Vampire films have been a cult phenomenon ever since the very first one came out. ‘Nosferatu’, directed by F. W. Murnau, and released in 1922.
The film was an unauthorised adaptation of ‘Dracula’, and told the story of Thomas Hutter’s travels to Transylvania – Where he met the dangerous Count Orlok. It’s still looked upon as one of the best silent horrors in film history and has notoriously influenced the genre itself.
Since then, most vampire films and series have lost its horror component and have been transformed by infamously good film directors such as Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clementinto into more digestible romantic and humours films- ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ is the perfect example of that.
With films such as ’Dracula’ 1931, ‘Bram Stoker’s’ 1992 and even ‘Van Helsing’ 2004, starting to portray vampires in a more sensual and attractive way, the craze and commercialization started.
Vampires are now in teen romances (The Twilight saga, 2008-2012) and in children’s movies (Hotel Transylvania, 2012); so, it’s almost unavoidable and expected that some individuals would want to become a part of subcultures that explore the notion of vampirism.
There are hundreds of Facebook pages worldwide, devoted to people who are arduous fans of vampire cult films, and to individuals who believe that they themselves are vampires.
I spoke to Erin Chapman, Operations Co-Ordinator for the Vampire Studies Association and Co-Administrator for Vamped, about what it meant to be a vampire nowadays.
Chapman is also an administrator of the Facebook group ‘Vampire Community’, and having assembled a whopping 5,000 members, her word brings great insight into this subculture:
“Our group Vampire Fans is more for pop-culture related topics such as films, books, reviews, and current events. The group Vampire Community deals more with members of the online vampire community.”
“This group provides a safe place for people to discuss and get educated if need be. You have to understand the community is made up of different types of people. Some people are more role players and enjoy dressing and acting like vampires as portrayed in the media. Some people simply drink blood as a fetish.”
“Other people are “Sanguinarians”, who drink human or animal blood for health benefits; We are fortunate to have some very knowledgeable admins and group members in this group that are always willing to educate people on the safety practices when drinking blood.”
Chapman doesn’t identify as a “Sanguinarian” herself, and even stated that meat is barely a part of her diet; she chose to join and administrate these groups purely due to her passion for writing and reading horror/vampy novels.
“About 8 years ago, I started writing my own vampire novel, just to see if I could. I finished it and then wanted to join some Facebook groups to help promote it when I eventually published it. I joined a group called ‘The Vampirologist’ and this is where I met my colleague, Anthony Hogg, Vamped’s editor-in-chief and the president of the Vampire Studies Association.”
“We hit it off as friends and later in 2014 started Vamped together. Having never written articles before, Anthony showed me the ropes and we have been publishing ever since. Last year, I independently launched my own site Morbid Planet, that deals with not only vampires but the horror genre as well.”
There are communities and online platforms that allow these fans and “vampires” to safely and anonymously communicate with each other – But living as a “Sanguinarian” out in the public, can bring terrible consequences.
I first became aware of Aro Draven in an old episode of the American TV series ‘Forbidden History’, in that episode Draven and his ex-partner Lia Benninghoff showcased their lifestyle as two British vampires.
The episode came out in February 2016, and the outcome had a catastrophic impact on Draven’s life- his relationship came to an end due to all the online hate and he also became homeless soon after that.
This not only highlights how brutally society continues to neglect those who do not conform into what is considered “normal”; but also, that British, as well as American TV channels do very little to ensure people stay safe and supported after being in their shows. This is what Aro Draven had to say:
“That video you saw caused the loss of my relationship, as well as me being seriously assaulted. We had death threats from the public. I am currently street homeless, and so are my two younger sisters.”
“The original Video/ article ended up in The Sun, The Star, Daily mail, in magazines all over the world; we were even invited onto This Morning and Jeremy Kyle. We received zero of what we were promised. I don’t trust journalists after last time”.
There are in fact “Vampires” living in the UK, but we’re best being left vaguely unaware of who they are, and what it is that some really do in the shadows. More so for their own safety.
Words: Sofia Mendes
Images: Stephany Lorena on Unsplash, Stock Images, Fandom