Stephen King, in his horror essay entitled Danse Macabre, considers the vampire one of the three archetypes of terror on which the contemporary imagery of the genre is based. The other two are the Nameless Thing which had its shapeless origin with the creature of Dr. Frankestein by Mary Shelley and the Werewolf, or the man who becomes a beast. It is curious that the first prose novel on the nocturnal anthropomorphic leeches, a subject that had already appeared in some seventeenth-century poems, had a suggestive literary origin that unites it to the rise of Thing with no Name: a stormy night in June at Villa Diodati, near Lake Geneva, around the end of the second decade of the 1800s. During this rainy stay in the Swiss mansion rented by Lord Byron, his personal doctor, John Polidori, Percy Bysshe were guests. Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft, who later married the author of the Liberated Prometheus by purchasing his surname. It was Byron’s inspired idea to spend the night reading the German macabre tales from the Phantasmagorian collection and to induce everyone present to write an equally bleak and frightening text. John Polidori thus conceived his Vampirewhile Mary’s story Frankenstein. What an amazing night it must have been, think if we could have followed her live on Twitch! There is, however, a hallucinating and hallucinatory film by Ken Russel that tells it, a nightmare that spreads his dark, toxic and grandiose poetics: let’s talk about Gothic, dated 1986.
The passion for the vampire is almost as contagious as his bite, and he knows it well Hideo Kojima. The master of Metal Gear, in addition to having participated in the making of Castlevania Lords of Shadow, told of the tragic and dancing figure of Vamp in the second and fourth episodes of the saga. And do you remember in Snake Eater? Inspired during his captivity by the tale of the Dracula movie heard on the radio, Snake falls asleep and dreams of eliminating hordes of undead in a dreamlike “hack and slash” interlude. If you have let these creatures enter your heart (and they are still there, like an ash stake), you absolutely cannot miss these works that we have decided to offer you, linked to the videogame, literary, comics and cinema spheres.
There are several suggestive vampire video games, some of them nearly forgotten like Bloodrayne, perhaps because this one had the misfortune of being made into movies by Uwe BolL. But the Terminal Reality game, and above all its sensual protagonist, are not waste material in the history of video games and have a “gore” and romantic value. The eclectic and rhapsodic Nocturne of 1999 should also be remembered from the same authors. Then there is Darkwatch of 2005, which mixes – in a first person shooter – the western with horror and even with steampunk, in an original and at times a little confused way. And let’s not forget Vampire The Masquerade, an RPG that has now become a real cult.
However, there are two sagas that are fundamental for fans. The first is that of Castlevania which finds its apex in Symphony of the Nighta gigantic Japanese-Gothic wonder that surprises and overwhelms the player, “flipping“in a devastating way the game in what seemed to be the closing bars. Even the three episodes released for Nintendo’s dual-screen laptops are unforgettable and still current videogames, for the way in which they enrich and treat a complex vampire epic that unfolds. over the years, tinging it with familiar melodramas and philosophical and psychological speculations.It is a saga that, radiating its sublime monstrosity from the Vampire, expands to become a sort of encyclopedia of every possible monster.
I have already mentioned that sometimes underestimated masterpiece that is Lords of Shadow, still today the most tragic and painful chronicle of Dracula’s origins, but I also defend his too reviled sequel, container of remarkable and dramatic reflections on the figure of the vampire, understood as damned for choice, as well as thirsting for the longing for redemption. And last but not least (like blood) there is Legacy of Kain and its multiform playful universe. The violent and tragic series of Kain and Raziel is one of the most powerful epics ever sung in video games, a new and fabulous tale of a barbaric vampirism that never indulges in sentimentality, while remaining grandly romantic in its purest sense. Self Castelvania is dead in Konami’s creative and uninspired wilderness, perhaps there is still hope for Legacy of Kain to return, an almost possible dream, the realization of which would shake the wrists of millions of players. I know, few liked it, but I did, but in the end I want to mention The Order 1886.
First of all there are the three classics: the aforementioned Vampire of the origins of John Polidori and the “feuilleton“of hundreds of pages from the title Varney The Vampire written by Rymer and Prest from 1845 and 1847. The latter, published for the first time in Italy by the publisher Gargoyle in its enormous full version, is an advisable reading, although it sometimes falls into trite clichés of popular fiction and redundancy , due to its length, slipping into long uninspired paragraphs. However it is appreciable as a great product of the Z series, very important for the evolution of the modern concept of vampire and above all for Bram Stokerwho wrote the great work on the vampire, that is Dracula. In 1872 Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu was published, which deals with a woman-vampire of sensuality more than hypnotic, a magnificent leech who is impossible to resist and whose feminine charm became the carpet on which so many beautiful and cruel dark-ladies germinate. of fantasy, horror and noir imagery.
If you have never read the Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, do it without delay because it is a classic that will never fade (or rather, given the theme, it will never dawn) in its epistolary and diary form that transforms it into an obscure choral story. It may seem that, after dozens of vampire movies and more, you already know everything about Dracula, but trust me in Stoker’s novel there is always something new to know.
In 1954 Richard Matheson, a prolific and brilliant inventor of fantastic stories whose influence on literature, genre cinema and television was as important as Dante’s on poetry, wrote Io sono Legend. An apocalyptic vision of the loneliness of a single man who survives in a world populated by hordes of hungry and bestial vampires, Matheson’s novel inspired Romero’s zombies and, in his daily and methodical chronicle of the struggle for survival, anticipated the structure of survival videogame horror.
Two more novels, before the sun rises, even if the real vampire, Bram Stoker teaches us, does not die in the light of the star but only becomes weaker, losing part of his powers: The Nights of Salem by Stephen King, a masterpiece of thrill and horror that does not exclude an adventurous rhythm, and the much less well-known Hanno Sete by Robert MacCammon, a vampiric invasion of Los Angeles where, unlike the dull sentimental tensions at Twilight, the monsters of the night once again become ruthless undead machines. One moment, I forgot what one of George RR Martin’s best novels is, that is the Battello del Deliriowhich tells of the captain of a steamship sailing the Mississippi in the mid-1800s. There are vampires and slavers, almost the same thing.
From March 2010, DC Comics’ Vertigo series began publishing the award-winning American Vampire, invented by Scott Snyder, in which Stephen King also participated in writing. In addition to its macabre visual and narrative splendor, what makes this series exemplary is its successful attempt to go beyond the literary tradition of the vampire figure, to consistently vary its ecology, dividing it into different species, recounting mutations and evolutions. Furthermore American Vampire it is strictly integrated into American history, blending the fantastic with historical realism.
From the lands of the Rising Sun comes Hellsing, manga by Kota Hirano, an irreverent and ruthless production with its black and blood red humor, an excellent tale of secret societies, true and exemplary characters even when totally over the top. One of the best and most unsettling vampire works ever conceived.
Two or three more films
Everyeye has already published, edited by Luca Ceccotti, i five essential films about vampires. Here, without the limits of a ranking, I will mention a few more, because there are really many worthy of interest. There is the contamination between vampirism and disease, in this case with AIDS, in the chilling black and white of The Addiction by Abel Ferrara. The immortal and youthful cruelty of Near Dark by Kathryn Bigelow. The desert and horror western of John Carpenter’s Vampires. The beauty and comedy of Please don’t bite me on the neck by Roman Polansky. John Landis’ mafia vampires in Innocent Blood. Bloody and ordinary psychosis of Wampyr by George Romero. The fury and the class of the Dracula by Terence Fisher with Cristopher Lee. The pulp delirium of From sunset to sunrise by Robert Rodriguez. With still many others to recover, I want to mention at least Vampire Hunter D, animated film based on a series of novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. It almost seems like Castelvania’s transposition into anime sauce: unmissable and beautiful.