Vampires in the Media: The evolution from gothic horror to soppy soap opera – Part 2


As the myth of Dracula himself was created by a writer, so it was yet another writer who changed the public’s perception of vampires forever. And NO, I am not referring to Stephanie Meyer, but to Anne Rice, who, with her Vampire Chronicles, generated a totally new vampiric movement (so to speak).

After her books hit the stores, it was the turn of the movie Interview with the Vampire (1994), starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas in the role of three terribly sad, terribly cursed, terribly bloody, yet oh so terribly sexy (come on, admit it) vampires. Honestly, how could anyone ever think about the bald headed pale guy from ‘Nosferatu’ after that? Horror and evil were displaced by poignant, suffering and sexy guys.

Most importantly, Anne Rice portrayed vampires as being UNWILLING to take human life, yet UNABLE to control themselves, due to their nature. She made us realise that asking a vampire not to drink blood, is like asking anyone not to eat anything – forever, meaning, their eventual death. So, blood became a means of sustenance and self-preservation, and not just an act of mindless cruelty and desire.  I found nothing wrong with that, HOWEVER what came next was an entirely new kettle of fish.

It was 1995, the age of comicity and satire, when Dracula; Dead and Loving It, first came onto our screens. A parody of Coppola’s movie, it continued to change vampires yet again, this time into funny, endearing, yet charming fellows. Leslie Nielsen’s comic Dracula was closely followed by Eddie Murphy’s rendition in A Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), where an emphasis was put upon the fun element, instead of the original horrific component of the 1960s.

Fast forward to 1998 and the introduction and emphasis of ‘strength’ and ‘heroism’ within vampire stories, which became mostly fast-paced action movies. Consider films such as Blade (1998), as well as its sequel Blade II (2002), and Blade: Trinity (2004), also Van Helsing (2004), and the much famed Underworld series, spanning from 2003 until 2006.

The final stage of development for vampires within the media started out slowly in 1997 with the introduction of the series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003). By using a T.V series as a medium, instead of the cinema, the prevalent audience now consisted of teenagers and young people, who empathised with the characters, most especially as ‘Buffy’ centres on high school kids, and the way their lives change when they are introduced to the world of vampires. Those who watched the series know that even within the story itself, the heroine’s perception of vampires changes, in that at first she believes they are totally evil, yet in the end she falls in love not with one, but with two different vampires, thereby opening up a much loved, though previously unused (within vampire movies), T.V foible – the LOVE TRIANGLE.

And it was here that Gothic Horror became SOAP OPERA. With the onset of other series, such as True Blood (2008 – 2014) and The Vampire Diaries (2009 – present), the genre started to be targeted towards youngsters craving love, reaching towards a dark hero, yet also torn apart (metaphorically) in their desire for the second anti-hero. Both desired lovers are ‘monsters’, both are ‘cursed’, and ‘dangerous’, yet still unavoidably attractive. And what should be said about the stupendously famous Twilight Saga (2008 – 2012)?

Honestly, I think I’d better refrain from commenting on it, as I don’t want to step on any feet. It is simply suffice to say, that I much rather the pointy-eared Nosferatu version of the vampire, to the glittering whiny one.