Dhampir: Human Anti-heroes In A Monstrous World
There’s something about monsters that humans love to relate to, and few types exemplify this as well as the dhampir. (And no, that is not a vampire beaver’s dam.)
You might know the dhampir as another name: Daywalker.
Earlier in our #100DaysofHalloween campaign, we spoke of cambion (human-demon hybrids) and their affinity for darker, more sinister lifestyles. It’s interesting to note that dhampirs, while often evil and freakish in mythology, are portrayed as vampire-hunters and protectors of mankind in pop culture.
Alucard from the Castlevania video-game series, D from Vampire Hunter D, and of course Blade (from Blade, duh!) are some of the better known dhampir that seek to destroy their lineage in an angsty rage.
Of course, this is a trope we see quite often in the lighter branches of horror. Hellboy thwarts demons even being a demon himself, often destroying them completely. Angel from the Buffy franchise is a special vampire hunting his own. There are countless others in all forms of media: be it book, comic, movie, or game.
Half-human/half-vampire hybrids are not uncommon in Western film and literature, and they are downright trendy in Eastern media, particularly Japanese manga and anime.
Vampires themselves are something borderline human. Interview with the Vampire shows the struggle of what it means to be a creature of the night, powerful, always young, never aging, never quite the same as you once were.
Vampires who draw inspiration from Stoker’s Dracula are at the edge of their human rope. They thirst for blood and debauchery, often letting loose in spectacular acts of violence, but the “better” vampires struggle to withhold from their devilish nature.
Dhampir still struggle, but boy do they love to hate what they are. The classic dhampir seems honor-bound to deny their nature and hell-bound to destroy it. Beautiful, but not as perfect as a true vampire. Powerful, but not as magical or vicious. Not as dependant on human flesh and blood, but still susceptible, sometimes needing outside means to hold themselves in check, a la a serum for Blade that keeps him human.
It’s not surprising that dhampir often dislike themselves for this, but what about how others see them? In Vampire Hunter D, D is a hunter-for-hire, valued for his inherent skill and yet still an outcast in the human world.
Castlevania’s Alucard, Dracula’s son and a character heavily inspired by D, invades his father’s castle with intent to end the vampire lord’s reign. The monsters in the castle fight back against the prodigal son, Death sounding disgusted at Alucard’s return.
(The dialogue in the Castlevania series is just…fantastic.)
Liminal characters. Dhampir are neither the most powerful beings nor the weakest, but driven by their own passions for a good fight, and often times fighting alone. No wonder we like to relate to them—their struggle is the very human struggle to strive and keep going against all odds.
This October sees the release of Dracula Untold, an anti-hero retelling of the granddaddy vamp that is supposed to be the first in a new series of Universal Monsters films.
Who’s going to see this on opening night?
Happy Halloween 2014!!