Old School vs. New Age Vampires

Anne Rice, one of the most popular authors of vampire lore, celebrates her birthday today. Rice’s iconic anti-hero, Lestat is definitely your old-school, bad-ass bloodsucker. Today’s vampires are a little more – how shall I say it? – tame.

I blame Vince Gilligan. I know – you’re thinking, what does the creator of ‘Breaking Bad’ have to do with making Edward Cullen sparkle? Well, personally I think the turning point occurred around the same time that Gilligan, then a writer for ‘The X-Files’, enlisted Luke Wilson to play a vampire with a heart of gold who stole Agent Scully’s heart but let her walk away with her blood intact in the classic episode ‘Bad Blood’. They just got softer from there. That’s right, folks. The same man responsible for bringing us Walter White also brought us the recent invasion of the ‘tamepires’.

I don’t know – maybe it was the Count from Sesame Street. Or Count Chocula. But whoever is to blame, it seems like these gentle new creatures of the night are here to stay. To see just how today vampires stack up against their counterparts of yore we thought we’d do a little side by side comparison to see who comes out on top.

Old School vs.

New Age

Reaction to Sunlight
In Interview with the Vampire Anne Rice’s characters definitely fall into the old school category here. Leave them out in the sun and – oh no! Where did my vampires go? Okay, if you’ve been sleeping in a coffin for the past ten years, you might have missed the news – in Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight, Edward Cullen sparkles in the sunlight!!! You heard me, people – I said he SPARKLES.
And the winner is: Wow, this is a tough one. I mean, it must suck (pun intended) to shrivel up in the sun like a raisin, but who wants to walk around looking like they did a face-plant into a container of sparkles on a pre-school craft table? We have to call this one a tie.


Real vampires drink blood, y’all. Human blood. Although Rice’s Lestat occasionally distinguishes between innocent victims and bad guys, at the end of the day, he has got to feed his craving. In Rice’s Vittorio the Vampire,  the vampires’ need for blood is overwhelming. Most new age vampires are on a strictly no-human diet. It’s sort of like Atkins for vampires, so around the new-age table it’s all “Please pass the mountain lion.” In A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, Matthew relies on blood banks for his fix, although it’s not the same as the fresh stuff.
And the winner is: Listen, we’re not advocating drinking human blood for everyone – but if that’s your deal then go with it. Everything in moderation, right? Old school takes the cake – or should we say the plasma?


It was never fully explained why Bram Stoker’s Dracula couldn’t see his reflection in the mirror. Perhaps it’s because he is a creature of the dark, but whatever the reason, it could explain why he sticks to the Bryll cream and combed back look. Have you ever seen Edward Cullen’s hair? Hello! Of COURSE he can see his reflection – that windswept  ‘do doesn’t just happen, you know.
And the winner is: Real vampires should be concentrating on sucking people’s blood, not primping. Sorry, newbies. The old-school wins this round.


Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu precedes even Dracula and both of these old school vampires prove that back in the day fangs were definitely in style. While the Cullen clan would never sport any look so unstylish, the characters of L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries have the best of both worlds. Retractable fangs are just so much more practical, don’t you think?
And the winner is: Convenience and versatility win this round. If you need fangs then retractable is definitely the way to go. A win for the new guys.


Aversion to Garlic
Call me old-fashioned but I remember a time when fighting a vampire was akin to making a killer pesto. In The Vampyre  by John Polidori, you could stop a vampire in its tracks with a few bulbs of garlic. If Cassandra Clare’s ‘The Mortal Instruments‘ are any indication, the greatest danger posed to vampires from garlic these days is a nasty case of indigestion.
And the winner is: Well, who doesn’t love a dash of garlic here and there? This is another one for the new kids on the block.


Relationship with Werewolves
Bram Stoker’s character not only didn’t have to fight over his human girlfriend with a werewolf sporting a killer six-pack, but he could actually transform into a large wolf himself. In Twilight vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies, which will make things awkward at family dinners when Edward’s daughter shows up with her mate, Jacob.
And the winner is: First of all – life is too short to fight with your neighbors. Secondly – who doesn’t want to turn into a wolf at will? Old school wins.

So what’s the verdict? Was it ever in question? Old school rules!


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2 thoughts on “Old School vs. New Age Vampires

  1. I love this! I agree wholeheartedly that old school vamps were so much more…..well…everything! I’m not a fan of these new humanized vamps, especially ones that sparkle, ugh. I like them dark, powerful, dangerous, and unpredictable. There are some newer books whose vamps are satisfyingly scary but too many are following this new trend; this new phase of emo vamps has got to go!

  2. Great article! Don’t forget those vamps from True Blood. They’re like a mix of old school and new… Sunlight still disagrees with them, but they’ll throw back some synthetic blood in the bar around the corner any night. They also sport those nifty retractable fangs. Vampire evolution?

    Personally, I always thought the reason Dracula couldn’t see his reflection was due to his lack of a soul. Silly Edward… you could have married Bella in the first book and saved a whole lotta drama if only you’d thought about why you could see yourself finger-comb your hair in the high school bathroom.