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I spent Halloween talking to people about vampires. I had a great time, and I hope I was informative and entertaining. Below are the notes I used, which I thought might make an interesting blog post.

 

THE VAMPYRE (1819)

– DR. JOHN POLIDORI

  • WRITTEN DURING “YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER” ALONG WITH “FRANKENSTEIN.”
  • FIRST VAMPIRE STORY IN ENGLISH.
  • IMMENSELY POPULAR UPON PUBLICATION, THOUGH INITIALLY ATTRIBUTED TO LORD BYRON.
  • LORD RUTHVEN (PRONOUNCED “RIVEN”) IS THE ORIGINAL ARISTORCRATIC, SEDUCTIVE VAMPIRE.
  • RUTHVEN HAS NO PROBLEM PASSING AS HUMAN, NO ISSUES WITH SUNLIGHT, AND NONE OF THE “TRADITIONAL” WEAKNESSES OR POWERS.
  • ADAPTED FOR THEATER NUMEROUS TIMES.

 

I'm too sexy for a cape, too sexy for a cape...

I’m too sexy for a cape, too sexy for a cape…

VARNEY THE VAMPIRE,

OR THE FEAST OF BLOOD (1847)

– MALCOLM JAMES RYMER

  • RYMER ALSO CO-AUTHOR OF “THE STRING OF PEARLS” WHICH INTRODUCED SWEENY TODD.
  • ORIGINATOR OF SEVERAL POPULAR TROPES: VARNEY HAS FANGS, ENTERS THROUGH WINDOW TO ASSAULT SLEEPING VICTIMS, HAS HYPNOTIC POWERS, AND SUPERNATURAL STRENGTH.
  • NO AVERSION TO SUNLIGHT, CROSSES, OR GARLIC. ABLE TO TRANSFORM OTHERS INTO VAMPIRES. BECOMES “HUMAN” BETWEEN FEEDINGS AND CAN EAT AND DRINK.
  • VARNEY IS THE FIRST SYMPATHETIC VAMPIRE WHO LOATHES HIS CONDITION, LEAVES AN ACCOUNT OF HIS ORIGINS, AND COMMITS SUICIDE VIA VOLCANO!
  • CURSED FOR BETRAYAL AND MURDER, SPONTANEOUSLY TRANSFORMED. “KILLED” MANY TIMES AND REVIVED BY VARIOUS METHODS INCLUDING ELECTRICITY.

 

CARMILLA (1871)

– SHERIDAN LE FANU

  • FIRST MAJOR FEMALE VAMPIRE IN FICTION, ALSO FIRST LESBIAN VAMPIRE.
  • EXTREMELY INFLUENTIAL ON BRAM STOKER.
  • FIRST NOVEL TO FEATURE VAMPIRE SHAPE-SHIFTING (INTO A CAT), ABILITY TO BECOME INSUBSTANTIAL. CARMILLA ALSO SLEEPS IN A COFFIN AND IS DESTROYED BY STAKING AND BEHEADING.
  • DESPITE BEING NOCTURNAL BY PREFERENCE, SUNLIGHT DOES NO DAMAGE TO CARMILLA.

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DRACULA (1889)

– BRAM STOKER

  • THE MOST FAMOUS AND INFLUENTIAL VAMPIRE OF ALL TIME. CHARACTER HAS APPEARED IN OVER 170 FILMS, MORE THAN ANY OTHER CHARACTER.
  • FIRST POPULARIZED THE TERM “NOSFERATU” BASED ON AN ERROR-FILLED TRAVEL BOOK CALLED “TRANSYLVANIAN SUPERSTITIONS.”
  • INTRODUCED MANY TROPES: VAMPIRE SHAPE-SHIFTING INTO WOLVES, DOGS, MIST, AND BATS, AVERSION TO GARLIC, REPELLED BY CROSSES, NO REFELCTION OR SHADOW, ABILITY TO COMMAND ANIMALS, THE TRANSFORMATION OF OTHER VAMPIRES BY FEEDING THEM BLOOD, CONTROLLING VICTIMS VIA BLOOD.
  • NOT BASED ON VLAD THE IMPALER.
  • FIRST VAMPIRE TO CRUMBLE TO DUST UPON DEATH. STABBED IN HEART WITH KNIFE, NOT WOODEN STAKE. GROWS YOUNGER AFTER FEEDING.
  • NOT A HUGE HIT WHEN FIRST PUBLISHED.

Vampire Image 2

NOSFERATU (1922)

– DIR: F.W. MURNAU

  • UNLICENSED ADAPTATION OF “DRACULA”, SUED BY WIDOW STOKER AND ORDERED DESTROYED. FIRST “CULT CLASSIC”.
  • NOT THE FIRST VAMPIRE FILM OR EVEN ADAPTATION OF “DRACULA.” THERE WERE 20 SILENT VAMPIRE FILMS BEFORE IT! “VAMPIRE OF THE COAST” WAS FIRST IN 1909.
  • FIRST “ARTSY” VAMPIRE FILM. ORIGINATED THE IDEA OF VAMPIRES DYING IN SUNLIGHT.

 

DRACULA (1931)

– DIR: TODD BROWNING/KARL FREUND

  • BASED ON DEAN/BALDERSTEN STAGE PLAY, NOT NOVEL.
  • CREATED POPLUAR IMAGE OF THE VAMPIRE AND DRACULA.
  • FIRST “ROMANTIC” SCREEN VAMPIRE.

 

DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936)

– DIR: LAMBERT HILLYER

  • FIRST TRULY MEMORABLE FEMALE VAMPIRE IN FILM, NOT SUBORDINATE TO A MALE VAMPIRE.
  • DESPISES HER CONDITION AND SEEKS TO BE CURED.
  • STRONG LESBIAN IMPLICATIONS IN FEEDING HABITS.

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RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1944)

– DIR: LEW LANDERS

  • FIRST SCREEN PAIRING OF VAMPIRE/WEREWOLF, WITH WEREWOLF ACTING AS SERVANT TO VAMPIRE.
  • VAMPIRE DESTROYED BY SUNLIGHT.

 

I AM LEGEND (1954)

– RICHARD MATHESON

  • FIRST REAL ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN VAMPIRES ARE VICTIMS OF VIRUS. FIRST POST-APOCALYPSE VAMPIRE STORY.
  • VAMPIRES RESEMBLE REVENANTS FROM FOLKLORE RATHER THAN MODERN “HOLLYWOOD” VAMPIRES.
  • PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS RAISED. TITLE REFERS TO PROTAGONIST REALIZING THAT HE HAS BECOME THE MONSTER.
  • “LAST MAN ON EARTH” STARRING VINCENT PRICE IS MOST ACCURATE ADAPTATION.

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DRACULA/HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)

– DIR: TERRANCE FISHER

  • CHRISTOPHER LEE HAS PLAYED DRACULA 9 TIMES ON SCREEN, MORE THAN ANY OTHER ACTOR.
  • FIRST SCREEN VAMPIRE TO SHOW FANGS. FIRST VAMPIRE TO BURST INTO FLAMES IN SUNLIGHT ON FILM.

 

DARK SHADOWS (1966-1971)

– DAN CURTIS

  • BARNABAS COLLINS STARTED AS ANTAGONIST, BUT QUICKLY BECAME MAIN PROTAGONIST OF SERIES.
  • EXTREMELY INFLUENTIAL IN RENEWING INTEREST IN VAMPIRES AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE.

 

It's almost like being there, isn't it?

It’s almost like being there, isn’t it?

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1973)

– DIR: DAN CURTIS

  • DRACULA PORTRAYED AS TRAGIC FIGURE.
  • FIRST TIME DRACULA IS LINKED TO VLAD THE IMPALER ON FILM.
  • ALSO FEATURES REINCARNATION LOVE STORY.

 

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1976)

– ANNE RICE

  • VAMPIRE TELLS HIS OWN STORY, SERVES AS PROTAGONIST. VAMPIRES ARE FULLY-REALIZED CHARACTERS WHO CAN LOVE, MOURN, AND RETAIN THEIR HUMAN PERSONALITIES.
  • REJECTION OF RELIGION AS FORCE AGAINST VAMPIRES, THOUGH SUNLIGHT KILLS.
  • VAMPIRES BECOME BEAUTIFUL AGAIN. BEGINS EXPLOSION OF VAMPIRE LITERATURE/FILM.
  • FILM ADAPTATION IN 1994.

 

I just love this meme.

I just love this meme.

VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE (1990)

– MARK REIN-HAGEN

  • VAMPIRES ARE GIVEN A SOCIETY WITH RULES AND VARIOUS CLANS WHO ALL EXHIBIT DIFFERENT POWERS AND QUALITIES.
  • INSPIRES ROLEPLAYING CLUBS, NOVELS, AND TV SERIES.

 

NOW…

  • THE VAMPIRE HAS BECOME ONE OF OUR MOST POTENT AND ADAPTABLE SYMBOL.
  • VAMPIRES ARE OUTSIDERS, ARISTOCRATS, MONSTERS, SUPERHEROS, VICTIMS, ALIENS, IDEALIZED PEOPLE, OR ALMOST ANYTHING ELSE.
  • THE VAMPIRE HASN’T REALLY GONE “OUT OF STYLE” SINCE THE 1960s, BUT HAS CHANGED FORM MANY TIMES.

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I had a great time giving my presentation and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

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About xuemertie

Author, role-player, geek.

4 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Vampire Syndrome Blog and commented:
    A thorough guide to the essentials of the Vampire!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty much “almost anything else” is the rule in my universe.

    Fun presentation and this post is a great go-to source for literary and movie history. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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