This is probably the worst documentary on the vampire in popular culture that I've ever seen...and I've seen a few, in my time.
That it's superficial and populist is, perhaps, excusable - it was produced for broadcast on BBC3, where 'I Believe In Ghosts...with Joe Swash' is considered cutting-edge factual broadcasting. That is was poorly researched and executed is not.
For a 'Historian', someone presumably trained to collate and present facts in a concise and accessible manner, the presenter, Lisa Hilton - whose pouting, stilted delivery and constantly wobbling head reminded me of nothing so much as Lady Penelope from the 'Thunderbirds' puppet show - was only marginally more competent than the aforementioned young Master Swash. She declared her intention to take us 'on a journey', which is rarely a good sign. Fool that I am, I went on that journey, and discovered very quickly that map-reading wasn't her strong point.
'Dracula', she confidently stated, was where it all first began - the first pop-culture vampire. Actually, Lady P, it wasn't: Polydori's 'The Vampyre' - a huge literary and theatrical sensation throughout Europe, and the first suave, courtly, seductive vamp (Lord Ruthven being the single largest influence evident in Stoker's characterization of his villain, described elsewhere by Christopher Frayling as "the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre.") was - 79 tears before the publication of 'Dracula' (1898) Anne Rice's homo-erotic 'Vampire Chronicles', she claimed, were a radical departure from the normal representation of vamps in cinema and literature. Really? Sheridan Le Fanu's superb 'Carmilla' was far less coy in it's use of sexual metaphor a century before 'Interview With The Vampire' (1973), and it's sexual-outsider metaphor was only marginally watered down in Hammer's film adaptation 'The Vampire Lovers' (1970). And if we're looking for an earlier example we need look no further than the nature-or-nurture theme articulated in 'Dracula's Daughter' (1931). Hardly obscure material, hugely influential in the development of the mythologies and representations of the vamp in popular culture - and shameful omissions from the work of a professional historian.
As to her bobble-headed wittering about the 'recent' trend for the romantic, conflicted vampire struggling against their natures. Nothing new 'Carmilla' is hugely sympathetic to it's predatorial anti-hero - whose interest in her prey is largely romantic. Hell, even the hugely popular part-work 'Varney The Vampyre (1845-46) was playing around with those ideas.
This was tripe. It, like the characters it falsely claims to understand, sucked.
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