There are more than likely thousands of vampire movies out there, but most notably, the movie Blade, about the comic book hero, half vampire, half human, the definitive Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Interview With The Vampire, the debut novel of the Vampire Chronicles authored by Anne Rice made into a film, with it’s sequel, Queen of the Damned. Also as equally definitive as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is Nosferatu, eine Symphonie Des Grauens, one of the very first vampire films, released in 1922; the unauthorized adaptation of the novel by Bram Stoker.
Vampire films were inspired almost as soon as the ability to actually make, record, and exhibit films had been created; one of the first of many films was titled simply “The Vampire,” in 1913, and followed by “A Fool There Was” in 1915. Both of these silent films were about “vamps” or, femme-fatales; the inspiration for both the films and the terms came from the 1897 poem The Vampire, by Rudyard Kipling. The poem by Rudyard Kipling, was inspired by the famous painting ‘The Vampire’ by Sir Philip Burne-Jones, featuring a female vampire straddling a wounded, or sleeping man. The first really supernatural vampire film to emerge was Nosferatu; it was so closely related to Bram Stoker’s novel, that his widow sued, won, and all copies were destroyed, except for five. It was finally restored in 1994 in Europe.
Bela Lugosi later starred in the 1931 classic Dracula, and then in two more vampire films following that; one of them Abbot And Costello Meet Frankenstein, in 1948 which was the last time he would play Dracula. Then another in which he played a vampire character that was everything Dracula was, except his name; the film was Return of the Vampire. Bela Lugosi was in a number of early horror films throughout the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. In 1957 the movie ‘El Vampiro’ was produced, and was one of the first vampire films in which the fangs of the vampire were actually revealed. In 1958, the renowned Hammer Horror series debuted with the film Dracula, starring Christopher Lee, who acted in five of the following seven sequels. Later, Francis Ford Coppola’s groundbreaking classic ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ emerged in 1992.
However, Dracula was not the only vampire novel to inspire directors and screenwriters. Although more distant from the novel by Bram Stoker, Carmilla, the short story by Sheridan Le Fanu inspired many classic vampires films. Carmilla put the sexual spin of lesbian vampirism on several popular vampire films in the 70’s, such as the Karnstein trilogy from Hammer Studios, as well as Blood and Roses, in 1960, Vampyres, in 1974, and The Vampire Lovers, in 1970, to name a few. The 1948 film with Abbot and Costello transformed many Dracula or vampire theme films into comedies. Sexuality has been drawn into the vampire genre of films from all orientations, and in both male and female roles. There are a few but still a strong flow of vampire films left that stick true to Max Shreck’s first portrayal of the disturbing, and monstrous Count Orlok in Nosferatu.