans, which makes them potentially sympathetic. Oh, and, as the title suggests, they can be poisoned by arrows dipped in blood from someone who died (presumably by natural causes – or at least non-vampire induced trauma, otherwise dealing with the corpses of their own victims becomes somewhat problematic.)
Some things annoyed me. I am _so_ over vampires dressed in Lost Boys leather. I mean, I know vampires live forever and can be fashion victims just like the rest of us, but the whole eighties Goth thing is kind of been done to death (pun intended). Time to update your wardrobe, vamps! What I wouldn't give to see a vampire in the suburbs! Or dressed like a dork. No one would suspect the dude with the buzz cut, pocket protector, and the horn-rimmed glasses to be a bloodsucker. Step into chess club and I'll drain you dry! Bwah-ha-ha-HA.
Also, the whole vampires living in a nest together seems like a remarkably bad idea, especially given that in this universe there were people who were actively hunting them. Sure, crows rook to keep themselves safe from predators, and, in a sense, that is how this worked. The vampires turned one of their victims, so that when Dean came to rescue her, she acted as an alarm. But, still... a "nest?" It makes me think of that horrible John Carpenter movie called Vampires.
However, generally I was well pleased. I even ended up like the head vampire, Luther. I also really liked that in the "Supernatural" universe, vampires mate for life. They didn't say whether or not vampires lived forever in this universe, although Luther had been around when Colt was making guns, but I thought that was mightily fascinating, especially given that these are turned humans (not an alternative species.)
Another fascinating clue to the vampiric nature was that at one point, when the vamps are decided who's for dinner, the lead vampire looks into the eyes of the woman they've captured and says he sees something interesting. Later, as they turn her, he says, "Welcome home."
Does that mean there could be a potential vampire in all of us? Is it a potential for darkness or something insipid like midiclorians? (Me, I'm voting for the former.) Either way, THAT was worth the whole episode as far as I'm concerned. I absolutely love the idea that vampires chose who they turn based on a potential they see in that person's eyes.
Might have to steal that.