Vampires: Why They Bite Review: Get Your Teeth Into This

February 10, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

3.5Dracula300VAMPIRES: WHY THEY BITE: Wednesday 10th February, BBC3, 9pm ALERT ME

It’s a miracle that you can move for fangs these days. Vampires are bloody everywhere. With Twilight fever threatening to sweep away teenagers in a tide of hormonal shrieking, True Blood sucking up the ratings on HBO and superb home-grown effort Being Human putting the bite on British audiences, we’ve never been more fascinated by the sanguine-slurping fiends.

But what exactly is their appeal? Historian Lisa Hilton aims to find out in this documentary, but while the content is interesting, Hilton’s irritating delivery will make you reach for the remote on more than one occasion.

She begins by stating that she’s “going on a journey? to find out about vampirism. Why do presenters always feel the need to say this, as if their insights are part of some pseudo-spiritual voyage of discovery? Why not “I’m going to find out? or “I’m going to tell you??

There’s something really annoying about her voice too. She speaks every line as if she’s narrating a commercial for a movie (sample: “I’m fascinated by the story of one who can NEVER DIE?) and she can’t keep her head still.

Once you notice that, it becomes hard not to see it all the time, a weird visual tick you keep looking at. It’s as if she’s utterly convinced of her sexual magnetism and feels the need to pout and flounce at every opportunity, none more obvious as the time she goes to a Vamp party in New Orleans for no other reason than to wink at the camera.

Most of the interesting knowledge is imparted by Dan Jones – a historian you can’t help feel would have been a better choice as a presenter – but there are some good nuggets of information from Sir Christopher Frayling and film buffs Xan Brooks and Kim Newman.

The content is actually rather illuminating and charts the change from traditional Serbian folk tale nasty to Byronic teenage heartthrob. Sadly there’s no mention of vampire watermelons along the way.

The vampire myth is one rooted in the fears of society. The Victorian origin of Dracula was born of the threat of outsiders and female sexual liberation compounded with the fear of the plague. With Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire, vamps now had a voice – they became more human.

Of course these days, vampires have stepped out of the shadows to become brooding romantic anti-heroes. But ultimately, modern vampirism represents freedom from the one fear we can never escape – that of death. And as that fear is probably never going to go away, it seems that vampirism is here for good too.