What’s the fascination with vampires these days? Certainly the Twilight saga has fueled the passionate fires for these blood-sucking creatures of the night, but the love of vampires has been around long before Stephenie Meyer ever dreamed up the scrumptious Edward. John Pallidori wrote one of the earliest vampire stories back in 1819 called “The Vampyre“. Pallidori’s vampire, Lord Ruthven, was of the English aristocracy and it was probably to his credit that this dark character began to morph into an irresistible romantic hero. Vampires, after all, are usually handsome and forever young, they are practically invincible, they have special powers and they are rich. Well, what woman isn’t going to want a piece of that? Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (written in 1897) was not meant to be a romantic figure but there certainly were romantic elements in the story. When the movie “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” came out in 1992, the whole movie was romanticized. In this story version, all of Dracula’s actions were motivations of love (except perhaps his killing of Lucy, I never really understood his motive behind that). Despite his ruthless behavior with Lucy, we still fell for the guy. We wanted it all to work out for him. And in the end, it did. (sigh)
My first exposure to vampires was on the gothic television soap “Dark Shadows“. I was quite young then but I remember getting creeped out by that show and the vampire in that series, Barnabas Collins, was a scary figure though I don’t recall being terrified by him. In fact, it wasn’t until Barnabas appeared as a regular on the show that the soap really took off in popularity. Certainly this could have been considered an indicator of the vampire fascination. Truly, though I was quite young, I knew enough to realize the guy was bad (he drank blood, that couldn’t bode well for everyone!) but he wasn’t ALL bad. He had enough humanity in him, enough sympathetic appeal to make women viewers fall under his hypnotic spell.
My first crush with Dracula was from the 1979 Cliffhangers television series (yeah, it was a while ago!). Three stories were featured on this show and my favorite was “The Curse of Dracula” starring Michael Nouri as Count Dracula. Before the creations of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and Moonlight, Nouri’s vampire portrayal was one of the first on prime-time television to be a romantic lead. Although he was the “bad guy”, I fell right in love with him. I WANTED him to live forever, outwit his hunters (the wicked Van Helsings which were supposed to be the good guys!), get the girl (Mary) and live happily ever after. I was quite sorry to see that show end, let me tell you! Not as sorry, though, as I was when “Moonlight” ended because I became even more enthralled with Alex O’Loughlin‘s portrayal of vampire Mick St. John. There’s just something so appealing about a tortured vampire. And when a vampire falls in love, well, there’s just no denying that sort of magnetism!!
After Cliffhangers, I didn’t fall for any vampires again until I began watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. Before “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” we had “Team Angel” and “Team Spike”. Spike didn’t come into his own as a LIKABLE vampire until he fell in love with Buffy and became determined to change for her. I was never a huge fan of Angel, too brooding and self-righteous for me (I liked him okay but I was never “gaga” over him). I was glad when Angel left the show to start his own, leaving Spike without any serious rivalry. Truly, Spike was an interesting character. He was quite the contraction: vicious one minute and all sappy the next. He was definitely conflicted and love taught him the error of his ways. I actually started feeling sorry for the guy and once a guy gains the sympathy of a woman, well, it’s all over, she’s putty in his hands. When Spike fought for his soul and won…he scored big with the female audience as well. Personally, I think he was better suited for Buffy than Angel.
When the movie “Interview with a Vampire” came out featuring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as vampires, well what girl in her right mind was going to resist that? Suddenly the most handsome men of Hollywood are playing vampire roles. Be still our beating hearts. I mean, really, is anyone going to resist offering their neck to these guys? No wonder women became obsessed with vampire stories! Then along comes the kick-ass vampire movie Blade and another thrilling feature is added to the mix. Blade the movie was intense, focused and rather gory. Blade the man was one tough dude and he was on the right side of the law, that made him doubly appealing. I mean really, he was the ultimate tough guy vampire. I see Blade as being the Vampire King and perhaps Tom Cruise’s Lestat character as second in command, the right-hand vamp. Moonlight’s Mick would be an undercover operative for the big, bad King. Yeah, I have my vampire fantasies.
Speaking of Moonlight, when Buffy ended, I wondered at the future of vampire shows then came this awesome series. My oh my, the vampire lure became more enticing than ever!! Poor Spike had to take a back seat to Mick, I do have to say. Just before Moonlight hit the screen, however, another vampire show began to air called “Blood Ties“. Henry Fitzroy was the illegitimate son of King Henry the 8th. Now how cool is that for a vampire? Henry was over 400 years old, looked to be in his twenties and of course he was handsome and rich. He was also on the good side of the law and thus we had another vampire to fall in love with. Sadly, Blood Ties and Moonlight came along before the grand passion for vampires shot up into feverish proportions. Otherwise, I think they’d still be around, or at the least would have lasted a few more seasons. The current top vampire shows seems to be Vampire Diaries and True Blood. My disappointment in getting involved with a series that ends before its time has prevented me from getting involved in either of those shows. Their popularity suggest they are worth the time. Just the same, I’ll stick with my Moonlight reruns for the time being.
Now, of course, we have the Twilight series on the big screen. Girls of all ages (and I imagine there are males in this mix too) are right in love with Edward. I don’t see the vampire craze going away any time soon. I’m sure the world will greet new crops of vampire movies with eager anticipation. A Moonlight reunion on the big screen maybe? One can hope and dream.
I couldn’t possibly cover every vampire character portrayed on screen but you can check a good majority of them out here at Vampire Movies.
In this post, I only covered vampire movies and television shows but the books featuring this smoldering hot hero type are too numerous to even try and mention! Werewolves seem to be a close second in popularity and now I’m hearing about stories involving Zombies! What’s next I wonder? And why are we turning these creatures of the dark into the good guys? Maybe it’s because we need something to pander for that’s bigger than life. I might like to drool over these dark and dapper super hero characters but I’ll admit that it’s my husband who holds my heart. He’s the hero in the story of my life (lucky me!). Now, should he ever get bit and become a vampire, well, I’ll happily provide all his snacks. Instead of lamenting the approach of dinner time, I’ll be watching the clock in eager anticipation! Like I said, I have my fantasies. (smile)