THE OFFICIAL VAMPIRE LORE STANDARDS
(or OVLS for short)
V: Death, or How Do You Kill a Vampire?
This is a pretty big piece of the puzzle. Despite their “immortality”, every immortal can be killed, or else it makes for a pretty boring story (where’s the suspense if a character doesn’t have their “life” on the line?). Fortunately, both folklore and modern stories are pretty straightforward on this one:
RULE 5. A stake through the heart, good old decapitation and total immolation can kill a vampire
Decapitation kills pretty much everything. It even worked for The Highlander immortals. As for the stake to the heart: Twilight, Anne Rice and Supernatural are a few of the mainstream holdouts, though there are many others. But there is archeological evidence of actual staking and if it works in real life it sure better work in fiction land too. And if you burn anything to ashes, that is pretty much, one would think, that.
There is no caveat to this rule. If you can’t stake ’em, behead ’em or burn ‘em to kill ‘em, then are they really a vampire in the first place?
As for what else kills them? Nothing. They can be hurt (see Section IV), but only these three methods truly take them out for good. That is all.
VI: Morality, or Can a Vampire be Good?
There aren’t really any helpful charts out there listing the vampire as “hero” or “villain” in popular literature. In the folklore, vampires were nameless evils. In Medieval times, vampires were personally related to their victims, but still, they were evil and cautionary tales of what befell “bad” people after death. In most Gothic stories, the vampire was evil. Only recently have vampires been “tortured”, fighting between the good and evil inside them (just like us, right?).
I get the romantic appeal of a vampire torn between right and wrong. It’s a good theme. Vamps are mysterious strangers. They drink the blood of the living. There can be lots of allegories about “lost innocence” and such. They can be angst-ridden by the cross they must bear and the choices that led to it. All good story-telling stuff.
But this romantic vampire notion is starting to wear a little thin. Let’s get one thing straight: there ain’t nothing romantic about a dude (or lady) who wants to drink your blood. That’s creepy. Remember when Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton were wearing vials of each others’ blood? Did you find that romantic or creepy? Please, please say you found that creepy. And only a very small fraction of the population wants to draw blood while having sex.
And at the end of the day, what is so great about falling in love with an immortal that can’t go out in the sunshine? Sure, if you’re an engineer, this may be appealing because you’ve already chosen a pigment-free existence. But Vitamin D is good for you.
Still the fact is, in most stories (aside from the G.I. Joe movies) plot and character development are a welcome addition. So allowing the vampire a choice about being good or evil is commendable. Back story and character development about their un-life choices make for better stories. And while it may be overdone, that is true of most genres. For every Buffy there also must be a Twilight. We have to take the bad with the good. My final ruling is that:
RULE 6. Vampires can choose between good and evil
This allows them to have societies and watch councils and parallel worlds, etc. I may find them dreadful in all these romance novels, but True Blood and others seem to not suck.
Well, there you have it: my rules. I don’t think they are overly onerous. We are not North Korea, but we are not Somalia either. A nice middle ground. So play by the rules, kids, because I am watching you. And goodness knows, you don’t need me mocking your new vampire stories on the pages of this magazine.