In all honesty when I set out to watch a vampire movie I want to see thirsty blood sucking monsters feasting on human blood, I like to see red on my screen but not because of blood coming from sprinklers, I love the look on human faces as the blood gets sucked from their bodies and the effect of sunlight on these pale skin, gothic looking, blood sucking creatures but dang, isn’t that all cliché? It is, but it’s the type that never gets old especially when it involves Blade the badass! Based on a disco-decade comic-book written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by Gene Colan, Stephen Norrington’s Blade (1998) is an underrated and action-packed gem of its era. This late-nineties film highlights several effective horror movie-style jolts and blazing martial arts sequences, but remains notable and noble today for its dedicated attempts to re-contextualize the vampire and vampire lore for millennial audiences. In the films and television series, Blade originated from Detroit, Michigan. A ‘day-walker’ vampire who happens to be dark skinned, has a nice rock hard muscled body, a half-vampire half-human hybrid, he has the speed, and heightened senses of a nosferatu except he’s able to walk around in broad daylight, whose mission is to kill other vampires and save humans, is not only against everything a vampire stands for, but took vampire movies to a whole other weird yet sort of gratifying level.


Being only half-vampire, Blade possesses all of the strengths of a vampire but none of their weaknesses, save the thirst for blood. He possesses accelerated healing and superior strength, speed, stamina and endurance. He has been trained in many forms of martial arts and has learned to recognize vampires by smell. His senses are extremely acute and he can sniff out almost any kind of supernatural creature and can see in total darkness. Admittedly, Norrington’s Blade does present the traditional figure of the vampire. As James Holt notes, ‘Blade is a throwback to an earlier vision of the vampire as a bloodthirsty monster that looks on humanity as simply a source of food’. Indeed, these vampires do not displace the stereotypes of the racial other but rather appear to reinforce them. The very first scene of the film portrays them as violent, bloodthirsty and sexually ‘perverse’ with multiple (and same-sex) partners. However, the narrative complicates this straightforward ‘throwback’ to earlier vampire figures by positioning these more violent vampires in relation to another, more peaceful group of vampires and distinguishing the two in terms of race; the latter group are ‘pure blood’, born from other vampires, and the former are those that were once human and have been ‘turned’. This mere biological distinction suggests that vampirism is a disease, a stigmatization that is also part of the way in which the two vampire groups are characterized. For instance, Karen Jensen, a doctor specializing in blood, tells Deacon Frost, the leader of the turned vampires, that they are no more than a ‘sexually-transmitted disease’. (Frohreich) The character of Blade for all intents and purposes a superhero first came to life in Marvel’s The Tomb of Dracula, issue # 10 in 1972. Originally, he was a tough-talking, shade-wearing representation of the blaxploitation era of film making.

In the comic, Blade’s enemy was an elder, white-haired vamp, Deacon Frost, not the young rebel and upstart of the film who shares his name. Also, in the comic books Blade was raised by Jamal Afari, a vampire hunter. Over the years, Blade appeared in comics including Night-stalkers (where he teamed up with the slayer Hannibal King) and even Dr. Strange. But it took more than two decades for the character to come to the big screen. But when he finally arrived, Blade certainly did so with a (bloody…) splash. Blade played by Westley Snipes’, mother was bitten by a vampire while pregnant, infecting her child, who lived in the streets until being adopted by a man named Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who masterminds a lonely war against vampires. Now Blade, raised to manhood, is the spearhead of that battle, as vampires spread their influence through the major cities. One of their chief gathering grounds: secret after-hours dance clubs where victims are lured by the promise of forbidden thrills, only to be bitten and converted. The movie is built around a series of major action scenes and is more like a knife-edged boomerang that spins, slices and returns to its owner. Pretty cool! This is definitely a very graphic Marvel movie and the fact that it isn’t completely brain-dead is highly appreciated. It uses the extreme camera angles, the bizarre costumes and sets, the exaggerated shadows, the confident cutting between long shots and extreme closeups, it slams ahead in pure visceral imagery but I can’t say it relishes high visual style. For instance, at several points in the film, the movie incorporates fast-motion photography of Blade’s metropolis transitioning from safe daylight to dangerous darkness. The shift is rapid so that the shadows themselves seem to crawl and creep up glass skyscrapers. These shadows take on a life of their own (not entirely unlike Dracula’s creeping silhouette in Bram Stoker’s Dracula [1992], or the earliest vision of screen vampires, the silent Nosferatu). (Muir) The transitional technique (of fast-motion photograph) also reflects an essential characteristic of the vampire world (and the vampire conspiracy). This world is un-moving, patient and seemingly eternal, a direct contrast to the speedy human “march of days:” a never-ending procession from night to day and back to night. Indeed, this is how the mortal realm might very well look to an immortal creature of the night. Now I’d love to talk about Steven Dorff the horrible miscast who played Deacon Frost the ambitious young vampire who dreams of conquering the world. In the comics, he was an old white-haired guy with a German accent from the 1860s. Deacon Frost, the Big Bad of the film is the vampire who bit Blade’s mother while she was pregnant, causing Blade to become what he is. Turns out he fully turned her and she’s now on his side. While Deacon did turn Blade’s mother in the comics, him being the Big Bad is new to the movie, but dude seriously? C’mon he’s not even a fair matchup for Blade. Even if Blade weren’t out to stop him, there’s no way he’d get very far. First of all, the guy is a string bean. It’s hard to be intimidated by someone who looks like a strong gust of wind could knock him on his skinny little rump, particularly when beefcake Blade is so physically intimidating.

According to Wikipedia much in the same way as in the comics, in the movie series, Blade employs a stylized double edge sword as one of his main offense and defense tools. Although not much detail is specified in the comics about the composition of the sword, in the films, it is equipped with an acid-etched titanium blade, that has a security feature that will release blades into the wielder’s hand after a set time. He also arms himself with various other tools such as firearms loaded with silver hollow-point rounds filled with essence of garlic. Other weapons include silver stakes, teakwood daggers, and custom weapons such as silver boomerang blades, ultraviolet flash grenades and a gauntlet injector loaded with an anti-coagulant that reacts violently with vampire blood. However, like all monsters Blade does have one weakness. Blade’s only true weakness is the vampire’s thirst for human blood. Attempts have been made to cure Blade of this condition but have all met with failure, so he relies on a specially designed serum to keep the thirst at bay. If he does not take the serum regularly, Blade will weaken and quickly lose all self-control, becoming compelled to attack and feed on humans. As I watched all the Blade series, I started thinking that Blade is not a vampire, neither is he human but a special kind of monster that neither humans or vampires can understand. Vampires are known to have fangs, claws, be pale, killed by sunlight, etc yet these don’t seem to apply to Blade, this man just always looks like a delicious chocolate cake that needs to savored to the last bite. Even in this conversation in the movie with Dr. Karen Jenson Blade admitted to not being either or.

Blade: I’m not human.

Dr. Karen Jenson: You look human to me.

Blade: Humans don’t drink blood.

Blade: There are worse things out tonight than vampires.

Dr. Karen Jenson: Like what?

Blade: Like me.

Truly this explains that we really don’t know what he is but it’s clear he’s a monster according to thesis one of Cohens ‘Monster Culture’ it explains how the monsters body is a cultural body. “The monsters body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary), giving them life and an uncanny independence. The monstrous body is pure culture…like a letter on the page a monster signifies something other than itself, it is always a displacement.” (Cohen) Seeing how independent and completely uncategorized and unstructured Blade is in the movie he represents the cultural body. Just by looking at him he looks fearful and fearless given that he never smiles (unless you’re whistler) or shows no remorse, to women he seems desirable because of his impeccable toned body, and to his enemies they’re usually fearfully anxious to find out what he’ll be doing next, or what to expect, since he’s always so unpredictable and is always one step ahead of the game.

In thesis three of Cohens theory it explains that the monster is the harbinger of category crisis. This finding could not have been any clearer as it relates to Blade. Cohen further explained that,” This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally. They are disturbing hybrids who’s externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration. And so, the monster is dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threatens to smash distinctions. Because of its ontological liminality the monster notoriously appears at times of crisis as a kind of third term that problematizes the clash of extremes as that which questions binary thinking and introduces a crisis.” (Cohen) This explains why Blade even though he’s half human and half vampire he cannot be include in any of the two systematic structures. He cannot and is not accepted amongst humans because they fear him and he needs blood to survive which is why he’s dependent on his special serum so he doesn’t have to use humans as his survival mechanisms. On the other hand, he cannot become a part of the vampire body because he doesn’t believe in feasting on humans and he is nothing compared to them even though he posses all their strengths. This leaves him suspended between the two groups which makes it easier for him to maintain that independence and protect the humans against the vampires. When crisis arrives in the form of the other monsters who were out to hunt both vampires and humans Blade set out to work to protect both humans and vamps. All these structured groups fear Blade and consider him a monster.

 Blade also appeared in the Spider-Man animated series episode “Neogenic Nightmare: Chapter 9: Blade the Vampire Hunter”, voiced by J. D. Hall. In this version of his origin, he was the son of a vampire man who had fallen in love with a human woman, who left Blade in foster care before she became a vampire herself. Blade also appears in the episodes: “The Immortal Vampire”; “Partners in Danger, Chapter 7: The Vampire Queen”; and the season-five episode “Secret Wars, Chapter 2: Gauntlet of the Red Skull”. Blade: The Series, a 2006 live-action series that aired on Spike TV and starred rapper/actor Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones as Blade. The series dealt with Blade fighting an evil vampire named Marcus Van Sciver in Detroit, which is also Blade’s birthplace in this series. As in the movies, Blade’s birth name is Eric Brooks and his mother was named Vanessa. Here Blade’s father is Robert Brooks, who raised him until he was 12 and elements of his vampiric nature became more apparent. Marvel Anime: Blade, voiced by Akio Ohtsuka in the Japanese version and by Harold Perrineau in the English dub while his younger self was voiced by Junko Minagawa in the Japanese version and by Noah Bentley in the English dub. [53] He spends the anime pursuing Deacon Frost (who was responsible for biting his mother) where he uncovers his secret organization called “The Existence.”

Overall Blades character in all these texts especially the movie and the film itself is a pleasure to watch. Though there are a few flaws like in Blade I, Blade drinks blood for the first time in years and becomes powerful enough to fight through Frost’s army of vampire mooks. Thing is though, he kills many of them by punching or kicking them a few times, and that’s apparently enough to turn them to dust? This alongside so much other weird scenes didn’t add up, which left me saying Holy shit that was so bad yet so good at the same time. I also wished I had seen the Dr. Karen Jensen again in part 2 and how the heck did Whistler survive a bullet to the brain, I thought he shot himself? Whichever way it was a breath of fresh air to see his old feisty ass again. Maybe I’m also very petty but it would be cool also to see Blade get laid at least once.

Though it is said that vampires do have feelings and emotions just like humans but not as much and not for long it’d still be a refreshing break for the eyeballs, that were kept busy the whole time watching swords slashing back and forth, vampires getting slayed from left to right and all the other extremely busy tricks Blade had up his sleeves. He got close to two beautiful women in the movie yet the poor guy only gets to watch one chick turned to ash in his arms in the sunlight and the other I’m still wondering what the heck happened to her. Overall it’s a great series and I would watch it over and over again. On a scale of 1-10 I’d give it an 8 even though they were only rated a 5.7/10 on rotten tomatoes. Bottom line is Blade 1 alone made an astounding, $131,237,688 so, crappy ratings won’t matter when Snipes is the face of the show. Wesley snipes is an outstanding actor who did the movie justice and totally own his kick-ass character and lived up to his name, BLADE!



Annotated Bibliography:

“Blade (Comics).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Nov. 2017, Wikipedia is a live collaboration differing from paper-based reference sources in important ways. I used this source to get more background information on my monster. This source is credible because unlike printed encyclopedias, Wikipedia is continually created and updated, with articles on historic events appearing within minutes, rather than months or years.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture: Seven Theses.” From Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25. The monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment–of a time, a feeling, and a place. The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy (attractive or incendiary), giving them life and an uncanny independence. The monstrous body is pure culture. A construct and a projection, the monster exists only to be read: the menstruum is etymologically ‘that which reveals’, that which warns a glyph that seeks a hierophant’ this source was used to better explain how Blade is connected to the monster theory and which thesis applied to him. This source is credible because Jerome Cohen is Professor of English and Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. His research examines strange and beautiful things that challenge the imagination, phenomena that seem alien and intimate at once. He is especially interested in what monsters, foreigners, misfits, inhuman forces, objects and matter that won’t stay put reveal about the cultures that dream, fear and desire them. Cohen is widely published in the fields of medieval studies, monster theory, post humanism and ecocriticism.

Frohreich, Kimberly A. “Sullied Blood, Semen and Skin.” Gothic Studies, vol. 15, no. 1, May 2013, pp. 33-43. EBSCOhost, doi:10.7227/GS.15.1.4. This article explores the trend in contemporary vampire media to highlight racially-charged issues, demonstrating a consciousness of the way the vampire has been used in conjunction with racial stigmatization. While the traditional figure of the vampire spoke strongly to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century white American fears of miscegenation, I argue that some contemporary vampire narratives, such as Blade (1998), Underworld (2003), and True Blood (2008-, rewrite the figure in order to question and/or undo the link between ‘monstrosity’ and racial otherness. This source is credible because the Frohreich is an author who went to the university of Genevea.

Snipes, Westley, and David S Goyer. Blade. New Line Cinema, 1998. Blade is a 1998 American vampire superhero film, directed by Steven Norrington and written by David.S Goyer loosely based on the marvel comics character of the same name. the film stars Westley Snipes in the title role of Steven Dorff, Kris Kristofferson and N’Bushe Wright in supporting roles. In the film, Blade is a vampire with human traits who protects humans from vampires. This movie was used to better explain and point out who bade was and why he is wo he is. This source is very effective and credible as it was able to cover everything that the book couldn’t explain or demonstrate.

 Wolfman, Marv, and Chris Claremont. Blade, the Vampire-Slayer. Marvel Comics, 2004. Blade (Erick Brooks) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marval Comics. Created by writer Marv Wolfman and penciller Gene Colan. This source was used to draw comparisons between the comic book and the film, this source is credible because this is where the history of blade and all the other texts that were developed under its name has originated.

Video source:

movieclips. “Blade Official Trailer .” YouTube, YouTube, 16 June 2011,

This is a video clip of the Blade 1998 official trailer, and is used to provide a summary of what the entire movie is all about.

Picture sources: