Beautiful Vampires

An interesting topic that comes up from time to time related to vampire fiction is whether or not vampires should be portrayed as beautiful. In folklore, some early vampire fiction, and in early movies, vampires were portrayed as monstrous, undead creatures. They were reanimated corpses seeking blood for survival. A good example is the portrayal of Count Orlock (meant to be Dracula) in F.W. Murnau’s brilliant film Nosferatu.

Max Schreck

So when did vampires become beautiful and seductive? I think the answer isn’t as clear as it might seem.

Some people point to Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 Universal film, only nine years after Max Schreck’s portrayal in Nosferatu. It’s a good choice. Lugosi was handsome and he radiated charisma. Many point out this is counter to the book’s description of a more monstrous count. However, even in the novel, I sensed that Bram Stoker portrayed a charismatic Dracula, even if he wasn’t necessarily an outwardly handsome one.

Now Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula isn’t even the earliest popular vampire fiction. John William Polidori’s 1819 novella, The Vampyre, predates Dracula by 78 years and portrays the title character as a suave and handsome nobleman.

What about folklore? There certainly are plenty of stories that depict frightening vampires and vampiric entities. Many crawl from the grave, bloated in tattered clothes seeking blood from their victims. However, you also find demonic entities such as succubi that use their seductive powers to drain the energies from men.

The upshot is that vampiric entities have been portrayed as both beautiful and horrific throughout the ages. To me, both make sense. Vampires are scary. However, a beautiful creature can more easily lure those it wishes to ensnare.

One of the things that makes this topic interesting for me personally is the way the vampires are portrayed on the covers of my novels Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order and Vampires of the Scarlet Order. The former shows a beautiful vampire. The latter shows more frightening vampires. The thing is, I think both aspects are portrayed in both novels.

Dragon's Fall
Vampires of the Scarlet Order

As it turns out, the two covers make an interesting look into the history of my publisher. There were different owners when each novel was published. The first set of owners clearly wanted to emphasize the horror and adventure aspects of Vampires of the Scarlet Order. The current owners clearly want to emphasize the more romantic aspect of the series in Dragon’s Fall.

So, what do you think? Do you prefer your vampires frightening or beautiful? Drop a note in comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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4 thoughts on “Beautiful Vampires

  1. I really do love good-looking and sexy vampires. Now, not because I am a woman… no, but they are very solitary creatures and how are they supposed to prey on humans if there isn’t an appeal? Yes they can use their strength and hunting skills but where is the fun in that? I like the cat and mouse game where the mouse believes he’s talking to another, run of the mill mouse, and then the cat pounces on them! It’s fun to fantasize and wrap your self-conscience in a different reality of beauty, wealth, and hypnotizing luxury of the senses! Thanks, Emily

    • An excellent point, Emily. I think there’s a lot of dramatic tension available to both horrific vampires and beautiful vampires, but if you want that tension to extend to interactions with humans, then making the vampires beautiful definitely helps credibility. Of course, many things in the world that are deadly are quite beautiful such as lions and tigers, so why not vampires? Thanks for dropping by!

  2. paigeaddams says:

    Immortal, superhuman, with the knowledge of centuries behind them, vampires are formidable either way. 🙂 I usually like beautiful vampires more, whether they’re evil or good. I also really like a contrast between inner and outer beauty.

    Looking at a beautiful evil vampire, there’s something more frightening, on a psychological level, about the thought of being so easily fooled and lured in. Like they way those shows talk about serial killers. “Oh, so and so was so handsome/beautiful. They always helped their elderly neighbors carry in their groceries. They volunteered at a soup kitchen. I never would have thought they had @#@#$%Q in their freezer.” These are such wonderful villains because it’s terrifying to watch their victims become complacent and walk right into the trap. A monstrous evil vampire is classic though. 🙂

    If the vampire is beautiful and good, this is the perfect hero/heroine for a paranormal romance. 🙂 Or, if not a romance, then a great tragic or vengeful hero/heroine. However their story goes, a beautiful good vampire can be a really powerful, epic kind of hero/heroine. Lol, I have to admit though, as much as I love a beautiful good vampire, I still prefer a little contrast. Flawed and good. I don’t see as many of those vampires though. Maybe it would make the vampire too relatable to a human? He/she may not seem as invincible that way, but I would have a stronger reaction to them I think. I would worry for them more. 🙂

    • Thanks for the wonderful comment, Paige! I agree with you on all the points. I think the last point is especially important. Flaws make any character more interesting. In the Scarlet Order world, I give my vampires a moral compass, but they’re still violent creatures that need blood to survive. Their struggle is to channel their nature into something that’s more than basic survival. As a writer, I find that interesting, and I definitely like it when other writers explore those kinds of themes!

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