Robert Pattinson with Beard is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood today. The 28-year-old actor played the iconic character of Edward Cullen in the Twilight films, which debuted a generation of Vampires. Since the Twilight films, Pattinson has appeared in several other Hollywood productions, including The Lost Boys, Water for Elephants, and the upcoming Midnight Special. He is currently shooting the indie film Nocturnal, in which he plays a serial killer. Before diving into the details, let’s take a quick look at the history of vampires.
Vampires Arise: The Historical Background
It all started in the 1800s with the works of poet and novelist Bram Stoker. His 1897 novel, Dracula, was the first to introduce the world to the modern-day vampire. Its central character, a mysterious count, was able to kill with little or no provocation. He was also a skilled seducer, and women who rejected his advances were sometimes forced to become his unwilling victims. According to legend, Stoker based his vampires on Vlad the Impaler, the fifteenth-century prince-bishop of Transylvania. The inspiration for Stoker’s work came from a trip he took to Transylvania while filming a 1910 German horror film, Die Sklavenlenburg (The Asylum of the Devil). This is what inspired Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. Stoker also based the werewolf on a German folkloric being.
Bram Stoker Wasn’t The First To Write About Vampires: Count Leopold
Bram Stoker was not the first to write about vampires. Several years before the publication of Dracula, Hungarian writer Mór Jókai wrote a short story called The Living Dead, which was later turned into a play. Although it was not published until after Dracula, the story was probably written as early as 1894, just a few years before Bram Stoker published his work. Mór Jókai wrote about vampires in his 1894 book The Demon: A Modern-Day Dracula, which was published in English in 1928.
The year 1896 was a decisive one for Bram Stoker. Not only did he publish Dracula, but he also released a collection of his short stories, titled Various Ghosts. One of the stories in this collection, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” was later made into a movie of the same title. The main character in this story, Richard Guyot, is a vampire. He drinks the blood of young women in order to sustain himself. Eventually, he transforms into a werewolf and is forced to flee from the police. Sadly, he ends up killing a little girl, which is what ultimately leads the young sheriff, Emile Habibi, to arrest him. In the process of researching and writing about vampires, Bram Stoker also became obsessed with the creatures. He traveled to London in 1898 in search of vampires, and in 1899 he published an article about his investigations titled “Vampires: A Question of Belief.”
Early Vampire Movies: 1900–1930s
For much of the first half of the twentieth century, vampires were mostly limited to literature and the arts. It wasn’t until the 1920s that Hollywood started to produce vampire movies. The first was 1927’s The Vampire, directed by Arthur Robison. This is the cinematic version of the 1927 novel The Vampire by Richard Matheson. In this movie, an aspiring artist named Alan Dwayne is cursed with the vampire syndrome after witnessing a murder. He then falls in love with the girl of his dreams, Carol, who happens to be a vampire as well. Unfortunately, she also has a heart that she shares with Alan. One night, while making love to her, he becomes convinced that she is an imposter and stabs her in the heart. This act of betrayal ultimately destroys his chance at happiness, as Carol drinks his blood and turns into a creature determined to seduce and kill him. The Vampire is one of the first examples of Hollywood’s transition from silent films to “talkies.” It was originally intended to be a silent film, but it was deemed difficult to synchronize dialogue with stunts and special effects, so the filmmakers decided to add some sound elements in post-production. As a result, the dialogue was dubbed over scenes of graphic violence and bloodshed. The movie was a critical and commercial success, popularizing the vampire theme and ushering in a new era of undead cinema.
The 1931 Film Dracula Was The First In A Series Of Vampiri
After the unexpected success of The Vampire, Hollywood decided to continue the trend of making cheap, one-off movies in the Dracula franchise. The first of these was 1931’s Dracula, the first film in the “Dracula” series. It was directed by Tod Browning and starred Bela Lugosi, who many believe to be the definitive Dracula. It was an immediate critical and commercial success, not just because of Lugosi’s performance but also because of the great cinematography and sets. It also popularized the idea of Dracula as a Transylvanian aristocrat, an idea that Bram Stoker had originally denied was his creation. In this film, Dracula arrives in England in the company of his servants, Vlad and Renfield. As the film opens, we see Renfield attempting to convince Lucy, the film’s female lead, to go to a ball with him. Lucy is reluctant to do so, but Renfield assures her that it’s a must. The couple then go to the home of Lucy’s uncle, where they encounter the aforementioned ball. As everyone is having a good time, Lucy becomes suspicious of Renfield’s true motives. She is then bitten on the hand by Dracula, who has been lying in wait for her during the party. Lucy is then turned into a vampire. It is eventually revealed that Renfield is in fact Dracula in disguise. This film was followed by several other entries in the Dracula series, the most prominent ones being 1935’s Dracula’s Daughter and 1940’s House of Frankenstein. The 1940 film was heavily influenced by the success of Dracula, and it marked the first time that the creatures had appeared onscreen. It was also the first time that they had been depicted as having facial features. For many years, House of Frankenstein was the rarest and most valuable of the Dracula films, due to its very limited theatrical run and its poor quality compared to the other films in the series. The film is also notorious for one of its monsters, a giant frogman with wings, which was considered to be quite laughable at the time.
More Vampires In More Recent Years: 1940s–1960s
In the decades that followed the production of Dracula in 1931, Hollywood continued to produce horror movies, but they were no longer linked to a single source material, such as Stoker’s The Dracula or Jókai’s The Demon. It wasn’t until the late 1940s that vampires started making a comeback in Hollywood, with several high-profile films in the coming years. The first of these was William Castle’s 1949 film noir The Undying Monster, starring Lon Chaney. In this movie, Chaney plays a psychiatrist named Paul Marlowe, who attempts to help the police track down the serial killer known as “the Undying Monster.” While examining the case, Marlowe discovers that the killer is, in fact, a vampire, and he sets about hunting them, with the help of a group of fellow hunters. One of these hunters, Richard Matheson, would go on to adapt his own short story, The Werewolf, into a famous film of the same name, which was released in 1951. The story follows a man named Jack Hall, whose job is to travel around the country curing werewolves. Eventually, Jack’s wife is turned into a creature, which pits him against the whole world for revenge.
Although vampires had started making a comeback in Hollywood, it wasn’t until the late 1950s that they really started becoming popular. This can be credited in large part to the Twilight series, which debuted in February of 2008 and immediately became a worldwide phenomenon. The novels were written by Melissa Marr, and they focused on a group of teenage girls who discover that they are not really mortal, but they are in fact vampires. The first film adaptation of the series, New Moon, was released in October of 2009, seven years after the novels were first published. The series has since spawned two other films and multiple video games. In many ways, the Twilight series represents the big-budget, high-profile expansion of vampires into the mainstream. It also helped to popularize what was previously considered niche fiction, such as vampires and werewolves, which continue to appear regularly in pop culture today.