Vampires were not always depicted as sexual figures, but somehow, at some point during the 20th century, they were desirable to many readers alike. Commonly, vampires come from the horror genre, so why are people so attracted to them as of late? What is so appealing about Dracula and vampires like him? There are a variety of factors as to why vampires are depicted as sex symbols. Impartial from the sources from the Dracula novel to even Carmilla.
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood would take a whack at how they perceived Dracula. It was easy to display Frankenstein as a monster, as Mary Shelly made it clear he looked horrifying through other people’s reactions. In contrast, Bram Stoker allowed Dracula to be viewed as an older man with a mustache, thin and pale in color. It’s less repulsive in some regards and less scary at first glance. But most importantly, it’s because Dracula is not the only vampire to appear in the books. He also was depicted as attractive by the Brides of Dracula and the sisters.
Dracula and Carmilla are inherently sexually explicit novels
Although these weird sisters appear to the main protagonist, Jonathan Harker, throughout his visit — they are rather creepy with their pale skin and red eyes. However, he still has the urge to kiss them. Two are brunettes with red eyes; the latter has blonde hair and blue eyes. All have sharp teeth with ruby lips. This can be stated in Carmilla as she preys and eventually falls in love with a young woman named Laura. There’s an immense amount of sexual tension inside of Carmilla. See for yourself:
Her soft cheek was glowing against mine. “Darling, darling,” she murmured, “I live in you; and you would die for me, I love you so.”– Carmilla
And as such, the sex appeal toward vampires only grew. As further adapted takes began, so did the sexual undertones in the vampiric films and other media.
Drinking blood is a sexual act
When you break it down even further, what do vampires do? They drink human blood to stay alive and remain youthful. And where do they usually bite their victims? On their neck. It becomes a sexual act within itself. In many respects, the neck is used to kiss playfully and bite in different sexual experiences. As a result, it tends to be associated that those meager kisses can swiftly turn into love bites… that turn into bites that kill.
And it can be further argued that the color of the blood can be labeled as beautiful — or daringly romantic. Red is the color of love, after all.
If we continue down this rabbit hole of macabre, breaking down what makes a vampire alluring could stem from how they get their prey. In the dark of night, while their victims lay to rest, seeking a taste of what they deem is sweet and delicious. This act is a metaphor for sex. Most, if not all, of Dracula’s victims are pure, virginal appearing women; it’s an act that he wants wholeheartedly — and as a token for revenge over Johnathan, Van Helsing, and others for trying to kill him, he takes what he believes is retribution — turning Jonthan’s wife, Mina into a vampire. This transformation transpires from drinking his blood from his breast.
“With that he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his, holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some to the… Oh, my God! My God! What have I done?Dracula
Again, these body parts are sexual. It’d be different if it were an arm, a toe, the nose even, but that’s not the case. Purposely, these incidents of biting and killing usually occur in a bedroom, which tends to be a time of rest or sexual favors. It’s not by coincidence, nor is it a coincidence that vampires avoid sunlight — avoid light that evades and destroys their mystery. However, the sunlight effect came from Nosferatu as a way to make it less similar to Dracula. Sexual acts of that time tended to be late at night, under covers, with maybe sweet kisses on the necks… It sounds like a vampire’s wet dream if you’re asking me.
Vampiric adaptations amped Up the alluring effect
Perhaps the most notable reasoning behind this comes from the many vampire stories that have thus been created. The film industry has since progressively gotten more and more sexual in the ways they portray movie posters of Dracula and light from his female victims. Darkness leads to mystery, leads to the forbidden unknown.
It only got worse in Bram Stoker’s Dracula film. Gary Oldman’s casting as the famous vampire Dracula painted him as less of a monster and more of a man who wants love. And for the first time, the first words describing Dracula weren’t scary or crude — but rather handsome, daring, or cunning. Leaning into the sexual aspects was only a matter of time.
And, amidst Dracula’s book and its continued success of remakes, other vampire books came to fruition. Adding to the vampire lore and subtracting other fundamental traits. Another change in the tide that further sexualized the nature of vampires was Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith, and much later, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (and SO MANY MORE). All of these titles have been adapted into films and TV shows. And the actors playing each vampire are objectively attractive.
Bram Stoker and Sheridan Le Fanu opened up a can of worms in the literary world, as not many books, films, and TV shows play around with the mythical side of vampirism. But because they gave us the horror, darkness, and mysticism of it all — it also meant they gave us the sexual undertones, the romance, and the dabbling of how easy it is for people to be attracted to the darkness, of the unknown that lurk in our bedrooms.
There’s a desirability of obtaining vampire powers
But perhaps what makes vampires the most alluring is their power: Immortality, eternal youth, control over another to make them do exactly what you want, super speed, strength, agility, and ethereal beauty. You have the power to do anything depending on what rules you are abiding by, either from Twilight or, say, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. You become more than human, almost a god. A god with limitations, but a god nonetheless.
And living in a perfect world, you would have all these abilities and then some. Although associated with the devil’s doings, vampires are viewed as beautiful and fantastical because of the innate human-like qualities they share with us. The fear of death. This is why, otherwise, why would they choose to live so long?