Vampire films have captivated audiences for over 100 years and date back to the earliest days of cinema.
From Castles and graveyards to high schools and shopping malls, vampires have managed to captivate and thrill audiences making their mark on film and television over every decade. Filmmakers have brought their own unique vision and interpretation of the genre that has managed to keep vampires culturally relevant.
The first known vampire film was the 1922 German Expressionist film Nosferatu, directed by F.W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. Nosferatu became a classic of horror cinema and influenced many future vampire films in cinema.
Over the years, vampires have been depicted in a variety of ways in film. Some portrayals have leaned more towards the traditional, with vampires being depicted as undead creatures of the night with a thirst for blood. Others have taken a more modern approach, depicting vampires as more humanlike and capable of living among society.
In the 1930s, Hollywood produced several vampire films, including the highly influential Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi as the titular vampire. This film, directed by Tod Browning in 1931, was the first sound adaptation of Stoker’s novel and was a commercial and critical success. It spawned numerous sequels and cemented the image of the vampire as a sophisticated and seductive figure. Mark of the Vampire(1935) and Dracula’s Daughter (1936) all established themselves as cult films and one of the first lesbian vampire films inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s story Carmilla.
Vampire films continued to be popular throughout the 1940s and 1950s, with notable examples including, Son of Dracula (1943) and The Return of Dracula (1958) In the 1960s, the Hammer Studios in Britain released a series of stylish and gothic vampire films, such as The Vampire Lovers (1970) and Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972). These films, which featured strong female characters and sexual themes, helped to redefine the vampire genre and influenced later works.
In the 1970s and 1980s, vampire films took on a more comedic tone, with the release of such films as Love at First Bite (1979), Blacula, (1972) and Once Bitten (1985). The 1990s saw a resurgence of more traditional, horror-oriented vampire films, such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992) and Interview with the Vampire (1994).
More recently, the vampire genre has seen a revival in the form of the Twilight series (2008-2012), which brought vampires back into the mainstream and introduced a new generation of fans to the mythos. In recent years, vampire films have continued to be popular, with the release of such works as Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s 2014 film What We Do in the Shadows.
Published by Reel Art Press, “VAMPIRE CINEMA: THE FIRST 100 YEARS” charts a century of cinematic representation, the book explores one of Western culture’s most compelling, immortal, myths. Not only a feast for the eyes but also for the mind, delves deep into our fixation with the Vampiric in its many forms, thanks to acclaimed cultural historian and connoisseur of the Gothic Christopher Frayling, who has been called “the Van Helsing de nos jours.”