Try as they might, Hollywood simply cannot bury the vampire genre. From even before Bela Lugosi first donned the cape of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula in 1931, the legend of those bloodsuckers has fascinated readers, audiences and television viewers almost non-stop.
Think about it, the ’60s gave us Barnabas Collins on the daytime horror soap opera Dark Shadows, the ’70s had — on Broadway and the big screen — Frank Langella as Dracula; the ’80s were filled with those fangmeisters, from Fright Night to Near Dark and The Lost Boys; Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as well as vampires Angel and Spike) ruled the ’90s, which led to Twilight time, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, The Passage and so many more in the years that followed. Well, the … uh, flow … isn’t slowing down any time soon. The question, of course, is why?
“Any great fantasy has to contain your greatest wish and your darkest fear,” muses Buffy creator Joss Whedon. “The idea of a vampire is someone who is cut off from the rest of humanity, which I think everybody feels like sometimes. He is cut off and shunned, and at the same time exalted. Of all the creatures — and we need our creatures — we’ve created, he is the most exalted. The Phantom of the Opera? Yeah, he can play the piano, but you don’t want to kiss him. The vampire is the person who sees everything, who’s above everything, who’s completely alienated from humans, but looks human, can interact with humans, can love like a human. People just relate to that. It’s a myth they want to see themselves in … to a degree. Obviously Buffy is more about Buffy than it is about vampires, but I think there’s a tinge of that there that people can’t get enough of.”
(Photo by Universal Pictures/The Mirisch Corporation/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Marti Noxon, who got her start as a producer on Buffy but as graduated to so many other shows, including Unreal, Dietland and Sharp Objects, adds, “Part of the reason that someone like Anne Rice is so popular is that she was coming up about the same time as our awareness of AIDS and blood diseases grew, and fears of sex and blood were intermingled. It probably gave her work a little more poignancy and gravity. But because the myth has been around so much longer than that, the appeal has so much to do with our longing to escape death, and so much to do with our knowledge that that can’t happen, because the cost of this would be to be some kind of monster.
“At the same time,” she continues, “we have a desire for some kind of loophole and are also drawn to the idea of a romantic soul who finds his life mate, or who will die trying to find the life mate that he will be able to live with for eternity. It’s one of the genres where women and men can watch and get into it on different levels. Guys are looking at it as pure horror and most of the women look at it as a sexual and romantic metaphor. To be taken and made eternal — that’s pretty hot.”
(Photo Credit: MPI)
True Blood author Charlaine Harris agrees that there is a romantic aspect to it all: “The vampire myth is concerned with the relationship between the undead and the living, and the need for blood to survive, the sense of this past world that feeds on the present. These are all very general fears that don’t go away very quickly. Also, of all the monsters, the vampire is the most human, and therefore represents human potential. Nobody is going to become King Kong and you have to be dead to be put together to be Frankenstein. If you’re Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or the Wolfman, you have no control over your transformation. The idea that you have a secret self inside that you call on in times of danger is really only suitable for the vampire myth.”
Whatever the reason, vampires are here to stay. You can get your crosses and your garlic ready, but they’re coming. Scroll down for a sense of what’s on the way!
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