Vampires in Pop Culture

  • A Retrospect of My Favorite Fangs

    May 17, 2012

    Posted By: Joey Panek

    In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't yet seen Tim Burton's Dark Shadows.  And truth be told, I'd better go and soon.  I'm hearing lots of "eh" reviews from friends.  But in my mind, how can the film be bad?  It's Burton-directed, with Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer!  That seems like a recipe for rich, tasty goodness.

    And there's one more ingredient that should've all but ensured this film's success:  vampires.

    In the last decade or so, it seems we just can't get enough of vampires in pop culture.  We've got them in movies and on television.  We've sexed them up.  We've humanized them.  It seems there is nothing we can't do to these fanged-creatures to drive the stake through our love for them.

    (We've even poured milk on the poor guy, and we still love him.)

    So indulge me as I take a look at some of my favorite vampires from pop culture!


    This classic 1922 German film is pretty much the first movie adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula novel, however the film studio never legally obtained the rights.  Even with all the characters' names changed, Stoker's family still sued and had all copies of the film burned.  One copy survived.  Considering the 1922 film technology and the fact the movie was shot with just one camera, it's still pretty freaky.  (Many credit this movie as introducing the concept that sunlight kills a vampire.  Stoker's novel only portrayed it as weakening them.)


    There are so many film versions of the novel that it'd be exhausting to mention all of them, but you can't overlook the 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi.  The first authorized adaptation of the novel, this movie established the look and traits that Halloween stores have adopted ever since for a classic Dracula.  And Lugosi is scary as [bleep]!  Take, for example, this scene where the old dude tries to prove that Dracula has no reflection by holding the mirrored box up to him.  Watch at the :43 mark when Bela bitch-slaps the box out of his hand and holds that freaky glare for ten seconds.  Now that's some Count Dracula-brand crazy!

    No offense to Christopher Lee or Frank Langella, or the many other talented actors who portrayed Dracula in the many remakes that occurred over the next 40+ years, but indulge me as I skip ahead to a couple films where vampires (Dracula included) received a lighter touch.

    Love At First Bite

    This 1979 film (released the same year as Langella's serious take on the Count) was a comedy that set the main vampire man (played by the tanned George Hamilton) in then-present day New York City.  He takes advantage of the modern day conveniences, like blood banks, but is faced with new problems, like dating in the Big Apple.  His love interest is played here by Susan Saint James (from TV's Kate & Allie).  Check out this scene with the two, joined by Richard Benjamin as a descendant of Van Helsing.

    Once Bitten

    Yes, I realize this 1985 film is far from a classic, but the idea of placing a vampire in high school could be considered as foreshadowing for the vampires of recent years.  Plus, you can't deny that it's fascinating to see pre-In Living Color Jim Carrey as the virgin that vampiress Lauren Hutton has her sights set on. 

    Fright Night

    You're probably thinking of the 2011 remake of the same name, and with Colin Farrell in the lead, who would blame you?  But I'm talking about the original 1985 film.  Released the same year as Once Bitten, this film took a much scarier approach, centering around a young man who discovers that his new next-door neighbor is a vampire.  After he discovers the secret, he finds he's next on the vamp's list.  Chris Sarandon is pretty intimidating as the bad guy, considering he soon after played Prince Humperdink in The Princess Bride.  I suppose that's what dulls the scares with some of these older movies... it's hard to look at our hero's girlfriend and not recognize her as Marcy D'arcy from Married With Children.


    The Lost Boys

    Before his Jack Bauer days, Keifer Sutherland plays the head of the vampire gang, who's on the hunt for some of Jason Patric's blood. Jami Gertz is the hottie who seduces Patric, but this movie will always be remembered for featuring two things that made the '80's what they are:  the Coreys (Haim and Feldman).  Some would say that this movie abandoned the cape and widow's peak idea of a vampire for the rockstar rebel portrayal.


    This 1992 version, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, had a starry cast with Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, and Keanu Reeves, but Gary Oldman in the title role proved that Dracula didn't have to be a large man to be imposing.  (But honestly, Gary... in your aged incarnation, you looked like an old cobra.  Lose the up 'do.)

    Interview with the Vampire

    Bringing us back to vampires we can sink our teeth into (pardon the pun) is the 1994 film adaptation of Anne Rice's first book in her Vampire Chronicles series.  This film boasted some of the sexiest vampires we'd see until 2008 (See True Blood below) with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas.  Suddenly, getting bit by a vampire wasn't sounding so bad.  

    True Blood

    Debuting on HBO in 2008, this series is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels by Charlaine Harris.  The story explores the concept of vampires co-existing with the rest of the population in present day Louisiana.  It has its fill of sex and violence, and audiences have proven that they can't get enough as the show is entering its 5th season.   I, for one, can't wait for June to get here so I can get my dose.


    Talk about another pop culture sensation!  The books and later-turned-movies follow high schooler Bella and her romance with vampire Edward as he struggles to keep her safe from the clutches of a team of evil vampires.  We later meet a pack of werewolves, notably the hunky Jacob, dividing more households than the Presidential election, with opposing sides choosing between "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob".

    Did I miss any of your favorites?  Comment below.


    ---Joey Panek

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