Werewolf Fact of the Day

Vampire Book 3e
ISBN: 9781578592814

What vampiric trait was popularized in werewolf movies, such as American Werewolf in London?

  • It became a defining feature of vampires.
  • It became a hallmark in classics and modern movies alike.
  • It has required some fiddling with special effects to make work.
  • It is a traditional symbol for the predatory side of vampires.


Once established, fangs became an artistic convention to call attention to the presence of vampires. Fangs commonly appeared on the cover art of vampire novels, quickly identifying those titles not possessing an obvious vampiric name. They were used in a like manner on comic book covers, Dracula dolls, and Halloween greeting cards. A new feature introduced into recent vampire films and novels has been retractable vampire teeth. Vampires would thus appear normal when interacting with humans, and show their fangs only when angry or about to feed. This development seems to have derived from the favorable reaction to the transformation into a werewolf shown in the Oscar-winning American Werewolf in London. Such a dramatic transformation from a normal appearance into a monsterlike figure was graphically portrayed by Grace Jones and her fellow vampires in Vamp (1986) and would be followed in a number of movies where close-up shots of a vampire's mouth would show the fangs moving into place for a bite. It became a standard element in the many episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and of Angel. The appearance of the extended canine teeth accompanied other changes in facial expressions and signaled the emergence of the darker predatory side of the vampire's personality. The conventional canine fangs created a problem for the cinematic vampire. Lee's canine teeth appeared to be used more for ripping flesh than for neatly puncturing the skin and jugular vein. The two holes would be so far apart that the vampire would find it difficult to suck from both holes at the same time. Therefore, it has been common to picture the two holes as being much closer together than the distance between the canine teeth would suggest. This discrepancy, overlooked by most fans, has given feminist interpreters of vampires an opening to find something positive in the male-dominated myth. Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove, for example, suggested that the wounds were not those of a carnivore, but of a viper, a snake. They suggested that the film directors, without consciously knowing what they were doing, were harking back to an ancient myth that associated the beginning of menstruation with a snake's bite. After being bitten by the snake, the girl became a woman and began menstruating; after being bitten by the vampire, the women tended to become more active and sexual. While the vampire myth has been associated with the particular anxieties of teenage males, possibly it also has something subtle to communicate directly to young females. Twilight author Stephenie Meyer decided to drop the fangs altogether and replaced them with strong piercing teeth, suitable for tearing the flesh rather than puncturing it. They work on the wild animals that are the major food of her vampires.

From The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead, Third Edition by J. Gordon Melton, Ph.D., (c) 2011 Visible Ink Press(R) This exhaustive guide to vampires will quench your thirst for facts, biographies, definitions, and more.

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