The start of the third season for the FX horror series The Strain on Aug. 28 represents the latest twist on the vampire myth that represents pop culture’s long-running fascination with these blood suckers. Adapted from the trilogy of novels of the same name, The Strain was written by renowned filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and noted crime fiction novelist Chuck Hogan. But unlike the romanticized version of Dracula that dates back to Bela Lugosi debuting the title character in talkies in 1931, Hogan said he and del Toro took this creature back to its more vile roots.
“[Guillermo] wanted to take the vampire myth back to its origins where it’s a creature that is undead and lives in dirt and filth and feeds on people,” he explained.
The vampire myth has never waned and in the world of entertainment, has cleaved more to subtle sexuality in a Gothic wardrobe. More recent treatments included cult movies (Near Dark, Blacula), comics (Blade), novels (Salem’s Lot, Interview With The Vampire), big budget films (Fright Night, The Lost Boys), movie franchises (Underworld, From Dusk Till Dawn), television series (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and even characters geared towards children (Sesame Street’s Count and cereal mascot Count Chocula). The following are some of the more recent incarnations that have really made the vampire craze spike significantly in recent years.
This American horror series has been around long enough to have started out on The WB network and carried over to its current incarnation as The CW. Going into its 12th season, the show revolves around brothers Sam (Jared Padelecki, right) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), who hunt various occult beings including demons, witches and vampires. There was even a storyline where younger brother Sam allows his older sibling to be turned into a blood sucker.
The Vampire Diaries (2009-present)
Yet another television program based on a book series, this one was created by young adult fiction writer L.J. Smith. Based on a love triangle between teenager Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a 162-year-old vampire named Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, right)and his older brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder), the series takes place in the fictional burg of Mystic Falls, VA. Having been renewed for an eighth season, this series has been the most-watched show on the CW and was only recently supplanted by Arrow. It has also spun-off a show called The Originals.
True Blood (2008-2014)
Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels penned by New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris, this HBO series starred Anna Paquin’s Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress with telepathic powers who resided in the fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Packed with racy and ribald storylines, these episodes featured extensive vampire sub-culture steeped in century-old back stories and the mingling in of otherworldly beings including werewolves, fairies and shapeshifters. Our heroine is caught between fanger paramours Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer, left) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård).
Vampire Academy (2014)
Based on the six-book series written by American fantasy author Richelle Mead, this $30 million film featured a cast of beautiful unknowns (Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Dominic Sherwood) alongside some more well-known supporting actors (Gabriel Byrne, Joely Richardson) who played half-human/half-vampires called Dhampirs that attended the St. Vladimir’s Academy boarding school. Despite the global appeal of the books, Vampire Academy wound up being a $15.4 million worldwide bomb.
Young adult fiction writer Stephenie Meyer provided the grist for a line of vampire romance novels that made the leap to the big screen and made household names out of Kristen Stewart (right) and Robert Pattinson (left). The amount of teenage angst and drama was derived by Stewart’s Isabella Swan moving in with her divorced dad, who lived in the small Washington Olympic Peninsula town of Forks and getting involved with the Cullen vampire clan and falling in love with Pattinson’s Edward. Its success yielded four film sequels.