The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to True Blood (Fourth Edition)
by Alain Silver and James Ursini
Reviewed by Jason Coffman
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The first edition of Alain Silver and James Ursini’s The Vampire Film was originally released in 1976, and the duo have returned to the text over the years to keep it updated and relevant. The new fourth edition is quite an update, covering vampires in film up to 2010— the previous edition was published in 1993. Since the time of the last edition, vampires in film have exploded in popularity and as a result, The Vampire Film was in dire need of a serious update, one which it has certainly received in the Fourth Edition. This is still unquestionably the ultimate guide to vampires in cinema.
First, the book has grown from 342 pages in the Third Edition to 488 pages in the Fourth Edition. A large part of this growth is in the book’s comprehensive listing of vampire films in the appendix, which the authors note has more than doubled since the previous edition. The book is copiously illustrated, with screen captures, posters, promotional art, or set photos from countless vampire films over the ages, including a few sections of illustrations devoted to one particular subgenre (such as lesbian vampires) or themes (lady vampires with swords, for example). There are a number of full-page illustrations as well, which almost make The Vampire Film seem like a casual coffee-table book.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Silver and Ursini write in-depth about a vast number of vampire films from big-studio blockbusters and classics (Dracula, Interview with the Vampire) to extremely obscure no-budget shot-on-video features (such as the Red Lips and Addicted to Murder series) and virtually everything in between. There are examinations of vampire softcore/horror hybrids, vampire horror films from around the world, and spotlights on influential filmmakers and trends. The sub-chapters on Mario Bava and Guillermo Del Toro are well-researched and informative, and like the rest of the book are also very entertaining.
If The Vampire Film has any flaw worth noting, it would be that this edition features some typographical and grammatical errors and that (rather inexplicably) the sub-chapter on True Blood is actually written by someone else entirely. Linda Brookover is a writer whose work has appeared in previous anthologies of writing edited by Silver and Ursini, although why they would enlist her to write about True Blood instead of writing it themselves— as they did everything else in the entire book— is a bit of a head-scratcher. Still, despite these minor nitpicks, The Vampire Film is inarguably the ultimate reference and guide to all things Vampire in cinema from the Silent Era to modern day, and should be considered required reading for any student or hardcore fan of horror cinema.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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