Into Fashion

Why are vampires such ponces?

This is what vexes Jack Crow.

Alpha bastard protagonist of the unremittingly awful John Carpenter’s Vampires, Jack is an disturbingly ardent commentator when it comes to the vampire rag trade.

Yep, when he’s not sucker punching the ladies or swapping smouldering homoerotic glares with the sweatiest Baldwin (Daniel), Jack, Vatican Vampire Slayer and Misogynist Extraordinaire, plays second rate (if there could feasibly be such a thing) Kyle Sandilands to a procession of disturbingly attired plasma quaffers.

Which is a hoot, really, considering Jack appears to be in possession of the second last pair of elastic waisted acid wash jeans in existence (more on that soon).

Not to mention his man-crush, greasy lard bucket Dan, who sports a saucy nehru vest/ prodigous chest carpet combo.

Long before Jack’s fanged nemesis Valek (see ‘V’, Vampire Central Casting Guide, 1998) scrambled from ‘neath some unconsecrated bog, naff, style challenged creatures of the night proliferated.

Cinematically speaking, first out of the cemetery gate was Nosferatu’s nattily attired rat-pire take on the Fu Manchu fingernails with topcoat look.

Sadly, Bela Lugosi, next cab off the Dracula rank, proved far more influential, being the progenitor of the the ludicrous tic (a quizzically arched eyebrow, nigh on seventy years before a certain Mr Dwayne Johnson), poncy cape flourish and excessive pomade abuse.

This ‘dapper exsanguinator’ look stuck, unfortunately.

For decades, the coiff was the only facet of the vamp look open to interpretation. Christopher Lee added a spot of distinguished grey temple action to the mix; and even Blacula managed only a mini-fro and handlebar variation.

Then, along skulks Anne bloody (see that?) Rice, who inflicts contemporary vampire with a penchant for bouncy Pantened bobs and flouncing about aristocratically in frilly shirts.

Madam Rice, Queen of Pain, engineered a disturbing trend- and not just the brooding, ‘woe is me’ introspection of those ‘damned to the eternal midnight’ bollocks. Guffawing archly in the face of hairdressers’ livelihoods the world over, Rice unveiled the flaxen-locked Ritchie Blackmore variation; hair weaves were now de rigeur for the more follicularly challenged amongst the nightcrawler set.

Thus was born a bold, cranky new era in vampire style.

Where once a slicked back barnet would suffice, the undead were now free to indulge in an entirely new universe of tacky hairstyling options: enter the spiky mullet, the classic goth sweepback, various permutations of the Jedi topknot, and that perennial favorite, the Lionel Ritchie jheri curl.

With this bold unfettering of hairstyling parameters came a similar quantam shift in our immortal chums’ attitude to general sartorial presentation. Tired old evening wear and camp artifice were given the heave-ho in favour of exploring the full gamut of ocular nerve-combusting contemporary fashion.

Of particular note is warbler Rick Springfield, feebly essaying the role of testicularly compromised LAPD detective Nick Knight, who daringly combined THE last pair of acid washed high pants (see? Foreshadowing pays off!)) in existence with a fetchingly tight gentlemen’s perm.

Joel Schumacher, staking (!) further claim on the mantle of cinematic anti-Christ, decks his Lost Boys out in oversize fluorescent happy pants, RATT bouffants and oily, bleached mullets. In a similar, ah, vein, Fran Rubel Kuzui’s crass cinematic abortion Buffy envisioned entirely unterrifying, web earred ex-90210 disasters, showcasing Rutger Hauer with a blonde, wispy kiddie fiddler’s mo. Let’s not even mention Paul Reubens…

Okay, then.

Of even greater social import than Joel Schumacher’s role in the continual reduction of cultural standards were the very real issues addressed by those poor blood guzzling homeless soulless. Nomak (Blade 2) while surprisingly not shit (considering his boy band pedigree), best exemplifies vampire ‘shabby chic’, while special mention must go to Preacher’s Cassidy, who possibly IS the embalmed, ambulatory corpse of Shane MacGowan- enshrouded in denim, whisky vapors and toxic levels of Irishness.

The few remaining vamps, those exhibiting a modicum of self respect and savoire faire, fall loosely into two camps.

First- those nasty, rebellious Sid Vicious types, best exemplified by the brutal trailer park bastards in Near Dark or Spike from out of Sir Joss Whedon’s Buffy telly series. These scrappy fashionistas of the enhanced canine set are generally on intimate terms with the proprietor of the local leather clearing house; proponents of the look include the squishy, easy beat biker vamps of From Dusk Till Dawn, whose ranks, puzzlingly, include classic cinematic hard men of the calibre of Harvey Keitel, Danny Trejo and Fred Williamson.

On the fringe of this movement are the full blown fetishists- leather licking badarses of the ilk of Morbius The Living Vampire, The Master, and Kate Beckinsale’s posterior in UnderWorld.

Then, and the numbers are thin to say the least, there are those brand savvy, metrosexual vamps who populate Sir Joss’ Angel. All tasteful Armani and matching earth tones, they’re preening, hair fiddling nancy boys in extremis, generally conveniently heretofore-unmentioned twinks sired by metro-gene originator Angel.

While Stephen Dorff’s Deacon Frost (Blade) slots firmly into the metro-vamp category, careful academic scrutiny has concluded that he is, in fact, just a big girl.

So: it would be safe to say that, given his druthers, Mr Crow would cheerfully cold cock, berate and rudely castigate his way through legion upon legion of immortal types, gruffly dispensing dubious advice on how best to maintain troublesome bleach-dried hair, remove those pesky blood stains from pirate shirts, or efficiently tuck that package when slipping into some pre-talced leather strides.

Queer Eye For The Undead Guy, anyone?

© Garth Jones, 2004