Thursday, December 3, 2009


If anyone hasn’t noticed, vampires are the new hip thing…again. This current resurgence is in part thanks to the success of the Twilight series, which I have to admit I kind of like. The books aren’t the best things that I’ve ever read but they are enjoyable enough. So far the films have done a good job of bringing the books to life (admittedly I have not seen New Moon yet, but I think Cinderella and I will be going to see it on our next date night).

I’ve often wondered why these blood-loving creatures of the night have captivated people for so long. Sure blokes like Edward and Spike and Lestat are captivating and sexy (even though I think that Robert Patterson fellow isn’t all that…he looks so disheveled and stoned all of the time) but why women get hot for a guy that is going to drink them up, literally, is just beyond me.

Recently I ran across this story, which briefly goes into the history of vampires. Here’s a taste –

Some sources incorrectly trace vampires back to Romanian prince Vlad Tepes (1431-1476), who fought for independence against the Ottoman Empire. Though by most accounts his methods were brutal and sadistic (for example, slowly impaling his enemies on stakes, drawing and quartering them, burning them to death, etc.), in reality they were not particularly cruel or unusual for the time. Similar techniques were used by the Catholic Church and other powerful entities and rulers during the Middle Ages to torture and kill enemies.

Bram Stoker is said to have modeled some aspects of his Count Dracula character on Vlad Tepes.

While Tepes (partly) inspired fictional modern vampires, the roots of "real" vampires have very different origins. As a cultural entity, vampires are a worldwide phenomenon. According to anthropologist Paul Barber, author of "Vampires, Burial, and Death," stories from nearly every culture have some localized version of the vampire, and "bear a surprising resemblance to the European vampire."

I remember ol’ Vlad. That was a brutal bugger for sure.

So, according to this at least, the idea of the vampire seems to come from the ignorance of the middle ages and the work of one writer. (Note – I know that Bram Stoker created vampire fiction but lord Dracula is a painfully hard book to read.) Yet still I’m mystified how not-so-rotten corpses and a blood thirsty Romanian could turn into this never-ending cash cow of an industry that now seems to focus around softcore porn on the page (no offense Laurell but you did create a monster) and teenage love stories.

There was a time that vampires were considered scary in popular culture. The first time the vampire took to the screen was in the 1922 film Nosferatu.

After that Hollywood started to churn out a plethora of films based on or about Dracula, with a slew of different actors filling the role and eventually even inspiring a series of blackploitation films (Blacula anyone?).

Wasn’t Bella Lugosi just a babe?

Then in 1976 Anne Rice turned the vampire world on its head with her novel Interview with the Vampire. I’ll be the first to admit that I could never get into Rice’s stuff -- she’s just too wordy and thick -- but Snow White loved it. Finally in 1994 the book was turned into a pretty darned good film. Unfortunately the series on film soon died after that because Tm Cruise is a little bitch that didn’t want to be upstaged by Brad Pitt.

Since then the vampire has experienced the ebb and flow of the whims of the public. Currently the vamp is riding high thanks to the success of the aforementioned Twilight, the Tru Blood series (based on the excellent books by Charlene Harris), and the Vampire Diaries.

I’m sure that these books, movies, and TV shows will not be the last that we see of our blood-sucking friends. Now if I could just some resurgence in popular culture…

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