[This message edited by StillGoing at 11:40 AM, October 17th (Monday)]
Bram Stoker's Dracula had a host of various abilities including the ability to shape shift and fly; Stoker is also the one who introduced the idea that vampires cast no reflection in a mirror. While Dracula was immensely powerful he had obvious flaws and weaknesses and was presented as a monster, however sympathetic a monster he might have been.
I would go with LadyV's suggestion of the White Wolf folks starting the Mary Sue stuff. It's a really common thing for gamers, especially free-form roleplayers, to respond to a situation they don't like with "Well, that doesn't work because blah blah blah"; the nerd term for it is god moding and more people do it than want to admit.
In the early and mid 90's this migrated from Masquerade and other games to fiction, fan fiction and cooperative fiction. As more and more people banged up against each other the concepts took solid root and it started to crop up in mainstream fiction.
A straightforward example would be someone like Sarah Rees Brennan; she's actually a very talented writer and has nothing to do with the subject of vampires but she's a good demonstration of fan fiction writers moving into a mainstream circle, and the potential influence that can have.
So... uh. Also, Vampire Hunter D rules.
Zombie popularity to me represents this last ditch effort to come up with an unfuckable devil.
I wrote a zombie sex story not too long ago just to be an ass, all proud of myself, then found an anthology of zombie sex stories at B&N.
Which in turn reminded me of that one Tales from the Crypt episode with the zombie couple who run into the vampire. So that was done already too.
So, vampires not monsters, vampirism not a disease, vampirism just about "difference," just feels trend-surfy to me. Also somewhere in there the forms of nourishment got expanded. Vamps may not need to drink blood. They may be emotional vampires, living off of fear, desire, etc.
They're more interesting to me as metaphor, so I really don't mind all this. And truly, one of the ways to defeat a monster is to make him fall in lurve with you. Without that we wouldn't have romance novels, and I wouldn't really want to be the Kurgan's girlfriend.
Which I totally do.
[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 2:10 PM, October 17th (Monday)]
It's been awhile I might have to start again.