The 10 Reasons We Love Vampires

A little more than a month ago I posted a musing on how zombies have managed to become their own genre in film. Now it’s time to focus on the monster genre that has reigned supreme for centuries: vampires.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon comes out tomorrow or in most people’s case, at midnight tonight. But Stephenie Meyer’s books and their cinematic counterparts are merely the crowning achievement of the vampire in today’s day and age.


The fact that vampires have been around since before recorded history is impressive. In fact, it’s probably proof that vampires really exist, but that’s a topic for another day. Vampire lore and mythos, however, have undeniably remained immortal in that time, reaching a new zenith in our time with Twilight and HBO drama True Blood.

The appeal of the vampire to the human race and our culture is perhaps stronger than any other single thing of myth-based origin. Nothing has withstood the test of time in like the vampire – its appeal both cross-cultural and cross-generational.

There is a reason for this. In fact, I’ve come up with ten good reasons why we love vampires (and why we’ve loved them for so long.) No particular order, but they do tend to be more important later down the list

1. Fear Factor

The first and most obvious reason why vampires are popular is because they can be scary. They can transform from being human-like to bats or ridiculous-looking creatures (think 2004’s Van Helsing). We like being freaked out a bit and fangs, blood and bats will often satisfy that desire.

2. A Long History

I encourage you to look up vampire on Wikipedia for a wealth of vampire history, but because stories of vampires and in the more basic form of vampirism have existed as far back as what we have recorded of history itself, this only strengthens the appeal. The genre is so rich with depth and has its own historical context as deep as anything else in history. Vampires are all the more intriguing because of this extensive history and because they’ve maintained popularity all the way to the present day.

3. Early Branding

How early were you introduced to vampires? The Count on Sesame Street? Count Chocula Cereal? Plastic fang teeth? If you were on Family Feud and asked “name on creature associated with Halloween,” “vampire” would be the number one answer. We know what they are from a very young age, which later in life manifests itself as nostalgia, which is a very powerful agent when it comes to enjoying a story and also getting you to pay money for it.

4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Nosferatu

We can thank Stoker’s classic novel for the modern incarnation of the vampire as well as the German silent filmNosferatu for the first inclusion of “Dracula” in film. Naturally, vampires and their characteristics have evolved over some time and we have these to thank for the earliest modern depictions.

5. Immortality

We as humans are obsessed with the notion of our own mortality. It is the only thing we can never explain which has made the allure of immortality in fiction one of the most enduring themes. The Fountain of Youth has been a myth as long as vampires have and it continues to pop up in all art forms. Vampires possess immortality, so immediately that makes them interesting. We wonder what it’s like, what its downsides might be and ultimately if it’s worth it.

6. Association with Wealth

Think about this one. Have there been any stories about poor or working-class vampires? Even Edward Cullen ofTwilight comes from a wealthy family. Part of this idea traces back to social critique in literature, but vampires have held power in more ways than just agelessness. The allure of power merely becomes another reason we’re intrigued by vampires. They have so much that we do not despite being demonic creatures in a sense.

7. Human Appearance

Vampires are more powerful than humans. They’re dangerous but also susceptible to things humans are not. Most importantly, however, they’re human in appearance and they can be either gender. Vampires are often times converted humans as well. It would be one thing if they were all bat-like creatures with wings and a distorted face, but they can live amongst us. Not only does that make them complex, but it also makes them more appealing to us and believable. The fact that they can be either sex too makes them appealing to a wider audience. We automatically ascribe certain characteristics and make certain assumptions when we see a human form and face. Vampire genre writers get to use that to their advantage and for vampire romance writers, it’s the very foundation of their success.

8. Sex Appeal

Ever wonder why the vampire genre has so easily blended with romance? Vampires are damn sexy. Just the notion of vampires sinking fangs into the necks of humans is sexual in itself. The neck is a major erogenous zone and whether we care to admit it or not, the sensations of pleasure and pain are interminably linked at the subconscious level at the least. There’s something so horrifying and satisfying at watching or reading about that one act. Make a vampire movie and put sexy-looking actors in it and it’s hard to ignore the appeal.

9. Forbidden Romance

Then there’s also the timeless theme of forbidden romance, which Twilight drains (pun intended) all it can from the genre. Vampires drink human blood, so they’re a threat to us, but at the same time, they look and act like us, making it feasible for the two to become romantically involved. Throw on top of that the idea that vampires live forever while humans die and vampire/human romance is ripe with great romantic drama. Will the human insist to be bitten and live forever or will the vampire refuse because immortality is far from desirable? Great thematic questions.

10. A Clear Set of Rules

The storytelling power of the vampire can be attributed to this chief reason: a clear set of rules that apply to the vampire. The rules we apply to our make-believe are what make it so believable. When we know exactly what an imaginary creature or character is or isn’t capable of, we can make plot predictions, formulate our own solutions on how to “defeat the creature” and we become invested in the fictional story.

Vampires are the single greatest example of a fictional creature adhering to rules. They have super-human ability: great strength, the ability to live forever and sometimes more, which makes them more interesting than humans. They also have a weakness that makes them fallible: fear of (or sometimes death because of) sunlight, hate of garlic, fear of the cross, can be killed with a silver stake to the heart, etc. There also are other characteristics like turning into bats, feeding only off blood, sleeping in coffins and more. There’s a clear definition for vampire and we all know what it is and these attributes make them interesting to us.

As you’ve noticed in your many vampire books and movies, different writers play off these rules in different ways, making so many unique possibilities for the vampire world. The opportunity for novelty with a sense of familiarity is abundant and that’s why the genre continues to evolve.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment