It would appear that we are living in a world that has become obsessed with vampires.
Vampire literature has been around for over 100 years, however in recent years vampire stories have seen an increase in popularity due to several successful television series and movies.
Dracula, an 1897 novel by Bram Stoker tells the story of Jonathan Harker, a man who visits the Transylvanian Count Dracula for business but who soon becomes Dracula’s prisoner. Dracula is probably one of the most famous and most influencial stories in vampire fiction, however the lead character which Stoker described in his book is extremely different to those portrayed today.
The vampire phenomenon has particularly taken off in the last three years thanks to The Twilight Saga, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. The two television series and the movie franchise depict their vampires as young, sexy and often brooding outsiders who live amongst humans.
Suddenly, vampires have gone from being the feared mystical, gothic creature to sexy, more human-like beings that are depicted and wanted as love interests. The female lead characters in the adaptations I’m going to discuss are all human but willingly pursue relationships with male vampires. Vampire fiction is no longer associated with death, but is now associated with sex and often love.
The Twilight Saga is a series of novels which are currently being adapted in to a series of films, with the first installment of the fourth book being released this year (Breaking Dawn: Part 1) The four novels were written by Stephanie Meyer, and tells the story of Bella Swan, a young high school girl who moves to the small town of Forks, where she meets the mysterious Edward Cullen. Bella and Edward fall in love and she soon discovers that he is a vampire. The series tells of Edward and Bella’s love story, the love triangle between them and werewolf Jacob Black, the evil vampire coven who are after Bella and her desire for Edward to turn her into a vampire.
The films have been hugely successful, starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Launter as the three leads and has grossed over $1.7 billion worldwide. Fans have been dubbed “Twihards” and there are numerous pieces of merchandise on sale all over the high street.
True Blood is an American series shown on HBO, which is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series written by Charlaine Harris. The television series is set in Bon Temps, a small ficitonal town in which vampires and humans co-exist and mostly tells the story of Sookie Stackhouse, a bar waitress who is telepathic and her relationship with Bill Compton, a vampire. The humans and vampires have been able to live alongside each other due to the creation of a synthetic blood which replaces a vampires need to drink human blood.
The Vampire Diaries is based on the novels of the same name by L.J Smith, telling the mysterious events of the small fictional town, Mystic Falls. The series sees Elena Gilbert torn between two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore. After 145 years, Stefan Salvatore has returned to Mystic Falls and instantly falls in love with Elena, a young human girl who resembles his old vampire love Katherine Pierce. Stefan’s brother, Damon, who was also in love with Katherine, soon returns to the town in order to stir up trouble for Stefan and the quiet life that he is trying to lead. Throughout the series, the love triangle is explored, other mysteries of the town are uncovered and the history of the Salvatore brothers and their lover Katherine Pierce is explored.
The series stars Nina Dobrev playing both Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce, Paul Wesley as the “good” vampire Stefan and Ian Somerhalder as the “bad” vampire Damon. The first episode saw the highest season opener ever on The CW, the network which airs the series.
Whilst there are certainly similarities between the three popular stories, each appeals to a different demographic although some audience members may be a fan of all three. Each has a different take on the vampire legend and features different vampire “rules”; where in The Twilight Saga, the vampires sparkle in bright sunlight, it can kill the vampires in The Vampire Diaries unless they possess a magic ring that allows them to walk in daylight.
Last year also saw the release of Vampires Suck, a spoof of vampire based movies, perhaps suggesting that the creators were already bored of the vampire craze?
So why has the world become so obsessed with vampires? Certainly these adaptations have made vampire fiction popular in the last few years, but it has always been around and has seen surges in popularity before. Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for six years from 1997 and saw an increase in popularity for the genre.
But has it all gone too far this time around? Fans have been reported asking the actors to bite them at premieres and conventions, surely this is taking it all a little too far?
If I’m honest, I’ve not completely ignored the vampire phenomemon, my love for The Vampire Diaries is admittedly boarderline obsession- I just love the ongoing twists and turns of the series… you never quite know what is going to happen next. However, I don’t understand the craze over The Twilight Saga; I did enjoy the novels, but find the films poorly cast and acted. True Blood has quite simply just passed me by; I did watch the pilot but it didn’t grab me enough to want to continue watching, perhaps one day I’ll get hooked.
Whether people like it or not, it seems that the vampire craze is here to stay… at least for a little while longer.
Please comment with your thoughts on vampire fiction, what vampire films or series you enjoy and whether you think the craze has gone too far.