Always fascinated by the mysterious and fears common to humanity, the Vampires represent, to me, the concept of evil versus good.
Bela Lugosi Famously Portraying Dracula
Did The Salvatore Brothers Ruin Vampires?
Remember when Vampires couldn't go anywhere during daylight? When a stake through the heart killed them? When they recoiled at the sight of a cross? When they turned into bats and flew in through the windows? When Bela Lugosi was that last word in scary Vampires? No?
Follow the history of Count Dracula of Transylvania through his TV and movie evolution. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Moonlight, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and more ...added to the legendary tale.
An Ageless Horror Story
The Vampire Timeline....
From Vlad to Stefan and Damon
First of the famous vampires was, of course, the historical Vlad of Transylvania, Count Dracula of literature. Vlad the Impaler ruled Transylvania from 1456 to 1462 AD. His surname was Dracula.Vlad III and his brother Radu were taken to the Ottoman court, to serve as hostages to ensure his father's loyalty to the Sultan.
Vlad III was imprisoned and often whipped and beaten because of his insubordination. He developed lifelong hatred of the Ottoman Turks, the Janissary, his brother Radu for converting to Islam and the young Ottoman prince Mehmed II. Eventually, not without struggle, he ruled in his father's place. Vlad Dracula was actually a very able ruler who strengthened Wallachia, as the land was known at that time. However, through impalement and forced labor and other sorts of cruelties, he destroyed the Boyar nobility of Wallachia. His reputation became notorious in Western Europe.
"The atrocities committed by Vlad in the German stories include impaling, torturing, burning, skinning, roasting, and boiling people, feeding people the flesh of their friends or relatives, cutting off limbs, and drowning." "It was reported that an invading Ottoman army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube." (1)
Thus the legend of Count Dracula began.
For many of us, Count Dracula was Bela Lugosi. Born in Hungary, Bela Lugosi began his stage career in 1901. When he made the Dracula movie he did not speak English well and had to learn his part phonetically.
The movie "Dracula" was based on Bram Stokers novel published in 1897. It was through the Bram Stoker version of the story and the movie rendition of Bela Lugosi that the characteristic Vampire legends, as we know them, were most developed. As an interesting sidenote, when Lugosi died in 1956 he was buried in his Dracula costume.
The Vampire stories remained fairly consistent until the popular "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series began to subtly change the mythos. No longer were Vampires the feared undead, in "Angel", the misunderstood and tormented Vampire begins to make an appearance. The Vampire who fights for good and no longer preys on humans.
The Vampire Nemesis
The meaning of Vampires in the communal consciousness is no longer of fears of bloodsucking life draining powers in the unseen world, now there is a subtle shift to the inner struggle of good and evil within the consciousness that is represented by the Vampire legend. Outward evil is internalized, and neutralized in its villainy. Count Dracula has his good side. And perhaps comes closer to the historically maligned Dracula - who had his psychological and time inflected reasons to become so horrible a torturer.
Mick, of "Moonlight", took Vampires several steps closer to humanity in its inward struggle. The greatest desire for humanness, self loathing for his monstrosity, and a completely new set of characteristics. Now Vampires can walk in the daylight, and they have a set of mores... they even can change back to human... although not without difficulty. Shortlived as a series, we never saw the full development of what this was to mean.
The Struggle to Understand Evil
But Twilight movies, and the TV series of "The Vampire Diaries" has taken the Vampire myths and legends most fully into the human experience and the new set of representations. The inner struggle of good and evil proclivities with no real set of definitions for what is evil or what is good most completely reflects modern ideas of relativity.
A new subset of "original vampires" must arise to give meaning to ideas of fears and the effects of evil in the world. Taking cues from Buffy's desiccated "original" vampire, modern minds understand that there is evil in the world, but they no longer have the vocabulary to express it.
The great fear, now, is that the evil is resident within themselves... And that it will destroy the hopes of the world as we know it, with a much worst-case scenario to replace even the most nightmarish present.
In the meantime (before this great apocalypse), we are enthralled with the continuing stories, the near escape from death, the feuding of powerful superpowers, and the hope that humanity will win out in the end.
But will it? And why do we think so?
Vamp and Camp
It was brought to my attention that "Dark Shadows", a cult classic soap opera, depicted the later "Angel" and other morally tormented Vampires that changed the mold of how Vampires were meant to be understood. Dark Shadows aired as a gothic soap opera during the years 1966- 1971; it was one of ABC network's most popular daytime TV series. Barnabas Collins became the star character of the show.
Dark Shadow's Barnabas
"Dark Shadows" broke the stereotype of the evil vampire, by making Barnabas Collins a spiritual descendant of the Bronté sisters' mysterious, savage antiheroes. The 175-year-old Barnabas was originally supposed to be the bad guy. But classically trained Canadian actor Jonathan Frid played him as a sad, cursed being who yearned to be human again. Frid often looked mournfully lost in thought -- in truth, he was struggling to read the cue cards without his glasses -- and his sensitive mien elicited fans' sympathy for the devil. The writers obliged the burgeoning Barnabas cult with a backstory recasting Barnabas as a victim of a vengeful witch, making him a lonely soul carrying a torch for his long-lost love.
- Joyce Millman
Yes, we certainly see seeds of that in the present Vampire stories that are now so popular.
What Happened Between The Old Vampires and The New Ones?
It might have been Camp
...As in campy take-offs of the old horror shows.
Making fun of all that is fearful in Vampires, Zombies, and Werewolves from satires to quasi-serious horror to downright comedy. Somehow these shows injected fun into fear and that seemed to make the whole tribe of Vampires more accessible, more down to earth.... more human.
So between Buffy and Bela, we had a slew of horror show hosts, and notably.... Elvira.
Not quite a Countess, but better- a celebrity looking Vampire along the lines of Horror TV hosts, Vampira and Elvira.
True Blood True To Form?
Whether you watch on TV, Hulu, HBO, or Netflix which vampires must you watch?
A Newer One
HBO came out with "True Blood", but I'm not sure if their vampires have evolved in a way that is very different from the show mention already. They continue in the Twilight era, as far as I can tell.
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season - The Salvatore Brothers
The Salvatore Brothers have changed the perception of what Vampires represent. They could hang on the wall as ancestors of the New Vampire.
Their popularity have spawned not only new myths, but a whole new series of shows as they trace the origins of Vampires in "The Originals".
The Best Vampire Ever?
What Vampire Story Do You Watch?
The Myths Were Rooted in Real Fears
Vamp it up - For Halloween
While you are here, be sure to vote for your favorite Vampire persona.
Vampires always seem to take on airs... remembering their roots in Count Dracula, I'm sure. If you want to look like the most evil nobleman (or Countess) , sure to strike fear in the hearts of peasants... maybe you would like to dress up as the Count of olden days.
There are a bunch of movie and TV vampires, which one is the most "Vampirish" in your opinion?
Research done in the Britannica site, Wikipedia, and by watching the various TV show s series in their entirety. As many have, I watched the classic Vampire films numerous times over my lifetime. This inspired me to think about the changes in the characterization of the mythic Vampires, and the meaning there may be behind it.
Don't Bite Me- Just Leave A Message
ChristinaLucas LM on April 01, 2012:
I have ancestors from Transylvania too! And a little obsession with vampires.:)
MasterPsycho from Earth on June 20, 2011:
yes it has ruined them....vampires used to be bad asses treating humans like food or pets......what are they doing those scriptwirters? why they have to make them so pathetic?
Ilona E (author) from Ohio on May 23, 2011:
@MargoPArrowsmith: perfect name since Xander had those puppy dog eyes :)
MargoPArrowsmith on May 08, 2011:
That remix is genius although Edward could never have gone to Sunnydale High!
I am such a Buffy fan that my puppy is named Xander!
Ilona E (author) from Ohio on May 07, 2011:
@Phoenix2361: thanks:) Bela Lugosi was truly scary, but I am addicted to the Vampire Diaries. Haven't figured out what they stand for, yet, though.
Instead of evil, they seem to be interpreting how we feel about the idea of redemption.
Phoenix2361 on May 07, 2011:
It's interesting to see how society rationalises the modern-day vampire, but I'm not crazy about it. Give me Bela Lugosi's Count Dracula any day.