No salute to vampires would be complete without a look at the phenomena of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here is Faith Burnham’s (a Dramatic Writing Student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts) look at Buffy.
In general, I don’t know much about vampires. But I do know a whole hell of a lot about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So, if you want to hear about the vampires from that show, you’ve come to the right place.
In the immortal words of My Chemical Romance: “Vampires will never hurt you.” With all due respect to MCR, Vampires are meant to be scary. I mean, they’re super-strong, super-fast and they want to bite people’s necks and suck all the blood out. The “eek” factor is high. Buffy had some pretty badass vampires. The Master and the Ubervamps were two of Buffy’s most formidable opponents. And yet, it’d be pretty difficult to find a fan that listed The Master or the Ubervamps as their favorite vamp. Why? Well, they’re kind of boring.
I apologize for putting The Master in the same category with the generically super-powerful Ubervamps. He was a well-written character with a decent personality, but there was nowhere for him to go. At the end of the day, either he was going to kill Buffy or she was going to kill him. With the most fascinating of Buffy’s villains, there were dozens of possibilities for their character. If this blog post could be ten pages long and not interesting to anyone but me, I would discuss all of the vampires on Buffy and everything that makes them interesting. But, instead I will focus on the idea of the vampire as villain and talk about the two vampires that I found the scariest. I’m choosing to talk about the scariest rather than the sexiest or funniest, because viewers like being scared. Vampires can be many things, but I would argue that they are the most effective as villains.
First, there’s Angelus. As far as real strength and invulnerability go, he was actually one of the weaker season villains on the show. The Master, The Mayor, Adam, Glory and The First Evil were far more powerful in terms of simple muscle. But, Angelus was often more frightening than any of these villains. A large part of this was the creep factor of his intimate knowledge of Buffy. He always did things that would send a chill down anyone’s spine. While any vamp could have killed Jenny Calendar, Angelus left the body in Giles’s apartment and set up a romantic, intimate scene for Giles to walk in on. Giles’s discovery of the body was one of the most shocking moments in the show’s history. Furthermore, Angelus didn’t need invulnerability. When she encountered an Ubervamp for the first time, Buffy couldn’t kill him. Okay, there’s some conflict there. But, when she was dealing with Angelus, she wouldn’t kill him. To Buffy, Angelus was always Angel on the inside. The conflict was much deeper.
For the second scariest vampire, my choice is Darla. There wasn’t nearly enough of her on the show, but her astonishing power is apparent through her back-story. Angelus, Drusilla and Spike, three of the strongest vampires on the show, were all essentially Darla’s pawns. She was badass enough that her vampire playthings had vampire playthings. She constantly used her sexuality to lure men to her. One of the most surprising and defining moments of the show was the very first scene of the first episode when Darla enters Sunnydale High School at night dressed as a Catholic school girl. She enters with a boy. The horror movie cliché had half the audience expecting a monster to jump out and attack her. But, because of the title of the show, many viewers thought, “I get it. She looks like a victim, but she’s actually going to be able to fight whatever attacks her.” When it is revealed that Darla is a vampire and she murders the boy she’d brought with her, it defies both of these expectations beautifully. While Buffy represented female power and virtue, Darla was the perfect counterpoint of female power and evil.
At this point many watchers of the show might be asking- wait, no Spike? In answer, I say, I did promise to talk about the two scariest vampire villains. I love Spike, but let’s face it: Though he was physically strong, he was always just a bit too hung up on girls to be all that terrifying. I will give him an honorable mention for busting in on Season 2 and killing the Annoying One. That was top rate.
In conclusion, perhaps instead of saying “Vampires will never hurt you,” My Chemical Romance could have said, “Vampires who just hurt you are boring. Vampires who are funny, vulnerable, sneaky, snarky and sexy are a lot more interesting.”
Faith Burnham is a Dramatic Writing Student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and an extreme Buffy the Vampire Slayer geek.