When did the undead become so popular? Vampires used to lurk on the fringes of pop culture: but these days they are heroes, heartthrobs, and the family next door.
The 2010 New Yorker Festival convened a panel to discuss this "vampire revival"—including such entertainment phenomena as the “Twilight” series, the TV show “True Blood” (based on Charlaine Harris' bestselling Sookie Stackhouse books) and Stephen King’s comic book series, “American Vampire,” with experts on horror who are on speaking terms with the undead.
New Yorker staff writer Joan Acocella moderated the panel, which included Stephen King; Matt Reeves, who directed
Let Me In; Melissa Rosenberg, Twilight screenplay writer; and author and philosopher Noel Carroll.
The panelists discussed why we would pay good money to be scared; the first movie that scared the panelists and the new role of the vampire as a hero. Melissa Rosenberg talked about what she changed when she wrote the screenplays for the Twilight series. And Joan Acocella referred to Edward as a “very serious dreamboat.”
Melissa Rosenberg, screenwriter for "Twilight," on the appeal of the series: "What makes him so sexy is that on some level it’s actually very safe because of his own [Edward’s] morality. Both of them [Edward and Jacob] have the balance of danger and safety which allows young audiences, particularly female audiences, to give themselves over to this attraction. When you are safe you can surrender totally."
Matt Reeves, director of Let Me In, on the connection between coming of age and becoming a vampire: "This is the time of your life when your darker impulses are starting to be formed. Even the idea of vampire-ism and losing control of your body is almost like the cusp of adolescence when your body threatens to lose control: the idea of breaking out; new teeth coming out... thought that was fascinating."
Novelist Stephen King on what really scares Stephen King: "The first time I got scared, had nothing to do with vampires—it was when the woods caught on fire in "Bambi." So the Disney Pictures are scary as shit."