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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The good, the bad, the thirsty : de-mystification in the postmodern vampire film Hughes, Jessica Anne


The predominance of romance, exoticism and mystical powers of the supernatural embodied onscreen by the character of the vampire has created both allure and apathy in viewers. While vampires have been portrayed in a large number of films since the early days of cinema, there has recently been a considerable modification in their depiction. Rather than the demons of Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922) and various other Dracula adaptations, or the romantic figures of Interview with the Vampire (Jordan, 1994), Twilight (Hardwicke, 2008), and even the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (Whedon, 1997-2003), a selection of contemporary vampires are informed by a postmodern reconfiguration of the monster. This thesis examines the global and hybrid nature of these films by establishing a select group based on the character of the postmodern vampire. These postmodern vampires are sympathetic and de-mystified, exhibiting symptoms stemming from a natural illness or misfortune. Over the course of this thesis, both narrative and stylistic patterns emerge, emphasizing the way these films stray from pre-established conventions of vampire films. This thesis first investigates onscreen portrayals of sympathetic female vampires through recurring depictions of melancholy and isolation in The Addiction (Ferrara, 1995), Let The Right One In (Alfredson, 2008), and Trouble Every Day (Denis, 2001), followed by the placement of South Korean film Thirst (2009) within Park Chan-wook’s oeuvre as a filmmaker notorious for graphic depictions of violence and revenge, and finally the sociopolitical context of Hong Kong film Mr. Vampire (Lau, 1985), which reflects the growing tension of the state in the years leading up to its 1997 return to China. The portrayal of the vampire as a sympathetic figure allows for a shift away from the conventional focus on myth and the exotic, toward a renewed construction of the vampire in terms of its contribution to generic hybridization and cultural adaptation.

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