Vampires in 2011
Now that it is 2012, perhaps it is time to take one last look back at the year that is gone? And the top vampire stories of those twelve months?
Johnny Depp, Vampire!
Quite apart from the fact that Johnny Depp is finally playing one of the Undead (it seems so odd that neither he nor Angelina Jolie ever have so far), the added excitement lies in the story. He and Tim Burton filmed a new adaptation of the cult t.v. series “Dark Shadows” in 2011. This marks the second major motion picture based on Dan Curtis show and the third attempt to reboot the show. First was in 1991 with Ben Cross that lasted half a season. Next was in 2004 with an unfinished pilot for the WB. Depp is joined by two other former vampires in the cast—Christopher Lee of Dracula fame and Chloe Grace Moretz from “Let Me In.” Michelle Pfeiffer, who once was a werewolf, is also in the cast, as is Eve Green, playing a witch for the second time in her career. Meanwhile, "Dark Shadows" has also returned to the comic book format, picking up where the original series left off in 1971!
Young Dracula Returned!
Four years! Four years fans of this wonderful program have been waiting! After two series (called "seasons" in the US), ending in a cliffhanger no less, the show about Count Dracula's reluctant son and heir simply didn't have the money to continue. Viewers who loved the show wailed in grief but got over their loss. Then 2011 saw the return of Vlad Dracula and his dysfunctional family--his father the Count, over-achieving sister Ingrid, the disgusting manservant Renfield! With the passage of four years, Vlad is now seventeen, a full vampire who drinks soy blood substitute and has to deal with the pressure of being the Chosen One of the undead. Gone are Robin and Chloe and the rest of the Branaughs but now Vlad has a love interest--Erin, a newly bitten vampire still developing her powers. Or is she?
Covered extensively here and elsewhere, the folks with the rights to the original "Buffy" motion picture announced plans to reboot the franchise, sans any input from creator Joss Whedon. That they had the legal right to do so was unquestioned by anyone. Should they? Fans of the show and virtually everyone involved voted a resounding NO!!!!!! Amid rumors of Megan Fox taking over the lead role one can hardly blame them. Then a screenwriter was hired, proclaiming how much she loved "Buffy" and considered her model of any reboot to be the film "Batman Begins." Not exactly bad news. And then at the end of the year, her script was rejected. Somehow one doubts this is the end of that drama. But it could be. Or not. 2012 will tell. Maybe 2013.
The Strain Trilogy Concluded
For three Halloweens in a row Guillermo del Toro--filmmaker behind "Blade 2" and "Pan's Labyrinth" as well as many other visionary films--teamed with novelist Chuck Hogan to create what is arguable the most disturbing set of vampires to date. Hairless, sexless, feeding via meter-long stingers in their mouths, lacking nearly any remnant of the humans they once were, these creatures suddenly invaded New York in a deliberate bid to take over the world. Through the course of two more books these creepy, human-shaped bedbugs managed to do it, turning virtually the entire globe into a relatively comfortable concentration camp. Humanity reduced to cattle and work animals. A weird and frightening vision, one the authors explicitly called a counter-point to Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer. The last of the books came out in October 2011. Now a comic book series is in production, with talk of a film adaptation for cable or the big screen.
Bye-Bye "Gates," Hello "Being Human"
Two new vampire series debuted on American t.v. in 2011. One was "The Gates" about a suburban community whose inhabitants included vampires. The other took the basic premise of a BBC show of the same name--a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire sharing a house together--and reworked it. The former crashed and burned very quickly. Yet the, viewed askance initially, gathered viewers and won renewal. Thus it joined "The Vampire Diaries" and "True Blood" as continuing vampire series on American television we can confidently expect to see in 2012. Its success--along with that of other paranormal programs--pretty much insures some more vampire-themed shows will make their debut before too long.
Real Vampire Attacks
Probably the most embarrassing/annoying news story of the year, at least for our loyal readers. A nineteen-year-old in Galveston, Texas broke into a woman's home and tried to drink her blood. When captured, he went on and on about having no choice, that he was a vampire. This was in August. Come September, a woman in St. Petersburg Florida was charged with something similar. In this case she went after a senior citizen outside Hooters. Not too surprisingly--especially given both took place in the deep south and as we approach an election year to boot--some used these incidents to complain about the popularity of vampires in popular culture. Mind you, they don't do that for the dozens of serial killers caught quoting Bible verses!
"Twilight" Continues to Make Billion$
First the good news. Successful movies mean more people have jobs. And successful vampire movies mean more vampire movies are likely to get made. Bad news. If you really dislike the trope of the Romantic Vampire, the uber-success of "Twilight" means a lot more of the same. Sorry. But keep in mind there's a lot of the scary-type vampire flicks getting made! Dario Argento's "Dracula 3D" looks quite gory! "The Strain" is in development, about as far from the Romantic Vampire as one can imagine. Other flicks on the horizon: "Voyage of the Demeter" and "Styria" (new version of "Carmilla") and "The Moth Diaries" (currently looking for a distributor). Bottom line--successful vampire movies mean more vampire movies of all kinds.