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Home > Archives > Vampyres > Changing Vampyre Image

The Changing Vampyre Image
by Everglais
POSTED: April 98

The vampyre image has changed over the years, shaped by literature and television media. Each author, filmmaker, and storyteller adds their own uniqueness to the mysterious, frightening stories of vampyres. The vampyre has been changed time and time again, and it may be hard to determine what the actual first vampyre would have been like, or thought to be.

According to Hebrew mythology, Adam (the first man on Earth) had a wife prior to Eve, named Lilith. It is said that she did not honor Adam by refusing to take the bottom position during sexual intercourse. Because of her rebellion, she was forced to flee, and lived the rest of her days as a monstrous demons, seducing men, stealing babies, and feeding on their blood. (We would not see the sexual side of vampyrism again until the early 20th century.)

Lilith was often portrayed as a female supernatural entity with bird-wings and feet [see photo at right]. She is sometimes pictured with desert animals. Lilith is considered by some to be the first vampyre.

The vampyre or similar myths depicted the blood sucking monsters as hideous demons until a young novelist, Brahm Stoker, wrote his famous masterpiece, "Dracula". Although the book was based on Vlad Dracula, Stoker added some fantasy to the blood-thirsty ruler. The vampyre now became a mysterious undead human wearing a cape. I think this was also the first reference of a photophobic vampyre.

During the early 20th century, film directors added fangs, bringing back the monstrous characteristics, especially in "Nosferatu". However, the vampyre never fully returned to its hideous monster image. Instead, it became a seductive, romantic sexual being, biting women on the neck in an erotic, sexual way. (Earlier vampyres did not care who they attacked as long as it was something that could be eaten or destroyed.)

Modern day author, Anne Rice, combines the monster image with the sensual one. In her novel Interview with a Vampire, she stays consistent with the blood thirsty vampyre Lestat, but introduces a passionate vampyre, Louis. However, Rice reveals the "human" side of Lestat by giving him emotions. Another example of the sexual nature of vampyres is found in the hit TV series on the WB networks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The changing face of the human-like vampyres into an ugly, wrinkled face, and growling suggests a monster. However, Buffy falls for a "good" vampyre named Angel (Angeles) who is a young, attractive male, engaging in "human" romance with her. He then turns to the other side, and allows the demon to awake within him.

Although the imagery of the vampyre has changed, the legend stays consistent. The vampyre is killed or stayed by what is good. The cross, a wooden stake, silver bullets, and garlic would repel or kill a vampyre. Interestingly enough, the mirror was thought to be the gateway into Liliths web according to Jewish Mythology. The modern depiction of vampyres has it that they leave no reflection in mirrors.

Everglais is a gothic writer and poet who writes a frequent Vampyre column for the X-Project Paranormal Magazine.

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