Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Twilight;Eclipse's new trailer shows us the twists and turns of vampire movie love

To the delight of many and the despair of some,the trailer for the next cinematic chapter of the Twilight saga has hit the scene with a vengeance.

Twilight:Eclipse faces a number of new challenges for the fans such as the recasting of Victoria,the vindictive vampirella whose campaign to avenge the death of her love James is crucial to the plot. Bryce Dallas Howard takes over for Rachel LeFevre and it will be interesting to see her in a more aggressive role.

Not to mention that the promise of some major vampire vs. werewolf battle sequences(another major story component here)is more than metaphorical,folks. How will this all turn out? We shall soon see this June:

This latest Twilight hoopla got me to wondering about how vampire films have been promoted over the decades and what they say about the time period in which they were made. The best way to start this look into vampire movie mania is with the ultimate bloody bad boy of the silver screen,Dracula.

The first American movie version of Dracula was based on a theatrical production of the classic Bram Stoker novel and it's stage origins show in the stilted acting and set designs. Bela Lugosi plays his exotic charms for all they're worth but is more of a monstrous than a romantic figure,which reflects the xenophobia of the original book as well as the mindset of the 1930s audiences who watched it:

By the 1960s,vampires were still scary but the sexual allure of these eternal children of the night was being pushed to the forefront,along with quite a bit of cleavage. The Hammer films really highlighted the lust that was not just for blood in vampire lore with several films,one of the best being The Brides of Dracula. The lead vampire in this movie is not Dracula,by the way-it's a tormented nobleman with a very overprotective mother. You can imagine those family therapy sessions could get rather out of hand indeed:

Vampire love wasn't too fashionable by the late seventies or the early 1980s,with slasher movies beginning to make more of a killing with horror fans at the box office. Like many other genres,vampires had to go through a period of transition with the fears of the times,plus find a new hook to draw fresh audiences in.

A wave of romanticism was brewing up to inject some new blood into the fanbase,thanks to the works of Anne Rice and by casting more leading men types such as Frank Langella in the 1979 edition of Dracula. Langella's suave moves made many a ladies' pulse quicken in anticipation of his eternal kiss:

By the mid-eighties,vampire movies were becoming a bloody mix of humor and horror targeted at teenagers with slick MTV designs and fresh faced young stars. Some of them played off of classic fright flick cliches while others forged ahead with original takes on the genre like the cult hit Lost Boys,whose influences on vampire chic can still be seen today(R.I.P.,Corey Haim):

With the increasing awareness of AIDS and more openness about the gay community in the nineties,vampire films fully embrace the dark romanticism that had been creeping up on them for so long and while monster mash parties were still in style,the not-so-quiet desperation of nosferatu came to full fruition on film,especially when Anne Rice's Interview with The Vampire was adapted for the big screen:

All of this and more have contributed to the success of Twilight,both on page and in the movies but we must not overlook another medium which has brought about a deep down thirst for vampire romance at the multiplex: television.

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer,Angel, Forever Knight,True Blood and the latest scary sweet sensation The Vampire Diaries have created a hybrid of relationship angst and sympathy for the devils of our imagination to form the modern day paranormal hero and heroine,ready to fight the forces of evil but willing to embrace those shades of gray that make for unlikely allies and lovers.

It's only fitting that TV has contributed to enhancing a genre so well defined by film,since those two media forces have been feeding off of each other for ages. What other influences from the world around us will pop into the vampire realm we have yet to see. The internet has the peak opportunity to issue in another new wave of bloodsucker lore but don't count out TV anytime soon. It's still a strong breeding ground for pop culture mix and matches,even for horror fare:

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