There is but one scientific certainty that I know: werewolves are far, far better than vampires. Werewolves have a longer historical record than vampires. They are referenced in the Satyricon from 60AD and the founders of Rome were probably werewolves when you think about it. When was the earliest vampire story? Oh, what was that? The mid-17th century? Werewolves have two millennia of kicking ass and taking names all over Western history. Also, werewolves aren’t Native American “yah” dudes who never discovered the T-shirt; they are dudes who turn into half-man half-wolf monsters, come to your house and wreck up the place. Silver bullets don’t stop them, buddy; that is a myth introduced in early 20th-century retelling of the French Beast of Gévaudan tale, and was added to make something French seem tough.
Fact: Werewolves are hardcore atheists who are not scared of crosses. Double fact: Werewolves are the subject of much better heavy metal than vampires are. Triple fact: HBO’s True Blood is really dumb.
While Joss Whedon, Charlaine Harris and even J.K. Rowling have all cashed fat checks by emasculating the ferocious total awesomery of werewolves and betting on the supposed sexual magnetism of vampires, let me ask you this: Who would you rather make out with, a brawny hunk who can toss you around like a rag doll or a clammy dweeb who perpetually smells like a pack of clove cigarettes chain smoked on a hot plate of roadkill? Also, a technical but salient point: since none of the “werewolves” in Twilight turn into half-man half-wolves they are not true werewolves and thus do not tarnish the good werewolf name. The same cannot be said of vampires, but frankly, they didn’t have much gravitas left to lose.
Really, those are your facts? Here’s some more. Fact: Michael Landon was a werewolf. And Michael J. Fox. And Seth Green. Not exactly the werewolf dream team, buddy boy. Heck, Wolfman Jack was the best werewolf in history and he was born that way!
Fact: in 1971 a werewolf faced a vampire woman (in the classic Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman) and got its mangy butt kicked.
No, I’m afraid any “monster” that can be defeated with a rolled up newspaper and is constantly complaining about his curse pales in comparison to pretty much any vampire. Except Gary Oldman.
It all begins… with a choice. Indeed. And if given a choice between Edward Cullen and Count Dracula (you know, the actual vampire), my money’s on Bela Lagosi. This is going to get complicated, so try to not be distracted by Dakota Fanning here, OK? Focus!
There’s this scene in the 1931 film where a guest at Dracula’s castle cuts his finger on a kitchen knife, and Lugosi’s Dracula is unable to restrain himself and lunges for the speck of blood. The moment is more or less pulled from the Bram Stoker book and sort of similar to the silent film Nosferatu. It’s that lack of restraint, the blood lust, as opposed to Cullen’s — I don’t know — mopey urges, that set the standard for vampires.
There have been so many vampires over the years, mostly ridiculous, but some memorable and true to the spirit of vampires. Christopher Lee was pretty good. Chris Sarandon in Fright Night was fun. Remember that line about how it’s not the cross that defeats vampires, it’s belief. That’s a throwback to Lugosi. Then Ann Rice came along, and vampires began the slow, dreary slide to melodrama. Buffy had fun, sometimes, when Angel was bad or with early Spike.
The Twilight Saga is, of course, the natural progression of the vampire’s decline. The defanging, if you will, of a cultural touchstone, replaced by trite and hollow tween angst. No blood lust. No fear. Just another sanitized soap opera for the ringtone set.
But it could be worse, I suppose. The werewolves could win, and that’s just plain silly, as the Underworld series has illustrated. And now Edward and Jacob have to team up to protect Bella? Ugh, why? There’s more heat between the two of them, than anything Kristen Stewart can muster. I don’t know, it’s all so sad. In the end, I’ll go with Team Edward, but only because there’s no Team Lugosi.
Twilight has done for vampires what Starbucks did to your local coffee houses. It has scrubbed the character and danger out of your town and made it safe for the painfully bland who spend their time walking their chocolate labs instead of cutting themselves for attention. I confess, I’ve done the goth dance at NYC’s Bat Cave and spent my fair share of allowances on Vampire: The Masquerade RPG books. But, given the choice between Edward’s mope-a-dope of my senses and wolf goofing teen charm through a bong haze, I’ll disagree with Dr. House — this time, it IS Lupus.