Research into the history Vampire Film, Vampire Film Trends & Fan Behavior
In this article I aim to discuss and explore the vampire film and reception to it. Discussing the History and beginning of vampire film and how the typical characteristics of the vampire displayed in the vampire film has changed over time to adjust to the demands of the audience and the characteristics and stereotypes of the most common vampire film audience.
To explore the vampire film, and what makes a vampire film successful I look back to the beginning of vampire film, which started as early as 1896 with the silent horror by George Melies, Le Manior du diable (House of the flying bat). Vampire Film and horror then began with focusing on an audiences fears of science fiction elements such as leeches and vampire which made an audience feel unsettled, Squeamish, these elements then combined to create the character of the vampire, the living dead who come out at night to drink their victims bloods. Le Manior du diable displays the vampire as a bat like creature, residing in a castle and with crucifixes and medieval aspects that are associated with vampires. Also Vampire films such as Nosferatu (1922 F.W. Murnau),which was the first full length vampire horror gave an audience an image of what a vampire should look like, act like and how they reside. Nosferatu being an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stokers 1897 “Dracula” Novel.
As Part of German expressionism movement, the character of Nosferatu the vampire, is displayed to be not quite human, his make up and movements echo those of a bat. In these earlier films the male vampire is displayed not as attractive to the female, which in the latest vampire film, twilight, Being Irresistibly attractive to the opposite sex is one of the vampire's so-called “powers”. This characteristic alone is evidence of how the character of the vampire adjusts to fit modern audiences which I will discuss more fully later on.
In Dracula Films (See 1931, Tod Browning and 1958 Terence Fisher) the attractive body is not the male vampire which many would have you believe with the recent twilight films and the fans obsession with the stereotypically attractive Cullen family, with Edward, Dr Cullen, Emmet and Jasper, all very attractive that seem irresistible to the human female species. The character of Bella for example, a young innocent female teen who has never had a boyfriend nor been interested in boys appears to suddenly become besotted with Edward from the first glance of him. As the only characteristic that makes him different from the rest of us in appearance as they seem extraordinary good looking, Compared to the disturbing and bat like image of the original Nosferatu and Dracula’s as shown below:
Both “Bat like in posture” black clothing or capes to resemble bat, Fangs and dark medieval castles and buildings. Pale skin. Resides in darkness
Edward Cullen: Attractive, Fashionable, always young, can come out in daylight. Does not sleep, not bat like in any manner apart from ability to almost fly and hunt like an animal?
The main point of these comparisons is how Twilight has changed the way in which vampires are portrayed. Fans of the novel by Stephanie Meyers became unsatisfied and resentful towards the cinematic portrayal of the characters of both Bella and Edward. Bella is originally written as this lone girl who moves away from home in a sunny climate to this cold and isolated, dead end town. A tomboy she is a recluse from the girl groups of friends that approach her and then falls in love with the daunting but striking vampire Edward Cullen. What the fans and myself from research liked about the novels originally was the portrayal of love and the sense of restriction and how impossible it is for their relationship but what Kirsten Stewart doesn’t portray in the films is any sense of individuality or any elements of characteristics that us as a female audience can associate ourselves with.
The directors of each of the twilight films has tried to symbolize some element of the typical barriers females face when in a teenage relationship, i.e. with Bella’s father not liking nor trusting Edward but Kirsten Stewarts portrayal of her anguish, her desire, her rebellion is hid behind awkward acting, Monotone and misplaced smiles. An audience is left unsure of whether Kirsten as Bella really is as besotted with Edward as she intends to make out as the emotion between them is shown as awkward, not in the sense of embarrassment or shyness we might expect to see between a new young teenage couple in many chic flicks displayed but actual awkwardness between the actors.
This leaves us resenting the character of Bella, she has no particular personality traits or quirks that make us feel for her when Edward leaves her as her portrayal of sadness and being distraught is minimal, she doesn’t appear intelligent nor have her own goals and is too content on giving herself ultimately to Edward from first moment. Although this falls back on how strong and controlling the character of vampires can be, take for example in many of the Dracula films, the vampire has many wife’s and attractive female vampires that adore him but he does not show them the same emotion on any level that Edward Shows to Bella. In the films Edward believe Bella to be dead so he goes about killing himself. This is unheard of, no vampire would kill himself for a mere human and this made many female audiences angry as it displays Edward, the ultimate vampire, the ultimate masculine, strong, evil and predator to be weak.
Twilight has created one of the largest online and offline communities around a horror film to this date. Particularly popular with the Female audience which thus leads the male audience to dislike it. Women both young and old rival against each other over who they feel Bella should choose, Edward the vampire or Jacob, her best friend, the Werewolf but most women agreeing on the same thought, why are they both bothered with Bella anyway? The Communities around the release of twilight are vast; message board forums, live journal communities, Blog feature fan based fiction, trailers, arguments and messages about what they wanted from the film, both passionate fans and haters of the film are outspoken online so it’s not hard to see what the films doing wrong.
For example see a particularly popular fan based forum who are against the twilight film: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/5508.TWILIGHT_HATERS with 807 members, over 5000 comments on over 30 forum posts, Groups like this show that fans like to create a community where they share similar interests and tastes in film which shows the fandom around the film.
Fandom is when a certain audience anticipate a film and start blogging groups, discussion group, take part in fanzines and have a particular interest in a film because of its subject matter, genre or special effects. Being a fan is a matter of appreciating particular films and being affectively or emotionally invested in them. This relates to fandom around horror and vampire films. A fan who has fandom with vampire film would be anticipating the release of twilight films and will eagerly blog, join forums and follow production of the film. Fans who only watch one sort of film and start blogging groups to discuss different kinds of film released – example – car films or Sci-Fi films
Although being a lone fan of specific films or genres may not necessarily involve actual face-to-face communication with other fans, film buffs, frequently imagine themselves as part of an extended fan community, along with absent butt like-minded fans.
Unlike the individual fan organized fandom involves fans specifically seeking out those who share their tastes, thereby becoming involved in a range of social, cultural, and media activities that take this shared fandom as their starting point.
Film fandom can involve participating online discussion and posting to sites such as the internet movie database (imdb.com), joining film clubs or groups or producing one’s own fan magazine or fanzine.
Being part of organized fandom- whether for a certain film or star-is first and foremost, linked to values of participation and production
Henry Jenkins stresses that fandom’s participatory culture is always shaped through input from other fans and motivated, at least partially by a desire for further interaction with a larger social and cultural community.
The use of fandom around the pre-release of film has proven particularly successful in the past, see for example snakes on a plane (David Ellis 2006), fans of snakes, horror and particulary gruesome films became excited about this film long before its production and release purely over the title of the film being released on the internet and the buzz around the film grew so much so that the films production company did not screen the film to critics before its release and instead relied purely on the fans creating excitement within themselves, blogs sites such as snakesonablog.com encouraged fans to meet up, dress up and go to the film with fake toy snakes, and send in pictures to fan made pictures of “Snakesinstuff” a popular competition to see which fan could send in the most absurd picture of a snake with a object.
Internet campaigns around a film encourages fans to both show and encourage their excitement and own interest in a film, finding others to do the same. The surrounding interest and excitement around the latest twilight film breaking dawn, is obvious on Youtube alone. Searching for a breaking dawn eclipse will lead you to hundreds of fanmade trailers for the film already. And further more spoofs of the film and spoof trailers on youtube are shown to be immensely popular, one trailer having over 10,000,000 views with over 65,000 “likes”.
What becomes obvious from these trailers is that although supernatural and science fiction creatures and characters in films are popular with audiences, such as zombies, vampires, werewolves etc, the fan doesn’t want it to be taken to seriously And always welcomes diversity. Films such as red riding hood received the same review and thoughts as myself from other audience members that went to see the film, Red Riding Hood is too much like twilight and the story is getting old. The fan no longer wants a soppy female depressing love story who falls apart when the vampire leaves her or in Red Riding Hood, the same but with werewolves.
We want a modern comic twist, The vampire film has been covered many times before, and the falling in love with a vampire is very popular with the audience, in particular females as we love nothing more then a love story with restrictions but what is proving to be unpopular is the depressing aspect, the solid acting on Stewarts behalf annoys the audience and instead we want to welcome a nicer female character and that’s what entices us to Vampire Wedding, A new Refreshing Horror and Comedy film about a wedding planner who has to fight of evil and rescue her fiance. Meet Sophia, She is intelligent, cute, fashionable and pretty but faces the relationship difficulties of vampires trying to prevent and ruin the wedding, a modern welcoming twist that is original and gripping.Also the welcomed and amusing character also of Paula Weiler, Sophia’s Best friend, offers disgruntled twilight fans a character we can all associate with our own friends, where as in twilight all of Bella's friends appear to be very fake and unlike real high school teens, only portrayals of what the media stereotypes with the American teen but is not always the case. What Sophia represents is what all females at one point find themselves with, the trouble of holding down a relationship with the one they love and the obstacles they face.
Watch this space for more information, A review and musings on my new favourite film, vampire wedding!
Watch this space for more information, A review and musings on my new favourite film, vampire wedding!