Dark Dukes – Celebrating 100 Years of the Vampire Film

Dark Dukes – Celebrating 100 Years of the Vampire Film

By Professor Catherine Spooner, Lancaster University

Catherine Spooner

When the Dukes invited me to help curate a season of vampire films, I was thrilled. Vampire films are one of my favourite film genres. Vampires appear in many forms – from the rat-like creature of Nosferatu to the suave Gary Oldman of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the mysterious chador-wearing, skateboarding woman from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. But across all their transformations, vampires live at the border between life and death and therefore allow us to confront the perplexities of the human condition.

2022 marks a series of vampire anniversaries. The literary works that have most inspired the vampire film, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, are 150 and 125 respectively. But perhaps more significantly, it is the centenary of the vampire film itself – Nosferatu, sometimes described as the first vampire film, was released in 1922. At the time, it was almost destroyed when Bram Stoker’s widow sued for copyright infringement – but with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that it is not merely derivative, but inaugurated a chilling new tradition in its own right.

In collaboration with the BFI, we have put together a vibrant, international and diverse season for you, encompassing European Expressionist classics (Nosferatu and Vampyr), a lavish, star-studded, Oscar-winning spectacular (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), 70s Blaxploitation (Ganja and Hess), feminist Iranian vampire spaghetti western (A Girl Walks Home Alone) and landmark anime (Vampire Hunter D). And if you want to go further in your investigation of the dark side, I’ll be giving a free talk about the history of the vampire film.

And my own recommendation? The Lost Boys, 35 years old this year, made a pin-up of Kiefer Sutherland and has been a major influence on pop culture from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Stranger Things. For a heady hit of 1980s nostalgia, go no further.

What better way to celebrate Hallowe’en than a cinema date with the Undead?

For all listings on Dark Dukes go here