The Impressively Diverse Vampire Genre
It keeps expanding into new sub-genres, proving concepts (though not always sticking the landing).
Just a few minutes into Blood Red Sky, a new Netflix original film, the audience is presented with some pretty peculiar, character-heavy imagery. A young boy is walking through a busy German airport, all by himself. He confidently wheels some heavy luggage through a line to the front of a check-in counter, politely smiling at the adult travelers, and the airline employee at the counter, who’ve notice that he’s unaccompanied.
After checking the boy’s passport, the woman at the counter asks, “Where’s your mom?”
“She’ll be here soon,” he answers. “She told me to check our bags.”
The boy is clearly comfortable talking to adult strangers, and thanks a customer who helps him lift his suitcases onto the luggage scale. Through the airport window behind him, the sun sets.
In the next scene, we meet the boy’s mom. She’s sitting on the edge of a bed in a darkened hotel room, doing a video-call with a doctor who’s talking to her about radiation therapy, and giving her a selfie-tour of the medical facility she’ll soon be flying to in New York City.
The mom’s skin is pale, she seems somewhat weak and shaky, and she’s clearly wearing a wig. Could she have leukemia… or some other type of cancer? She wraps up the call, throws on a scarf and sunglasses, and leaves her room.
It’s nighttime when she joins her son at the airport. The two embrace. She clearly loves the boy, and is very thankful and proud of him for taking care of things. She rewards him with a small basketball from the airport gift shop.
After reaching their gate, the mom finds a restroom, goes into a stall, and uses a syringe to inject some kind of medicine just below her neck. She has a strong physical reaction to whatever it is, bracing herself against the stall’s panels.
Meanwhile, her son has started up a conversation with an adult passenger at their gate — the same friendly guy who helped the boy with his luggage earlier.
“Good morning,” the boy says.
The man is confused because it’s still pretty early the evening.
“It’s daytime in America now,” the boy explains. Using his basketball as a globe, he demonstrates how their entire flight to the U.S. will take place at night, because of the earth’s rotation and the position of the sun. “Night will be five hours longer for us,” he adds.
The man, who seems like a good guy, is impressed with the boy’s smarts.
When the mom returns (still a little out of breath), she’s uneasy and suspicious about the new friend her son has made. She decides that it’s best, despite some empty seats next to the man, that she and her son sit elsewhere until boarding.
If you didn’t know anything about the movie going in, you might mistake the unfolding story for a potentially heartbreaking drama, possibly even something with a romantic twist.
But nope. It’s actually a vampire flick. And by this point in the film, subtle indications of such have been tossed out all over the place (you likely picked up on some from my description).
That’s one thing that keeps fascinating me about modern takes on the vampire genre: they’re comprised of a very diverse collection of traditional sub-genres, even as the traditional rules of vampire folklore (their strengths, weaknesses, etc.) have — for the most part — remained intact.
You have comedic thrillers like The Lost Boys and Fright Night. You have “coming of age” stories like Let Me In. You’ve got sci-fi represented in movies like Lifeforce. You have super-hero flicks like Blade. Twilight, of course, has “corny teen-aged romance” covered. Not even historical fiction has been ignored, thanks to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Blood Red Sky is more of an action film — specifically a terrorist-action film… where the vampire is actually the hero. It’s pretty unique, and the concept, believe it or not, proves itself very well (even if the movie veers off course at times). I’d recommend checking it out.
I feel similarly about 2007’s 30 Days of Night, which was based on a graphic novel. The premise — a tribe of ancient vampires descending on a small, far-north, isolated Alaskan town that’s about to start a month-long polar night — is brilliant. Heck, the vampires’ plan itself is pretty genius.
Every year, as the 30-day period without sunlight approaches, a good chunk of the town’s citizenry heads south. After all, a month straight of darkness can drive some people insane — not to mention what the unforgiving polar weather can do to phone lines and travel. Those who remain behind understand and accept that they may be cut off from the rest of the world until the sun returns. And those who leave won’t necessarily find it suspicious that they aren’t hearing from their friends and family during that time.
This is great news for the vampires (who are probably the scariest, most sadistic and brutal ones I’ve ever seen in a movie). They can feed uninterrupted on the “stay behinds” for a month, then take off and hibernate for a year until it’s time to rinse and repeat in another far-north community.
“We should have come here ages ago,” the head vampire says as the blood starts to flow.
Unsurprisingly, the citizens (even with their firearms and familiarity with the area) are grossly outmatched as they hide and fight to stay alive. And that’s grossly with a capital ‘G’ for gore, because some of the scenes are over-the-top bloody and graphic.
But the story is solid, the scares are real, and there’s an additional element to the plot that I like: it’s not just the stubborn citizens who stay behind every year in this remote Alaskan town. It’s also the toughest of the tough: law enforcement, survivalists, oil workers, etc. It definitely adds something to the story.
If not for a couple of questionable scenes and a somewhat botched climax (a rushed CGI effect that leaves first-time viewers struggling to understand what they’ve just seen), I think the film could have been a horror classic.
What these movies do prove is that the sky is the limit for vampire sub-genres, and I’m always looking forward to seeing the next unique take.
By the way, in case I’m making anyone nervous, don’t worry: I won’t be introducing any blood suckers into the Sean Coleman Thriller series (though I do find the notion of Sean and Chief Lumbergh taking on creatures of the night pretty amusing).
Have a favorite vampire movie or book? Let me know what it is in an email or in the comment section below.
Have You Pre-ordered RESTITUTION?
This guy already reserved his copy of my upcoming novel, Restitution: A Sean Coleman Thriller… and he seems pretty jazzed about it.
The book is now available for pre-order pretty much everywhere (both the paperback and eBook versions). Make sure you reserve your copy (80’s workout gear not required):
I’ll be representing my publisher BQB/WriteLife at this year’s FallCon event in Denver, hosted by Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers!
It will be at Renaissance Denver Central Park Hotel, and I’ll be there on October 8th from 9am to 4:30pm MT.
I’m looking forward to meeting with booksellers from Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming to talk about BQB/WriteLife titles (including my own).
To check out more of my upcoming author events, click here.
Please Get Vaccinated
The latest numbers for vaccinated Americans, even in the face of the Delta variant, are pretty telling:
Something else to consider:
Obligatory Dog Shot
My wife and I share the same cloud account for auto-backing up our photos, and I’ll be honest: some of her shots kind of throw me for a loop. Apparent wedding photos with the dog, for example.
As I’ve written before, Lionel Richie was a favorite of mine in the early 1980s. I enjoyed his solo work, and didn’t pay much attention to his earlier stuff with the Commodores until much later on (when I formed a greater appreciation for funk).
I first bought the Commodores’ “All the Great Hits” album for 99 cents at an outdoor expo a couple years back, but the vinyl was so scratched up when I tried playing it at home that I ended up tossing it in the trash. So, when I came across it (in good shape) at a used record store in Monterey on a recent trip, I picked it up.
It’s got all the big ones including “Brick House”, “Easy” (how smooth is that song?), and “Three Times a Lady.” It also has a weird (and hopefully insanely valuable) misprint: both sides of the album have the “Side 2” label. It honestly confused the hell out of the me the first time I attempted to play it. 😄
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!