Bela Lugosi’s Dead - The Regeneration of the Celluloid Vampire


Stacey Abbott previews her illustrated lecture at Bo'ness Hippodrome on Thursday 20 May, which explores the evolution of the modern cinematic vampire.

In Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, the eponymous vampire explains to the young solicitor Jonathan Harker that he is planning to move to London because "I long to go through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makes it what it is."

With this declaration, Dracula not only expresses his desire to go to London but to share in the experience of the modern city. This was part of the transition in late 19th Century Gothic literature toward relocating the Gothic from the medieval castles and monasteries of the past to the labyrinthine streets and alleyways of the present.

The above statement also suggests that Stoker sought to both relocate the Gothic tale to a new location and reconfigure it for the modern world. In vampire mythology, this desire is a major indication of how the genre would continue to evolve in the 20th and 21st Century, where the vampire would be increasingly linked with the modern, the technological and the scientific, particularly in the cinema.

The aim of my illustrated lecture is to explore how the modern vampire has not only evolved in cinema but through cinema. What impact has modern media like cinema, and also television, had on the genre?

By looking at a range of extracts from a selection of films, including Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931), George Romero’s Martin (1977), Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987), Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys (1987), Stephen Norrington’s Blade (1998), and Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight (2008), this presentation will explore how generic conventions from castles and graveyards, garlic and wooden stakes have evolved into modern cities, high rise apartments (or glass houses in the woods), silver swords and ultraviolet light.

I'll investigate how the genre has broken from its European origins and been increasingly Americanised through cinema and television and how the vampire has evolved from a monster to a sympathetic hero.

The vampire is more popular today then ever before and this presentation will aim to illuminate how the celluloid vampire continues to regenerate to meet the needs and desires of a each new generation.

Stacey Abbott's talk takes place at the Bo'ness Hippodrome on Thursday 20 May, 7.30pm. Tickets are £5.25 (£4 concession) and can be booked in advance from the Hippodrome Box Office or the Steeple Box Office on 01324 506850.

About Stacey Abbott

Stacey Abbott is Reader in Film and TV at Roehampton University. She is the author of ‘Celluloid Vampires’ (2007), editor of ‘Reading Angel’ and co-editor of ‘Investigating Alias’.

She researches developments within the horror genre, with a particular focus upon the vampire film. She is also actively researching developments within American Quality Television and Cult Television, by looking at Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias, Firefly, Lost and Battlestar Galactica and she is the Series Editor for I.B. Tauris' Investigating Cult TV series of publications.