2017 is the 120th anniversary of Dracula and the twentieth anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Vampires have been a familiar part of popular culture for more than a century, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Given the time and place of Dracula’s publication (the late Victorian U.K.), it is not surprising that vampires have always been associated with repressed sexuality. Their bestiality, their preoccupation with sucking bodily fluids, and their general deviance all invite Freudian interpretation.
However, there is a flip side to this. Yes, sucking blood can be seen as what vampires do for sex, and most vampires sure do a lot of it! But it is also, frequently, what vampires do instead of sex. While most vampires are figuratively linked with sexuality, many are also literally chaste and celibate in their behaviour.
Vampirism is thus a double-edged sword. Some works choose to emphasise the sexual nature of vampires. But others instead emphasise other aspects of vampirism: loneliness, disinterest in common human activities, difficulty forming conventional relationships. Some vampires invite, not just sexual readings, but asexual readings.
After reading Dracula for the first time, I decided to watch as many adaptations and other vampire movies as I could find. The portrayal of vampire sexuality in them ranged from the highly sexual vampires of The Hunger to an all but explicitly asexual one in Let the Right One In. Vampires may be associated with sexual “deviance”, but in an erotonormative world, not having sex is deviant, too. In fact, vampires seem to run the gamut – much like people!
So, as I wrap up my series on Alan Rickman, I’m starting a new series. In it, I will review different vampire movies and examine their characters for signs of asexual expression.