Let’s shed a little educated light on the resurgence of this whole “Vampire Romance” genre. Now, before you justifiably click away, assuming I’m going to start talking about Twilight, let me assure you: This is not about Twilight. This is about vampires. Twilight is not a vampire book, it’s Hello Kitty caliber softcore pornography for First Level Goths. It is entirely unconnected to the true resurgence of the vampire, present in anything from True Blood to The Vampire Diaries to Anne Rice to Being Human and on and on. No matter how effeminate, emotional, romantic or just unabashedly gay the shows, movies, and novels featuring the modern vampire might be, they do undoubtedly contain actual vampires. Not pallid fairies that glitter when you tickle their anus: Vampires. They’re back. But why?
It’s clearly apparent that this resurgence is geared almost exclusively towards women, so to truly understand the re-emergence of the vampire, you first need to understand the female mind. Luckily for you, I majored in Feminist Studies in college (mistakenly believing, due to the exclusively female attendance of the classes, that I had somehow stumbled upon an unattended all-you-can-eat buffet of hot, nasty bitches. But I found no hot nasty bitches there – only proud, strong women who deserved my respect and admiration. Later, I found all the hot nasty bitches in the sociology wing, but that’s a story for another time, and another court stenographer). The vampire, if broken down by its core story components, should have a primarily masculine appeal: Super-powers, monsters, hot lusty bitches and vicious maulings – on paper that sounds like classic Man Territory.
Watch out, it's sticky. All of it.
For women, however, the appeal is something beyond the core components: Vampires are cold, dead, emotionless creatures. Most women want two things from a romance: To be physically saved and occasionally dominated by a big, strong, impassive man, and to in turn emotionally save and dominate that same physically strong, but psychologically weak man. Vampires, being quite literally dead, are the most in need of saving. They have lost touch with life itself and need to be “nursed” back into their own basic humanity, the ultimate metaphor for a crippled emotional state. And their supernatural strength and monstrous nature means they’re always able and willing to both save and dominate their fragile women (especially appealing in this case because the women need not be insulted; they’re only “physically weaker” because they lack those accursed vampiric powers).
"No, I don't feel like I'm re-enforcing gender stereotypes by playing up my weakness, he's a vampire and batman!"
Vampires have experienced this resurgence among women because they most represent this dynamic without further interpretation. If you tell a basic vampire story, the domination/submission elements will always be present, even if you don’t actively try to include them. But most supernatural fiction possesses these same elements as well; they need only be presented with slight tweaks to fit the “Romantic Monster” genre. Like so:
Werewolves are already starting their resurgence, but unfortunately it’s usually as the antithesis of the vampire: They are, if anything, just too in touch with their emotional side and baser animal natures. They just live too much; don’t try to tame them, baby. And so sadly, their place is usually to lose to the vampire in a woman’s heart, because the vampire needs them more. The solution? More aloof, emotionally distant werewolves. A sample:
The full moon illuminated a soft meadow of heather, swaying almost imperceptibly one moment, billowing in great wave-like surges the next. At one stood Bertrand, a haunted visage of an afflicted man, his pale skin glowing gently in the moonlight. At the other stood Sophie, his beloved, in naught but a house-frock (her bare ankles almost slutty in their wantonness). Sophie watched as the moon-rays washed over Bertrand, and observed an odd happening: As the light moved across his body, it was briefly as though he were two separate beings - one in shadow, one in light - somehow occupying the same space. When at last he was out of shadow and the light shone down on him completely, revealing his form in full, Bertrand was gone. In his place stood a wolf of a size Sophie could not have imagined. A great, heaving beast, full of passion and violence. She sensed the bloodlust rise in the creature, and she averted her gaze, mentally preparing herself to be torn to shreds – though to be honest, she wasn’t all that into it anymore; it’s just like, he seemed to want it too much, you know?But no attack came. Sophie at last dared risk a glance at the monster opposite her. It sat contentedly, its gaze centered far off into the blackness of the woods. Sophie offered her bare neck to its teeth, but the only response she received was a churlish, scoffing woof. Shivering with lust, Sophie hurled her body on the ground before the monster, laying herself entirely bare before it, to do with as it pleased.With movements so laborious the anticipation became agony, the wolf bent its head, spread its mighty, crushing jaws…and began to apathetically lick at its own testicles.Sophie knew then that she would marry this man-thing, if it was her last act on Earth.
Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde is very nearly the ideal combination for the monster-humping modern woman already: He contains both a needy frightened nerd (a doctor at that! For those of you with Jewish mothers to impress,) that needs a good woman to nurse him back into confidence, as well as a hulking, murderous psychopath to swoon for. He’s like a fuckable Incredible Hulk. He doesn’t need much reimagining. Simply update him for the modern world, and all the desired elements are present:
The plaza was warm and a little dusty, and full of burgeoning sunlight. On the rich adobe stones sat Professor Jekyll, a man of infinite sadness and also a professor of something sexy. Sociology, perhaps. He was immersed in a book, as per usual, his standard uniform of khakis and a cardigan concealing his wispy, fragile frame.Madysson Utterson approached confidently, her own ample frame swaying beneath her skirt like a Boston garbageman driving home after a particularly devastating Red-sox loss. She had nurtured a secret affection for the urbane, sophisticated Prof. Jekyll, though she found the affection lacking something ethereal and implacable. It was an affection that bordered on lust, but always came up just short of breaching the line into lust, settling always into the friend zone. Just then, the professor spasmed in pain.“Professor Hyde!” She cried out breathlessly.“What? I missed that,” he replied in agony, “take a breath before you talk.”“Prof-" she began again, but he cried out so abruptly that she ceased. With startling savagery his skin ballooned and burst before her eyes. In one sharp wave, the man’s frame had altered completely – becoming larger, thicker, hairier. A bubbling appeared on the flesh of his arms, and from the depths of his bones emerged dark intricate patterns, resolving themselves into tattoos seemingly tribal in nature (though she had a feeling they didn’t mean anything, and were there merely to “look fuckin’ sweet.”)“I…professor?” She ventured tentatively.The new man that stood in the formerly witty but slightly bland professor’s place stood up abruptly. He reached from nowhere in particular and produced a leather jacket.“Call me Hyde,” the man corrected, “but do it fast: I got a cage fight to get to.”Madysson began to swoon, thought better of it, and texted the word “OMGSWOON” to her non-threateningly pretty friend Haley instead.
Frankenstein very nearly works on its own as well: For emotional disconnect, he’s so dead inside he’s literally a corpse. He was only recently brought to life, so he doesn’t understand what it is to be alive, much less what it is…to love. Also, he thinks fire is bad. That’s right: Hot, sexy fire is…taboo. The only thing wrong with him is that he’s traditionally portrayed as ugly as fuck. That’s easy enough to fix:
Frankenstein’s monster bent down gingerly, and with trembling hands scooped the broken girl up from the sand. His kickin’ abs rippling with the effort, he turned and placed her in a seated position against the rocks. He gazed down at her broken frame, and choked back a sob. He did not know his own strength; he had been too rough. The girl’s body shifted on the rocks, and she rolled limply onto her side. The monster, not comprehending what he had done, tears welling up in his eyes, nudged her gently. Just then, the girl, actually more of a young, buxom woman come to think of it, opened her eyes. She stretched her long, graceful, swan-like, completely unbroken neck, and let out an appreciative sigh.“That was some hard monster sex,” she said, rather bluntly.“I am… afraid. Afraid…too rough with you. My strength.”“Sometimes a girl likes it rough,” she answered seductively, brushing aside his long flowing hair (taken from a recently deceased Brazilian male model,) running her hands down his chest (supplied by a virile young Italian man,) and to his naked waist (from a black dude: Come on. You knew that was coming.)Though she was tired, beaten, kind of sore and sticky in places she didn’t have names for, she still marveled at the man before her. He was riddled with scars from the horrific surgery - but not the gross ones; the sexy, dangerous ones. And though he had the occasional trouble with pronouns and murdered a baker’s dozen of innocents every time somebody flicked a Bic, she knew that love meant acceptance. She accepted all of her lover, not despite his many faults and imperfections, but because of them. She accepted every inch of him with every inch of herself.Even in the butt a little this time.
Cthulhu presents some interesting barriers to the formula, but there are elements that can appeal to the emotional savior/physical victim dynamic. Just think: How does an unspeakable horror from beyond the stars know what it is to be human, if not for the gentle touch of a woman with heaving breasts to teach him? Plus, you know, tentacles. There’s got to be something there, right? Japan didn’t just pull that shit out of the air. The main hindrance keeping Cthulhu out of the Romantic Monster genre is simply the lack of women. Or rather, the lack of the right kind of women. You know the ones: Adventurous, a little dim, not all that picky when they drink. If Lovecraftian horror wasn’t such a creeping insanity sausage-fest, it might appeal to more female readers:
Camille lived on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity. It was called Long Island. And though she guessed at the grandeur of the cosmic cycle, and fancied herself a woman well aware of her place in this world and all of its machinations, nothing could have prepared her for the hellish events of that humid April night, in the back swamps of Florida.“SPRING BREAK!!! WOOO!” Screamed a distant voice, fading into the night.Having fallen behind of the booze cruise after one too many Tecate beer bongs, Camille found herself sprawled in the bog, the crushing presence of the stars sprawling above her with all their horrible possibility.At first, relegating the experience merely to the tremors of a drunken mind, she had dismissed the quaking of the ground. The hissing of the boiling waves, too, she proclaimed a hallucination. And when the large, formless black shape lurched upwards from the lake, shaking loose the sickly weeds and stagnant mud of a thousand years of accumulation, well, she figured that was probably just the Jaeger Bombs. But when it turned to her and, for one brief moment that stretched, in her mind, into millennia, and she saw the eye – the terrible eye, gazing upon her with a complete and alien revulsion - she knew deep within her soul, in places that were already withering and dying, that this was real. The shape, seeming to defy vision itself, slithering and shifting away from her focus, turned to her, and in her mind she heard the terrible voice, like the screaming of tigers as they are butchered in traps.“Hey,” it said. And inside of her, she could already feel the madness surging, “I’m Chad. Business major. Haven’t seen you around the quad, what’re you studying?”“Poli-Sci,” she thought internally, because her lips, indeed all of her limbs, were paralyzed with shock.“Cool,” whispered the dementia worming its way into her thoughts, “that’s pretty cool. My cousin does that. He likes it okay.”“Awesome,” she replied.She was momentarily distracted by a high, keening sound, beginning someplace far away, but growing louder.“So….like, do you have a boyfriend?”“Nope. I’m just down here to party!” She answered.“Rad! Me too! How ‘bout a handy?” Asked the madness.Screaming, she realized. The sound was screaming. It was coming from her.
Godzilla presents a lot of the same problems as Cthulhu, in that he’s a completely inhuman monster, impossible to love for many, many reasons - not the least among them being his giant stature, complete lack of language skills, and inhuman lizard-like visage. But shit, Rush Limbaugh’s got a wife; these things can be overcome. Besides, Godzilla is your classic bad boy: Sometimes the hero, sometimes the villain - the only real thing you can count on Godzilla to do is play by his own rules. But he’s so busy stomping on tiny men, has he ever stopped to look inside discover he has a tiny…heart?
Crashed sickening thud Godzilla put down foot. Male killed in an instant. Roar he drew breath to fire a powerful laser at tank looming over the horizon. Instead, breathe slowly, announced changes to sigh. Tired, hollow sigh. Godzilla lives in something that was missing, what is? All he wants is giant radioactive lizard things: Squishing, fire, a nemesis of the robot. What else was there? He knew his life must have been good, but it was empty. Under his covering foot a small woman screaming. He knew what he should do. He was on foot put up, placed over her, she froze with fear. He was stuck in uncertainty. He first really noticed the woman, his breath froze in heart. Yet not literally of course, the breath was still all the laser. The first time in his life, Godzilla, knew he could not crush woman. In fact, he felt that with the bat of an eyelash woman could crush him.This is what? A warm feeling, began behind his knees, his spine in a hurry to take route behind his eyelids? Such heat! This was what people called.... Love?No, it was a breath of fire from Mechagodzilla. He had forgotten all Mechagodzilla.You never forget about the Mechagodzilla.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots or you can stay tuned for the extra special twist or you can just wait for his recently greenlit movie project: Godzilla Vs. Jennifer