Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vamp Pop Culture: Blame it on the 70s

by Derek Tatum

People might think that the '00's are the Golden Age of Vampires, but we are still coasting on the innovations of the 1970's. Want proof?  The "heroic vampire" archetype that is so popular today was created during the '70's. Yeah, the seeds were laid during the '60's by Barnabas Collins on "Dark Shadows," but Fred Saberhagen's Dracula (first appearance: "The Dracula Tape," 1975) and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain (first appearance: "Hôtel Transylvania," 1978) were two of the earliest unashamedly "good guy" vampires to appear in novel-length fiction.

And before that, Warren publications published the comics magazine "Vampirella" - she got her start in Sept. 1969, but that's close enough. Marvel Comics' "Tomb of Dracula" ran from
1972 to 1979, which introduced the vampire hunter Blade in 1973. Of course, Anne Rice's genre stalwart "Interview With The Vampire" was initially published in 1976, leading to a flurry of imitators.

If your tastes run towards horror, Stephen King's stone-cold classic "Salem's Lot" was published in 1975, with a television miniseries based on it arriving in 1979. Intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak faced vampires in the 1972 made-for-TV movie "The Night Stalker,"" and again on the short lived series Kolchak: The Night Stalker."

At the movies, the decade opened with Christopher Lee's "Taste The Blood of Dracula" and closed with Frank Langella's "Dracula" (or George Hamilton's "Love At First Bite," depending on your preference). Speaking of Langella, between his performance as Dracula and Yarbro's Saint-Germain novels, the groundwork was set for paranormal romance. The arthouse crowd got
Werner Herzog's eerie remake of "Nosferatu."

But the best thing about the vampires of the '70's? There was variety but the characters were
still recognizable as vampires. I could go on and on but you get the idea. If you want to know how we got to where we are in regards to vampire pop culture, you can’t afford to overlook the 1970’s.

Derek Tatum is a lifelong connoisseur of the macabre, the fantastic, and the downright weird. In his spare time, he serves as the track director for Dragon*Con's Dark Fantasy programming. His vampire and dark fantasy blog can be found at


SciFiGuy said...

Terrific recap Derek. Hotel Transylvania and the St. Germaine Chronicles books are among my favourites.

Marilyn Victor said...

Which is why to say that vampire literature has peaked, is rubbish. It's been with us a long time and is here to stay.

Derek Tatum said...

@SciFiGuy - thanks

@ Marilyn Victor - exactly, that is part of my point. Every time it looks like it has peaked, it bounces right back. Sometimes in a completely different form, but vampire pop culture endures.


Anonymous said...

1979's Dracula is one of my favorite movies; it was one of the films that got me interested in vampires way back in the early-mid eighties. Excellent post -- thanks Derek!

Margaret Carter said...

Excellent overview! It has long been one of my pet peeves that many people think Anne Rice "invented" the vampire as hero.

ddurance said...

I loved Love at First Bite! It was my first run in with George Hamilton. I loved Renfield's character, especially when he used his lunch to get his way. lol


ddurance said...
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Kristin Snouffer said...

Thank you! Vamps were around way before this new wave of teen dreams, and we'll still be here long after!