One of the most popular monsters ever to grace the silver screen perhaps is non other than the vampire. How the vampire has somehow managed to survive in the art world could very well be a great mystery but time has clearly proven the vampires have longevity indeed. No pun intended.
What makes the vampire the most feared yet respected monster in film today? Simply re-visit the folklores or legend which have been prevailent in some cultures throughout Europe beginning in the early Eighteenth century & you will have a better grasp of why the vampire myth is indeed a popular one. At one point, the dreaded entities that haunted us so many back then would've only served to grant much oral fiction which would be admired and discussed for years to come but these myths have literally been taken to the threshold of greatness. Back then, who would've thought these fiends would one day be a grand spectacle in the entertainment world?
Although it's extremely difficult to make a single, definitive description of the vampire, there are several common elements in European legend. Legend has it the vampires often visited their loved ones and caused great mischief amongst neighborhoods they inhabited while still alive. As a result of such mischief, mass hysteria surrounded this superstitious belief in vampires throughout Europe resulted in many corpses being staked & people were accused of vampirism. Naturally, the vampire is generally thought to be a fictitious entity in modern times although some cultures still believe that these creatures of the night do indeed exist.
Perhaps some of the finest works in fiction were the earliest novels written about none other than the vampire. Contrary to popular belief, Bram Stoker's novel Dracula wasn't the first novel to introduce the bloodsucker but very well may the most influential literary piece that spawned hundreds of books or films making the vampire a predominant figure in the horror genre. The first known novel, however, in modern fiction would be none other than John Polidori's publication of The Vampyre which was highly successful but predates Stoker's Dracula by nearly 77 years.
As we all know, the vampire still reigns in modern fiction & there are as many novels written about this creature as there are films. The topic of vampirism in the media is more broad than anyone would truly care to mention but I think we can safely say that the vampire has staked his home in our hearts for nearly two hundred years & his appeal to the masses has only grown stronger through the years.
Over the years, the myths of the immortals or legends we've encountered in film or literature vary quite a bit. From the earliest black and white film Nosferatu to the recent works such as Twilight or Let The Right One In, we have seen many changes or revisions. No longer do we see a hideous demonic face that lures young maidens to his lair at night to attain their blood nor do we see vampires hunting innocent victims in order to secure their immortality. In fact, vampires blend in quite well with society for the most part & have been much more charming or sophisticated lately. Many vampires in films or literature have become great friends to people like you & me. One could safely admit that the vampire has truly evolved over the past two centuries & it will be interesting to see how they continue to evolve with time.
Stephanie Meyer crafted her own tale of teenage love & vampirism which has become quite a phenomena right next to Harry Potter. Her books enthrall millions of young girls and adults have even owned up to reading these books as well. Meyer's Twilight was a successful first novel which garned many great reviews & spawned four sequels which are equally popular amongst fiction readers both young & old. Recently, her first novel Twilight was released in theaters around Thanksgiving and viewers have flocked to the theatres in an imposing flux. Probability suggests her novels will continue to be read for years & there is already a sequel in production to the popular film Twilight.
What is different about Meyer's vampires? I have yet to read one but I hear they are amazingly beautiful creatures, well, with fangs. From what I've gathered, the vampires here are sparkly and just darned good looking. Meyer advises us the vampires are still attracted to blood as one could easily gather but have more restraint than most vampires we've known in past works. Twilight also may be one of the few novels which tackles the teenage girl experience while indulging in romance with a vampire. The concept sounds interesting enough for sure but I'm not quite sold as of the present.
Personally, I'm more of an addict to the Sookie Stackhouse series which may of you know as True Blood on HBO. True Blood is more of an adult series from the writer of Six Feet Under & the wonderful film American Beauty. Alan Ball scripted this series based on Charlaine Harris's immensely popular fiction novels. The themes in True Blood may somewhat similar to Meyer's vampires as both tend to protect the innocent & yet still are prone to feed off the living from time to time. On the same note, vampires still want very much to blend in with society & desire nothing more than to be respected citizens. In fact, the monsters in this series are not always the vampires which is an interesting twist indeed. Season one was a successful series on HBO & enthusiasts like myself are already pumped up about the second season which airs this month.
In additon to the immensely popular True Blood show, there has been a press release for yet another great vampire story which should air on television in summer of 2010. IFC tv has officially announced it's first original event telefilm "Laurell K.Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter", based upon Hamilton's long-running series of best-selling fantasy novels will be produced by Lions Gate & After Dark Films. Yay! Adapted by Glen Morgan, who also serves as executive producer, production for the Anita Blake series begins this summer. I will have to admit that I'm quite thrilled about this & I can only hope the TV series does the books justice as I am a huge fan of the series Laurell K. Hamilton brought to life. I highly suggest reading them all if you have yet to experience her world of vampires.
Much like Meyers or Harris, Hamilton's vampires are desperately trying to fit in with society although you will always have the bad apples who want to spoil the entire bunch. That's to be expected, right? The vampires in the world of Anita Blake are often very beautiful creatures as well although they can have facial blemishes or imperfections which are identical to humans. In Hamilton's fantasy world, specialists are appointed by the government to execute vampires suspected of commiting homicide. It's not illegal to become a vampire but it is, however, illegal to steal blood from the innocents. If there is not a willing donor, things can be pretty complicated for an unfortunate vampire. Vampires are extremely powerful & seductive beings in this series although they are not always the monsters that society has branded them to be.
Let The Right One In was perhaps one of the more successful vampire stories recently in theatres & has done quite well on DVD to boot. LTROI is a Swedish vampire flick which is also upon a popular psychological novel. I wasn't a big fan of this one per se but it seems to have been embraced by both critics & audiences alike. In fact, the makers of Cloverfield have already bought the rights to the film & there is a projected release date for their remake. I will probably revisit this one someday as my initial attempts at viewing this film weren't so memorable. When I did finally finish it, I couldn't see for the life of me why this film had garnered so many reviews. Oh well, to each his own I guess.
Irregardless of which vampire film does it for you, there is something out there for every vampire fan of every age. I don't see any immediate signs of the vampire's demise but I do think the vampires will continue to grow through the years as they have made a great deal of progress in the past few centuries. MWAHAHA!!
I have always been fascinated by the transformation of this creature in history and in pop culture today. It started out that they were something to fear...rising up out of the grave wondering mindlessly to feed. They lived on the underbelly of society, never to be talked about, only feared. They were the explanation when something went terribly wrong in town. They were the scape goats. After a while, they got transformed in something more supernatural, being able to shape shift and turn into mist … more
Since the Gothic literary trend that first established the vampire as a classical villain, the vampires of legend have evolved into media superstars. Today, social outcasts and members of the status quo alike have adopted the vampire as an emblem for their beliefs and turned the once-dreaded creatures of the night into romanticized sex symbols.
Below is an extensive, although not exhaustive list of links to useful resources for those interested in this subject matter....