For fans of vampire mythology, it has been an interesting transition over the years. The vampire has made the transition from monster to sex god, and what an interesting transition it has been. Most of us have seen the old black and white films, with the vampire played by Bela Lugosi in the 1940s who looked surprisingly similar to “The Count” on Sesame Street. For probably the next 40 years, this was the iconic image of every vampire character featured in a movie or every vampire costume created by kids on Halloween. The image of “the vampire” remained largely unchanged; just slick back your hair, wear a black cape, add fangs, and voila, you’re a vampire.
Then, along came Stephen King. You don’t need to be a fan of Stephen King to know that Stephen King writes horror. He took the idea and imagery of the vampire to a very dark place and truly created a monster. I can remember watching Salem’s Lot, the Stephen King novel adapted into a made for TV movie in 1975, and it scared the bejeebers out of me. No, please no, I don’t want THIS thing visiting me in the dead of night…or the middle of the day…or ever.
In 1987, there was a horror film called The Lost Boys starring Kiefer Sutherland as a young, bad-boy vampire. And while Kiefer definitely transitioned from leather-clad heartthrob to scary monster, the teenage audience, particularly the female audience, couldn’t help but be a little bit smitten with the naughty vamp.
In 1992, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was released, starring Gary Oldman. Like The Lost Boys, Gary Oldman portrayed a very dapper Dracula, with top hat and cane, who could be quite charming, but still physically transformed into a monster. The seeds had been planted for a monster who could seduce before revealing his true horror.
Thank goodness for my favorite author, Anne Rice, who decided it was time to turn this tale upside down. In 1994, her book, Interview with a Vampire, was adapted into a movie and forever changed the course of book and movie vampires. Enter Lestat De Lioncourt. Anne Rice was the first author to write vampires with some sense of humanity (some more than others), but also made them all physically beautiful creatures who never needed to attack their victims. Their victims were slowly and willingly seduced in what was clearly a highly erotic experience. Tom Cruise played the iconic androgynous Lestat, who was decidedly a villain, but his cat-like predatory seduction made him irresistible to both men and women.
In contrast, in the same film, Brad Pitt played the character of Louis. Louis is a morose character, who feels guilt over his blood lust and seduces reluctantly. Louis had been made vampire by Lestat in a very seductive, homoerotic scene where Lestat feeds from Louis’ neck, and Louis is clearly in a state of ecstasy. Anne Rice was the first author who created this element of seduction and eroticism around the vampire’s bite, making it something to be desired as opposed to being something to fear.
In 2002, a second Anne Rice book was made into a movie, The Queen of the Damned. This time, the role of Lestat was played by Stuart Townsend. Lestat returns as the lead singer of a rock band… and who is more worshiped, or has more willing groupies, than the hot lead singer of a rock band?
But nothing took vampires more mainstream than the HBO series True Blood, which first aired in 2008. In this campy adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries, or often referred to by her fans as the “Sookie Stackhouse Series”, Stephen Moyer was the most gentlemanly vampire you’ll ever meet… Bill Compton. Filled with southern charm and manners, he pursued and deeply loved the mortal (or so we thought) Sookie. Bill represented a vampire with a conscious, who only killed in self-defense.
Not nearly as gentlemanly, but twice as hot, was Alexander Skarsgard, playing bad-boy vampire Eric Northman. If sex with Bill was hot, sex with Eric would melt your TV screen. While there was plenty of violence, sizzling hot vampire sex was now main-stream, and the transition from monster to sex god was complete.
Riding on the coat-tails of True Blood, network TV capitalized on the trend toward hot vampires with the introduction of the teen drama, The Vampire Diaries, and every teenage girl (and a few moms) fell in love with Ian Somerhalder.
Also in 2008, not to be outdone on the big screen, enter Twilight, a young adult novel series, also read by many older adults, was transformed into a movie franchise and everyone had to decide: Team Edward or Team Jacob, as both vampire and werewolf vied for the heart of mortal Bella Swam. Edward was so evolved, he refused to feed from mortals, and hunted animals instead.
In 2014, another adaption of the original Dracula was introduced. Dracula Untold, featuring the very hot, very sexy Luke Evans. In this variation on the story, Dracula is presented as a sympathetic character, who only became a vampire to defend and protect his people.
These are certainly only a sampling of the vampires that have appeared in books and movies over the last several decades. Vampire mythology remains fascinating to the readers and will continue to evolve, but these films (and books) represent the turning points in the transition of vampires from monster to sex god, and from villain to hero… And what a wild, hot, sexy ride it has been!
If you’re ready for the next variation on vampire mythology, I hope you’ll continue the journey with The Medici Warrior Series, and discover the hottest vampire yet… Shade Medici. You will be begging for his bite, and a lot more.