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23 Unusual Vampire Variations

If you thought vampire culture began with Dracula and stopped with Lestat, you have been grossly misinformed. Luckily, The A.V. Club has provided us with 23 vampire variations, from the trashiest to the classiest.

1. White-trash hillbilly vampires

Having a family of vampires come to town is bad enough for property values, but when the vampire family tools around in a ramshackle RV, talks with deep Southern drawls, and listens to “Naughty, Naughty” on repeat, the locals might as well pull up stakes. Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 flick Near Dark, one of the first modern revisionist vampire tales, features Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton as the leaders of a bloodsucking clan that might as well be spelled with a K.

Henriksen’s character is an unrepentant secessionist who fought proudly for the Confederacy in the War of Northern Aggression, and when Paxton speaks of having started the Chicago Fire, the tone of triumph in his voice suggests he did it to get back at the Yanks.

2. Bacteriological vampires

The idea that vampirism might be spread like the flu is a popular one in bloodsucker lit, but nowhere is it better realized than in Richard Matheson’s classic apocalyptic science-fiction novel I Am Legend. Though film adaptations have tinkered with his story endlessly, Matheson’s original conception was that vampirism was a communicable disease of bacteriological origin, and it turned human beings into an intriguing amalgam of vampire and zombie.

The book is far superior, and much more original, than any of the movie versions, but it does miss one essential point: the vampire disease is contracted unwillingly. In reality, if there was such a disease, mopey teenagers would be lined up around the block to get infected.

3. “Vegetarian” vampires

The imaginary undead boyfriend of hordes of horny teenagers (and quite a few adults who really should know better), Edward Cullen of the Twilight series of young-adult novels is one of a small coven of vampires who have sworn off the human stuff in favor of a less enticing but more ethical option: animal blood.

The Cullens’ alternative lifestyle—which they jokingly refer to as “vegetarianism” even though that makes absolutely no sense—makes Edward extra-dreamy in the eyes of the books’ protagonist, vampire groupie Bella Swan.

As an added weird-vampire bonus, the Twilight bloodsuckers aren’t completely sun-averse; rather, their skin goes all glittery in the daylight, because teenage girls love glitter.

4. Black vampires

Made for about $6 in 1972, Blacula was the first-ever black-vampire movie. Produced by exploitation king Samuel Z. Arkoff, it told the story of Mamuwalde, an African prince who gets converted into a vampire by Dracula, who, among his many other faults, is revealed as a pro-slavery racist. Waking up in Los Angeles hundreds of years later, Mamuwalde goes on a rampage that takes the lives of some of the city’s most talented interior decorators.

The cult hit spawned one sequel (the wonderfully titled Scream, Blacula, Scream) and a million rip-offs. It’s also been referenced ad infinitum in popular culture, but nowhere more hilariously than in The Venture Brothers, which posits the existence of one Jefferson Twilight, the world’s only Blacula-hunter.

5. Kindly Southern war-hero vampires

On the HBO series True Blood, main vampire Stephen Moyer is trying to “mainstream” (vampires use it as a verb in this crazy alternate reality), which means drinking synthetic people-juice and assimilating with the living. He even makes friends with his girlfriend’s kindly grandmother, agreeing to speak about his pre-vamp life to her veterans group.

Turns out Moyer was an honorable man in life, which wins over some of the townspeople. And helping out Grandma leads him one step closer to nookie with Sookie (Anna Paquin), which is what any vampire really wants.

6. Underwater vampires

Alan Moore has tinkered with the vampire legend many times in his comics work, but the most effective and chilling was a story called “Still Waters,” which ran in Swamp Thing #38. Drawing on a previous Swamp Thing story where the hero saved an Illinois town from a plague of vampires by flooding it, Moore crafted a story where the creatures lived, trapped beneath the non-running water. The eerie images of pale bodies floating in a lake, and the introduction of Charlene, the grotesque vampire queen, fat on blood like a tick, are among the horror comic’s most memorable images.

(Just to show he didn’t take the entire thing too seriously, Moore also gave the world his humor book The Bojeffries Saga, featuring Uncle Festus Zlüdotny, a vegan vampire who roamed the streets of London in search of soy blood.)

7. Reverse vampires

Rumors have circulated for hundreds of years about the existence of the sinister creatures known as reverse vampires. But, as usual, it took the brave souls at The Simpsons to blow the lid off the story. In “Grandpa Vs. Sexual Inadequacy,” Springfield’s adults, under the sway of Abe Simpson’s aphrodisiac tonic, are spending their nights in marital bliss and ignoring their children.

A conspiracy-minded Bart suggests it’s some sort of UFO plot; to mock him, Lisa suggests that the adults are really reverse vampires who need to get to bed before dark. Naturally, the kids of Springfield, who are no less gullible than their parents, takes her theory seriously, and Milhouse eventually spins the reverse vampires into an elaborate network of evil involving saucer people, the federal government, and the RAND Corporation.

8. Lesbian vampires

The notion of lesbian vampires has a long, lurid history, going all the way back to a French novel called Carmilla, which was written some 25 years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Europeans in particular have always been gaga over the idea, and in the 1970s, there was a slew of lesbian vampire movies: Vampiros Lesbos, Vampyres, The Vampire Lovers, and Lust For A Vampire, to name but a few. These did better at the box office than Blacula, possibly because American filmgoers were more comfortable with vampirism expressed in the form of hot girls making out with each other than in the form of black people with superpowers.

In 1983, Tony Scott filmed The Hunger, featuring Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in a vampiric love scene, leading many heterosexual males to declare it the greatest vampire movie of all time.

More vampire variations at The A.V. Club.

[Buzzfeed via The A.V. Club]