When did vampires and other bad guys become so tame?

In 2010 I did the National Novel Writing in a Month challenge (NaNoWriMo) and recall going to a NaNo writers meeting.  One writer said he had intended to write about vampires but a) they were all over the place now and b) they were all so damn nice.  He pointed out, voice cracking with emotion, vampires were supposed to be unpleasant and frightening rather than local teen hero all the girls swoon to be near.  “Vampires” said the Nanoite, “just aren”t what they are supposed to be”.


Recently a prolific reader friend said that she didn”t find crime villains in her favourite writers novels so scary anymore. _“They are so _ordinary” she said. I pondered this and why it might be?  Bella Lugosi represented monsters so well – film stills of his Dracula remain iconic though most of us have never actually seen the film.  Most of us though want less obvious manifestations of evil now, the chill is to be found in something more than a bad hairline and piercing eyes.

Is it the improved quality of crime TV and film drama raising the bar of expectation or the graphic reports of real life crime so readily available on the internet have somehow desensitised us to the horrors of crime?  I wonder what readers want – that writers become ever more sophisticated in character development or more grisly in content?  Is it either or both?