There seems to be no shortage of vampires nowadays and with all the vampire-infiltrated books, movies and TV shows, it can be hard to find the right one to bring back to your lair or castle.
But, luckily, you won’t have to look that hard. Brought to you by writers of The Onion and The New Yorker, ‘The New Vampire’s Handbook” offers a humorous look at the genre, while presenting rules for new aspiring vampires (or real ones) to abide by.
We were lucky enough to talk to Joe Garden, of The Onion fame, and discuss the book he contributed to and vampires in general.
First and foremost, what made you decide to write this new vampire book?
Joe Garden: Well, it was kind of a combination of things. Obviously vampire books and stuff have always been popular. Everybody has been talking about the new vampire craze and that’s really not totally accurate because vampires have always been popular. Ever since ‘Dracula” in the ’30s or even the old ‘Barnie the Vampire” books in the 1800s.
But there were a couple of things. There was the popularity of the ‘Twilight” novels, in which there are the vegetarian vampires who don’t really want to kill humans and who sparkle in the sunlight. And that is sort of repulsive for a long-time vampire fan. Vampires are not supposed to be romantic; they are supposed to be frightening.
The second thing was when you start watching vampire movies, you notice that there are a whole lot of scenes for the vampires that are, like, ‘What have I become? What’s happening to me?” for the new vampires. And it seems funny that that was never put down in book form, and it’s also funny because it always changes. Every vampire movie, every vampire book, they all have their own rules. I thought it would be fun to quantify what the rules were and, in the process, I try to throw in some of our own things.
How do you think that the vampire obsession has affected the legacy of the classic movies?
JG: What’s really changed a lot is that vampires now aren’t just allowed to be scary; they have to be sexy as well. I think that’s really been augmented. During ‘Interview with the Vampires,” it was pretty much solidified, but there were still other movies like ‘Near Dark” where vampires were scary and just roaming around f*cking people up and tearing them limb from limb.
But with ‘Twilight” that really sort of ended. Hopefully that won’t be the last nail in the coffin for the scary vampire.
What were a couple of your favorite vampire movies?
Well, I think that ‘Nosferatu” is probably the best vampire movie. It’s a German movie, and it’s a really good movie. It’s full of gothic atmosphere and German expressionism, and it’s pretty terrifying. The first Universal ‘Dracula” is also really good. It’s also interesting and what strikes me is that there is no music. It’s really interesting how much it adds, how the lack of music adds to the atmosphere of ‘Dracula.” ‘Near Dark” is also pretty good. It’s about
Texas vampires who run around in a van and rape and cause terror and chaos wherever they go. And ’30 Days of Nights,” that got very critically panned, but I thought that it was a fantastic scary vampire movie.
Do you think the new phenomenon ruins the stories originally set up by the classic movies or does it enhance those originals?
JG: Perhaps I shouldn’t be so doom and gloom about it. But to undercut what I said earlier, I think it kind of enhances it. ‘Twilight” will definitely have more fans, and ‘Vampire Diaries” will have more fans, and that will probably bring other people to other vampire books and movies. Hopefully, one of them watches ‘Nosferatu,” which is a fantastic vampire movie and a fantastic movie in general.
But, like I said, everything brings its own slant to the vampire and the vampire rules. It will be fine. I think it will definitely grow the fan base until it shrinks back down again, and then in 10 to 15 years from now it will spark back up.
What is it that attracted you to this genre and why do you think it’s attracted teenagers so much?
JG: I think ‘Twilight” draws teenagers because, what is not appealing about a 100-year-old immortal who falls in love with a misunderstood 17-year-old? That speaks to everybody’s sense of angst and romance. It’s a romance, and it appeals to people in that respect. I think in general there’s that romantic aspect that appeals as well.
There’s the idea of immortal, the tortured soul aspect. In the case of ‘Twilight,” Bella is so special that he has been waiting all these years and he found somebody in Bella that’s so amazing. She smells better than everybody else, and she tastes better than everybody else apparently.
But what really appeals to people, in some cases, is the romance aspect; for some it’s the unstoppable killing machine aspect. There are only certain things you can do to repel it. We tried to take a scientific approach, but obviously you can’t take a scientific approach to vampires. But we did try to make it seem as reasonable as possible. You couldn’t use a cross to repel a vampire because what’s the scientific basis for that?
We did try to make up things that incorporated that. Holding up the cross is ingrained in vampire lore, and that makes vampires repel, but we did try to make a way so that, like, vampires could not see their reflections in mirrors, and that one is a staple, and we made up hemophoton particles, so when your vampire body processes blood it emits these hemophoton particles that negate reflected light. If you scrutinize it really closely it’s not going to work, but at least it sounds plausible.
Were you a vampire fan as a kid?
JG: I watched a fair number of vampire movies, but I was more of a horror movie fan growing up. Where I grew up we didn’t have cable and there was a horror movie show that was on Fridays at midnight called ‘Furby’s Inferno,” and I used to try to stay up and watch it as much as I could. Usually I would fall asleep by about 11:30 or so, but I watched a lot of those movies, and I grew up liking horror movies.
If you could compare yourself to one vampire throughout all of vampire lore, who would it be?
Oh boy. I’m going to have to go with, well, the one I empathize with the most – I can’t remember the vampire’s name. It’s the vampire that was played by Steve Root on ‘True Blood.” He was just so, he wanted something different with his life so that’s why he became a vampire. All he wanted was something to connect with. He wasn’t evil and he didn’t want power, he just wanted to connect with something. And that I certainly empathize with, though I wouldn’t compare myself to him necessarily.
In a recent interview, I was asked if I was more of a Jasper or an Edward person, so I have to say I’m more of a Jasper person because he’s pretty forgettable and if you saw me then you would probably forget about me as well.
Any last words about the book or vampires?
JG: About the book, I think the presentation is actually going to be pretty funny. It isn’t going to be just a reading; we are going to try to make it more of a presentation. And I think the book is good; I think that people who enjoy vampires will like the book because it is respectful. And I think that people who don’t like vampires will like it because it is funny, and if you are a vampire, I think there is also a lot of good advice in there for you.
Garden will be giving a book reading of ‘The New Vampire’s Handbook” on Oct. 9 at the Greece Ridge Barnes ‘ Noble. For more information about the reading or the book, visit www.thenewvampireshandbook.com.
Clark and Rosenberg are members of the class of 2012.