The past four years have been what you might call a bloodsucking boom period. When the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight came out in 2008 and made $392.6 million worldwide, it spawned a boatload of vampiric entertainment, one that spanned genres and media. There was the rest of the Twilight saga, which has grossed a staggering $2.5 billion so far, with Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 still to come in November. There were the TV shows, most of which were hits -- such as HBO’s True Blood, The CW’s The Vampire Diaries, both the BBC and Syfy’s take on Being Human -- and a few that weren’t (ABC’s The Gates and MTV’s Death Valley come to mind). And bookstore shelves remain stocked with hunky shirtless vampires glowering out from paperback covers.
But there also were a whole lot of misses: Dark Shadows, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Fright Night, Priest, Let Me In, Daybreakers, Vampires Suck, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant and Dylan Dog. Some were good, some weren’t, but they all underwhelmed at the box office.
Back in 2009, Neil Gaiman -- who knows a little bit about things that go bite in the night — said “vampires go in waves, and it kind of feels like now we're finishing a vampire wave -- at the point where they're everywhere. It's probably time to go back underground for another 20 or 25 years.” And that was three years ago; since then, that vampire wave has, officially, crashed.
After The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 comes out, there isn’t a ton of vampire stuff forthcoming: Neil Jordan’s Byzantium and Amy Heckerling’s Vamps are both in the can and will come out at some point … theoretically. The Vampire Diaries, Being Human and True Blood are still kicking on TV -- though it’s a little telling that Blood creator Alan Ball has decided to leave the show he created, claiming that the series “had tired.”
Eli Roth just signed on to direct Russell Crowe (as Dracula) in Harker, which recasts Jonathan Harker as a Scotland Yard detective. Director Neil Marshall’s Last Voyage of the Demeter has Viggo Mortensen tangentially attached to the tale of the ship that brought Dracula from Transylvania to London. And Starz just started developing Vlad Dracula, which mixes historical facts about Vlad the Impaler with the fictional Dracula.
Will any of those projects make it to their intended screens? Who knows? But the larger question is, do you feel a pressing urgency to see any of them, or are you just tired of the undead?
Genre is cyclical: Zombies, vampires, ghosts, giant robots, werewolves, angels, heists, apocalypses -- they come in clusters, thrill us for a couple of years, then fade away, to be dug up when there’s a new audience of 18- to 21-year-olds to lure back into theaters. Sometimes they return because some spangly advance in special effects brings the previously impossible -- i.e., Transformers -- within reach. Other times it’s because a writer or director has figured out a way to recontextualize classic tales and find new meanings in old monsters.
Either way, you can’t rediscover that which hasn’t been forgotten. And it’s time to let vampires slip back into that good night.