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The Evolution of the Vampire in Films and Television

Description: Eery, Fear, Stalk, Frankenstein, Forest, Psychopath

Fans of horror films and TV programmes will know that vampires are a staple that can be often seen in a number of productions in the genre. Vampires, zombies, and ghosts all help horror writers to reach our innermost fears and bring them to reality, which is why scary films and programmes are often popular with thrill seekers.

Vampires on film were adapted from folklore and they continue to display a thirst for blood and manipulation as their main traits up to this day. Meanwhile, on TV, they have arguably captured the imagination of TV audiences more than any other type of monster.

American favourites such as HBO’s True Blood wowed its audiences with it’s sexier, R-rated approach while British interpretations, like Being Human, took the comedy angle. In fact, these sorts of titles have arguably gone one further having had a direct influence on other types of media across the internet. This Immortal Romance slot game for example clearly has its roots in the angsty teenage love triangle of The Vampire Diaries. 

In tribute to the characters success, we are taking a look at the evolution of vampires in both TV and film through the ages.

Methods for Controlling Stock

The very first vampires were in fact female and adapted for the medium because of inspiration from “The Vampire”, a poem composed by Rudyard Kipling in 1897. The poem itself was based on a painting depicting a female vampire and spoke of how she used seduction to get the romance she craved. And thus, an iconic film character was born, but the next iteration would turn out to be slightly different.
The next appearance in film came in a 1922 film directed by Robert Vignola and was simply entitled The Vampire. The now male villain was called Count Orlock and played by Max Schreck.

Count Orlock’s destruction by sunlight instead of a stake, as was traditionally done previously, became a popular concept in film and vampire stories. Unfortunately, Vignola’s telling was deemed an unlicensed version of Dracula, a novel written by Bram Stoker and so all copies of the movie had to be destroyed.

However, film buffs will be glad to know that in 1994 a group of scholars in Europe went to great lengths to restore five prints that had miraculously suffered little harm during the court-ordered destruction.

Count Dracula hits the Big Screen

The next notable vampire on film was Count Dracula, and this time he appeared with permission from Stokers estate in a Universal film adaptation of a stage play based on the original Dracula novel.

Ultimately this version of Dracula, along with his Hungarian accent and mannerisms made popular in the play, appeared in three further Universal films. By now Count Dracula had become the de-facto vampire of TV programs and their big screen counterparts.  

Despite their establishment in the horror film genre and lore, Universal’s films had not shown Dracula with fangs, but a Mexican film called EL Vampiro changed all that. Along with all these developments of vampires as characters on film came a change from vampires being strictly limited to supernatural horror references into attempts at explaining what made them become that way. This phenomenon can be seen in modern portrayals of on-screen vampires such as depicted in popular romance fantasy film series the Twighlight Saga.

Still, some more modern retellings prefer to stick to the original concept of vampires on film as evidenced by Dracula Untold, an action horror film based on American dark fantasy.

In more recent times, the softening of vampire’s image on screen was highlighted in animated film Hotel Transylvania, in which Count Dracula’s love for his daughter forces him to change. Whether the original Vampires would have even contemplated their children marrying a human is another matter, but it does highlight the truly amazing evolution of vampires in film and television.

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