With so many decades of various assortments of movies and books based on vampires and their shenanigans, the question has arisen; what’s the allure? Why has our culture been so blood-thirsty for the pasty, coffin-laden undead? Why has the love of vampires been able to span so many generations? And, how so has it been so successful in lavishly corrupting our movies and literature?
The word vampire was first popularized in the 18th century in Western Europe, however the lure and myth of these creatures may have been adopted as late as the prehistoric ages by such cultures as the Mesopotamians. Vampires as defined by Wiki as: “mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person/being“. Notice the lack of the word “sparkling”!? Much of the history of the “Vampire” was based off superstition or populous control mechanisms invented by the Russian Orthodox Church, such as the myth that at one point Vampires were said to have been previous witches or people that rebelled against the church. However some of the history of vampires were said to have developed from ancient beliefs that called any creature that would eat flesh and suck blood a demon or spirit, this description would also include the Devil, thus the conception of the blood sucking vampire. Much of the remaining characteristics of vampires, such as sleeping upside down, turning into a bat, sparkling, has been modernized and popularized by books, TV, and movies but generally do not contain much classical or historical significance.
The name Dracula or the word vampire, was popularized and virtually invented by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. For die hard traditionalist, such as myself, Stoker’s rendition of the vampire is the quintessential version of what a vampire should be, all other variations fall short. Although there have been a few books that are worth mentioning that do Dracula and all the Vampire nation a justice:
Interview with a Vampire & The Vampire Lestat by Ann Rice
I am Legend by Richard Matheson ~ Salem’s lot by Stephen King
Many of the above novels has a play on the ancestral Dracula, with much of their own spin intertwined with a bloody spit of science fiction thrown in for flavor. Much of Stoker’s vision of the vampire was centered around a very Gothic, classical, baroque lifestyle with hints of romance, but in a more desire ballast fashion wrapped in lace and red lips. Theatrics is not needed in a book that engulfs the reader with a slice of historical lust, fused with sententious plot and story line! To my dismay, current generations seem to enjoy a more straightforward fantastical read burdened with mindlessness and unimaginative shortened corners. These works seems to develop more of a fantasy world than one of magnum opus and grandeur, which is the habitual vampire! So unfortunate! Granted many of these monstrosities are geared toward young adults, however I believe that children are more enlightened when given quality over refuse! Some examples are:
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer~ Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber ~Vampire Academy by Richelle Mea
Since the dawn of cinema, movies have had the ability to draw people out of the wood-work in droves, especially with promises of lavish, over the top cinematography! But what makes a good movie? Better yet, what makes a good vampire movie that can appeal to all audiences, including the traditionalist? Generally speaking, a good plot, story line, and characters with whom you can relate with make for a movie worth watching. Add a thimbleful of non-predictability, a dash of believability, and maybe a pinch of suspense, comedy or romance and you have a good movie worth watching! Even better, add originality or historical interludes and thus born a contender! So, in terms of a vampire movie, in my opinion, historical significance takes precedence over originality! For instance, these movies are the vintage, time-honored vampire stories chuck full of verifiable, thespian decadence that still make us wet the bed:
~ Nosferatu circa 1922
~ Dracula circa 1931
Honorable mentions that still contain much of the melodramatics we crave, are still dignified cult classics but are on the little lighter side include: Fright Night ,The Lost Boys, Interview with a Vampire
The above vampire movies have the ability to span time and generations not only because they are prodigious stories that imbibe the movie goer with all of the above contender movie requisites, but they also eloquently portray vampires as they are meant to be portrayed; perceptible! Perceptible but without garishness and hypocrisy! Such deformations of character include:
~ True Blood (T.V. I know, but I’m grouping it here!)
~ Vampire in Brooklyn
~ Queen of the Damned
So the question was raised, why do we love vampires so much? I wonder if this answer has two heads and if the answer would vary based on which generation one would ask? Much of the hype over the more recent vampire is largely surrounded by the character and character development of the film or literary figure and less about the myth and lore of vampire themselves. So I think this answer stems from a love of mythological creatures intertwined with romance and classicism, but has an aftertaste of fantasy, gore, and realism.
It seems that without the “historical figure” to anchor itself too, each generation chips away at the very foundation of what is canon. Slowly chipping away at all the classic facade and influence, eventually chipping away so much that it becomes barley recognizable thus giving way to the modernization of the genre. This can be said for much of everything in our lives, however it still saddens me knowing, that what is considered to be a big influence in our lives now, will consequently lose much value to others in decades to come. But I hope that in the future, historically-speaking, the fact that I listed Twilight and Blacula in the same category will forever be esteemed!
* editors note: What do Vampires and Twilight have in common?
THEY BOTH SUCK!
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