Aug 08, 2023
Blade Holds a Revolutionary Secret About Its Vampires
Blade revolutionized vampires as cinema entered the 21st century. However, the first movie also hid a massive secret about its vampires. The world of horror cinema may be more saturated than ever with
Blade revolutionized vampires as cinema entered the 21st century. However, the first movie also hid a massive secret about its vampires.
The world of horror cinema may be more saturated than ever with slashers like Freddy Krueger or stories of possession like The Exorcist. But before these types of terrors were brought to life, the foundations of horror came in monsters that plagued the world of folklore and literature long before the moving picture. One of the best examples of this was vampires, who started in the book Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and later made famous in Bram Stoker's Dracula. These creatures of the night represented the power and terror that came from the unseen enemy as they looked human but were often monsters when it was time to feed.
Vampires endured for over a century, and movies like Nosferatu and Dracula helped establish an etiquette surrounding these creatures, whether their ugly side was visible or just under the surface. But 1997's Blade took things to a whole new level as they showed what happened in a world where an underground network of vampires survived among humans. With a hunter like Blade giving them something to fear, it took vampire hunters like Van Helsing to new heights and established a new set of rules that redefined vampires as a concept ever since. But for all of their power, the movie based on the Marvel Comics hero also changed vampires on a genetic level and almost completely separated them from the supernatural.
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Blade explored a world where traditional vampires were no longer the apex predator, as Blade was a bane to enemies of all types, especially the bloodsuckers. But before Blade, vampires had a distinct set of rules that made it so they were easily combated but tied to guidelines that forced them to be stalking hunters rather than aggressive ones. This was perfectly shown in Dracula, where he was forced to use his wits to feed. Another good example was that vampires had to be invited into a building and couldn't move past running water.
Other weaknesses that vampires were tethered to were tied to religious weaknesses, specifically Christian artifacts. The best examples of this were holy water and the cross. As vampires were deemed unholy creatures in league with Satan, totally pure religious items could cause them serious damage and even kill them under the right circumstances. A stake through the heart also became a common method to eradicate vampires. However, crosses and holy water were deemed useless in Blade, while staking had to take on a bit of a twist to make sense in this world. But in doing so, it changed the definition of vampire from supernatural to an illness that got out of control.
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Blade introduced a new character named Dr. Karen Jenson, a hematologist who was bitten by a vampire. In her efforts to cure herself, she learned that vampirism was less of a curse and more of a disease spread when vampires bit the uninfected. This hypothesis fueled her efforts and allowed her to cure herself of her ailment. It also redefined what it meant to be a vampire in this universe and explained why they were immune to the more sensationalized rules that followed their kind.
One of the biggest weaknesses, no matter the source, when it came to vampires was sunlight. But even Blade circumvented this as vampires could walk in the day so long as they wore protective sunblock. Vampires were also susceptible to silver and garlic, but this was treated more as an allergic reaction rather than a supernatural weakness. This also allowed Blade to get more creative by using silver stakes and a silver blade, as well as garlic as a form of pepper spray.
In reality, the weaknesses in Blade showed just how fragile vampires were, as their strengths were more so to protect their genetic fragility. Though they had the teeth, speed and strength, nature itself was still against them, and no matter how powerful they were, they'd never escape the sun's power. As a result, the Blade trilogy served as a means to either turn the world into vampires or turn vampires into daywalkers. But as the original Blade's conclusion proved, there was still a supernatural source to vampirism, which raised the question of what caused them to change into something more grounded.
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In Blade, Deacon Frost sought to harness the power of a blood god known as La Magra, which would've given the vampires an edge in their war against humanity. Though his strength was unreal, his physical form was still tied to reality, which may have been why Blade could kill him with a serum designed to blow vampires up. But this revelation brings up a simple explanation for why a "god" could be killed by such mortal means, as vampires had evolved over generations to become simply another subspecies of humans. While Dracula was considered canon and the most powerful vampire, he was fueled by the supernatural and had more power due to his shapeshifting and monstrous final form. But from him, humanity evolved into something more logical.
In the vampire community, Deacon Frost was always looked down on because he wasn't a pure-blood vampire like the other elders. This implied that over centuries, vampires bred with other vampires to create children who never knew what it was like to be human. With that, their genes were fundamentally altered, and with each generation, their weaknesses to the supernatural were deadened until they were nonexistent. Meanwhile, the stranger weaknesses like garlic, sunlight and silver became far more logical as that affected them on a scientific level. In the end, Blade's vampires were far from the supernatural monsters that came before, and it helped redefine the genre and show that vampires didn't need to be tethered to the past to remain terrifying.
Nicholas Brooks has been writing professionally for over a decade, covering many aspects of pop culture from film and video games to comics and anime. Writing has remained his passion in that time and loves to theorize and pick apart unique connections in franchises like Marvel, Jurassic Park and much more. In his spare time, he could be found working on his bookstagram, collecting figures, reading comics or watching movies with his girlfriend.