Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aztec Vampires and the Titty Twister



For the longest time I had always wanted to talk about a certain subject of Dusk Till Dawn that I really liked and I didn’t want to bring up the over-the-top violence because than that would turn into a discussion about Quentin Tarantino, so I sought out some kind of inspiration. That was until Hellbound Heart from Twitter had this to say: “Talk about how it’s the 1st horror to conflate Aztec history with Western myth. (i.e. strip club backed onto pyramid)” I swear, her and I were on the same wavelength because at the end of the movie the camera pulls back from an amazing matte of the strip club that was build on top of an Aztec pyramid. I always though it was a cool little twist but I never thought there was a method behind the drawing… how wrong I was.

A lot of people who don’t know about the entire span of the Vampire myth will tell you that vampires first came around in the 1800s or when Bram Stoker wrote his infamous book entitled Dracula. However, some die-hard vampire fans will tell you that vampirism went as far back as the Middle Ages with Vlad Tepes or the Countess Elizabeth Bathory. But, those who are experts in vampire mythology and lore will tell you that vampirism first stared in about 5000 BC in early Mesopotamian cultures. This is where we start our history lesson about Aztecs and their vampiric beliefs.



The early South American cultures had several gods and myths that revolved around vampirism from the Chonchon of Peru and Chili or the Cihuateteo, which were the sprits of women who died in childbirth. The subject that I want to briefly discuss is a god-like monster called Camazotz. The monster was usually associated with night, death, and sacrifice and had the body of a human and the head of a bat. Soon the Zapotec tribes began forming cults around the monster god. People have suggested that the myth of the Camazotz was spawned from real life giant vampire bats called Desmodus Draculae in which there is are numerous fossilized evidence to support this claim. However, other people have suggested that the myth was inspired the Spectral Bat.

There is a specific legend that was first seen in the Mayan records about bat-like monsters that were encountered by the Mayan heroes known as Hunahpu and Xbaladque. According the writing, these two heroes had to spend a night in the ‘House of Bats’ while embarking on their quest through the underworld of Xibalba. The leader of these bat-like monsters was Camazotz, which is translated to “death bat”, and his call was similar to an eek.



Knowing this we can assume that Titty Twister in Dusk Till Dawn is some kind of reincarnation of the House of Bats, considering that there are bat-like humans that occupy the temple and midway into the movie there are bats surrounding the temple. In the myth, the heroic twins had to battle the bat-like humans and we can assume that those monsters were in fact vampires to some degree and in Dusk Till Dawn they are portrayed as more stylized monster. They still retain their human bodies but their facial features resemble that of an actual bat. Hell, we can even interpret the temple as one of the ‘meeting places’ for the Camazotz cult and that after a while Camazotz’s people inhabited the temple and lured truckers so that they could feed on them.

Going on what Hellbound Heart said, I do think it’s very interesting how Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez somehow took what was thought to have been a strictly Western or Eastern myth and blended into Aztec and Mayan history. I also find it very interesting that they used a strip club to lure unsuspecting truckers because strip clubs are always synonymous with North American tradition. I’ll even go as far to say that Dusk Till Dawn is a study in the male complex because why use a strip club to lead men into? It’s something that all men want and crave… sex. It’s universal. To be honest, I can go on and on about this but I have to cut it off somewhere. I think Dusk Till Dawn is not just some run-of-the-mill vampire movie but rather a melting pot of different cultures and the reason why I didn’t grasp it until now is because of its subtly. That’s what QT and Mr. Rodriguez are known for; the art of subtly.



Sources:
The Vampire Rave: Aztec Vampires

11 comments:

forestofthedead said...

Fascinating take on the film!

Kelly Hogaboom said...

"something that all men want and crave… sex. It’s universal. "

'Cause women don't want it? I'm sure that's not what you're saying because if you were, Fail.

Oddly and coincidentally, I just watched Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula today. Why was that film so universally panned? I thought it was great! (although perhaps not true "horror"). I'd love to hear your perspective!

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

Kelly, men seem to be more sex craved than women... that's not to say that some women are the same way. I just think that most men are hyper-sexed, I guess.

And I don't understand the hate for Coppola's Dracula either. I saw it about three or four times and loved it. I might give it a watch and do a review of it soon.

La Morte Vivante said...

I really enjoyed reading this, and thankyou for mentioning our exchange on Twitter! *flattered*

This really is a novel reading of the film.

Anonymous said...

I thought the film was excellent, having just seen it for the first time last night. Although I would have liked to see a really intense sex scene featuring either Salma Hayek or Juliette Lewis, or both together in the one sex scene... The club doorman promises lots of pussy, but we don't get to see any from the two main female leads:(

Anonymous said...

Great take on the film, made for an interesting read.

And Uh Oh! I sense Kelly is a p*ssed off feminist who jumps to completly the wrong conclusion as soon as anything is said about men and sex.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say that the series is incredible. Much more interesting, less relying on shock value, although its still very Rodriguez. WATCH IT. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous said...

One more thing..vampire myth appears in the stories of just about every region. Its true that there were vampire myths Mesopotamia. But Mesopotamia is not South America, Its in the near East..by modern-day Turkey and Greece. Also Vampire Bats are in lots of tropical places, not just the rain forrest.
Vampires were the way people explained contagious disease, Especially TB. they didn't know about microbes, and didn't understand why members of a family and their close friends were getting ill, and wasting away from no visible cause….so they thought that the dead family members and lovers were "returning" and draining the living ones. In reality they were simply passing germs around. Turkey and Greece were the most ancient vampire myth began. Then of course the Baltic region, and the Byronic Poets of the 1800's modernized it. Notably Tuberculosis was very causal to all of it.

Anonymous said...

Chill the fuck out lezbian

Chris said...

When you make a movie about vampires in a strip club, filled with gore and violence, and still find room to add subtlety, you know you're a good screenwriter.

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