For those of you who don’t know Bears, the man (or Bear) has about 9,000 cds so he is always on the lookout for new music. As things got really busy for OWA, he discovered Garage Rock Revivalist Buddy Black and the Ghost Umbrellas. Buddy’s new EP The Story on the Road to Waterloo (available for free download) is a conceptual love story about two vampires searching for a cure. He also discovered that Buddy was a HUGE SciFi fan and was interested in writing for our newsletter. So find below, Buddy Black’s analysis on Vampires in SciFi and download his album (for free or pay what you wish).
VAMPIRE TROPES IN SCIENCE FICTION
By: Buddy Black
My fascination with vampires began when I was 10 years old.
One night I asked my mom if I could stay up a little later and watch ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? “Sure,” she said, thinking nothing of it. Yeah, it was a quote-scary-unquote show, but I watched that show whenever it was on and I was goddamn double digits. No problem.
That night the Midnight Society told “The Tale of the Midnight Madness”—the story of a down-on-its-luck movie theatre that tries to boost its sales by showing a special screening of NOSFERATU—special as in the titular character can walk out of the screen, creep up behind you, and murder your stupid ass.
I was beside myself with fright. I couldn’t sleep that night I was so scared. (As an aside: I have bore the shame of being traumatized by an episode of ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE [FUCKING] DARK? my entire life and this is literately the first time I have ever told this story to anyone. Not even joking.)
But what scared me wasn’t the story or the corny music or any of that crap, it was that I had never seen a vampire like that before. I knew what vampires were—they were attractive white people with nice (albeit sometimes pointy) teeth and manners; not this jagged-fanged, Alopecia’d beast on the show.
As time went on, my terror was eventually replaced by a fascination with monsters and myth, which later begat a full blown obsession with everything horror and SciFi: comics, video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books; specifically the Bible. The Bible is easily the best SciFi/horror book ever written (but that’s a different article).
After reading the Bible, the flood gates blew wide open and I began reading any theological/mythic text I could get my hands on: Judaic, Islamic, Sumerian, Norse, Egyptian, Greco/Roman and most importantly... Joseph Campbell ‘s “Hero with a Thousand Faces.” For those of you who haven’t read it, the idea is that there is really only one God, one devil, one hero, and one story, but over time and region their myth and identity adapts to suit their varying cultural settings.
Now, back when it was first a screenplay, I spent about six months researching vampires for THE STORY ON THE ROAD TO WATERLOO. Needless to say, I learned a bunch of crazy-interesting stuff (again, probably best left for another article), but most relevantly that cultures all over the globe have their own version of the vampire. And that even with these myths being cultivated continents and centuries apart, there is one singular commonality: they are all parasites.
That may not really sound as profound as I’m trying to make it out to be, but when you think about it, the idea of a sentient “boogy-thing” running around and feeding off of you and your loved ones is so deeply rooted in our collective unconscious to manifest itself in one way or another is actually pretty amazing. What’s even more amazing is how, even to this very day, different incarnations of these menacing, parasitic creatures have appeared in contemporary culture. And our culture has arguably the firmest grasp of which folk stories are meant to be taken as fact, and which are meant to be purely entertainment. That’s especially true within genres that are taken for grated to be for pure entertainment, and thereby potentially freeing their authors to base their stories on nothing but pure, unfiltered imagination.
I’m talking about Science-Goddamned-Fiction.
Now, good SciFi creates its own rules, its own world, and (as an extension) its own myth. But since there is only one god, one devil, one hero, and one story, the vampire still appears again and again and again. The fear of being host to some monstrous parasite is too ingrained in our being, whether you’re fictional or science-fictional. Here are a few examples:
ALIEN (Ridley Scott, 1979):
A terrifying, fanged beast stalks the tomb of a space ship, trying to destroy and/or impregnate the crew of the Nostromo with her young.
SHIVERS (David Cronenberg, 1975):
A literal parasite compels its hosts to have sex (by whatever means necessary) thereby spreading the infection.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATURES (Don Siegel, 1956):
Alien spores come to Earth and use members of the community as hosts.
SPECIES (Roger Donaldson, 1995), THE THING (John Carpenter, 1982), DREAMCATCHER (Lawrence Kasdan, 2003), THE OMEGA MAN/I AM LEGEND (Boris Sagal/Francis Lawrence, 1971/2007), THE MATRIX (The Wachowskis, 1995), BEAST MASTER (Don Coscarelli, 1982), CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1995), LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Frank Oz, 1986), STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Nicholas Meyer, 1982)
I could go on all night, but this beer of mine is getting warm, and that’s a good sign for me to wrap things up. All writers need to write about what they know and love and I love all things SciFi, horror, and myth.
My latest EP, “The Story on the Road to Waterloo”, was my attempt to salvage my nigh-aborted screenplay about two street-punk vampires who go chasing after the rumour of a cure and ultimately pay for their naïveté with their [un]lives.
Though I will admit that I side with the critics that the six songs don’t really do the story justice, seeing all the positive response to the “shadow” of the complete story finally gave me the kick in the ass I needed to finish the screenplay and start shopping it around.
You can download your very own digital copy of the EP here:
I love you all. Thank you for reading and thank you Other Worlds Austin for giving me the opportunity to rant about vampires for a minute. Also, while I’m here I have to say: fuck Twilight, it is literately the worst thing ever.
The header for this article was drawn by my good friend S.R. Ayers check out his work here: http://www.dysomnia.com
- Rev. Buddy Black
About Buddy Black:
Buddy Black; Padre of Perdition; high priest of hedonism, has carried the Black flag far and wide, and in the fullness of time, made many converts. The hard drinking, rough-edged Buddy Black has been writing punked-up pagan-hymns for close on seventeen years now, bringing his raw, catchy, meticulously crafted tales of love, religion, and emotional apocalypse, to audiences in venues large and small.