Is there a currently rising trend in vampire movies, TV, and literature, or has that always been the case? In The Daily Reveille on November 6, 2008, entertainment writer Drew Belle Zerby noted that “Some women have become so obsessed with ‘Twilight,’ they’ve quit their jobs to sell homemade t-shirts and jewelery inspired by the books.”
Later within the same blog entry, however, Zerby speculates that vampires have always been a part of pop culture, but once you take notice of them, they’re everywhere.
Twilight and its sequels may be the latest in vampiric literature and cinema, but thankfully, they’re far from the only works out there. Regardless of what teen romance-cum-horror series is topping the bestseller list, there will always be the discerning, blood-lusting fans constantly on the hunt for quality vampire entertainment.
If you’re willing to go back a few years, find a copy of director Abel Ferrara’s 1995 film The Addiction, starring Lili Taylor (High Fidelity) as NYU anthropology student Kathleen Conklin. In the story, Conklin is walking home from a lecture discussing Vietnam War atrocities, and finds herself accosted by a female vampire named Casanova (Annabella Sciorra).
Though Casanova behaves uncharacteristically for a vampire, and gives Conklin a chance to stop her by saying “Go away,” she can only mutter a weak “Please,” and is thus bitten. Throughout the rest of the film, Conklin struggles to overcome her addiction to blood.
You may disagree with some of the film’s philosophical musings, but it’s definitely worth seeing, if only for the powerful acting and the gritty, realistic depiction of New York City.
More recently in the vampire indie-flick world, there have been miniseries like “Bleeder,” set in inner-city Philadelphia amongst a seedy atmosphere, including drugs, prostitutes, hard bitten police officers, and all the necessary trimmings. Co-creator Mark Kochanowicz stars as Alex Daub, a hemophiliac taken under the wing of a band of female vampires after losing his home and money.
While only two episodes of “Bleeder” are available for viewing thus far, fans can sign up for a mailing list to be notified of future releases. The series also has its own Facebook page, where bloodthirsty viewers can watch interviews with the stars, swap photos, and exchange thoughts on the story. Yes, it’s basically like any other Facebook fan page, but this series is at least intriguing enough to warrant the devotion.
One of the most recent popular film releases in the vampire genre is clearly Daybreakers, the apocalyptic twist on the legend from writer/directors Peter and Michael Spierig, starring Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke.
Daybreakers is set in the year 2019, in which a widespread pestilence has turned most humans into vampires. Dafoe plays Lionel “Elvis” Cormac, a former vampire who has managed to reclaim his human qualities. Throughout the film, he strives to rescue the few remaining human beings from becoming vampires.
Now certainly, when it comes to all things dark and ominous, one name that sticks in American moviegoers’ minds is Tim Burton. Whether or not you’re a fan of his anomalous creations, you have to admit that it was only a matter of time before a vampire flick became part of his filmography.
The film in question is Dark Shadows, originally a Gothic soap opera about all things supernatural that ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971, according to Matt McDaniel of Yahoo! Movie Talk. Burton first announced the project when he presented footage from the upcoming Alice in Wonderland (due for release March 5) at Comic-Con 2009.
Burton’s favorite leading man, Johnny Depp, is slated to play Barnabas Collins, the character originally played by Jonathan Frid in the TV series. For fans of the show (as well as Burton and Depp), anticipation will surely be building as more information goes public.
So, is there an explanation for the seemingly constant ebb and flow of vampire films and literature? Here’s a theory: like ghosts, zombies, and werewolves, vampires draw on our fears of (and attraction to) the unknown. All that is terrifying can be, at the same time, alluring. Of vampires this is especially true; after all, aren’t they rather seductive?
Also, the most innovative writers and filmmakers have come up with ways to continually reinvent the vampire mythos, keeping the fantasy alive long after its origin in Eastern European legend.
Hopefully, as long as there remains undiscovered talent in the novel-penning, screenwriting, and filmmaking worlds, coupled with an interest in the undead, we’ll have plenty of vampire stories to satiate our appetites.