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February 28 2011

Ten reasons why Buffy owes to a debt to The Lost Boys. It's a feature from the magazine's latest Vampire Special.

This person has entirely too much time on their hands. I can't tell if he is angry at Buffy and Mr. Whedon or at the current youth of America for not giving props to The Lost Boys. You could draw those parallels with any number of TV show or movies. Yeah, I loved The Lost Boys too, at the time, but I'm not going to say it paved the way for Buffy or Angel.
Doesn't seem angry to me - more like telling it how it is. Just goes to show how originality is overrated.
I've often thought many of those things when rewatching The Lost Boys myself.
Just out of curiosity, though, since when has the phrase "vamp out" been inextricably linked to Buffy? I can't even think of the characters using the phrase off the top of my head...
You know, if memory serves, Joss has stated before that The Lost Boys was a direct influence on Buffy. I can't be 100%, but that's what I seem to remember. And yes, you can draw parallels between Buffy and a ton of other vampire-themed fare, but I think there are some closer ties between these two particular works.
Yeah - the thing that's always stuck out to me the most was the whole vampire face-morphing idea.
Which actually goes back quite a ways - I even saw an old late-50s, early-60s Arkoff-Nicholson film recently called "Blood of Dracula" that had the vampire's face (in this case, a woman being transformed into a vampire through some sort of hypnosis) changing into a similar kind of bat-face when she attacked.
It's hard to say any vampire thing doesn't owe something to what came before it, as illustrated in this comic:
Also Carl Sagan once said. "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe". So nothing's made totally on it's own.
The vamp face morphing was also used with Lucy in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), so it had already been established at least twice, before Buffy.
In the "dialog to die for" category, and a lot of the general tone, I'd say more is owed to An American Werewolf in London than to any vampire movie.

And yeah .... that Carl Sagan quote. :)
I think Buffy (and Joss) might have been first with the "poofing."
Only in the actual execution of the effect. Vampires turning to dust when staked go 'way back even before film.
"Vampires turning to dust when staked go 'way back even before film."

How far back and to what exactly are you referring to? It wasn't Dracula (1897), Carmilla (1872), Varney the Vampire: Or the Feast of Blood (1845-47), or Polidari's The Vampyre (1819).* I can't think of anything myself (which means absolutely nothing), and I'd really like to know.

And the original vampire stuff about being staked had more to do with nailing them to the earth (kind of "stapled down") to keep them from rising up and walking around. It didn't have anything to do with killing them. (I recommend Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality. It turns out that fictional vampires are definitely more fun.)

*All of those can be read online btw. Interesting stuff, if you like vampires.
As Joss mentioned in an interview on one of the DVDs, the difference is in young vampires crumbling to dust and not just ancient ones.
BreathesStory, in fact it was Dracula, among others; Lucy Westenra, as one of the recently (un)dead, did not fall to dust, but Dracula himself did, as did the three female vampires in Dracula's castle:
Van Helsing:
This then was the Undead home of the King Vampire, to whom so many more were due. Its emptiness spoke eloquent to make certain what I knew. Before I began to restore these women to their dead selves through my awful work, I laid in Dracula's tomb some of the Wafer, and so banished him from it, Undead, for ever.

Then began my terrible task, and I dreaded it. Had it been but one, it had been easy, comparative. But three! To begin twice more after I had been through a deed of horror. For it was terrible with the sweet Miss Lucy, what would it not be with these strange ones who had survived through centuries, and who had been strenghtened by the passing of the years. Who would, if they could, have fought for their foul lives . . .

Oh, my friend John, but it was butcher work. Had I not been nerved by thoughts of other dead, and of the living over whom hung such a pall of fear, I could not have gone on. I tremble and tremble even yet, though till all was over, God be thanked, my nerve did stand. Had I not seen the repose in the first place, and the gladness that stole over it just ere the final dissolution came, as realization that the soul had been won, I could not have gone further with my butchery. I could not have endured the horrid screeching as the stake drove home, the plunging of writhing form, and lips of bloody foam. I should have fled in terror and left my work undone. But it is over! And the poor souls, I can pity them now and weep, as I think of them placid each in her full sleep of death for a short moment ere fading. For, friend John, hardly had my knife severed the head of each, before the whole body began to melt away and crumble into its native dust, as though the death that should have come centuries agone had at last assert himself and say at once and loud,"I am here!"

Mina Harker:
By this time the gypsies, seeing themselves covered by the Winchesters, and at the mercy of Lord Godalming and Dr. Seward, had given in and made no further resistance. The sun was almost down on the mountain tops, and the shadows of the whole group fell upon the snow. I saw the Count lying within the box upon the earth, some of which the rude falling from the cart had scattered over him. He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well.

As I looked, the eyes saw the sinking sun, and the look of hate in them turned to triumph.

But, on the instant, came the sweep and flash of Jonathan's great knife. I shrieked as I saw it shear through the throat. Whilst at the same moment Mr. Morris's bowie knife plunged into the heart.

It was like a miracle, but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.

I shall be glad as long as I live that even in that moment of final dissolution, there was in the face a look of peace, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there.

Each of these are "released" when staked, although the falling to dust doesn't necessarily occur before beheading. Also, this was a fairly common trope for most vampire films of the 1950s - 1970s (before over-the-top "flaming explosion" effects became the in thing).

[ edited by Rowan Hawthorn on 2011-03-01 23:26 ]
Bit thin I reckon, the falling to dust explicitly doesn't occur before beheading in both quotes (although in Dracula's case he's stabbed simultaneously so it's hard to separate causes).

Not particularly invested either way (though i'm curious as to the provenance of *poofing* ;), just saying that it's far from conclusive (or even suggestive) that staking's the cause, based on those passages.
Rowan Hawthorn, I don't consider the Dracula bit conclusive--the dusting due to stakeage, I mean. I think it had to do with age because:

Spoiler Alert

"Go on,"said Arthur hoarsely."Tell me what I am to do."

"Take this stake in your left hand, ready to place to the point over the heart, and the hammer in your right. Then when we begin our prayer for the dead, I shall read him, I have here the book, and the others shall follow, strike in God's name, that so all may be well with the dead that we love and that the Un-Dead pass away." Arthur took the stake and the hammer, and when once his mind was set on action his hands never trembled nor even quivered. Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and I followed as well as we could.

Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might.

The thing in the coffin writhed, and a hideous, bloodcurdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions. The sharp white champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercybearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed to shine through it. The sight of it gave us courage so that our voices seemed to ring through the little vault.

And then the writhing and quivering of the body became less, and the teeth seemed to champ, and the face to quiver. Finally it lay still. The terrible task was over.

The hammer fell from Arthur's hand. He reeled and would have fallen had we not caught him. The great drops of sweat sprang from his forehead, and his breath came in broken gasps. It had indeed been an awful strain on him, and had he not been forced to his task by more than human considerations he could never have gone through with it. For a few minutes we were so taken up with him that we did not look towards the coffin. When we did, however, a murmur of startled surprise ran from one to the other of us. We gazed so eagerly that Arthur rose, for he had been seated on the ground, and came and looked too, and then a glad strange light broke over his face and dispelled altogether the gloom of horror that lay upon it.

There, in the coffin lay no longer the foul Thing that we has so dreaded and grown to hate that the work of her destruction was yielded as a privilege to the one best entitled to it, but Lucy as we had seen her in life, with her face of unequalled sweetness and purity. True that there were there, as we had seen them in life, the traces of care and pain and waste. But these were all dear to us, for they marked her truth to what we knew. One and all we felt that the holy calm that lay like sunshine over the wasted face and form was only an earthly token and symbol of the calm that was to reign for ever.

Van Helsing came and laid his hand on Arthur's shoulder, and said to him, "And now, Arthur my friend, dear lad, am I not forgiven?"

The reaction of the terrible strain came as he took the old man's hand in his, and raising it to his lips, pressed it, and said, "Forgiven! God bless you that you have given my dear one her soul again, and me peace." He put his hands on the Professor's shoulder, and laying his head on his breast, cried for a while silently, whilst we stood unmoving.

When he raised his head Van Helsing said to him, "And now, my child, you may kiss her. Kiss her dead lips if you will, as she would have you to, if for her to choose. For she is not a grinning devil now, not any more a foul Thing for all eternity. No longer she is the devil's Un-Dead. She is God's true dead, whose soul is with Him!"

Arthur bent and kissed her, and then we sent him and Quincey out of the tomb. The Professor and I sawed the top off the stake, leaving the point of it in the body. Then we cut off the head and filled the mouth with garlic. We soldered up the leaden coffin, screwed on the coffin lid, and gathering up our belongings, came away. When the Professor locked the door he gave the key to Arthur.

So it seems to not be universal in the Draculaverse. They don't all poof when they die.

I can't speak to the movies. I've never gotten the chance to see them really. Something to look forward to! : ) Got any recommendations?
BreathesStory, that's the scene I was talking about earlier when I said that Lucy Westenra didn't fall to dust. She'd only been a vampire a matter of days at most. Saje, it's not staking, per se, in the literature; rather, it's indicative of the vampire meeting their "true death". For other examples in literature, see for instance:

"Mrs. Amworth" (1923) by E.F. Benson, The title character is dispatched by a pickaxe through the heart, whereupon her body instantly shows the effects of being dead and buried for two months.

"La Morte Amoureuse" (1836) by Gautier, Holy water is poured onto the vampire Clarimonde, and she falls to dust.

"A Mystery of the Campagna" (1887) by Anne Crawford. The female vampire is staked, whereupon: "I stopped and gazed at the face, now undergoing a fearful change - fearful and final!"

"The Tomb of Sarah" (1900) by Frederick George Loring. The vampire is staked, a look of relaxing peace comes over her face, and she falls to dust.

Anyway... Movie recommendations: for the most part, I prefer the older films, even the "B" variety, to most modern ones. One exception is "Let The Right One In", probably the best modern take on the legend. I like most of the Hammer series, particularly "Horror of Dracula", "Twins of Evil", and "The Vampire Lovers" (my vote for the best film version of "Carmilla"; the first version of "'Salem's Lot"; and, of course, "Nosferatu" - creepy as all hell.
Rowan Hawthorn, fabulous! Stories I don't know about! The salivating has begun! (Can you tell I'm excited or should I add a few more exclamation points?) And thanks for the movie recs. I've added the ones I didn't think/know about to my "Very Long List of Stories I Need to Experience."
So many books, so little time. Add film/TV stories into that and we're definitely screwed ;).

(second the 'Horror of Dracula' - or just 'Dracula' over here - rec FWIW, Christopher Lee brought something new to the part. Slightly OT BTW but it's cool to see the Hammer name back in films. 6 degrees time, they produced the US remake of 'Let the Right One In' - inexplicably called the less descriptive, less evocative 'Let Me In' - which wasn't bad though i'd still say see the Swedish one first. And read the book zeroth since though I didn't, everyone told me I should've afterwards ;)

Saje, it's not staking, per se, in the literature; rather, it's indicative of the vampire meeting their "true death".

Fair enough Rowan Hawthorn, was sticking to the letter of your statement ("Vampires turning to dust when staked go 'way back even before film.") but the spirit makes more sense, certainly for the purposes of discussion ;).
Well, of course, even on "Buffy", it wasn't the staking itself, as decapitated vamps also dusted (as in the morgue vamp in "The Body".)
Yeah but they did it after staking or beheading (or being burned for that matter) rather than staking and beheading - Buffyverse *poofing* is sort of the equivalent to rapid decomposition in other words, it's what happens after they "die", no matter the mechanism.

In the Buffyverse staking is sufficient for dusting but not necessary, in your passages above (taken at face value) it's not sufficient and possibly not even necessary either.

All of which is a lot of waffle about not a lot but hey, this is a safe place for waffle right ? ;)
Well, actually, in all of the last four literary references I just gave, the decomposition occurs after the vampire is dispatched, regardless of method: pickaxe through the heart, holy water, or stake.

Which is to say, Mmm, waffles!, okay, I'm back now...
Ah but I didn't say directly above (and it's 14 BTW. 14 angels can dance on the head of a pin ;).
Well, not for long, if they're stoking up on waffles...

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