Supernatural Themed Films & TV Shows

Since (and probably before) Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, we have always been fascinated with the supernatural. But who would have guessed that a book first published in 1897, based on a real person: Vlad Tepes III aka Vlad the Impaler, who lived back in the 15th Century, would have spawned such a huge range of other stories, all devoted to the undead, even the lycanthrope, two hundred years after Dracula was first published?

(Quick note - in the TV series Da Vinci's Demons, the character of Vlad is actually used in one episode, correctly portrayed as the ruler of Wallachia. Funnily enough, the actor who portrays him is Paul Rhys, who had a small recurring role in some episodes of a TV series: Being Human. More on that later)

Not me.

Now, staying with the undead to begin with, at one at the scale, (staying with the best known for now) we have the Twilight Series.
This end of the scale, named the G rated area, we have the vampires that "sparkle" in the sun instead of burn and have the usual speed and strength, restricted diet of O negative (kidding!) the "good guys" are feeding on the local wildlife, (their eyes are a nice golden colour) while the "bad guys" feed off defenceless humans. And have red eyes. Doesn't change, unless the diet does.

To add to this, a lot of the vampires have extra abilities, (one each, for some - not all) mind reading, omniscience, mood reading and causing a lot of pain. They are also immune to the usual stakes, their bodies are too strong to be that scared of a bit of wood.
To be turned, they are bitten by a vampire. Easy.
Just very painful, the venom feels like triple strength acid.

But keeping with vampire canon, they are immortal. (For the purpose of this article, immortal are ones who live forever and do not change their physical appearance in the slightest) We've named this the G rated area, because not only do they not have fangs, and after the "newborn" period, its not much of a challenge to keep their humanity and despite all the conflicts that the characters face, it all ends happily - spoilers, sorry, all is resolved in the four books. Which, not surprisingly, have been adapted into five films, the last book was split into two for monetary purposes only.

At the PG part of the scale, there is the short lived TV series Moonlight. It only went for sixteen episodes. Alex O'Loughlin was portraying a vampire, working as a Private Detective in modern LA. He was also restricted to blood, when you meet him he gets his from blood bags from the hospital, silver is a problem when confronted with it, as is fire and stakes will completely paralyse a vampire, but all is well when the huge splinter is removed. The usual here, immortal, fast, strong and heal from all injuries. And their eyes go ice blue when feeding and fangs come out too.

Way, way, way, at the other end of the scale, named the MA area, or AV, we have the True Blood series, and Being Human (the UK version).

Starting with True Blood, (based on the novels by Charlaine Harris) these vampires burn in the sun, their source of nutrition comes from humans, but using the title, they have recently "come out of the coffin" with the invention of synthesised human blood, bottled and mass produced. Which should be nice for the human population, but of course, nothing is that simple. They are also very strong and very fast, (fangs will appear on command) a couple can fly, they can also "glamour" humans - basically hypnotise them into doing whatever they want or to erase someone's memory and of course, immortal.

They are sensitive to silver, it burns them, stakes kill them (and when they snuff it, they explode into a pool of blood) and it seems even a chopstick does the trick.
They have to be invited into a human home, but to be fair, they can be "uninvited". Very useful. Vampire blood is also useful for humans, it can heal any injury but the side effects are a bit, iffy.

To be turned, its a matter of draining someone of blood, and feeding them vampire blood, buried together and voila - new vampire.
As far as humanity goes in this one, they have "impulses" to be extremely violent and the older are more in control and able to restrain themselves, but most don't bother. One of the main characters, Bill Compton, starts in the series as a "mainstreamer", which is a term used to describe someone drinking only "True Blood" and blending in as best he can in human society.
And there are vampires who live in a "nest" - way at the other end of this scale, who have no humanity basically, they live for the blood, the sex and the cruelty, nothing else. The other (vampire) main characters fluctuate in the middle of this scale throughout the series. The fact that the whole series is always at the extremes, says a lot about how bad nest vampires are.

Now with Being Human, there are few bits of vampire canon, some were eased up for the sake of the budget. These vampires don't have a reflection, but do not burn in the sun (but most wear sunglasses when out and about), but then this show is set in Bristol. How much sun do you think they would have to deal with?

They also have to be invited into a human home, but the invitation cannot be rescinded. They share a turning similarity with the True Blood vampires, just no burying this time.
Also, cannot be seen on (CCTV) cameras. Very useful. And amusing, when it turns out the main vampire character, Mitchell, had a small role in Casablanca: "I knocked over a chair". You can't seem him, just the chair.
These vampires are immortal too, they have fangs that appear, also their eyes go completely black if need be, but feeding on human blood is something that Mitchell actively avoids. His compatriots don't and are mostly confused by his being "on the wagon". His food of choice is pizza. It is a continuous battle for him to keep his humanity, second by second and drinking human blood is something that makes it very difficult for him. Stakes are what kill a vampire here too, not every time though.

Somewhere in the middle of the scale, closer to the MA area, we have The Vampire Diaries. Also based on a book series, these vampires do have a reflection, fangs that come out, also eyes that go red and the veins around the eyes go red too, and also burn in the sun. But the majority have a "daylight ring", which protects them from this minor nuisance.

Of course, immortal, very fast and strong and with the added bonus of being able to "compel" humans. Much like the "glamour" that goes on in True Blood.

Their diet is the normal, blood, but they can also eat food as well, and numerous quantities of strong alcohol. "Helps with the (blood) cravings" - apparently.

The main weakness is vervain, a herb that can be sprayed through the ventilation, its essentially poison to them but being injected with the stuff is also a useful sedative, but its limited. Thrown in the face, its acts like acid, but again, doesn't last long. Humans (vampires try this too) ingesting or even wearing vervain acts as a barrier against being compelled, which is a nice thing, ingesting the stuff also helps defend against being drunk for the blood.

 Wooden bullets, are used, as a weapon but again, aiming for the heart is what does it.
Snapping the neck is also a sedative, but again, doesn't last long.

Lack of blood for extended periods of time, makes them weak and for a very long time, they mummify and go into a deep sleep. All grey and disgusting, same thing happens if they get staked, but they only die properly, if the stake goes in the heart. If not, pull it out and and the undead live to fight another day.
Like Being Human, invitation is required for a human home and cannot be rescinded. Something that causes quite a few problems throughout the show.

What is intriguing, the way of being turned, is first drinking, or injecting vampire blood, (like True Blood, it can heal any injury or illness - no side effects here though) dying (in some typically human way), but being sure the blood is still in the system, (if not, no turning) coming back and completing the process by drinking human blood. If the last step is skipped, the person dies. No coming back.

With the humanity, these vampires have a choice. They can keep it, or they can turn it off. No emotions at all. "Flip the switch". And they can flip it back, but after a while of being a complete douche, the question is a sticky one, would you want to feel all that guilt, sadness, etc? A big question that reigns supreme in this series. Which is what makes it interesting for me, the usual very straight lines of just who are the good guys and who are the bad guys blur every which way and so you are left questioning everything, which makes a change from having it spoon fed.
!SPOILERS!
There are other vampires though, the Originals. Made vampire by their witch of a mother (literally), they can compel other vampires, but can't be compelled themselves. And the only thing that can end their lives, is white oak stakes. Nothing else.

In the movies, there was the first Dracula film, its hilarious parody Dracula Dead and Loving It from Mel Brooks, the nineties classic, Interview with a Vampire, based on the books by Anne Rice and directed by Neil Jordan. And of course Underworld, for the cold blue tinted look at vampires. Mostly British cast but in the same vein (pun intended) as the Resident Evil franchise.
A lot of guns are fired.
Especially the last one: Underworld Awakened, where Charles Dance had a small role, with fellow Brit, Stephen Rea, who was also in Interview with a Vampire.

There is also the new release Byzantium, (British made film and directed by Mr Jordan) which heavily restricts the highs of the usual vampire. No apparent extra abilities at all, no strength, speed, anything. No changes to physical appearance, except when feeding, a fingernail becomes a lot bigger than usual to get to the blood, and yes - immortality. And an aversion to sunlight, but no burning this time.

What is intriguing with this one, is the mother daughter dynamics that are explored, Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan respectively, but it at times the relationship is reversed and upside down, and you wonder who is taking care of whom. Definitely at the MA end of the scale and the way of turning is more original than most, so I won't reveal it here.

Now, its not just the undead who are currently ruling in the world of entertainment. The lycanthrope is also making huge claw marks (had to be done) in TV shows. Most in the ones already mentioned. Like their vampire buddies, they are also on the G - MA scale.
Predictably, the werewolves in Twilight belong in G. They are huge (polar bear size - bigger), wolves, essentially when they shift, and they can shift back, any time they feel the urge. Or to be specific - really pissed off. Its triggered by having a vampire population in the neighbourhood and being part of the families who had it way back when the vampires first migrating.

The werewolves in True Blood just shift to normal sized wolves, but they are just as much a threat to vampires, being just as fast and able to fight them, much stronger if they've had vampire blood. It has to be the gene as well, and like their Twilight second cousins, can shift back and forth at will. But a lot of them shifting, the energy that produces, that can trigger shifting as well. The werewolves in Underworld are essentially wolves standing up, turned by a bite, which could be fatal, silver bullets are a pain, but can be dug out.

With The Vampire Diaries, werewolves are born, not made, and the trigger is killing someone else. They turn on the full moon, but like True Blood, just to normal sized wolves. Their bite kills vampires.

In Being Human, the werewolves are well and truly at the MA end of the scale. To be triggered, you have to bitten by another werewolf, and they only change at the full moon.
Thankfully. They turn back in the morning.
There is no control here, and what you change into is simply a very scary monster, no fluffy fur, just sharp fangs and claws and something that just wants to attack whatever is closest.

With Teen Wolf, they also have to be bitten, (or be born one) by an alpha and there is no guarantee that the bite will actually change them, there is also a chance it will kill them. Control is something a new werewolf has to learn, which takes time. They shift, but its more fangs, claws and extra hair on the head. Nothing more. They can be very fast, extra reflexes, way better sight and hearing, but yes, there are weak spots. Flickering lights, wolfsbane, arrows, bullets laced with wolfsbane.
Did I mention the hunters? Yep, people who don't like the furry friends and want them all to be pushing up daisies. And they are heavily armed.
Makes a bit of conflict for the show, but its not just that, it changes and the idea of who is good or evil is explored here too.

The trend of these supernaturally themed TV shows and films is is no danger of being any less popular. Teen Wolf is going strong with its newly released second half of season three. True Blood has its seventh (and last) season being released later in the year. The Vampire Diaries is still going, fifth season, and its spin off, The Originals is still going with no danger of being ended as yet.

Upcoming vampire themed film, Vampire Academy, also based on a book series, is to be released in March in Australia. I have read the first book (one was plenty, got bored after finishing), but the cast is promising. Olga Kurylenko, Joely Richardson, Gabriel Byrne and Claire Foy are the only well known, the rest (including the main characters) are unknowns. Aside from Sarah Hyland, best known from the TV show Modern Family.

Another similarly themed film, Only Lovers Left Alive is set for release this year. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton portray a vampire couple, Adam and Eve, with Mia Wasikowska as Eve's sister. According to IMdb, its set for release this year, the 17th of April, a week after the US.

The Radleys, also a book first, is apparently in the process of being "optioned" as a film, with Alfonso Cuaron listed as the main producer.
This book I would really love to be adapted into a film. Its an excellent story, set in a small English village of Bishopthorpe (real place). Personally, I would be all for Ian Somerhalder to be cast as the character of Will Radley, but maybe not. Might not want to be typecast. Even so, I can still imagine him so clearly saying those lines in the book, its uncanny.
Fingers crossed that this film is shifted to the status of being in production very soon.

Comments

  1. This quote comes from a supernatural themed film (adapted from a book) that I did not reference, as the focus is not on them.
    And I had plenty to write about already.

    “Simon Lewis: The werewolves are here to save us. Never thought I'd say that.”

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