‘Groundhog Day’: How Vampires Inspired the Bill Murray Classic

Groundhog Day is one of Bill Murray’s most famous movies — and it’s a comedy without a vampire in sight. Despite this, a famous book about vampires managed to inspire the film’s storyline. Here’s a look at the unusual circumstances that inspired the film.

Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in 'Groundhog Day'
Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in Groundhog Day | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

This quality of vampires inspired the Bill Murray movie ‘Groundhog Day’

Firstly, a little background. In many versions of the vampire mythos, vampires get to live forever. However, early vampire fiction like Bram Stoker’s Dracula doesn’t really touch on what it would be like to live forever.

Enter Anne Rice. She began a long-running series called The Vampire Chronicles which began with the celebrated novel Interview with the Vampire. Her vampire novels discuss the way in which vampires cope with their immortality.

A trailer for Interview with the Vampire

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According to Den of Geek, the second book of the series, The Vampire Lestat, found its way into the hands of screenwriter Danny Rubin. In The Telegraph, he recalled one day where “My wife Louise was at home with the baby, so my companion that day was a book about vampires. Before even cracking the cover I started drifting, thinking about these near-people and their super-human ability to live forever. I wondered what that would be like. What would you do for an eternity? How long would it take before it stopped being fun or interesting or worthwhile? How would an eternally long life affect a person, particularly one who seemed incapable of change within his own normal lifetime?”

The connection between the movie and vampires

Rubin’s musing about vampires inspired him to pen the screenplay for Groundhog Day, which revolves around a reporter who becomes stuck in a time loop where he cannot age or even die. Groundhog Day has an unusual premise for a comedy. However, it went on to become one of the most famous and beloved comedies of the 1990s — if not of all time. 

A trailer for Groundhog Day

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How the world reacted to ‘Groundhog Day’

Over the years, Groundhog Day inspired a lot of analysis. Some critics have seen the film as containing Buddhist, Jewish, or Christian themes –which is pretty far from its roots in a vampire story. Was this intended?

“The movie was never intended, by me or by Harold, to be anything more than a good, heartfelt, entertaining story,” Rubin revealed. “I did, however, feel from the very beginning that I’d stumbled upon a story with all the makings of a classic, so simple and true that it could be retold many different ways by many different storytellers.”

So did the film resonate with a wide audience? According to Box Office Mojo, Groundhog Day earned over $70 million against a budget of $11 million. In addition, the film has become a perennial holiday favorite — at least partially because there aren’t many other films centering on Groundhog Day. Subsequently, the film was adapted into a musical. And it all started with a book about vampires.