Not a significant number of these films have been made, as most Hollywood and other genre westerns are usually located in more familiar regions of the United States, particularly the former frontier territories of " the West ". A series of novels about Florida in the 19th century and their Florida cracker characters have been called Cracker Westerns. This novel follows the fictional adventures of backwoodsmen, outlaws, and rebels in the era of the First Seminole War.
It was during the s that most of these films were produced and many included a fictional and stereotypical portrayal of the real life Seminole leader, Osceola , who resisted American expansion into Florida during the late s. The film Distant Drums , which was one of the earliest Florida Westerns made, even changed his name to Oscala and portrayed him as a malevolent savage, filled with a constant blood lust who fed living prisoners to alligators.
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One of the advantages of these types of films, however, was that the producers often used the Florida Everglades as a backdrop. Now a contemporary audience has the benefit of glimpsing this wilderness in its mid 20th century form. The producers of Distant Drums even used the historic Castillo de San Marcos fort as a backdrop for the story.
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It was depicted as a fictitious stronghold for Spanish gunrunners selling armaments to the Seminole on the west coast of Florida, although it is actually located on the east coast. Running a distant second are adaptations of " Carmilla " by Sheridan Le Fanu. By , Dracula had been the subject of more films than any other fictional character, save for Sherlock Holmes.
As folklore, vampires are defined by their need to feed on blood and on their manipulative nature; this theme has been held in common throughout the many adaptations.
Early cinematic vampires in other such films as The Vampire , directed by Robert G. Vignola , were not undead bloodsucking fiends, but ' vamps '. Such femme fatales were inspired by a poem by Rudyard Kipling called "The Vampire", composed in This poem was written as kind of commentary on a painting of a female vampire by Philip Burne-Jones exhibited in the same year. Lyrics from Kipling's poem: A fool there was An authentic supernatural vampire features in the landmark Nosferatu Germany, directed by F. Murnau starring Max Schreck as the hideous Count Orlok.
This was an unlicensed version of Bram Stoker 's Dracula , based so closely on the novel that the estate sued and won, with all copies ordered to be destroyed. It would be painstakingly restored in by a team of European scholars from the five surviving prints that had escaped destruction. The destruction of the vampire, in the closing sequence of the film, by sunlight rather than the traditional stake through the heart proved very influential on later films and became an accepted part of vampire lore.
The next classic treatment of the vampire legend was an adaptation of the stage play based on Stoker 's novel Dracula , Universal 's Dracula starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. Lugosi's performance was so popular that his Hungarian accent and sweeping gestures became characteristics now commonly associated with Dracula.
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Despite his apparent death in the film, the Count returned to life in three more Universal films of the mids: House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula —both starring John Carradine —and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein While Lugosi had played a vampire in two other films during the s and s, it was only in this final film that he played Count Dracula on-screen for the second and last time. A transition between the Universal tradition and the later Hammer style is exemplified by the Mexican film El Vampiro that showed the vampire's fangs Universal did not.
Dracula was reincarnated for a new generation in the Hammer Films series starring Christopher Lee as the Count. In the first of these films Dracula the spectacular death of the title character through being exposed to the sun reinforced this part of vampire lore, first established in Nosferatu , and made it virtually axiomatic in succeeding films. A more faithful adaptation of Stoker's novel appeared as Dracula , directed by Francis Ford Coppola , though also identifying Count Dracula with the notorious medieval Balkan ruler Vlad the Impaler.
A distinct subgenre of vampire films, ultimately inspired by Le Fanu's "Carmilla" explored the topic of the lesbian vampire. More explicit lesbian content was provided in Hammer 's Karnstein Trilogy.
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The first of these, The Vampire Lovers , starring Ingrid Pitt and Madeline Smith , was a relatively straightforward re-telling of LeFanu's novella, but with more overt violence and sexuality. Later films in this subgenre such as Vampyres became even more explicit in their depiction of sex, nudity and violence. Beginning with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein the vampire has often been the subject of comedy. Another development in some vampire films has been a change from supernatural horror to science fictional explanations of vampirism.
They explain the condition as having a natural cause. Vampirism is explained as a kind of virus in David Cronenberg 's Rabid and Red-Blooded American Girl directed by David Blyth, as well as in the Blade trilogy to a limited extent. Race has been another theme, as exemplified by the blaxploitation picture Blacula and its sequel Scream Blacula Scream.
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Christopher Lee , Delphine Seyrig , Frank Langella and Lauren Hutton are just a few examples of actors who brought great sex appeal into their portrayal of the vampire. Latterly, the implicit sexual themes of vampire film have become much more overt, culminating in such films as Gayracula and The Vampire of Budapest , two pornographic all-male vampire films, and Lust for Dracula , a softcore pornography all- lesbian adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic. There is, however, a very small subgenre, pioneered in Murnau's seminal Nosferatu in which the portrayal of the vampire is similar to the hideous creature of European folklore.
In Shadow of the Vampire Dafoe's character is the ugly, disgusting creature of the original Nosferatu. Stephen King 's Salem's Lot notably depicts vampires as terrifying, simple-minded creatures, without eroticism, and with the only desire to feed on the blood of others.
The main vampire in the Subspecies films, Radu, also exhibits similar aesthetic influences, such as long fingers and nails and generally grotesque facial features. This type of vampire is also featured in the film 30 Days of Night. A major character in most vampire films is the vampire hunter , of which Stoker's Abraham Van Helsing is a prototype. However, killing vampires has changed. By far, the most well-known and popular vampire in the films is Count Dracula.