Valentine's Day may be past (for this year anyway) but thoughts of love between the living and the undead remain in the hearts and imaginations of many. Let us look back upon what couples, struggling with the challenges of such a relationship, have most grabbed out attention.
In no particular order...
Edward and Bella ("Twilight"), no matter what your opinion of the books or films, have certainly struck millions of chords. Nor, despite some disparaging remarks, are they all with teenaged girls. One matter that perhaps makes the story so compelling is that Bella remains the protagonist while being by far the least powerful character, at least overtly. All she has is her courage and her love, yet this proves sufficient.
Hoyt and Jessica ("True Blood"), unusually, are one of the few couples with the genders reversed from what we expect. The vampire is a girl, with a human boyfriend. Jessica's youth among the undead (less than a year) no doubt helps make them utterly adorable. Travails yet face them, not least a dragon of a mother who would no doubt loathe with a homicidal fury any girl her son chose rather than allowed be chosen for him.
Spike and Buffy ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") arose from the chemistry between actors, and Joss Whedon allowed it to become one of the most dynamic, tempestuous love affairs in his universe. Truth to tell, other couples had a hard time competing! The ultimate bad boy vampire and the reluctant, brilliant slayer of vampires--they made quite a couple. Their last words likewise summed up much of what made their story so compelling.
Prince Vlad and Elizabeta ("Bram Stoker's Dracula") took what was in many ways a tired stereotype and made it work via sheer enthusiasm. Those of a mind to ended up mesmerized as Mina Murray, sipping absinthe, began to vaguely recall her previous life while the cursed man who "crossed oceans of time to find" her watched, enraptured. Heady stuff!
Abby and Owen ("Let Me In") deserves some kind of award for most touching yet disturbing vampire/human love affair ever. Chloe Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee shone as two desperate, lonely children who fell in love--one of them forever trapped that age, a monster who never stopped being a sad little girl. What might their future hold? What could it? Therein lies all the hope and tragedy we can summon.
Bill and Sookie ("True Blood") seem more a couple in the HBO series than they do in the books upon which it is based, maybe in part because the performers involved fell in love. Despite many the call for Sookie to link up with former Viking Eric, as of this writing the troubled love affair between the telepathic waitress and the (justifiably) guilt-ridden Civil War vet with fangs remains at the heat of the show. And fans continue to lap it up!
Carmilla and Laura ("Carmilla") continue to focus debate on whether they even are a couple. Are they lovers? Do they love? If so, is it one sided? Almost a dozen adaptations, each with their own answer, but the fact the book remains in print 130 years after its publication remains testimony to how readers respond. Film versions vary from "Blood and Roses" to "The Vampire Lovers" to the upcoming "Styria."
Henry and Vicky ("Blood Ties") sadly lasted only one season, but garnered a devoted fan following. The unresolved sexual tension between this charming undead lothario and the no-nonsense female detective who fascinated him helped bring delicious spice to some stories that frankly sometimes veered off in the direction of "Charmed." Like their "True Blood" counterparts, this pair had a third wheel and like such dynamics that work, he was someone we could care about. In this case, though, he was neither vampire nor werewolf but simply a man Vicky trusted and loved. All the more intriguing that Henry could temp her heart away.
Josette and Barnabas ("Dark Shadows") is a story told several times with different casts. Coming up will be Johnny Depp opposite (evidently) Bella Harcourte. Byronic gentleman cursed by a spurned woman, finding his true love again after a wait of centuries. Done right, it won literally generations of fans. Come next year the cycle may start all over again.
Frederic and Jennifer ("Lips of Blood") make up the heart of what many regard as the late Jean Rollin's vampiric masterpiece. Frederic is a lonely young man in Paris, haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he met as a child in an abandoned castle. His mother insists it was indeed a dream--but then he sees the castle in a photograph on a friend's wall. Thus begins a quest to find that girl, who still waits for him, unaging, to be at long last set free. The budget for the entire film might buy a small house, but the images and story remain unique--and uniquely perverse.
Some folks might complain about couples omitted. Lestat and Louis, for example--although they are both vampires so it doesn't really count. Or maybe Cindy Sondhein with Count Dracula in "Love At First Bite," Ingrid and her boyfriend in "Young Dracula," Elena and the brothers in "The Vampire Diaries." Feel free to offer your own list!