Contrary to popular belief that firmly believes that the beginning of the journey of vampires in the world of cinema is the film ‘Nosferatu’, by the German FW Murnau, the truth is that bloodsuckers had already made their appearance many years before.
The first that can be remembered is one of the initial works by George Mélies , ‘ La Manoir du Diable ‘, from 1896, in which we can see, for the first time, how a mysterious count in his castle turns into a bat, as well as of having a retinue of mysterious virgins dressed in white at his command and of introducing crucifixes as a weapon to fight against these evil beings.
Following this short film of just over 3 minutes, we find ‘ The Vampire’ in 1913, directed by Robert G. Vignola, an actor and director from the early years of cinema whose career lasted well into the 1930s. This film was about from an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling ‘s poem of the same name . For many years it was believed lost but a print from the period can now be found at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York.
Bela Lugosi and the elegant vampire
The Hungarian actor gave a totally distinguished touch to the Prince of Darkness, contrasting with the ugliness and monstrosity of Murnau’s Nosferatu. This vampire, whose first film was directed by Todd Browning in 1931, was elegant, he was stylized, he was a true gentleman. In fact, he was the one who introduced the cape into the collective imagination, since then indispensable for the character of Dracula. Despite the fact that Lugosi was not the studio’s first choice, but the much higher-grossing and well-known Lon Chaney , Bela took the role and it led him to stardom, but also to madness.
The monsters of the Hammer and the appearance of the fangs
Until 1958 we had a much more aristocratic Dracula, soft, elegant, full of verbiage. But then the Hammer came along and it changed everything. The production company sought to reinvigorate the fantasy genre by making a series of covert remakes of the classic Universal films, but since they didn’t have the rights, they had to change enough aspects of the story so they couldn’t be sued. In the early films, Christopher Leehe always played the monster and Peter Cushing the scientist.
The Black Dracula
In the middle of the 70s, a cinematographic movement known as Blaxploitation arose, which consisted of a multitude of films with the African-American community as the main protagonist and which led to a boom in film noir with soundtracks by well-known artists of the time. The classic scene in this genre is a car chase through the city with funk music playing in the background. It was at this time that ‘ Blackula ‘ emerged , a horror film with a black vampire, which was renamed the Black Dracula and was such a success that it led to a flood of horror films starring African-American actors. Thanks to this film, and its sequel ‘ Scream, Blackula, Scream‘, the myth of the vampire began to show that it was not tied to race canons and that it was possible to play with the character.
Return to the gothic style
When Coppola announced his project to adapt the Bram Stoker novel , many were the ones who raised their hands to their heads. Despite the fact that the director had already taken his first steps in horror films (hello, ‘ Dementia 13 ), on paper he did not seem like the ideal person to bring a new adaptation of the Dracula myth to the cinema.
Sexual myths and leather
The 90s also served to cement something that had been brewing for years: vampires as a sexual myth. The vampire Salma Hayek comes to mind to all of us in that bizarre thing that is ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ by Robert Rodríguez and Quentin Tarantino . But a series that was born in that same year, 1996, would also help to solidify that image of a sexual myth, suggestive but dangerous, which also added new doses to the myth of vampires: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer ‘ .
In 2008 came the saga that would revolutionize, once again, the history of bloodsuckers: ‘Twilight’. This could very well be the vampire for generation Z: tormented, super handsome, hot, introverted, stylish and with internal conflicts. He actually goes to high school and falls in love with the typical loser. Until then, vampires had always been in good health, but until the turn of the century we didn’t see such a huge fandom around their movies.
The same year that the first ‘Twilight’ film appeared, another much smaller one appeared, from independent and European cinema (specifically, from Sweden) that updated the vampire myth in a masterful way: ‘Let me in’ (which would later have a American remake, very similar to the original). In this film, the vampire in particular is a girl, who creates a bond of friendship with a boy from the town she has come to, and helps him with her problems against bullying.
Vampires for all audiences
The ‘Hotel Transylvania’ trilogy began in 2012 at the hands of Genddy Tartakovsky , creator of the ‘ Dexter’s Laboratory ‘ or ‘ Star Wars: Clone Wars ‘ series . The first film was a surprise hit, grossing nearly $400 million, featuring the voices of Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez.