1840s, Bram Stoker, Count Graf Orlok, Count Orlock, Daywalker, Dracula, F.W. Murnau, Film, gothic, Henrik Galeen, Horror, Malcolm Rymer, Movie, Nightwalker, Nosferatu, novel, serials, Shadow of the Vampire, The Feast of Blood, Thomas Peckett Prest, To Sleep in the Ground, vampire fiction, vampire novel, Varney the Vampire
It’s one of the most challenging questions for writers of vampire fiction: Should the vampires in my story walk during the daytime or only appear at night?
This was an issue for me when first writing my vampire novel To Sleep in the Ground. I’m an ‘after six’ person. The evening is my favorite time of day. I could have easily written Marco, the main character of my story, to be a nightwalker only. The silent film classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors (now known popularly by the simple title of Nosferatu) directed by legendary German director F.W. Murnau helped fuel the myth that vampires could be destroyed by sunlight. Some say that the film created the myth, but I’m not so sure about that. Hollywood would embellish the concept that vampires were strictly nightwalkers with the sun frying them to a crisp if so much as a hint of it touched their pale skin, and the myth has become a mainstay of vampire fiction.
Instead, I decided to follow the tradition arguably established literarily by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest, authors of the Varney the Vampire (or the Feast of Blood) serials from the middle to late 1840s and allow Marco to walk around in the daytime with limitations; he is weaker and not able to access the full potential of his dark gifts.
Decades later, Bram Stoker’s timeless masterpiece Dracula also echoed the folklore that vampires could walk by day. Those of us who write vampire or horror literature know Stoker’s novel and love it. It isn’t the first vampire story ever written, but it is the standard by which many, dare I say most, of us write our vampire fiction today. It was the inspiration for the influential Nosferatu. And it’s quite possible that Murnau’s Count Orlok was susceptible to sunlight rather than a stake through the heart because neither he nor the screenwriter Henrik Galeen had official permission to make a film version of the novel. Count Orlok needed to be different from Count Dracula for obvious reasons. On a side note, if you’re interested in knowing more about Nosferatu then I suggest the film Shadow of the Vampire. It’s one of my favorite vampire movies and a wonderful piece of film noir. It also explores the interesting legend of Max Schreck the actor who portrayed the vampiric Orlok in the film. I’ll address the film in more detail in my next post. Be sure to stick around for that.
So, what do you think, should fiction portray vampires as daywalkers, nightwalkers or both? I say “both” with limitations on the potency of their abilities during the daytime, but I want to hear the opinions of you writers and readers of vampire fiction. Open up the coffin and chime in. Feel free to cast your vote via the comments section of this post. I look forward to hearing from you all…and keep the garlic close to the bedside!