Vampires in Fiction and Film – My Halloween Top Ten.

pumpkintoptentuesdayVampires are big business. In the world of books and films little else seems to have as enduring an appeal as those sharp-toothed undead lotharios.

Although the idea of the vampire stretches way back into societal folklore, it was in 1897, when Bram Stoker wrote his gothic novel Dracula, that the notion of the vampire as an aristocratic count, whose modus operandi is all sex and immortality, became the mainstay of the genre for almost a century. The Irish are proud to lay claim to this modern understanding of the vampire (I grew up not far from where Stoker wrote the infamous novel), hosting an annual Bram Stoker Festival and celebrating the novel in 2009 as part of Dublin Libraries One City One Book Scheme (which celebrates one book associated with the city every year in April to encourage people to get out and read). Stoker’s legacy can still be seen today, as the recent movie Dracula Untold will attest.

Of course the notion of the vampire has moved beyond the Christopher Lee Hammer Horror trope and has spawned some great stories in re-working the genre.  Below are list of some of my favourite vampire stories that I would encourage you to seek out this Halloween.

Top books

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The quintisessential vampire novel, it is, like Frankenstein, often left unread and the deeper themes often get lost. This gothic novel is far darker and meaningful than the people waving their capes and saying “I want to drink your blood” in poorly conceived East European accents, would attest.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Recently subject to a movie adaptation staring Will Smith, this book (written in 1954) is one of the early takes on vampirism as pandemic and one of the first novels in the zombie genre.  I really like this one because it is both vampire, zombie, horror and sci-fi all together but somehow it works.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

I like this one because it tackles the story from the vampire’s perspective. It is not about the vampire as monster so much as it is a coming of age tale – the vampire as adolescent who must learn what it means to be one and to deal with the responsibility (and the horror) of immortality. Also, Anne Rice’s take on the child vampire is truly terrifying.

Salams Lot by Stephen King.

I must confess to not having read this one (it sits on the TBR section of my shelf) but I couldn’t write up a top list of vampire stories without it.

Top movies

Daybreakers (2009)

This is probably the most political take on the vampire story, dealing with the issues of drought and the economics of scarcity. It’s clever because it asks what would life be like if vampires were the norm rather than the exception.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Yes, Keanu Reeves’ accent is terrible and yes it’s a hammy as hell, but there is something incredibly sexy about Gary Oldman’s take on Dracula. It’s stylish, and over the top and a joy to watch with some great performances.

Let the Right One In (2008)

It was only a matter of time really before the recent boom in Scandavian storytelling producing a vampire story of it’s own and I’m so glad they did.  Set in Sweden, this horror movie (based on the novel with the same name) tells the story of a 12 year old boy who befriends a vampire child.

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Probably my favourite vampire film, this one tells a fictionalised account of the making of FW Murnau’s Nosferatu. The story revolves around Murnau’s the character actor Max Schreck, hired to play Count Orlock, whom it turns out is actually a vampire. It is a movie about ambition, loss and the power of filmmaking and not in anyway a horror or vampire movie in the traditional sense but it is all the better for this.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

This is what you get when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino decide to make a vampire movie. Sheer bloody brilliance.

28 Days Later (2002)

A movie that stems from the same place as I Am Legend, it is a far better take on the vampire as zombie pandemic story  than the Will Smith vehicle.

Happy Halloween everyone.

14 Comment

  1. Besides Dracula, 28 days later, Interview with the vampire and I am legend I haven’t heard about the others and even so, I haven’t seen 28 days later nor I am legend (I didn’t even know it was a book). About Dracula I did not enjoy the book actually; and part of the reason was the diary-format of it and that it was too slow-paced with my taste. It was an uneasy read but not what I was expecting and it’s such a shame =(

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      It’s a shame you didn’t like Dracula. It’s a very different novel than people expect alright.

      I am Legend (the novel) is better than the movie too.

  2. I recommend Salem’s Lot, it’s an interesting take on vampires as they slowly infect a small town. Some scenes got in to my head enough to creep me out while I was reading it late at night.
    I love this list, Daybreakers looks really good.

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Thanks, glad you like the list. Daybreakers is great and actually better than the trailer makes it look.

      I’ll definitely have to get round to reading Salem’s Lot – I’ve heard many many good things.

  3. Every book that you named is sitting on my TBR shelf right now. It makes me want to leave work early and just go home and read. I can’t really get behind the movies though. I am truly a wimp when it comes to anything even resembling a horror movie.

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Haha, this always happens to me when I read blogs during lunch. I just want to go home and read too. 🙂

  4. Let The Right One In is such a good movie! I love how outside the norm it is for a vampire movie. I took an inventory last year of all of my vampire books… and it was ridiculous how many I have! Great list.

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Thanks for commenting. Glad you like the list. I was very pleasantly surprised by Let the Right One In.

  5. Gemma says: Reply

    Now that my friend, is a great collection!

    I love Anne Rice, her vampires and their entire world that she weaves is just fascinating to me.

    Also, some absolutely great vamp flicks there!! I just thought of another of my favourites… The Lost Boys!! The 80s at it’s finest!

    Happy Halloween : )

    Gemma
    http://www.fadedwindmills.com

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Ah yeah, the Lost Boys is another great one.

      Happy Halloween to you too!!

  6. I really have not read/watched many vampire things. I LOVE Supernatural tv series’ version of vampires though….super creepy and sinister and just a little bit different. And, oh, City of Bones! I love their versions too. *nods* I haven’t seen or read I Am Legend, but I know if it. One day I’ll get to it…one day…..

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Crime against humanity though it is, I have not read City of Bones yet. I will have to though since it comes so recommended.

  7. I have not seen Daybreakers, or even heard of it amazingly enough. I need to add it to my scary movie list.

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Oh it’s great. Well worth a look.

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