Throughout human history, the fear of the dark has been a continuous inspiration for some of the most emblematic pieces of fiction ever created. Many such folk tales are considered by historians to be attempts at explaining otherwise inexplicable phenomena, while others just contain elements that emerge from the darkest recesses of our imaginations.
Vampires, those creatures who were believed to feed upon blood or drink the life essence of living beings, have shown their nasty faces in various cultures around the globe, but it’s impossible to ignore that Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula,” published in 1897, was one of the first works to truly bring the vampire myths into the mainstream popularity they enjoy, even to this day.
In the early days of cinema, filmmakers had to draw inspiration from other forms of entertainment – essentially the same practice that modern directors are doing with the seemingly unstoppable stream of remakes and reboots of old franchises.
As it turns out, classic novels were some of the most popular subjects to bring to the silver screen, and it just so happens that audiences back then were craving good horror flicks as much as they do now. Thanks to this, the world saw the iconic Count Dracula on the big screen for the first time in 1931.
Dracula has become not just an icon of popular culture, but also a landmark idol in cinema history. However, even the most renowned heroes can fall out of fashion with age, and now, almost a century since the release of the first Dracula film, the vampire seems to be all but forgotten in modern movies.
Why has Count Dracula been left out of modern movies?
It’s not only the old Count that’s been away from the glimmering lights of Hollywood as of late: vampires, in general, have seen a marked decline in popularity in the horror genre. Not even the massive success of the Twilight saga a few years back could revitalize the audience’s interest in the bloodsuckers – it might also have killed the genre as a whole, or, at the very least, the mystical aura surrounding these creatures of the night.
Vampirism aside, why hasn’t Dracula himself been more prevalent in modern cinema? Could it be that modern-day Hollywood has no place for characters other than superheroes on the silver screen? Well, Dracula wears a cape, so maybe he has a fighting chance to jumpstart a cinematic universe of his own?
In all seriousness, there might be many reasons why Dracula is no longer feared as this nearly omnipotent figure of the night – but there are many others why we need someone like Drac making an appearance in modern horror movies.
Since the beginning, Dracula has been a personification of some of humanity’s deepest, borderline primal fears. A creature that is so charming that it can introduce itself into the lives of its unsuspecting victims, robbing them of their precious blood – it almost sounds like the embodiment of fear itself; the kind of fear that comes chilling in the night and keeps you awake for hours on end.
The figure of the enigmatic stranger, the seducer, the evil that comes with the night, has been somewhat subdued in modern horror. Even recent efforts to bring the character back into the spotlight, like Dracula Untold, have done away with much of the monstrosity that has made Dracula such a prominent character in the history of horror cinema.
Count Dracula is the scariest of monsters: a creature that seems almost harmless, even charming at first. He is a testament to how we perceive the dangers of temptation and the dark, the only difference being that he is so cleverly hidden behind his glamour that often, the only warning we receive before he sinks his teeth into your neck, is that of the pain that follows afterward. In other words, we need Dracula to return to films as a cautionary tale – the kind that says that darkness can hide in the unlikeliest of places.
Morbius failed to make vampires popular again. Perhaps the upcoming Interview with the Vampire TV series could rekindle interest. In reality, however, we need the grandfather of all vampires, Dracula, back on the big screen again. Whether that’s in Castlevania, Dracula Untold 2, or even a new solo franchise, the Count needs to return to his thrown.