The scientificized vampire: Biological explanations of vampirism in "Blade I" and "I Am Legend."

Essay by nickless October 2005

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1 Introduction.

The motif of the vampire has now been widely spread through all kinds of genres, movies and literary works. Many of these texts treat and depict vampirism as a mythical, religious or supernatural phenomenon or a mixture of all three of these. As the vampire is a figure which - concerning its existence in literary texts - is rooted in gothic and fantastic fiction, the causes and reasons for its existence given in these texts are not based on what one might call the empirical world. Apart from these works, which accept the inexplicability of the phenomenon of the vampire, there is a small amount of texts which attempt to explain this phenomenon scientifically. By taking a closer look at the two examples of the movie "Blade" and the novel "I Am Legend" I want to examine what possible biological explanations for the vampire phenomenon these two texts bring up and how they legitimate these.

2 "I Am Legend."

When the novel "I Am Legend" is published for the first time in 1954 it introduces a completely new starting point or basic setting to the field of vampire stories. While in the famous works up to this point, as e.g. Stokers Dracula or Le Fanus Carmilla, the vampire always has been a solitary outsider and an alien to the regular society, Richard Matheson turns this concept upside down and lets his protagonist Robert Neville face a whole society of vampires while he himself is one of the last (normal) human beings alive.

"I Am Legend came about because, when I lived in New York, I watched Dracula, the old Lugosi Dracula, at a motion picture theater, and it just occurred to me that if one vampire was frightening, then a whole world of vampires would really be frightening."...