Making a Realistic Vampire StorybyGoldeniangel©
The trick to creating any kind of realistic fictional being it to make it make sense.
For instance, I just saw "30 Days of Night" last night... and I have to say I was rather disappointed. Not just because my friends had hyped it up, and not just because the acting was -- for the most part -- atrocious, and not even because of the overly dramatic cliché of an ending. No, I was disappointed in the actual vampires that they "created". And I did watch the special features description of how they created them... some things made sense, but some things did not. And it's the things that don't which take away from any creepiness the creatures might have had.
At first, during the movie, I couldn't figure out why vampires would use a knife on sled dogs. It seemed strange... after all, they were shown being inhumanely strong, why not just use their hands? Why torture the dogs? Were they drinking animal blood? I decided it must have just been because the filmmakers liked the little flash of a knife that they got to show before the poor doggies died. Then, the vampires attack... and they drag people around, and drag them off, and intimidate instead of just feeding.
The way that they feed seems to waste a lot of blood too... and then they got rid of the heads of the people they'd fed off of. At first I was like, "what is the point of that?" and then it was explained that a corpse beheaded wouldn't become a vampire. OOOoohh... makes sense. Why they don't want to turn others into vampires is never really explained, but there you go. Also, apparently just being scratched by one of their nails is enough to turn you into a vampire... which was never explained and makes no sense either.
And I still don't understand why they ran through their food source so quickly. They massacred what seemed to be almost the entire town on the first night. Instead of going quietly and slowly taking people one by one, the slaughtered everyone... that seems to be a waste of food source. Not to mention that more blood seemed to get on the snow and the streets by their messy feeding habits than ended up in their mouth.
How the hell do vampires like that survive???
I think that the creepiest vampires are the ones that you start thinking COULD actually exist. That aren't just randomized... senseless... foolishly going to kill themselves off. Think Interview With a Vampire... Queen of the Damned... the Blade movies... there are full on societies there with rules and regulations. They try to keep themselves quiet, they use human servants, and they're interested in treating human beings like cattle, not slaughtering them. And when one of them goes a little crazy, and starts wanting to kill off or turn the entire food source, the other vamps do away with the idiot. THAT MAKES SENSE.
Of course, there are plenty of other clichés and silliness in those movies that make them less than terrifying, but at least they make sense. You start thinking that maybe... just maybe... something like that could actually exist.
So when thinking about vampires... there are actually some rules to follow to making a realistic creature. For one, for survival's sake, the vamp probably isn't going to want to kill off the entire population of its food source. It probably won't want toooo many people to become like it either, because then that means sharing a dwindling food source... so basically, the human population should always be larger than the vampire population. Considerably larger. Kinda like there are a lot more animals and crops on the planet then there are humans.
Vampires should also always have weaknesses... now, this doesn't necessarily mean that they always have to have the same cliché weaknesses, but some do make sense. For one, stabbing them in the heart would kill a vampire because it disrupts the blood source, and vampires feed on blood and therefore that's essential to keeping them alive. Being humanoid, they still have brains, so if you separate the head from the body, it should kill the vampire... same with the heart. Burning a vampire also seems like it would work, because just about everything burns, and vampires -- whether undead or not -- are still human bodies, and human bodies do burn.
Now, you can play with these elements... say, that vampires are sensitive enough to daylight that it burns them. Pretty quickly in fact, in most stories.
Personally, I still haven't figured out why they'd be vulnerable to silver, but there are always going to be anomalies to any species, things that they can't stand... and well, why not silver? It's certainly traditional. But you can always play with HOW much silver affects them... does it have to enter their bloodstream? Is it like a deadly allergy? Do weapons have to be made of silver? And does it have any connection to lycanthropy -- where werewolves are often killed with a silver bullet.
Same thing with garlic... why garlic? Some might thing because garlic is supposed to be a purifier. Maybe just cuz in large quantities, it smells bad even to humans, and vampires are supposed to have heightened senses.
But these are all things that you can play with, as long as you make them make sense. Make them real...
One of the most interest books I've read says that vampires CAN be deterred by a holy item -- such a cross -- but only by believers. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire novels, "An atheist waving a cross is a truly pathetic sight". FABULOUS! It even makes sense in some ways! Partly because there are moments when God actually does make his presence known on earth, like when the power of prayer is used to banish a demon, but she takes all the clichés and lore about vampires and makes it REAL. Gives it substance!
And you start thinking... hey... maybe this could happen...