Recent reports that a new TV show based on Anne Rice’s acclaimed series of The Vampire Chronicles books has taken a baby step forward in its development and production is undoubtedly great news.
It is now almost a quarter of a century since Tom Cruise brought the renowned Lestat to life in the blood-soaked Interview with the Vampire, which also starred a young Brad Pitt, and around 15 years since Stuart Townsend took on the role opposite the late great Aaliyah in the sadly less-than-impressive Queen of the Damned, so it feels like more than enough time has passed for a new and potentially comprehensive take on the character.
However, while fans of Anne Rice’s books are likely to be very excited about the new series – which apparently has the current title The Vampire Lestat – it is safe to say that the position of vampires in the wider world of popular culture has changed a lot in the past couple decades. Bloodsuckers have been brought to the big and small screen in a range of different ways in recent years, with some fairly varying degrees of success to say the least.
Vampires have been the subject of a number of TV shows in recent years, with the likes of True Blood and Being Human offering up relatively successful takes on the creatures. However, when it comes to the small screen, the Vampire Chronicles will certainly have one eye on replicating the success – if not necessarily the tone – of the much-loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
While Joss Whedon has a place in many geeks’ hearts for Firefly and his work on the early stages of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the story of Buffy Summers and her relentless efforts to combine growing up with fighting the undead has gone down in small screen history. Famously flipping the classic horror stereotype of a young girl being a victim on its head, the show ran from 1997 to 2003, became renowned for its witty style and saw her take on all kinds of monsters from an ancient vampire called The Master to the main man himself, Count Dracula.
Speaking of fiction’s most famous bloodsucking fiend, he has remained a huge draw with the general public in recent times, although the big screen outing Dracula Untold – a PG-13 movie released in 2014 which starred Luke Evans and acted as a prequel of sorts to the character’s descent into evil – was hardly very well received. However, the Count does live on in a range of areas, with NetEnt working with Universal Studios on an online slot game based on the character and Konami recently releasing a mobile version of Castlevania, which features Bram Stoker’s creation.
A stylistic shift
Dracula Untold aside, the general trend for vampires in more recent years has arguably been to bring them into a more contemporary setting. The 1980s-set Let The Right One In proved to be a big hit and even spawned an American remake only a few years after its release. The Underworld series and the Fright Night remake starring the much-missed Anton Yelchin have also been hits but probably the most successful films based on bloodsuckers have been those which make up the Twilight Saga.
Based on Stephenie Meyer’s books, the franchise made stars of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and, while the films were never exactly a hit with critics, fans lapped them up and made them a huge box office success. However, there is also an argument to say that the series may have impacted on the reputation of vampires as a threat to some extent, particularly in reshaping them as caring heartthrobs that sparkle in direct sunlight.
Putting that debate to one side, however, we cannot mention vampires on the big screen in recent years without touching on What We Do In The Shadows. A movie which showed that vampires can be ridiculous and funny as well as scary and sexy, the mockumentary from Thor Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is an absolute delight. It also features brilliant performances from the man himself, alongside Flight of the Conchords alumni including Rhys Darby and Jermaine Clement.
A return to roots?
When all of the above has been considered, it is clear that vampires have been on quite the journey since the Interview with the Vampire film hit cinemas back in 1994. Following years of shows and films featuring different takes on the undead creatures, it is clear that it could well be time for a series based on the Vampire Chronicles to take the monsters back to their gothic roots.
With Bryan Fuller of Hannibal and American Gods fame also having had some input, here’s hoping that the show has a richer and more adult tone to where vampire stories have gone in recent years. Vampires have had their ups and downs in the past couple of decades so a classic take on bloodsuckers is undoubtedly well overdue.