Yet another vampire film opens this Friday: Twilight: New Moon, the second installment of the popular series. Is New Moon simply part of a recent vampire boom, along with True Blood and countless others movies, TV shows, and books? Not quite, say Slate's Christopher Beam and Chris Wilson. In September, the pair discovered that vampires are almost never not in vogue. The original article is reprinted below.
You could be forgiven for thinking we're in the midst of an unprecedented madness for vampires. "True Blood Season Premiere Looking to Capitalize Off of Vampire Craze," headlined the Associated Press in June. "CW joins vampire trend with 'Diaries'," announced the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. The Hartford Courant asks, "Why Vampires Now?"
A better question might be, why vampires ever? Looking back, it's hard to think of a period when we weren't in the middle of a vampire craze. In the late 1970s, Anne Rice started raking in the money with Interview With the Vampire, and movies like Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre and the comedy Love at First Bite were critical hits. Then came The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Innocent Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie), four more Anne Rice books, and Interview With the Vampire (the movie)—which could all be lumped into a rage for vampires that lasted clear through from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. Vampires were back again in the mid-1990s, with Buffy (the TV show), the Blade movies, Southern Vampire Mysteries (the book series), and From Dusk Till Dawn. And now we've arrived at the highly touted mid- to late-2000s vogue of Underworld, Twilight (books and movies), True Blood (based on Southern Vampire Mysteries), and The Vampire Diaries.
So perhaps instead of talking about vampire crazes, we should really be talking about vampire droughts. The brief, anomalous periods when few or perhaps even no vampire movies, books, or TV shows are produced at all. The Garlic Years.
To figure out whether there really have been any vampire-free periods, we dug through online compendiums, from Wikipedia to obsessive fan sites like the Vampire Library, and compiled a list of the most important vampire-related books, films, and TV shows of the last half-century. In total, we included 169 movies, 106 books, and 62 seasons' worth of TV.
It turns out there were indeed a few periods—four, to be precise—where the vampire genre seemed to hit a mini-recession. Here's a rundown of each dry spell and the vampire works that brought the genre back from the dead.
The Garlic Years, 1960-65: Vampires seemed to be enjoying a lot of momentum going into the '60s, after Christopher Lee's classic 1958 portrayal in Horror of Dracula. But that momentum quickly died. The Count wouldn't even make an appearance in the 1960 follow-up Brides of Dracula. There were no notable vampire movies for the next three years—other than the Italian film Black Sabbath,a trio of shorts that included one vampire storyline. Even the exhaustive compendiums of vampire literature list only a handful of obscure books and stories from this period.
… and the resurrection: Lee returned to the cape and fangs for the 1966 sequel Dracula: Prince of Darkness, in which the undead aristocrat is resurrected by his loyal servant Klove. That same year, ABC debuted the spooky soap opera Dark Shadows and quickly brought in a vampire character named Barnabas Collins to boost ratings. After Prince of Darkness, vampires started invading all sorts of genres, from blaxploitation—1972's Blacula—to the TV crime drama Kolchak: The Night Stalker, a short-lived X-Files prototype about a newspaper reporter who investigates supernatural cases. The highlight of this era was inarguably the debut of Count von Count on Sesame Street in 1972.
The Garlic Years, 1975-76: By the middle of the decade, the fad had run out of scream. There were no notable movies in either 1975 or 1976, and Kolchak was canceled after one season when even the lead actor requested a merciful death for the show.