Often times, when I’m attempting to understand the public’s neo-fascination with vampire lore, my mind wanders. And I’m forced to think about other forms of blood-sharing amongst humans; types that haven’t caught on and/or made an impact on pop culture in quite some time.
Like that of the black sleep of the Kali-Ma.
For those in the “What the hell is that supposed to mean” category, let me explain. You see, in the dark days before The Lost Boys, True Blood, Twilight and whatever that show on the WB is, vampires inhabited a not-too-crowded space in the pop culture lexicon between Count Chocula, Grandpa Munster, Tom Cruise and a post-hardcore band from Philadelphia named Ink and Dagger (who, for all intents and purposes here, were awesome, despite my present sarcasm.)
Vampires’ reputation to scare was spotty, or perhaps more appropriately, their blood-soaked cup of terror had runneth dry. Replaced, long before, by marshmallows in cereal, prime time black and white bad jokes, and, once again, Tom Cruise.
Fortunately, the long lost art of blood drinking continued to exist during those dark, comedic days of the vampire. Long before Bill Compton emerged from his Civil War-era sleep to wage war on long lost gods in Louisiana, Indiana Jones was entertaining an entirely different type of blood drinker: The Thuggee.
The Thuggee cult was a secret religious society centered in India and depicted in Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom. Joining the Thuggee was a pretty simple task: the cult just forced you to drink The Blood of Kali, and the resulting “Black Sleep” allowed one to serve the God of Kali with the fervor of a giddy school boy. Unfortunately, the Black Sleep of the Kali-Ma was quickly eradicated by the burn of Short Round‘s torch, but while under the hallucinogenic trance, one did whatever they could to efficiently serve the God of Kali and the Thuggee cult, even if that meant sacrificing one’s self. To support their cause, the Thuggee simply kidnapped children to dig for diamonds. And to fuel the cult on a magical level, they kept a trinity of stones, which in better times, had served as good omens for nearby villagers.
The whole premise, culled from real ideas but twisted in Hollywood proportions to allow for drama, was terrifying, and the nine-year-old kid that was once myself spent more than a good few months scared straight over the ramifications of cult-tinged cardiectomies purported by blood drinkers in 1920s era India.
Thankfully, that terror passed after realizing (in church) that symbolic blood drinking was an act that religions throughout the world weren’t scared of embracing. And so I drank, and laughed at Mola Ram’s bad acting, and unknowingly waited for Indiana Jones to make another movie that depicted his son swinging with monkeys through trees.
But let’s get back to vampires. Personally, I think the time frame from around the 1950s to right around 1987 painfully transformed vampires from a legendary monster of mythic proportions into something more akin to Alf. The Lost Boys attempted in vain to bring back the darkness, but Tom Cruise did a pretty good job at killing that bitter return by 1994, as it had been for over a decade, until about two years ago.
Now, I can’t look left or listen right without encountering vampires. And not only that, they’re not jokes anymore. They kill, and live dangerously, and probably tear the tags off mattresses with their teeth before they even buy them. Or more appropriately, vampires have once again become terrifying.
So this is my question: At the most basic form, what is required to transform a blood drinker from comedic relief into the commander of a camp, psycho-sexual drama of good versus evil set in rural Louisiana? And secondly, should I pitch a new breakfast cereal to General Mills that transforms the Thuggee into cute, lovable, sugar-filled flavors?
We could call them Thuggee-Puffs.
Or did I push this just one bad joke too far?