Long established as a relocation of sexual intercourse, the bloody feeding of the vampire is obviously its most iconic and embodied behaviour. How then do the authors and directors of the ever-popular children’s vampire story negotiate the clear inappropriateness of such consumption? Examining a range of recent television and film texts, such as Count Duckula, Mona the Vampire, Young Dracula, The Littlest Vampire and the My Sister is A Vampire series of books, my chapter proposes to highlight the various ways in which the central characteristic of the vampire is rendered obscene in its most literal sense, whilst concluding that the necessity of such subterfuge in fact only serves to call attention to that which cannot be shown.
Summarised in typically laconic fashion as ‘Vegetarian Vampires’ on TvTropes.com, across much of vampiric media these non-blood drinking nosferatu often in fact substitute animal or synthetic blood for human but even this is generally unacceptable for the standards of taste and decency required for cultural products aimed at children. Given this clear unsuitability, why is the vampire so popular within children’s media? I argue that the very unrepresentability of the vampire’s appetite paradoxically enables it to take centre stage. In contrasting the hidden consumption of these texts with the more sensational and shocking depiction of children as vampires in contemporary Gothic (in texts like Let the Right One In and Interview With the Vampire) I maintain that this bloodless portrayal actually produces a more authentic Gothic experience.
I also draw attention to the central paradox of the marketing strategies that surround many of these child vampire texts – encouraging cultural consumption whilst ensuring that the vampiric analogue remains obscured. In short, therefore, I intend to expose the ways in which hiding the bloody consumption essential to the identity of the vampire creates and maintains desire and demand within Young Gothic media.
About the speaker(s)
Dr Stephen Curtis specialises in the darker aspects of Early Modern Literature, and is currently writing a book on Early Modern Horror for University of Wales Press. This research interest comes from a lifetime spent immersed in horror fiction, films, and games. He has presented on a wide range of contemporary Gothic and horror topics, ranging from death in videogames to the particular horrors to be found on British farms. He tweets at @EarlyModBlood and is always happy to chat about blood and all things horror.
Isabella Curtis is his daughter and research assistant for this project.