Vampires: The Obsession of the Past, Present and Future

ShreelParikh.VampiresEver since the release of “Twilight” in 2008 (yeah, it really was that long ago) it seems like everywhere you turn, you’re likely to run into some kind of vampire movie or TV show merch.  Chances are you just keep asking yourself, “When is this going to end?

On the other hand, if you’re like me then you race home from work on Thursdays to watch “The Vampire Diaries”, you have in-depth conversations about “True Blood” and you may or may not have a few “True Blood” shirts in your wardrobe. And yet, you still don’t understand the vampire craze and you’re wondering when it’s going to end.

It seems like this obsession has only been around since “Twilight”, but it’s really been in America since the dawn of movies in the 1920s. Believe it or not, as a country we’re a little late on picking up this fad. Europe has been into vampires since Bram Stoker wrote “Dracula” in the 1800s and Asian countries have had vampire myths for hundreds of years.

With an obsession that has been going on for more than 200 years, is it finally at its end?

“It’s never stopping,” says Naomi McCormack, assistant professor of Film-Video at Penn State. “The craze has waxed and waned over centuries of time and will continue to in a variety of new motifs and media.  Audiences of the 1922 film “Nosferatu” could never have imagined Max Shreck’s monstrously creepy vampire reincarnated as Robert Pattinson’s sparkling Edward Cullen.”

Although in today’s vampire culture Pattinson is known for being the sexy vamp, he isn’t the first person to have taken it to that level. As early as 1931 in the film “Dracula”, Bela Lugosi took the character of Dracula to a whole new level with a weird foreign accent (think, “I vant to suck your blood”) and a strange sex appeal. But the question remains… why?

“Vampires have an ability to personify repressed sexual intrigue and forbidden passion and most recently, the idea of everlasting romantic love,” McCormack says.

While I’ll admit to watching my vampire shows for Ian Somerhalder and Alexander Skarsgard, I don’t think anything really compares to the vampire movies that scare you and make you sleep with the lights on and the windows shut and locked. Unfortunately, as a culture, we seem to be shifting away from that phase.

“There seems to be a trend towards loss of corporeality recently, but as a filmmaker, I can’t see it lasting,” McCormack says.

So then what’s the next step in this obsession?

“We don’t know what we’ll be watching 100 years from now,” she says. “100 years from now we may be absorbing vampire stories through chips in our brains that stimulate us to create our very own beautiful bloodsuckers, without the participation of actors, cameras or any visual aids at all. I hope it’s scary.”

Photo by Shreel Parikh

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