I was in a reminiscent mood and re-watched the first series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, (as well as refusing to acknowledge another looming essay deadline).
It is one of my favourite 1990’s fantasy series, (I even have the original 1992 movie). As I pseudo head-banged my way through the intro music and revelled in the corny one-liners of nineties acting, my mind started to wonder about the phenomena of the celluloid vampire.
The Vampire Trend
As I researched vampire films, I came across this blog at Firstshowing.net. I couldn’t help but laugh at the opening paragraph:
“There isn’t enough justification yet to say vampires are a returning trend, but there are quite a few films coming soon.”
I was amused by the official and authoritative tone of that statement; even more so because it was an incorrect prediction. Of course, it would be easy to mock Alex Billington’s conjecture, but consider this article was written in 2007; and with the clarity of hindsight, it is entirely justified to say vampires are the returning trend. To be honest, I don’t think they ever went out of fashion. Fan or not, there is no denying the vampire has been one of the most used preternatural species to grace print and visual media in history. From religious texts to film; music videos to cartoons, they remain as a source of fascination in the entertainment world.
The undead in all their guises are quite firmly en vogue; in fact, they’ve been restyled. Gone are the days when the vampire was depicted as some creepy looking bloke in a high, stiff collared cloak who lived in a castle or a buxom beauty, resplendent with long flowing hair and a penchant for virgins.
Welcome to the era of the neo-nosferatu: they can walk in daylight, fangs are an optional extra (The Twilight Saga) and many are in the ‘good guys’ camp, even possessing their once human souls (Angel). They are even forming social and political groups: coming ‘out of the coffin’ and campaigning for vampire rights (True Blood).
The list of TV shows centralised around vampires and vampire lore and fiction, is a long one and not restricted to English speaking countries or places where Christianity is the primary religion. Here are a few examples of shows past and present:
- Angel (1999 – 2004)
- Blade: The Series (2006)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)
- Demons (2009)
- Dracula: The Series (1990)
- Helsing (Anime) (2001 – 2002)
- Salem’s Lot (1979, 2004)
- Split (2009 – ongoing)
- The Vampire Diaries (2009 – ongoing)
- True Blood (2008 – ongoing)
- Ultraviolet (1998)
- Vampire Knight (Anime) (2008)
- Vampire Knight Guilty (Anime) (2008)
Needless to say, many series are poor in content, quality and originality (Blade series) but in recent times, they have entered mainstream popularity, no longer relegated to the province of science-fantasy/horror geekdom.
Silver Screen Icons
The list of vampire series above doesn’t even include the masses of animations and children’s programmes aired (Count Duckula anyone?), nor does it include any series where vampires have appeared as minor characters or story-lines (e.g. Supernatural). AND I won’t even begin to dissect the countless books, comics, graphic novels and e-books available on the market, many of which date back hundreds of years.
Here’s a list I compiled just from memory. If you want a more comprehensive list of vampire movies, Snarkerati has a good one or go to Wikipedia.
- 30 Days of Night (2007)
- Blade Trilogy (1998 – 2004)
- Blood : The Last Vampire US film (2009)
- Blood: The Last Vampire (Anime) (2000)
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
- Daybreakers (2009)
- Dracula (1931)
- Dracula 2000 (2000)
- Dracula II: Ascension (2003)
- Dracula III: Legacy (2005)
- Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
- Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
- Dracula 3000 (2004)
- Fright Night (1985)
- Fright Night Part 2 (1988)
- From Dusk ‘til Dawn film series (1996 – 2000)
- I Am Legend (2007)
- Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
- Nosferatu (1922)
- Once Bitten (1985)
- Queen of the Damned (2002)
- The Lost Boys series (1987 – 2010)
- The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974)
- The Vampire’s Assistant (2009)
- The Vampire Lovers (1970)
- Thirst (2009)
- Twilight Saga (2008 – ongoing)
- Ultraviolet (2006)
- Underworld film series (2006 – ongoing)
- Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
- Vampires (1998)
- Van Helsing (2004)
A Fanged Future?
2010-11 will see more vampire movies come to a cinema near you:
- 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010)
- The Historian (2010)
- Sam Worthington is reported to be playing Dracula in Dracula – Year Zero (2011)
- Paul Bettany will be taking the lead in Priest (2011)
- Castlevania (2011)
If you want more details about future productions you should check out the blog Suburban Vampires. It’s got a great list of film and television productions due for release in 2010-11.