Edward Cullen, Angel, Louis, Barnabas and Blacula (The Evolution of the Caring Vampire)
It all started with a mistake. Vampires were supposed to be evil. Spawns of the night. Supernatural fiends. At least this had been the norm for a great deal of the genre. This all changed in the spring of 1967, when a third rated ABC sought to boost ratings on it’s soap opera Dark Shadows by introducing Barnabas Collins, a vampire.
He was intended for only one season, and like his predecessors, was to be villainous. Afterward, torrents of mail kept the character alive. A Van Helsing type character, Dr. Julian Hoffman, was added to hunt and destroy the vampire. However a typo changed the character to Julia, filled by actress Grayson Hall.
The show finally developed a love triangle, with Julia in love with Barnabas (played by Jonathan Frid), and the vampire pining away for his reincarnated love, Josette (played by Kathryn Leigh Scott). Suddenly the vampire took the lead role, even entering hero status.
The first movie to capitalize on this new trend was Blacula. Yes, Blacula. Sure it’s filled with incredibly dated attire (the vampire hardly stands out in his cape), but it also had the superb acting of William Marshall to hold it together. A similar storyline of a lost love reincarnated drives the vampire. Ultimately, his love perishes. Rather than go on living without her, Blacula destroys himself through exposure to sunlight.
Now, there could no more sympathetic vampire than Anne Rice’s Louis. Suddenly the entire story revolves around the vampire. He is the main character, the hero, the reason for the story. Louis (played by Brad Pitt) struggles with his vampirism. In the “Special Introduction” to the DVD for Interview with the Vampire, she states, “I wanted you to fall in love with the vampire and see things through his eyes.”
Fast forward to a new television series setting a teenage cheerleader against hordes of vampires. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was born. Angel (played by David Boreanaz) is different from the spawn that seek to drain humans like so many Capri Suns. He is cursed, giving him a conscience of sorts. Additionally, he becomes a romantic interest to Buffy, though it is a relationship they can never consummate. The curse that keeps Angel tame would also be reversed should he ever achieve true happiness.
This tortured relationship is the main thrust of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novel. Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson) is a self-proclaimed “vegetarian” vampire, feeding only on animals (much like Louis). He and Bella Swan (played by Kristen Stewart) engage in a boiling romance that can never come to fruition. Edward must fight every instinct not to eat the girl (falling into much the same trap as Angel and Buffy).
So when you read or watch Twilight, think about the vampires that came before, and led to development of the caring, hunky vampire that is Edward Cullen.
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