The Child Vampire Cliche

My wife and I caught a bit of the excellent movie Let Me In last night. It's an adaptation of the Swedish novel Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  A Swedish movie was made in 2008. While the American version switches the location from Sweden to New Mexico, it still remains a faithful adaptation of the emotional story of a boy's friendship with a young girl who happens to be a vampire. Abby, played brilliantly by Chloe Grace Moretz, is a chilling but sympathetic character, turning from an innocent, angelic kid into a brutal, feral monster. Vampires are an overused fantasy and horror cliche, and while showing children as vampires is not an altogether new spin on the concept, Lindqvist manages to look at it in an intelligent and provocative way.

Others have done it before, of course. Stephen King imagined the horrific sounds of babies sucking blood instead of milk and formula in his novel 'Salem's Lot (one of his best). The story was adapted in 1979, directed by Tobe Hooper and starring David Soul, and then remade in 2004, starring Rob Lowe. (There was even a sequel called A Return to Salem's Lot in 1987, starring Michael Moriarity.)  One of the more creepy visuals from that original TV miniseries adaptation that I remember was the sight of a little boy vampire floating outside a window, scratching on the glass pane to be allowed entrance.

The Lost Boys in 1987 also examined the idea of young people as soulless vampires, their dreams of eternal youth (sleeping all day, partying all night, never getting older, never dying) coming with a price.  Corey Haim and Corey Feldman played young vampire hunters, trying to save Jason Patric's character from the seduction of a teenage gang of bloodsuckers, played wonderfully by Kiefer Sutherland, Alex Winter, and Jami Gertz. 

Anne Rice arguably did the finest job of fleshing out the idea of an immortal being trapped in an ageless child's body in her first Vampire Chronicles novel, Interview with the Vampire.  While the characters of Louis and Lestat were the stars (portrayed excellently in the 1994 Neil Jordan movie version by Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise), the most interesting figure in the story was little Claudia, brought to undead life by Kirsten Dunst.

There were others before, like Eddie in The Munsters.  Was he a werewolf boy or a tiny vampire, or a blend of both?  There will be more to come, like the half-human half-vampire child of Bella and Edward in The Twilight Saga.  Can the idea be tapped further or has the stereotype been played out?


Anonymous said…
kirsten dunst is bellisima and great artist.