Vampire movies have always captivated cinema audiences. In a sense, the struggles and conflicts of the on-screen ogres and supernatural beasts echo issues of relevance to the lives of the viewers. It also makes statements about the human condition in general, though using highly stylized and over the top visual vocabulary at times. Such flicks are not simply grotesquely contrived entertainment however, but are also mirrors to the minds of the fans. Here are five reasons why these films keep pulling crowds to the cinema seats.
First off, the struggles and desires of the main characters often reflect those of the audience. It also raises questions that are pertinent to the lives of the people watching. Questions about good and evil, justice and injustice, revenge and morality are themes pervading the lives of everyone, though these might not always receive conscious consideration in everyday life. Especially fantasies of omnipotent power over life and enemies, whether real or imagined, as well as the archetypal wish for immortality, ever-lasting youth and increasing strength appeal to all of humanity at some level.
The cinematic experience itself also contributes to part of the fascination. A lot of the time these conflicts are playing itself out either somewhere else in the world, or else on a societal level that’s removed from the immediate reality of the viewer’s life. Otherwise these remain mostly concealed in the subliminal realms of the mind. But cinema goers experience these on screen where it’s projected larger than life, and many times in extreme, monstrous and baser forms. This makes for fascinating stuff, never mind the suspension of belief that’s necessary so as to be drawn into the story.
A third reason has to do with the vampire or werewolf’s desire to live forever, unsullied by the vagaries of withering strength and age. This is one of the most enduring archetypal desires of humanity through the ages. Death and dying as well as the decay of life and strength, beauty and youth are abhorrent to human beings, just as it is for the prince of darkness on film. The latter might be despicable in many respects, but the demonic fanged one’s vain melancholic blood-sucking antics viewers can relate to and even empathize with.
Fourthly, there is something perhaps morbidly appealing about the theme of darkness that pervades such movies. It’s everywhere: lurking in the characters, the deeds been perpetrated, the actual scenes, and of course the general darkened atmosphere inside the movie theater itself. It both scares and fascinates. Again, it resonates with the deeply buried anti-social wishes and inhumane fantasies of viewers. These movies give its audience the legitimacy to indulge such desires vicariously, if only for a short while. It’s psychologically cathartic stuff.
There are few other forces in human life as potent and complex as sexuality. And it’s often a key undercurrent in vampire flicks. The dangers and pleasures, tensions, and profound sadness this issue raises among others are pertinent to the life of the fans watching. It’s interesting to note how the archetypal role of the gorgeous helpless maiden getting devoured has evolved through the years. Nowadays the latter is often cast as not so helpless any longer, and themes of lesbian vampires are not uncommon as during earlier releases of the genre. Moreover, many male characters are cast as sex symbols. This goes to show, among other things, that these kinds of films are indeed sensitive to the wider social issues of the day. Another aspect that adds to its contemporary fascination.
What’s also becoming evident is that a lot of modern-day vampire flicks aren’t as over-the-top scary as the original ones. Themes of romance and love, more down-to-earth stuff, have become more pronounced. But the good versus evil struggles and rivers of blood interlaced with sex are there nevertheless. These are just five reasons why many movie goers still flock in droves to be entertained by vampire flicks today.