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The Reincarnation of Van Helsing

I had no clue what I was going to write for this blog today. I had a headache and my throat was sore, one of the first signs of sickness and so instead of trying to force out a post, I decided to skip it and chill so I wouldn’t get sick. So on goes the TV and since it’s Halloween everything to do with witches, wizards, the supernatural and vampires is on, namely one of my favorite movies, Teen Witch. But during the commercials ABC Family advertized the movie Van Helsing. Now mind you, if I weren’t taking this Gothic and Sublime class in school I wouldn’t have thought of this, but it just fascinated me how the incarnation of Van Helsing changed from the doctor who happened to stumble upon a case of vampirism to this great vampire hunter or monster killer and it got me to thinking about how much society and evolving culture have an effect on these classic characters. I mean, let’s think about this.

Van Helsing in the original Dracula was a doctor, not a vampire hunter, who got called in because of a strange case of what may have been anemia but wasn’t and it makes sense? I mean we have to ask ourselves if our family member is pale and weak and sickly, our first thought is to them to the ER or call a doctor. I think a vampire coming to visit would be the last thing we ever think about. Van Helsing wasn’t even quite sure what was going on when he first got there only that Lucy’s case was a strange one and when he realized how strange, he tapped into his knowledge of folklore and legends. In the newer incarnations of Van Helsing, he’s a monster killer and an expert in his field.

Dracula and the original incarnation of vampires could actually go out in the daylight. The vampire’s fatal weakness being the sun is a new thing that came with the 30’s rendition of the movie… don’t quote me on that, but the point is Dracula’s weakness being sunlight is more recent. In the original novel, his powers were only greatly diminished during the daylight which in retrospect makes it harder for someone to deal with. So Stephanie Meyer had if right with sunlight not outright killing vampires as much as I hate the sparkling part.

Nowadays, whenever we talk about Frankenstein, people think of the gruesome tall monster, but that’s the Creature. Frankenstein was a doctor and the original book was all about him and his desire to conquer death which he does when he creates the Creature, but there was no nig lightshow or electric shock that breathed life into the creature. And no, Frankenstein wasn’t a mad scientist. He was a little obsessed, and he had some bouts with madness when he realized what he had done, but he wasn’t mad. He was a nice, handsome, young man from a respectable family who went and pursued higher learning. Igor? I don’t know where the heck he came from. You know. Frankenstein’s so-called assistant? Regardless, he was never in the original version.

Sweeney Todd (The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) was a nut in original version. He killed for the hell of it. In the recent incarnations, he’s out to avenge his wife’s supposed death and get revenge on Judge Turpin for framing him for a made up crime, raping his wife, and then raising his daughter. Yeah… He didn’t have to kill everybody and have them made into pies but I can understand where his anger comes from.

My point in all this is that culture has somehow really changed and evolved these characters from their original versions. We all love a man that can kick monster’s ass. The bad guy like Dracula has to have a fatal weakness. For someone to even think about putting dead body parts together and bringing the made body life a person has to be mad (though that’s not so far-fetched. People go mad with their obsessions and passions). And for someone to go psycho and kill people and get someone to cook them, something really tragic had to have happened to drive them there. What do all these new incarnations have in common? Well, they play on the fact that it’s in human nature to understand and than in order to really feel these characters, to make it seem real in a world where science and logic has to explain everything, we have to be able to sympathize. I know. For a writer like me, or any writer reading this, it sucks. That makes our job ten times harder and we have to go study psychology and understand the human psyche.

 But it just makes me wonder, in a hundred to two hundred years, will Harry Potter still defeat Voldemort by a stroke of luck that made him the owner of the elder wand? Will Twilight’s vampire’s still be sparkly and Bella Swan be this passive damsel in distress who everyone loves and makes everything right because she’s around? Hell, will Anakin Skywalker turn to the dark side or will it be some clone Palpatine made to frame an honorable man when he refuses him? Makes me wonder. Are we going to put all this work into these stories only for a hundred years later someone to take them and put their own twist on them?

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