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Given the medical/biological explanation for the "darkseekers," I can see no plausible explanation for the extremely rapid burning (with something like smoke) of the creatures in sunlight. This is much more like what happens to supernatural vampires in sunlight.

The only guess I can come up with is that their paleness means they have no protection and they also have very fast metabolisms which accelerates sun burn but that is not really a very chemically plausible explanation.

I do not recall what effect sunlight had on vampires in the novel and if they indeed burnt in sun, how this was accounted for.

  • There are some chemical combinations that will explode (i.e. have an exothermic reaction) in light but not in the dark, like hydrogen and chloride as discussed here. – Hypnosifl Jul 26 at 5:49
  • @Hypnosifl: Absolutely, there are light-sensitive chemical reactions (that's how photography used to work). But what was it about the Darkseekers that caused such a reaction -- I am looking for an explanation in a novelization or the script if it exists. I suspect the director just thought it looked cool. – releseabe Jul 26 at 5:54
  • I assume you're looking for an in-universe explanation? – F1Krazy Jul 26 at 9:52
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If by "novelization" you mean the original novel, in Matheson's story vampirism is caused by a bacterium that is sensitive to UV light, so direct sunlight kills the bacterium, which had animated the host body, causing rapid decomposition (and staking works because it introduces air into the body, which switches the bacterias metabolism from anaerobic to oxygen-consuming).

However in the novel they do not burn up, and the connection between the Will Smith movie and the original novel is so tenuous that I am not sure if this is actually helpful.

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    yes, in the original novel, they do not burn up. the most vampiric thing is that they instantly heal unless staked in the heart and of course that they are literally undead (the ones that died and came back like his wife). but i meant maybe they novelized the smith movie which i bet they did. – releseabe Jul 26 at 16:49
  • @releseabe - You say that, but I can't find one in my (admittedly brief) Googling. While I am under no illusions of the desire to squeeze every dollar out of a movie by its makers, novelising a movie which was adapted from an already reasonably well known novel would be tricky to justify when they can just licence visuals from the movie for a re-release of the original. – GeoffAtkins Jul 27 at 13:14
  • i don't think there is a novelization beyond probably a re-release of the original although the plot is sufficiently different in an interesting way to justify a book in which they could explain all sorts of things. of course many successful movies have books which i doubt add much profit directly -- maybe indirectly they increase film rentals? Anyway, since it is fiction, i am going to say that their high body temperature combined with albinism causes the smoking even though that is nonsense. – releseabe Jul 27 at 15:58
  • I had forgotten about the decent explanation for crumbling to dust -- again no flames but pretty dramatic. The first thing I read by Matheson was in 6th grade about a deformed kid kept chained up -- I think story was entitled X. Matheson was so influential I think we don't realize his full contributions. – releseabe Sep 5 at 15:08

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