In the same week that the great vampire author Anne Rice died at age 80, along comes a new vampire drama imported from Australia and premiering Thursday on AMC+.
The new drama is called “Firebite,” and its intriguing premise has vampire hunters plying their trade in a remote aboriginal community far off the beaten path in the hardscrabble Australian outback.
The show is one example (of many) of the changes Rice wrought in the world’s perceptions about these legendary immortals who sustain themselves on blood.
This food source is usually human, but in many cases since Anne Rice broke the vampire mold with “Interview With a Vampire” and its sequel novels, some vampires will settle for dining on the blood of just about any mammal they find, especially when human blood is in short supply.
In a very general way, her fiction helped to free the fantastical world of vampires from the traditional model established by Bram Stoker (author of the original Dracula in 1897) and Bela Lugosi in the 1931 movie.
As a result, vampires in our contemporary movies and TV shows take on a number of guises that have nothing to do with Bela Lugosi in his cape.
In “Firebite,” the local lore is full of stories about vampires living in the vast emptiness of the outback who have been terrorizing the region’s aboriginal residents for generations.
In the show, the local vampires, none of whom wear capes in the manner of Count Dracula, spend their daytimes in a network of underground tunnels that were dug and then abandoned by mining companies who exhausted the mines’ supply of opal.
Now, the residents of the area -- named Opal City -- live hardscrabble lives while also having to be extra aware of the dangers presented by vampires marauding after dark.
This is why the vampire hunter pictured above -- Tyson Walker (Rob Collins) -- and a younger partner have been so useful to the local population. The two have a knack for trapping and killing the vampires. But they never quite manage to eliminate all of them.
That is the scenario of this new and different take on the vampire myth. In this one, the attacking vampires bear a similarity to the zombies of so many other TV shows and movies these days.
When they walk, they lurch in the manner of those undead zombies, suggesting that these immortal beings live desperate lives that are far removed from the likes of Dracula and his castle.
The emptiness and mystery of the Australian outback makes it a great place for TV shows and movies -- with the “Mad Max” movies serving as great examples.
Now, we can add “Firebite” to the pantheon of top-rate outback-based dramas. The show is eerie, suspenseful and beautiful to look at. It is not to be missed.
“Firebite” starts streaming on Thursday (December 16) on AMC+.