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Book Review: The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to True Blood Fourth Edition by Alain Silver and James Ursini

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What a great time to be a vampire. Thanks to the Twilight series in particular, vampire-mania has taken hold recently. There are scores of vampire related films and television shows, and The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to True Blood sets out to catalog them all. The book itself is impressive at nearly 500 pages in length, and featuring over 700 distinct entries, and 800 various photos.

As the title mentions, F.W. Murnau’s silent classic Nosferatu (1922) was the first vampire film. The movie drew on Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula of course, but when star Max Schrek appeared onscreen, audiences were appalled. Over the years filmmakers decided to make their male vampires more attractive to women, which is described in the early “The Male Vampire” chapter.

“The Female Vampire” follows, and shows how much differently vampires of the fairer sex were treated. Although the chapter goes all the way back to the first film to feature a female vampire, Dracula’s Daughter (1936), the main focus is on the more modern treatments of the subject. We begin with the legend of Elisabeth Bathory, as relayed in Countess Dracula (1970). In this and many other B-movies, the female vampire is presented as an object of sexual desire, who will get their victim in the end. Perhaps the tagline to The Velvet Vampire (1971) says it best, “She’s waiting to love you…to death.”

After spending time reviewing the various treatments of vampires in Hollywood’s past, authors Alain Silver and James Ursini move into the (relative) present with “Dracula A.D. 1992,” and “Countess Dracula A.D. 1992.” The references are to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, two films which have had an enormous impact on the genre.

With “The Vampire At The Millenium” the authors bring the genre up to date with the many vampire movies made in the past ten years, especially the Twilight Saga. The book ends with a marvelous Filmography with credits and photos from literally hundreds of vampire movies over the year. The Vampire Film is encyclopedic in scope, and a great companion for thirsty fans of the undead.

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