Monday, May 30, 2011

Why Vampire Hunters Aren't Cool Anymore

Well, not the modern stereotypical vampire hunters, in any case. I didn't even realize there was a stereotype until I saw it on television this morning. We were watching the beginning of some vampire movie (I don't recall the title) and there was a scene of the vampire hunters discussing some upcoming raid, and I realized that I'd seen all this before. Here's the checklist:

  • A bunch of edgy, misfit, gung-ho loners, dressed in t-shirts and tank tops
  • A clandestine meeting location, cluttered with the tools of the trade
  • The "tools of the trade" mostly consist of a mixed collection of firearms and medieval weaponry
  • A prevailing attitude of "the cops/public can't deal with this, so we have to"
  • Bonus points if there's a misunderstood vampire on the team, helping the good guys
And it struck me: why should this be the winning mix of ingredients? If there are enough vampires hidden around the world to give a small pack of vampire hunters a constant stream of work, is the "garage band" model really a model for a successful team?

First problem: if there are that many vampires, and it's possible for a pack of underemployed twenty-somethings to find them on a regular basis, the vampires really can't be that well hidden. Which means that the proper authorities would have found them by now, and that teams with proper government funding would be working the problem. Unless, of course, the government is "in on it" or something.

Second problem: what these DIY vampire hunting teams seem to be involved in is a continuous series of special forces raids against a foe that's highly resistant to conventional weapons. It seems to me that this team would require serious combat training (as opposed to on-the-job training, which would be suicidal). You need to be able to handle weapons and maintain discipline and coordination under the worst possible conditions. You also need to be able to give and receive bloody injuries on a regular basis without losing your sanity, which requires serious mental training. Yes, history has shown that rag-tag teams of rebels can make an effective fighting force. But what kind of losses do these real-life backyard commandos experience? Out of a team of a half-dozen or less individuals who gave up their barista jobs to fight vampires, how many of them would take themselves out of action from fumbling their weapons in the first few months? And how many lost to friendly fire ("Wow, sorry, Joe")?

It seems to me that a more effective team would look like a team of special forces operatives, with iron-clad discipline and chain-of-command, with standardized and well-maintained modern weapons and by-the-book tactics, supported by a substantial team of surveillance agents, doctors, intelligence experts, and so forth.

What I'd really like to see, though, is a return to the Peter Cushing style of vampire hunter. The intellectual hunter with a deep and well-rounded education, who went into a fight with nothing more than a few doctorates, a sharp stick, and impeccable manners. I'd like to see the kind of guy who has the fight won through strategy and preparation before he even steps into the vampire den, and who doesn't need five minutes of slo-mo gun-fu martial-arts action to defeat his foe. Vampires are typically represented as stronger, faster, and more durable than human beings. It seems to me that you want a hero who can out-think the nosferatu. That's the movie I'd like to see.