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Photo: Cinema of Vampires
At the Beginning
The role of vampires in film has long been a part of cinema since the early pictures. There has always been a fascination with the pulseless bloodsuckers and as film has evolved and transformed, the topic of vampires has stayed with it. No matter the genre or even the own rules of what makes a vampire, there will be an audience to watch every move. Looking at over a hundred years’ worth of movie-making, the transformation is incredible of seeing what film can accomplish. Comparing the first appearances of vampires in film and what it is now is interesting and hilarious.
‘Dracula’ played by Bela Lugosi in 1931 could easily be the first time a ton of people saw a vampire on the screen. Directed by Tod Browning and Karl Freund, this tale tells the story of Count Dracula as he causes chaos by sucking the blood of young women and turning them into vampires until a vampire hunter comes to stop him once and for all. The story of Dracula has been told and retold many times, but looking back to one of the original roots of the cinema story is important. Though looking back at the history there is another vampire character that stuck out in film before ‘Dracula’ took the screen. F.W. Murnau directed the 1922 German expressionist film ‘Nosferatu’. This horror/fantasy film was an adaptation of Dracula, but with a much more gruesome monster that has scared many, but now lives as a ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ meme.
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Vampires – Variety of Genre
No matter what kind of mood you are in, there is always a vampire film that would suit your fancy. Every single genre holds its own vampire film and it still holds true to the traditional vampire rules. It’s rare when a subject so niche is able to broaden its horizons and meet everyone’s expectations. In the beginning, most films that featured vampires were categorized as horror films. It completely makes sense when it is a bloodsucking monster, but as time went on there was a shift in what could be considered scary. Now there are even kids movies like, ‘The Little Vampire’ that feature the fanged-beings. Looking at comedies there are a ton that features vampires. Some popular titles include, ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ directed by Taika Waititi which was then turned into a comedy series under the same name. Others include ‘Dark Shadows’ and one of Netflix’s latest releases ‘Night Teeth’. All with vastly different plots, but still hold true to the vampire traditions.
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Looking at the more classic horror portrayals of vampires there are more than the standard ‘Dracula’. A fan favorite is the Swedish film ‘Let The Right One In’ directed by Tomas Alfredson in 2008 and later remade in the U.S. in 2010 by Matt Reeves. Then there was the cult classic ‘The Lost Boys’ in 1987 directed by Joel Schumacher. There are endless examples of films that have featured vampires and stuck with the narrative.
Examining the ‘Twilight Saga’
It would be insane to not touch on one of the most successful film franchises ever in cinema. Based on the saga by Stephanie Meyers, ‘Twilight’ was an overnight sensation. This five-film series featuring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart completely took the world by storm with their love story. The first film came out in 2008 and was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the hype never calmed down after that release. The highest-grossing film in the series was the last installment, ‘Breaking Dawn: Part 2’ which earned over 800 million worldwide. The definition of success for any franchise looking at the numbers, even when they recently were added on to Netflix all the films immediately went into the top ten watches by audiences.
For the small handful of people that have dodged their way of not seeing any of the films, here is a brief synopsis of the series. Bella Swan moves in with her father in a small town where she grew up. On her first day of school, she finds herself fascinated with her mysterious classmate Edward Cullen. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she finds out that he is a vampire, but even with his own caution, she can’t help falling in love with him. There the story begins as they navigate being together as a human and vampire while keeping secrets and protecting themselves from nomad vampires. Each film grows richer in the story while also being extremely corny. Nonetheless, it is a well-executed series that most book-readers loved just as much.
The real question is why are we so obsessed with these make-believe creatures? Starting out as dangerous monsters when they first were introduced, but now they are loving and good-looking people. From my own point of view, I’d like to believe that people are so obsessed with vampires because it is the closest thing that humans have to immortality. Getting over the whole blood-drinking and no sunlight, being a vampire is having eternal life. Death is one of the top fears for people and this is a moment to think that it isn’t possible (unless there’s a wooden stake lying around). The thought of what you would do if granted immortality is almost too grim than happy. It’s interesting to glamourize vampirism when the reality of it is, a vampire would watch everyone around them die all the time. Death is inevitable for everyone, but what would do if you had it?
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There’s no doubt in my mind that vampires will never leave the big screen. No matter how film updates and transitions, the bloodsuckers will always find their way to make it on screen. It may be because it’s harder to glamourize Frankenstein or werewolves, but vampires will have a grip on society forever. Taking a subject that has been repeated so many times, but still finds a way to be fresh and exciting is a rare and wonderful thing. To follow the motto of Hollywood, it is the same but different.
By Jack Colin
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Jack Colin is a playwright and screenwriter with an immense love for film & television which drives him to learn from and share his passion with anyone willing to listen. Living life as a trans man, Jack wants his writing to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ members and share the positive stories that are so often ignored through his work at The Hollywood Insider, he is eager to give readers a confident outlook on life. The storytellers of the world are the ones who decide what happiness can be. Jack takes pride in The Hollywood Insider’s mission statement to stray away from gossip and to lift up voices in entertainment with supportive and meaningful stories that will promote strength and unity.