Vampires are one of the most written about fictional creatures and while there have been many different interpretations, the basis remains the same. Humanoid looking people who need to drink blood in order to survive.
Perhaps the most famous literary vampire is Count Dracula, who originated in the 1897 novel Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker. This novel is what established the well-known conventions that exist in vampire stories such as fangs and the ability to turn humans into vampires through biting.
The character story of Dracula has been adapted more than ninety times in film between 1921 and 2019. Notable actors to play the character in various forms include Christopher Lee, Jason Isaacs, Gerard Butler and John Carradine.
Another Irish writer who has popularised vampires is Darren O’Shaugnessy, better known as Darren Shan, who wrote a twelve-book series with a character named Darren Shan joining the vampiric ranks.
Unlike traditional vampires, Shan’s clan are presented as people who have a strange affliction — the need to drink blood. They are honourable fighters and beings who only ‘drink’ (take blood) in small amounts and do not kill humans in the process. They live by certain principles which are strictly enforced.
Full vampires can heal wounds with their saliva, run extremely fast (‘flit’) and trace one another through mental signals.
Much of the violent traits associated with vampires are shown within the rival clan, Vampaneze, who are purple-skinned due to level of blood consumption and always kill their targets when drinking, as the soul is preserved.
Some examples of insane Vampaneze include Murlough and his spiritual successor, Reggie Veggie (RV).
Perhaps the vampire with the most focus in Shan’s book is Larten Crepsley, over two centuries old, who lived an eclectic life before and after joining the creatures of the night. Larten is both Darren Shan’s mentor and the star of his own Saga, appearing in thirteen total books, the most of any character in this universe.
Unlike Dracula, the Saga of Darren Shan has had only one big screen adaptation – 2009’s Cirque du Freak: The Vampire Assistant, which was a flop, to put it lightly. Larten Crepsley was played by veteran actor John C. Reilly while then-newcomer Chris Massoglia played Darren Shan.
Another very famous set of vampire stories are the Twilight series which were published as novels between 2005 and 2008 while also becoming a successful film franchise starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner from 2008 to 2012.
In particular, Pattinson’s character Edward Cullen is the love interest of the female lead Bella Swan (Stewart) and as such is made desirable with traits such as eternal youthful handsomeness and skin that sparkles when in sunlight. With this in mind, they are definitely the most romanticised vampires I have seen in fiction and the probable reason for this being the case across the board.
Similar to Shan’s vampires, Edward’s family are restrained when it comes to feeding on humans. Their traits include superhuman abilities involving strength, stamina and agility.
Of course, these are just three examples of vampires in literature, film and television which are entirely different from each other. There are also many more variations of the genre that I did not include.
Each has different reasons why longtime fans believe that their favourite is the best depiction of the character type. The fact that vampires still have so much mileage and adaptability after all these years is truly remarkable and surely we will meet many more in the years to come.