Speaking of why vampire stories resonate with our culture, here’s a great column from Ted Friedman, a professor at Georgia State, that explores a similar theme. Here’s a good bit toward the end:
As Andrew Von Hendy explains in The Modern Construction of Myth, the spiritual dimension is at the heart of the origin of the concept. The term emerged in the Romantic era, in response to the Enlightenment’s fraying of religious certainty. It from the beginning had a dual resonance: it reflected a yearning for transcendent meaning, but already a nostalgia for a time when such meaning could be taken for granted. All myth, in this sense, is “modern myth,” since the very invention of the concept of myth was a reaction to what Max Weber described as modernity’s dis-enchantment of the world.
It is this numinous aspect of myth which has made it both compelling and discomfiting for critical theory. For intellectual traditions rooted in Freud’s and Marx’s hermeneutics of suspicion, there’s no independent human capacity for spirituality. The yearning for transcendental meaning is only a symptom of the fear of death or an outlet for class antagonism. But perhaps our postmodern skepticism could extend to questioning the limits of scientific materialism. The survival of the concept of myth may represent not the tenacity of an illusion, but the return of the repressed in a world outwardly more disenchanted than ever. As Jung argues, myths tend to compensate for those aspects of personality most neglected in a society.
Take Star Wars. The franchise has inspired innumerable academic studies of fan culture, celebrating the creativity and autonomy of its audiences. But scholars’ emphasis on fan creativity, I’d suggest, evades a more fundamental question: why Star Wars? Why is it this world, in particular, which has inspired such energy and loyalty? The answer, I’d suggest, is in The Force: the mystical system of energy that powers the Jedi Knights and governs Lucas’s universe. The Force is not exactly a religious concept: while a handful of fans mark “Jedi” down as their religion on census forms, most recognize that it’s a fictional conceit. But it’s nonetheless central to a story that resonates – a myth that captures the imagination and often won’t let go. It’s perhaps not surprising that the most devoted Star Wars fans – myself included – tend to be “geeks” who work and play in the most highly technologized sectors of the global economy. In that most postmodern of contexts, the myth of The Force has taken the place, at least in fantasy, of more familiar forms of faith.
As a said in my comment, a society that rejects religion/spirituality/God innately requires something greater than themselves to believe in. Take your pick: Science, The Force, or Vampires.