Anne Rice’s Influence on Modern-Day Vampire Media

Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” heralded a new era in vampire literature, giving rise to the enigmatic, alluring figures we adore to read about today.

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Anne Rice image and book cover of Interview with the Vampire

Anne Rice’s works, especially Interview with the Vampire, have had a great influence in reshaping the way we perceive vampires in modern-day literature. From tortured souls to beings that shine under the sun, vampires have become extremely popular in current media and literature. However, the word vampire was not always used to describe the mysterious, sexy, and tormented beings we know today. We owe this portrayal of the modern-day vampire we enjoy watching and reading about to Anne Rice.

The Evolution Of The First Vampires In Novels

Early uses of the word vampire depicted a creature that would suck blood from another being to insert into their own body. Usually, these creatures were specters or demons that possessed the bodies of the dead and attacked the living. This belief was born out of misinformation about corpses whose cause of death was unnatural or to explain epidemics. It wasn’t until later publications such as The Giaour, The Vampyre, and Varney the Vampire that vampires were depicted as humanoid beings aware of their condition and even had some sort of emotion, mostly due to Byronic influence. However, they were still written as monsters fated to a tragic end.

Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare 1781 oil painting

The definitive description of a vampire in modern culture was based on Dracula by Bram Stoker. The depiction of Dracula is a combination of previous literature and old folklore. Dracula, falsely associated with Vlad Drăculea, has supernatural abilities and is afraid of sacred objects, just like in the descriptions of specters or demons that would attack the living. Nevertheless, he is still a monster who has to be killed by a hero in the end. By this time, although we had a clear image of what a vampire was, they still had a negative connotation and were, by no means, objects of sympathy for the public. However, during the second half of the 20th century, we can see a diversification in the tropes and characteristics of vampire literature.

The Humanization of Vampires

Among the exponents of this change was Anne Rice, with her world-famous novel Interview with the Vampire, where she depicts her character Louis as someone who lives tormented by his immortality after being transformed into a vampire and can’t find meaning in his existence. Initially, he attempts to feed solely on animals but fails and becomes overwhelmed with guilt as he sees himself as a monster. Interview with the Vampire was one of the first novels to humanize vampires and portray them as complex beings that ponder good and evil.

Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt playing characters in An Interview with a Vampire

In her following series, The Vampire Chronicles, Rice turns her characters into antiheroes with whom we can sympathize and even root for. This approach changed how the public saw vampires; they were no longer monsters that represented pure evil but rather beings capable of feelings like guilt and love.

When the movie premiered in 1994, it garnered positive reviews from the audience despite the problems it faced, such as Oprah walking out after the first 10 minutes of the movie or Anne Rice’s initial dissatisfaction with the cast. It altered the course of vampire literature and gave leeway to the stories we know today.

Evolution of the Vampire in Modern Culture

 Tortured and misunderstood vampire trope in twilight saga: new moon

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Chronicles have become classics for horror fans and vampire lovers. Both works have changed the course of vampire literature forever, making the image of a tortured and misunderstood vampire a common trope used in modern media, such as Twilight, True Blood, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, and The Vampire Diaries. Anne Rice’s novels will always represent a turning point in horror literature and an updated genre for modern audiences.

Are you interested in reading more about one of the biggest figures in vampire literature? Check out this Bookstr Article.

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