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Into the darkness: a brief history of the vampire


Into the darkness: a brief history of the vampire

Into the darkness: a brief history of the vampire

With vampire-themed blockbuster slot Immortal Romance II proving a smash hit on 32Red right now, ever had a hankering to learn more about these undead upstarts?

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Whether you know your Nosferatu from your Lestat de Lioncourt or don’t understand diddly-squat about Dracula, this light-hearted guide to the world of demonic creatures who feast on human blood will get you up to speed.

Wan, elegant antiheroes? Jumped-up mosquitos in human form? Whatever your take on these daylight-dodging monstrosities, join us on a journey into the dark heart of vampiredom.

Vampire basics – raising the stakes

You’ve probably got a basic understanding of the vampire. They sleep in coffins. They only venture out at night, since sunlight is fatal to them. And they need human blood to survive.

Wave a crucifix in a vampire’s face and odds are he’ll take a step back, hissing theatrically. Throw holy water on one of those bloodsucking creeps and it’ll burn like acid. Heck, according to some legends, vampires even get a little skittish if you happen to have some garlic.

If you really want to see a vampire off though, you need to hit him where he lives. Infiltrate his disgusting lair, find him while he’s catching some shut-eye, and ram a stake through his heart. It’s the time-honoured method of vampire dispatch; if it was good enough for Van Helsing it’s good enough for us.

In any case, and not to shatter any illusions, but vampires aren’t real. There is, however, an actual vampire bat; this species of bat exists in central and south American countries, and lives on the blood of other animals. Charming.

If that’s not enough to give you the heebie-jeebies, vampire bats have even been known to gorge themselves on the blood of sleeping humans. And you thought mosquitoes were annoying.

The vampire as a historical phenomenon

There have also been some historical figures whose behaviour has contributed to the mythology of the vampire; notably, Vlad the Impaler, a 15th century dictator in the east European land of Wallachia (now Romania) – also known as Vlad Dracula.

As his name implies, Vlad wasn’t the most merciful of rulers; impaling people speaks for itself. Among the hundreds he is reputed to have slain, he supposedly put a couple of monks on spikes in order to “help them reach heaven”. Very thoughtful.

On another occasion, when Turkish messengers refused to remove their turbans on meeting him, Vlad ordered the headgear to be nailed onto their heads as punishment. Seems a bit much.

While tales of Vlad’s depravities may have been exaggerated over the years, this monstrous figure’s horrible cruelty has undoubtedly had some influence on the myth of the vampire.

Bram Stoker was presumably at least partially inspired by Vlad when he wrote his novel Dracula in 1897; describing the peculiar exploits of a pallid Transylvanian count, this novel is one of the oldest and most famous tales of vampires, even if Stoker didn’t invent the concept.

The vampire in modern culture

Stoker’s aristocratic bloodsucker is still the best known of vampires. Yet he’s just one of an army of nocturnal nitwits that have contributed to the myth of the nightwalkers.

So ubiquitous is the vamp in popular culture, he’s appeared in cartoons and kids’ TV shows, Marvel comics and films plus a huge array of movies, TV shows and novels, ranging from the trashy to the genuinely unsettling.

Staring all the way back in the 1950s and on through the 70s, Christopher Lee hammed it up as the terrible count in several not especially fondly remembered schlock horror flicks.

But there was also room for more contemporary takes on the vampire lifestyle. Stephen King is one of the most popular writers of the last 50 years; in Salem’s Lot, one of his earliest works, King transplanted the vampire into the late 20th century.

The despicable creatures run amok in small town USA to chilling effect; the book was popular enough to spawn a fondly remembered TV mini-series in the late 70s, with David Soul and an admirably committed James Mason in the cast.

The 80s saw The Lost Boys mixing comedy with drama to entertaining effect. Vampires are reimagined as Californian hipsters, sleeping all day, partying all the night, as the tagline puts it.

Frankly, we haven’t seen it since it came out, so maybe it hasn’t aged all that well. Still, Kieffer Sutherland as a vampire, plus Corey Haim and Corey Feldman in the same film? That’s the 80s in a nutshell right there my friends.

Coppola’s Dracula was a huge hit

A few years later there was Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula with Gary Oldman playing the title character, as Winona Ryder’s Mina Murray and Keanu Reeves’ Jonathan Harker faced off against the archetypal vamp.

Forget the snide jibes about Keanu’s performance; just embrace what’s a singular take on this well-worn tale of vampire amour, from the award-winning director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.

Beyond Dracula, there were other 90s vampire tales that proved massively popular; Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt would play deathless bloodsuckers in Interview with a Vampire. Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a smash hit TV show, too.

And in the 21st century, the popularity of the vampire has continued. Television shows like True Blood and movies like Let The Right One In and the Twilight series have added to the vampire canon. For more comedic vampire fare, check out the preposterous Matt Berry in What We Do In The Shadows.

The future for vampires?

While Immortal Romance II has quickly proved to be hugely popular amongst slots fans, there’s plenty more vampire-themed content heading our way in the foreseeable future.

Marvel’s reboot of Blade hits cinemas in 2025; based on a comic book, in the original 1998 film Wesley Snipes played a part-human, part-vampire action hero with some memorable one-liners.

Can True Detective’s Mahershala Ali make this vampire hunter his own? Or will he simply prove once and for all that some mother-effers are always trying to ice-skate uphill? Either way, we’re here for it.

Otherwise, Kristen Stewart, she of Twilight fame, is reportedly returning to the theme of vampirism for her next film. In Flesh of the Gods, Kristen will star alongside Oscar Isaac, while the writer is Andrew Kevin Walker; the guy who scripted ultra-disturbing serial killer movie Seven.

The film reportedly takes place in 1980s Los Angeles, where Kristen and Oscar’s married couple start spending time with a mysterious group of hedonistic types who SPOILER ALERT are probably vampires. Sticking my neck out with that prediction, I know.

Plenty more vampire content in the pipeline, then. Who knows, somewhere down the line there might even be another Immortal Romance slot to enjoy. For now, Immortal Romance II is definitely worth a look if you haven’t already checked it out…

Immortal Romance II is out now exclusively on 32Red, weeks ahead of its general release elsewhere. Visit 32Red Casino to check out a wide range of table games and slots!

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