Here's the weirdest graph you'll see all week. It's graphing the popularity of zombie movies versus vampire movies, split out by whether the president at the time was a Republican or a Democrat. There are exceptions, but in general when a Republican is in office, it's all about zombies. When it's a Democrat, it's all about vampires:
And apparently all our apocalypses started with Eisenhower.
Night of the Living Dead shambled into cinemas during the Nixon era. Carter gave us two adaptations of Dracula. See that massive red spike in the '80s? That's when conservative superhero Ronald Reagan occupied the highest office, and a Night of the Living Dead remake, one sequel, two Return of the Living Dead movies and Reanimator occupied the cinemas. Then Clinton gave us Anne Rice. The connection is confirmed by academics who study the subject. What the hell?
Actually, it makes perfect sense. Horror plays off of social anxieties of the times, and it's all about what the left and right are afraid of. For instance ...
6The Right Fears Vampires Because They're Immoral Sexual Deviants ...
Vampires represent a combination of all the things the right fears about the left -- a breakdown of traditional morality and sexuality, a rejection of religion (there's a reason you can ward off a vampire with a cross), and the seduction and corruption of the innocent. It's everything Mom and Dad fear when their little girl goes off to college. When a Fox News viewer sees this:
They're really afraid of this:
To be fair, we're pretty sure this crew could whoop the cast of Twilight hard.
It's the sexual seduction aspect that's driving the whole vampire phenomenon right now, so let's start there. Vampires are so damn sexy right now, advertisers have even started using vampire imagery to help sell their shit, from razors to cologne.
No, vampires wouldn't need razors. Let's not start that argument.
The idea of the sexy vampire is something Bram Stoker essentially invented -- before that, vampires in folklore were basically walking corpses. Dracula reinvented the vampire as someone whose bones you would walk over your mother's grave to jump. It worked then for the exact same reason they work now -- they were the absolute inversion of conservative Victorian ideals. Prim and proper English ladies, after being bitten by the Count, became oversexed slutbags who abandoned their maternal duties to indulge in depravity. The motive of the vampire invasion was to turn England into the Jersey Shore.
A fate worse than crumpets.
And it's never about traditional, monogamous, heterosexual relationships. From Buffy to Anne Rice to Twilight, part of the whole concept of vampires is that they're not just sexy as hell, but aren't too picky about which warm hole they decide to probe.
Count the number of characters in True Blood who are gay, or at least display bisexual tendencies. You'll see our point when you run out of fingers. There's pretty much nothing about the vampire that doesn't directly oppose the conservative ideal, and although being conservative doesn't necessitate being Christian, a hell of a lot of American conservative ideals are rooted in religion, as they were in Britain in Bram Stoker's time.
"We believe in love, forgiveness and staking the shit out of vampires."
And that brings us to the fact that ...
5... They're Foreigners ...
Bram Stoker's Dracula was the book that first took a bunch of campfire stories and cultural myths and constructed the modern incarnation of the vampire. It's about a guy from Transylvania (which we're betting you probably couldn't place on a map) who decides he wants to leave his dark, lonely castle at the edge of some obscure European village and enjoy the comforts of Western society.
But when he arrives in England, he starts "converting" people into the same kind of monster that he is. What really stirs the heroes into action is that the new legion of ex-humans are aggressively loyal to Dracula, not to Britain. Shit, if Dracula had been written today, he'd be wearing a turban.
"Sure you can go out with that murderous vampire. Wait, is he a Muslim?"
Daniel Bernardi points out that vampire movies tend to crop up whenever immigration becomes a hot-button issue in the United States (along with alien invasion movies). In the late '80s and early '90s, an important era for the immigration and multiculturalism issue, we got a crop of movies such as 1989's Vampire's Kiss, in which the vampires were all model minorities like African and Asian Americans (on an unrelated note, it contains some of Nicolas Cage's finest moments):
Vampires tend to have their own language (as in the Blade universe), and their own weird rituals and government (True Blood). But in every incarnation, a vampire is not one of us.
"It's agreed then. We like drinking blood and talking in unspecified European accents."