Vampires in TV & Films

When I was a child I used to watch videos all the time, yes videos, DVDs didn’t come out till I was in my teens. Some of you may be thinking I sound old after that, but anyway…

When I wasn’t watching Disney films, power rangers, or teenage mutant ninja turtles I snuck something else onto the television. Dracula. Obviously. I can’t recall how old I was exactly, it must have been around 6-8 years old at the time when I first watched it. And just so you know I mean Francis Ford Copella’s Dracula, the one starring Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, & Anthony Hopkins. I didn’t see other older versions till much later into my adulthood. 

When I first put that tape on of Dracula and watched it alone. I was enthralled and became obsessed, I only managed to get to the scene where Dracula turns into a werewolf and rapes Lucy. Before my mother came in and saw me watching it, her horror of catching me watching it still rings in my memory even to this day. She shut it off and yelled at me.

And that could have been the end of this story had I not been bewitched by the film. Afterwards, I continued putting it on, and on, and on every time nobody else was around. Eventually managing to finish it, I did ask permission afterwards to finish the film but was told no. So I did what every child does when their parents said no, I ignored them and did what I was going to do either way.

Skip forward 20 years, and still to this day I am obsessed with the film. And all things vampire.

Now of course later in my teens I did watch Buffy the vampire slayer, that only escalated my obsession. And a few years after Buffy was a hit TV-Show I sat down with my family and watched Interview With The Vampire. Another wondrous film that made me love vampires even more, and now probably it became the main source of my evolved fanaticism with the genre. Having witnessed the vampire’s perspective.

As Anne Rice puts it;

“I always thought the vampire was the interesting one. And I wanted to know what happened behind the scenes, I wanted you to fall in love with the vampire and see things through his eyes.” -Anne Rice

And that aim was achieved. I not only now loved vampires because what they are, and their presence on screen and the page, but for their humanistic qualities as well as their supernatural evil existence.

As time moved on, more and more media was devoted to the vamp-flicks, with it becoming a major resurgence in Hollywood. After a long rest away from the genre, the industry gave us more vampires than we could handle or hope t0. Not all of them were good, yes this is where I mention Twilight I hate to bring it back up after it’s thankful departure but it is a good reference to the varying quality of what vampires can be.

There have been others; Trueblood, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, being human, Supernatural, and even anime series such as Vampire Knight, Hellsing, Blood Lad, etc.

And some of them are great, some are bad. I personally loved buffy, angel, Trueblood, & being human. Well, most of it. If like me, you prefer the dark classical abode of the vampire then you might very well get slightly offended at times seeing writers turn the monster we love into a clown on screen; with glittering skin, fawning over some virginal teenage girl, or attending a high-school.

All I can say to these atrocities is, ‘FUCK OFF!’

Vampires can be silly at times sure, I loved Spike, Angel, and Eric Northman. They were at times fleshed out. But for the majority, the surrounding cast and subplots, were childish at best. Its at times like these when what you love is beaten down to pulp and paraded into a joke that you seek the more serious works.

If you’re after a more series toned series for vampires I could highly recommend Moonlight, a great yet underfunded TV-Show. It lasted all but of one season but its main character was intriguing; Mick St. John, he wasn’t an ancient mega-powerful vampire, no. He was a 90-something-year-old vampire who was a private detective. The make-up was cheesy, but the stories told within it were serious and they had a great cast, and the pace was good and the series unravels at a steady rate for true vampire-aficionados.

Comics; I’ve always loved them, though as a kid I read Marvel & DC. Nowadays I read Image, Darkhorse, & Vertigo. Mostly horror comics rather than the superhero comics of my youth. Two comics I could easily recommend are – American Vampire, & The Strain.

You might have heard of the Strain, currently, it is a multimedia story having been done in a trilogy of books, a quad-trilogy of comics, and a TV-Series aswell. If you’re after serious vampires this is one title you have to check out. It takes a unique spin on the vampire and completely rewires their biology making them quite terrifying. Set in New-York City it follows a global epidemic. The story was co-created/written by Chuck Hogan & Guillermo Del Toro. Guillermo has in the past been a father to vampire movies with Blade 2, & Cronos.

American Vampire; at times dark, serious and true to vampire roots. At others very much a comic story. It follows two vampires, both born of America, one was an outlaw in the wild west, the other an actress in the roaring scene of the 1920’s of Hollywood. Though it deviates off into side stories and characters involving Dracula, nazis, and various species of older vampires it is well worth checking out for some great unique characters. The main characters Skinner Sweet & Pearl Jones are two personal favourites of mine.

There are other movies of recent that I have fallen in love with, that might have slipped under your nose; We Are The Night, Byzantium, Let The Right One In.

We Are The Night; is a german film, originally called ‘Wir sind die Nacht.’ It’s about a group of female vampires and is compared most often to the 1980’s cult hit The Lost Boys. And rightly so, the film is gorgeous, sexy, and shocking.

Let The Right One In; an adaptation of a Swedish book is another wonderful movie which follows the story of a young boy. Oskar who is bullied at school, and finds a friend in the new resident of his flat, Eli who is a vampire-child. A quiet, engrossing and chillingly sombre from start to end with a touch of hope.

Byzantium; it started as a play & ended up as a film. Directed by Neil Jordan, who if you don’t know also directed Interview with the vampire. The film follows two female vampires, a mother and a daughter across Ireland. It is a refreshing and creative take on the genre and I think, should be glorified as what vampire flicks can be.

These three are definitely worth checking out. There are of course many others I could recommend but these are my personal favourites. America did also re-make Let The Right One In under the name Let Me In, starring Chloë Grace Moretz, I have yet to see it as I tend to avoid American remakes but I do have it on my Netflix list.

Other films I’d recommend if you haven’t seen them are;

-Nosferatu (The original, Dracula adaptation made in 1922)

-Dracula (1931, starring Bela Lugosi)

-Dracula (1958, starring Christopher Lee)

-Dracula (1979, starring Frank Langella)

-Lost Boys

-Near Dark

-The Hunger (starring David Bowie)

-Dracula, Dead & Loving it (starring Leslie Nielson, a parody)

-Shadow Of The Vampire (A re-imagining of Nosferatu, following its production)

-Ultraviolet (a sci-fi, starring Milla Jovovich)

-Dracula 2000 (starring, Gerard Butler)

-Daybreakers (Set in a world where everyone is a vampire)

-What We Do In The Shadows (A parody/mockumentary)

There are obviously many, many more vamp flicks throughout the past few years but really these are my favourites. And of course, feel free to recommend other great films and shows that you feel are worth the time.

So there it is my own personal favourites. I do tend to write a lot on vampires, so if you’re interested in more then follow my blog for more on vampires whether it be fiction, poems, or more mindless ranting blogs you’re after I’m sure I can supply your need.

I will in future do a top 10, of my favourite vamp characters, and a vamp book recommendation list. So keep checking back.

-Rumford

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