A Brief History of Vampires on Screen, From Dracula to What We Do in the Shadows

A video essay about how fictional bloodsuckers reflect society more than you might think

Vampires on Screen History

To paraphrase one of the classic texts: Into every generation, many new fictional takes on vampires are born. For 100 years now, the seductive monsters have been fascinating audiences with their promises of immortality with a price, and the Season 4 return of What We Do in the Shadows is a fine occasion to look back over the history of these iconic fictional creatures.

In this new video essay from Consequence, edited by Maura Fallon, we look at the legacy of the vampire on screen, and how depictions of bloodsuckers have changed over the years as the times themselves have changed. For there’s typically some level of metaphor working behind the scenes as we see undead creatures of the night sneak into the bedrooms of unsuspecting fair maidens — or when we watch heavily armed fair maidens saddle up to fight back.

Beginning with the classic portrayals of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, we then see how the concept of the vampire has become both more exotic and more erotic with the dawning of the sexual revolution, from the tragic romance of Dark Shadows to the passionate temptations of The Hunger. Vampirism as a reflection of LGBTQ+ issues is also a trend that emerges in the 1980s and 1990s with The Lost Boys and Interview With the Vampire, and even when we reach more modern interpretations in the 21st century, their power as symbols as well as stories remains potent.

Watch the full video essay above, and also check out our full review of What We Do in the Shadows Season 4, as well as the trailer for the next big vampire project on the horizon: the Netflix horror action film Day Shift.


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