Vampires in Film: the Cinematic Renderings That Reshape Myths & Legends

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Vampires In Film:
The Cinematic Renderings That Reshape Myths & Legends

Bryan Mitchell

ENG 668 – Film Genre Studies
Dr. Stephen Tropiano
2 October 2012

Vampires In Film:
The Cinematic Renderings That Reshape Myths & Legends

Since the dawn of the vampire film genre, writers and filmmakers alike have introduced new and unique imageries and characteristics to ultimately create or redefine the cinematic vampire. Giving proper recognition to Bram Stoker for his 1897 best-selling Gothic novel, Dracula, the original prevalent image of the vampire was that of a tall, pale-skinned, debonair, tuxedo and cape sporting nobleman, with fangs (Taylor 91). This distinguishing semblance and deportment was suitably brandished by Bela Lugosi with his classic portrayal of the Count in the Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931), and would be copied to one degree or another in myriad films for decades to follow (Wikipedia, 2012). But the film industry has greatly modified the image of the vampire over the years, and has likewise crafted a certain level of flexibility with regard to the vampire’s basic features, customs, and faculties, as depicted within the corresponding films comprising this mythical genre (Gelder 86). As much as vampires in film have changed, one important factor remains deathly consistent: Filmmakers have always exercised and will continue to exercise artistic license with regard to the vampire film. The origin of vampires, or at least the events leading up to the ancient beliefs and analyses of vampirism, remains vastly obscure—a circumstance which can be easily compared to the origin of humanity itself. According to legends and folklore, vampire mythology dates back over a thousand years, perhaps stretching as far back as prehistoric times (Melton xxi). Some sources indicate the birth of vampirism occurred in Eastern Europe, or, more specifically Transylvania (Stevenson 5). Other sources indicate vampires had their start in ancient



Cited: Dirks, Tim. “Horror Films.” Filmsite. AMC Network Entertainment, 2012. http://www.filmsite.org/horrorfilms.html Gelder, Ken Kane, Tim. The Changing Vampire of Film and Television: A Critical Study of the Growth of a Genre. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2006. Print. Karg, Barb, Arjean Spaite, and Rick Sutherland Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. 3rd ed. Canton, Visible Ink Press, 2011. Print. Miller, Francesca "Origins of the Vampire." Vampires. Visible Ink Press, 1999. Answers.com 02 Oct. 2012. http://www.answers.com/topic/origins-of-the-vampire Stevenson, Jay Taylor, Joules. Vampires. London: Spruce, 2009. Print. Wikipedia contributors Wilson, Karina. “Horror Film History—A Decade By Decade Guide To The Horror Movie Genre.” Horror Film History, 2011. http://www.horrorfilmhistory.com/index.php?pageID=1920s Worland, Rick

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