It’s inescapable. Turn on the TV, go to a website, or even go to your local library, and these days, you’re bound to see some part of a pop culture phenomenon that’s taken hold of the world over the last two years.
The phenomenon, of course, is the resurrection of vampires and werewolves as pop culture forces.
One can’t walk past a magazine stand without 20 magazine covers featuring the stars of Twilight. Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner have become overnight sensations thanks to the popularity of the film adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, particularly among teenage girls. And their mothers.
Twilight’s popularity has given rise to other book series jumping on the adaptation bandwagon, to varying degrees of success.
Among the most prominent is the HBO series True Blood, which debuted during the fall of 2008. Based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, True Blood bases each of its seasons on a book in Harris’ series, but with significant departures in the overall arch of the storyline.
Series creator Alan Ball, whose previous credits include HBO’s Six Feet Under and the Oscar-winning film American Beauty, takes Harris’ series and makes it a little darker, slightly campier, and a whole lot sexier.
Some fans of both Twilight and True Blood refer to True Blood as the “grown-up version” of Twilight. Where Twilight revels in teenage angst and the promotion of abstinence by way of bloodsucking, True Blood fully engages in the carnal desires of the vampires, both in relation to blood and sex.
Also proving to be successful is The CW’s The Vampire Diaries. Based on the book series of the same name by L.J. Smith, The Vampire Diaries follows two vampire brothers, one with a conscience and one without, and the woman that they both pursue.
The Vampire Diaries serves as a middle ground between Twilight and True Blood, providing more of a historically accurate representation of vampires than Twilight, but without the graphic tendencies of True Blood.
There are other forms of media also dealing with vampires and, to a lesser extent, werewolves these days. It’s seen as the cash cow of Hollywood at the moment, thanks in large part to the glut of teenage girls (and again, their mothers) who idealize the romance present in the Twilight novels.
It’s an interesting twist in the history of vampires and werewolves in popular culture, though. Every decade or so, these supernatural creatures expand their popularity beyond the core audience that consumes the literature and films that are ever-present and find themselves at the center of Hollywood’s spotlight. A decade ago, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were huge (for The WB) programs. Fifteen years ago, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise lit up screens in Interview with the Vampire, while Francis Ford Coppola brought a chilling adaptation of the Dracula story to the screen with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
How long will this current fascination last? At least until the end of The Twilight Saga, which has two or three more films to go before it concludes. In the meantime, expect for more vampires and werewolves in pop culture for at least a few more years.