"Due to this preconceived ideology, future vampire works had to find that extra twist in order to stimulate their audiences. It is likely that everyone who watches a modern vampire film will be familiar with the vampire and perhaps also the vampire film genre as a whole. Writers of modern vampire films use their audience's existing experience and knowledge, but must also strive to provide something different and new, or else interest in the genre would quickly wane." (Beresford,M (2009:p149))
The vampire was originally Created from societies own superstitions and fears of the unknown writers have used this notion to develop the infamous creature into the iconic legend we see in today's popular culture. With the vast improvements in technology within the film industry we as a viewing audience no longer have to imagine the horror the Count inflicts on his victims it is right there on our television sets for our eyes to feast upon. The vampire we see today is a far cry from the one read about in folklore and was derived from the imagination of Polidori's 'The Vampyre' before Polidori the vampire myth survived only on superstition and the fear death within society. The vampire myth is difficult to analyse before the eighteenth century due to lack of reliable information regarding the creature. The vampire myth has never caused any widespread panic unlike the case with witch craft, it could be suggested that this is why there isn't much written about vampires before the eighteen hundreds. The only thing that has strong links to the start of the myth and the superstition surrounding vampires is the plague or Black Death which wiped out whole villages of people. With the lack of education in the fourteen hundreds people were inclined to believe anything and tales of the dead coming back to life is believed to have derived from the decomposition of corpses.
Folklore is derived from tales passed down throughout history becoming more distorted and exaggerated as time goes on, and with lack of education and the poor living conditions people of this time would have had to endure it is no surprise they were terrified by the things they witnessed and therefore created stories to pass down through generations.
Bram Stokers Dracula can be seen as the beginning of the legacy, although a lot of his novel is made up from his research of folklore and his knowledge of other literary creators of vampire novels, using these to aid him in his writings like Polidori's 'Ruthven formula'and Rymer's Varney the vampire. Stokers masterpiece has paved the way for new interpretations of vampires within fiction and film he has ultimately within today's popular culture given us an iconic legend to lust after, allowing women/men to become besotted with a modern day Byronic hero/villain who will stop at nothing to entice and own his next victim. Stoker re-invented the myth surrounding vampires and has earned the right for Dracula to be called one of the greatest gothic novels of our time.
For satirical writers of our time the vampire is the perfect candidate for depicting societies 'sickness' in dealing with the fear of the unknown or to depict certain aspects within society which some people have bias about. Stoker himself has been said to have hidden messages within the narrative of Dracula portraying his own fears about society as well as in his own life. Stoker was repressed for most his life, overshadowed by his boss Henry Irving. Writing was Stokers only release to express his anxieties about the world around him and the fears he was experiencing inside his sphere, it is unfortunate he never lived to see his novel gain the appreciation it deserved.
One could suggest without the film Nosferatu and the copy right lawsuit Stokers wife Florence put in place his work might never have gained such public interest and developed into a legend. Although another argument could be made that Bella Lugosi's Dracula is the start of the establishment of the vampire craze within popular culture. It all comes down to preference but one thing is certain both of these films deserve the title of 'classic' both bringing to life Stokers creation and giving inspiration for many other aspiring horror writers to sink their teeth into.
HBO's True Blood series has been said to use the vampire as a metaphor depicting the gay community within America and the struggles they have gaining acceptance within society.
Alan Ball the creator an openly gay man himself has stated he can see how people would see the link between his show and the gay rights movement but he wanted to produce a show which was fun and entertaining to its viewers, he has definitely managed to attract a wide fan base for his show, this is evident through the vast merchandise and the influx of blogs and forums on the internet, die hard True Blood fans have been adequately named 'Trubies'. The way he has kept his viewers intrigued is by giving the characters a sense of realism the audience can relate to for example, Sookie Stackhouse the lead protagonist of the show she has a girl next door appeal with an air of purity and righteousness about her and has been classed as a depiction of a Southern Belle. Being set in Louisiana and surrounded by wilderness gives the show a gritty southern gothic feel and adds to the isolation and escapism of the fictional town that is Bon Temp. Another thing which also add to the appeal is that there is plenty of sexual content (some have suggested it's close to being pornographic) within the series but one could argue that the vampire has been interpreted as a sexual predator for decades, so why stop now.
Vampires are and always will be one of the most famous creatures to descend onto the horror scene making the viewer question their own morality it captivates and intrigues the audience and leaves them wanting more. The good thing about the vampire is they are diverse and can be re-invented time and time again giving us new and fresh interpretations of the infamous blood sucking Prince of Darkness. The vampire legacy is destined to live on forever making this mythical creatures role within popular culture as immortal as the man/woman themselves.
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