Eli Roth: History of Horror gives us vampires, sex, blood and rock and roll


Eli Roth and his series History of Horror explores the world of vampires or sex, blood and rock and roll.

Eli Roth on his AMC series History of Horror tackled the myth of vampires in episode 6. This particular horror lore is steeped in mythology and oftentimes serves as an allegory for sex. It is no secret that this particular creature is imbued with charisma.

As with any predatory animal, the vampire’s charm lures his victim in so that he or she can feast on the elixir of life or blood. The very nature of how the dark one must exsanguinate his prey is through penetration.

Once the fangs hit the jugular, it is as if the intended companion “swoons” or is literally in the throes of passion. It is that give or take of bodily fluids that turns an individual into an immortal.

In this episode, we explore all of the vampire mythology from the classic bloodsuckers to the “sparkly” ones.

Classic Bat Men

Horror – Dracula with Gary Oldman and Wynona Ryder – Courtesy of American Zoetrope,Columbia Pictures Corporation,Osiris Films

Of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the first appearance of the horror icon. The original stalker and serial killer, most people can trace their knowledge of the creatures to this book.

Nosferatu is next on the list of classic vamps. Shot in 1922, the film was intended to be a treatise on World War I. Which was represented as being a “cosmic vampire of Europe,” setting a darkness across the countries.

While Nosferatu was depicted as being a bat brought to life, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula is the opposite. He also does not don the teeth in his incarnation of Stoker’s creature.

In the 60’s however, Christopher Lee brought a suaveness to the role and some serious charm. His Hammer films are the beginning of the trend toward the sexy Count. His “turning” episodes immediately feel like a soft-core outing with women unbuttoning their blouses and getting very orgasmic when his fangs pierce their skin.

Lastly, Eli Roth and his team of experts, tackle Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola’s operatic Dracula masterpiece of 1992. My favorite re-telling of Stoker’s novel, Oldman’s Vlad is about love. His aristocrat journeys over the sea and through time to find the reincarnation of his beloved bride.

Coppola’s take on the legend makes him seem more human. This story is heartbreaking.

Blood and Sex

Horror- Blood and Sex- Courtesy of Photo by Warner Bros.-Getty Images – © 2012 Getty Images

The mid 70’s found a decidedly more in tune with the times immortal named Lestat.  Anne Rice’s book, Interview with the Vampire was the first to explore the sexual fluidity of the ancient character. Companions could be of either sex depending upon the whim of the bloodsucker at the time.

It is also not a mistake to think that Lestat, his consort Louis and the child, Claudia who would grow older in mind but never in body are a family unit. At the time that the novel was written, this idea was not commonplace.

True Blood was definitely unafraid to explore the theme of pansexuality. There was even an undercurrent of the show being a metaphor of how to exist within a society that expects you to be one way and you are not. As evidenced when the creatures of the night chose to walk among the humans.

Teenage Rock Gods Will Never Die

Horror- Teenage Rock Gods – Courtesy of © 1987 – Warner Home Video

Joel Schumacher’s 80’s classic, The Lost Boys takes a look at the myth from the point of view of teenagers. It was a perfect rendition of the Stoker story for the MTV generation.

Everything about it was rock star from David and his gang to Star who was almost like a groupie. Kiefer Sutherland was definitely the front man and their attire was straight out of a music video.

From hormonal fueled make out sessions to the Frog Brothers as mini-Rambos this feels like a horror high school complete with a principle figure in Edward Hermann’s lead vampire, Max. There is a focus on blood and the importance of it or lack thereof that can kill. This notion reflected the AIDS crisis of that era.

The Innovators

Horror – The Innovators – Courtesy of Dimension Films,A Band Apart,Los Hooligans Productions

The Quentin Tarantino penned, From Dusk Till Dawn played by its own rules in the vampire subgenre. Taken from a story by Robert Kurtzman (a veteran special FX guru) this particular perspective flipped some established tenets for the immortals.

For example, blood was green to avoid the NC-17 rating. Tarantino knew there would be copious amount of the stuff. His vampires could still be killed with wooden stakes. Victims were lured to their deaths with sex as evidenced with the enticing Salma Hayek as the Vampire Queen, Santanico Pandemonium.

Kurtzman’s creatures were like nothing ever seen in the cinema before. His interpretation of vampires was very bat like. The entire notion that people aren’t what they seem was definitely the subtext.

Let the Right One In is a tale of love. A young vampire who is lonely for companionship meets Oskar, a kindred soul who is consistently the target of bullies.

The two strike up a deep friendship that culminates with Eli saving Oskar at a local pool. She realizes that she is a monster and so does Oskar but he accepts her and does indeed let her in to his life.

Romantic Sparkles

Horror – Romantic Sparkles – Courtesy of Summit Entertainment,Temple Hill Entertainment,Maverick Films

Twilight is not for purists. Edward Cullen is brooding, moody and James Dean sexy. Bella is smitten instantly with him when they lock eyes in the high school cafeteria.

This is definitely the Romeo and Juliet of vampire films which is why it was so successful with teenage girls and women. There is something about star-crossed lovers. The entire notion of “If I lose control, I might kill you,” can be a powerful aphrodisiac because we are always wanting what we can’t have.

Let’s not forget, the story is told through the eyes of Bella and her wants and desires. A nod to the sacred feminine.

A Touch of Evil

Horror- A Touch of Evil – Courtesy of © 2007 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

30 Days of Night, directed by David Slade and produced by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, was a return to the vampire as dark and evil. The story is absolutely terrifying. When a small town in Alaska goes through its annual nighttime rotation, a rogue band of bloodsuckers invades them and starts killing the citizens one by one.

These creatures are like a combination of Nosferatu and demons. They fit the mold of a monster that is meant to be feared rather than one that is misunderstood and only needs to be loved.

For me I definitely agree with Joe Hill’s assessment. “Fangs will be around longer.”

The Verdict

In all honesty, I have never been a classic monster aficionado. I prefer more supernatural and psychological horror films. However, this was a very interesting deep dive into a subgenre that did more than just touch on Bela Lugosi.

What is really enjoyable is analyzing the different films that Roth and his team compiled. When I first saw The Lost Boys in 1987, I wasn’t thinking about any correlation to the AIDS epidemic. In retrospect, I can definitely see that subtext throughout Schumacher’s film.

Roth’s researchers truly picked some stand-out movies that stray a bit from the concept of Dracula living in a dank and dark castle. Even their inclusion of Twilight which prompted Stephen King to declare, “I’m a classicist,” deserves to be mentioned because of the impact that Catherine Hardwicke’s film had on popular culture.

light. Related Story. Eli Roth’s History of Horror explores our fascination with Killer Creatures

Another great episode from this AMC series. If you haven’t seen History of Horror yet, you must remedy that situation. You can catch the show Sundays at midnight on AMC or if you have the Premiere app you can tune in there.

What did you think of the Vampires episode? Share your comments in the section below. We want to hear from you.