Vampires in Film: The Cinematic Evolution of the World's Favorite Blood-Sucker
From "Nosferatu" to "Twilight," here's a quick history lesson on one of the most well-known horror movie villain of all time, the vampire.
The representation of vampires in film has changed a lot since Nosferatu first emerged from his dark slumber Over the last 95 years we've seen these deadly night-stalkers evolve from anemic monsters to aristocratic heartthrobs to mullet-wearing bad boys to glittering Robert Pattinsons, and since October unofficially belongs to horror film fanatics, let's take a closer look at the cinematic vampire. Check out the videos below to explore the history behind one of the most loved and feared movie monsters of all time.
But to understand this cinematic evolution, you have to first understand the ancient lore, science, and superstition that surrounds the myth. This Ted-ed video by Michael Molina sheds some light on the timeline of the vampire, from ancient Mesopotamia to the theater screens of today.
If you're a horror movie fan, chances are you have a favorite vampire flick. For me, it's Let the Right One In, a Swedish horror film about a troubled young boy befriending a young (looking) vampire. I like it because it's a vampire movie unlike all the others, but then again, almost all movies about vampires are "unlike all the others."
That's one of the beautiful things about this horror sub-genre: as times change and societal fears evolve, so does the monster. When Dracula came out in 1931, people feared all that was foreign and unknown. When Hammer Films churned out their Horror of Dracula series from the late 50s to the late 70s, the Count became a charismatic sex icon, thanks in part to the sexual revolution and Alfred Kinsey's sex studies. When Joel Schumacher came out with The Lost Boys in 1987, angsty teen movies like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High were at the height of their popularity.
And while there are common tropes in vampire films, which more or less revolve around the basic lore of vampiric survival, the genre seems to rise from its coffin with a newly evolved identity, escaping the bowels of its dusty lair to wreak havoc once again on its new object of desire.
It will be interesting to see how the vampire archetype changes as we head into the 2020s, but if the last hundred years of its cinematic representation has taught us anything it's that it will continue to change and evolve in ways that are sure to surprise us.