Is There a Stake in the Heart of the Vampire Craze?

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Based on the 1966–1971 gothic soap opera of the same name, this supernatural dramedy film is directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp as a 200-year-old vampire by the name of Barnabas Collins. After being imprisoned in an underground tomb, Collins is accidentally freed and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the role of Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Barnabas' cousin and the reclusive matriarch of the Collins family.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
November 2nd, 2012

Is There a Stake in the Heart of the Vampire Craze?

-- For creatures that are mysterious, aloof, and reclusive, vampires have certainly been busy for the past few decades. Vampires have come forth boldly from their coffins to rule the airwaves, the movie theaters, and the bookshelves. There is a vampire character to fit nearly every mood and every style. Adults, teens, and kids can easily find vampire movies or TV shows geared towards their particular age groups. In short, anyone who has checked movie listings or flipped through television channels can all agree on one thing: The bloodsuckers themselves may be coldblooded, but the world has been in the grips of a red hot vampire fever for quite a while.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the most current craze started. In 1997, Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" first captivated TV audiences. After an epic run, the series ended in 2003, now a bona fide cult classic with a huge following. In 2005, Stephenie Meyer landed a record book deal and "Twilight" soon hit the shelves. The tale of a tortured romance between a young human woman and a sullen vampire became a blockbuster movie three years later, in 2008. Also in 2008, HBO returned vampires to their more adult and scandalous roots by airing "True Blood." A year later, the CW Television Network capitalized on the trend with teen-friendly soap opera, "The Vampire Diaries." These are just a few examples of the vampire genre. For every famous undead protagonist, there are a dozen more who are not as well-known but are still keeping the trend alive.

Although vampires have enjoyed their day in the sun, all these spotlights might finally start to have an effect on their sun-allergic skin. Some people have started speculating that the craze is coming to an end. Scandalized parents and cynical moviegoers have been waiting for this moment a long time. It seems that pop culture might finally be growing tired of the trend. After all, there are only so many ways to make angst-riddled bloodsuckers seem new and exciting.

There is good reason to suspect that vampires are on their way out. In November of 2012, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" will debut in theaters. This is the fifth and final film in the series of wildly popular movies based on Meyer's vampire series. Some people see "The Twilight Saga," both the books and the movies, as the most widespread manifestation of the current vampire craze. Meyer ended the book series in 2008, so once the final movie has come and gone, the end of "Twilight" could truly be the final nail in the coffin for the vampire trend.

This does not mean that vampires will vanish overnight, however. In 2012 alone, Johnny Depp portrayed a vampire in "Dark Shadows," Abraham Lincoln came to the big screen as a vampire hunter, and Dracula made an appearance in "Hotel Transylvania." While none of these films are as popular as the "Twilight" series, they show that studios and audiences are still interested in viewing vampire flicks. In addition, a few big budget movies have been brewing in development for some time. Sam Worthington will apparently star in "Dracula Year Zero," a historical horror film that traces Dracula to his bloody roots. However, nothing as huge as "Twilight" is currently in the making. In addition, trends are beginning to shift. Apocalyptic films such as "The Hunger Games" (2012) appear to be elbowing vampires out of the way.

The craze may be fading into the darkness, but it probably will not stay gone for long. Vampires have been attracting attention since Bram Stoker's 1897 novel. Even if the undead eventually retire to their coffins and stay quiet for a few months, years, or even decades, they are likely to rise again at some point. Until then, vampires will probably lurk in the shadows, making slightly less frequent appearances.

For audiences who have seen dozens of bloodsuckers come and go over the years, this could actually be good news. Authors, directors, and producers will no longer view vampires as an automatic selling point. Once the trend dies down a little, there will probably be tougher competition. The only movies and TV shows that will make it to the top will be the unique and well-crafted ones. In the end, too many vampires have hurt the genre's mystique, taking away some of the glamour and spookiness of the original legends. Maybe, once the trend fades a little, vampires will have a chance to become truly frightening and mysterious once again.