A few weeks ago, I was writing over at my local coffee shop when the trailer for the upcoming Dark Shadows film came on (the proprietor of the coffee shop has a very nice flat screen). At that moment, two twenty-something-year olds stop ordering long enough to catch the trailer. One girl proceeded to comment to the other one, “I’m so over vampires. They’re like, everywhere.”
I felt like saying, “Uh, do you even know what Dark Shadows is?” But I kept my mouth shut. They didn’t need to be lectured on television trivia by me, although I really wanted to give them a crash course on Vampires 101.
But it got me thinking. Shouldn’t we be over vampires by now?
It goes without saying that there’s a growing trend in the vampire genre that cater to both adult and young adult audiences. We have Charlene Harris (Southern Vampire Series/True Blood) and Stephanie Meyers (Twilight), the author who brought young adults back into the reading fold, to thank.
Now, we can’t exactly credit these authors with coming up with these imaginative vampire storylines that spawned a hit television show and a five picture deal, respectively. But we can credit them for the reemergence of the genre. At least to some degree.
But our fascination with vampires is nothing new. Even before the baby boomer generation, we’ve been exposed to vampires in almost every facet of entertainment and commercial outlets over the last century. We have seen the evolution of vampires firsthand, from our preschool years well into adulthood.
Now, going back to the girls at the coffee shop, I have to imagine that as twenty-year-olds, they haven’t experienced as many vampires as, let’s say, a mid-thirty-something-year-old (ahem, me). Simply put, they haven’t been around long enough to grow tired of them yet! At most, they’ve seen/read Twilight and/or The Vampire Diaries.
Let’s take a moment and look at vampires in pop-culture over the last century:
1. Bela Lugosi (Dracula; novel: 1897; play: 1927; film: 1931)
Not counting Nosferatu, Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is always as the top of the list. He is the image of the quintessential vampire. When you think of Dracula, you automatically think Lugosi.
2. Lily Munster/Grandpa (The Munsters; TV series 1964)
Lily Munster was way ahead of her time in terms of fashion and feminism. Not only was she the matriarch and stay-at-home-mom, but she also explored work outside the home. And let’s not get started on her father, Grandpa, who was just too cute for words. Perhaps that’s why he was married a record number of 167 times.
3. Barnabas Collins (Dark Shadows; TV series 1966; film 2012)
Because Dark Shadows ran as a daily daytime soap, it enjoyed the most episodes of any sci-fi/fantasy series during it’s five year run (more than all the Star Trek episodes combined, both original and subsequent shows) and is certainly deserving of a feature film. (Only the daytime paranormal soap Passions* has logged more episodes.)
4. Count Chocula (General Mills 1971)
Do I have to say it? He’s simply chocolicious! And after 40 years, he still graces our grocery aisles. Not only that, but he’s got his own brand of lip balm!
5. Count von Count (Sesame Street; TV series (first appearance) 1972)
I don’t think there’s a child in American who didn’t learn how to count from Count von Count. And he’s got most vampires beat by far: he can be out in daylight, he doesn’t need a coffin to sleep in, and doesn’t need to drink blood in order to survive.
6. Lestat de Lioncourt (Interview with the Vampire; novel: 1976; film: 1994)
Not since Bram Stoker’s Dracula has a book brought so much attention to the vampire mythos as Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice. The Vampire Chronicles brought vampires to life (metaphorically speaking, since they are undead) in this ten book series, which spawned one blockbuster hit and two not so great film adaptations. Rumor has it, there’s talk of a reboot in the works.
7. Bunnicula (book 1979; TV cartoon 1982)
Not your fluffy children’s bedtime reading folks. A vampire bunny who sucks the juice from vegetables. What a novel idea…now why didn’t I think of that? Yes, both puns intended.
8. Elvira (Elvira’s Movie Macabre; TV series 1981)
No, not the song from Oak Ridge Boys. But rather Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who is the epitome of vampire glam. She even gives Lily Munster a run for her money. Really, we should all take our fashion cues from Elvira.
9. The Lost Boys (film 1987)
Before George Hamilton got really tan and starred in the 1979 flick, Love at First Bite (you can’t really be tan and play a vampire), decent vamp films were pretty much dormant until the late 1980‘s. Not only did we get to see Kiefer Sutherland looking all smoldering hot as the lead vampire in The Lost Boys, a classic cult favorite, but any movie with the Two Coreys is A+ in my book.
10. Angel/Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer; TV series: 1997)
If you haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where have you been? Joss Whedon is a genius! (I’ll wait while you put BTVS in your Netflix queue). In BTVS we had two juicy vamps to swoon over: the brooding vampire with a soul, Angel, who sometimes turned into the sadistic Angelus, and Spike, the selfish villainous vampire who later gained a soul and became a champion in his own right (*Spike’s favorite soap is Passions).
So, after taking stock of all the versions of vampires I grew up with over the years, I can’t say that I’m all that tired of the genre. And while I’m kind of over Tim Burton, I am looking forward to the premiere of Dark Shadows on May 11.
Who’s your favorite vampire?