Friday, May 29, 2009

True Bite

While some people were enjoying the sunshine last weekend I was holed up with Joe having a True Blood marathon (I'm not much for sunshine). Now, that it's on DVD have you caught up with it yet?

Art of the Title Sequence investigated its NSFW opening titles last year which I still can't get enough of. I couldn't ever fast forward. I love how the credits shove religiosity, carnality and base nature into a crammed pot, boil them down to their base essences (remarkably similar as it turns out!) and mix them into a trashy stew... just like the show. "I wanna do bad things to you" I'd only seen the first few episodes before and the show never got any less obvious about what some saw as its awkward / obvious political sexual metaphors but as it turns out it didn't need to. Good trash is good trash. Trash that has campy knowing fun with its awkward flailing at message and meaning? I'll take it. The second season starts June 14th.

<--- Robert Pattison on the set of New Moon

The vampire mythology has always readjusted itself to suit current preoccupations and we've definitely moved back into the realm of the romantic vampire. The romantic undead was missing for awhile -- see 2006's vampire blog-a-thon -- but he's returned defanged. The traditional romantic/erotic vampire has been replaced by the romantic/sexless vampire. Twilight bores me stiff, like rigor mortis stiff, but a lot of people of all ages love its weird asexuality... which... though I'm no social theorist, I'm guessing is a natural result of the past decade of purity rings, abstinence fever and attacks against sex-ed. But it's strange (to me at least) that the TeenBeat style sexuality isn't just for tweens and newly hormonal teens anymore.

The recent television upfronts have revealed that we'll be getting more Twilight style PG vampirism with The Vampire Diaries which is also about a beautiful high school girl falling for the mysterious undead classmate who initially resists her. How much do you have to change something to avoid lawsuits?

Not much apparently!

I assume that a lot of this teen vampire craze sprung from the influential and totally brilliant Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy may have also been a high schooler but you know what they say: some people mature faster than others.

Thank god there's True Blood for a randy bloody counterpoint to the wildly popular but anemic teenage vampire craze. For all the dreamy eyed romanticism of the Bill (Stephen Moyer) & Sookie (Anna Paquin) relationship on True Blood, it also feels just as sexually dangerous as it should. I mean loving the undead... that should be a little frightening, not just mushy. That scene late in the first season where Bill emerges from the earth and mounts an initially terrified Sookie? That was dirty... in both senses of the word.

Will True Blood get any cinematic company or will Twilight ripoffs completely take over in the next few years? Surburban Vampire has a huge list of upcoming undead titles and the answer seems to be neither. Most of the new vampire films seem to be horror or action related like...
  • High Midnight -a period piece and vampire western which the always welcome Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist, Valkyrie) was initially rumored to be starring in as a vampire hunter.
  • Daybreakers a scifi horror take which frankly sounds more like a zombie film. Most of the human race has gone bloodsucker. With Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke (who look quite clean and fresh for people fighting for their lives in a horror film.)
  • Last Blood epic war between zombies vs. vampires with the vamps out to protect their food source, humans
  • Dark Shadows in development (previously discussed here)
Now if only someone would make Lost Souls into a movie so we'd have a queer entry in the crowded vampiric canon.


adam k. said...

How was Michelle??

This "last scene: A" stuff has me thinking Dangerous Liasons all over again.

Yoseph said...

I choose to believe that when you say, "How much do you have to change something to avoid lawsuits?" you're talking about Twilight and Stephenie Meyer, since the Vampire Diaries novels came out in the early 90s.

H-Rob said...

How does that work with "Lost Souls" where you're born a vampire? Is it just you grow old (like a human) but never die (like a vampire)? That's an interesting conceit that sounds more interesting than any of the trite plotlines that "Twilight" came up with.

And "True Blood" is an awesome show. I can't wait for season 2. I'm so glad that the show found an audience and HBO is sticking with it. It always irritated me when critics would call it a "guilty pleasure" and "so bad it's good" or "good, trashy fun" or any other thinly veiled pejorative way of saying that they like something that they probably know they shouldn't. I think the show's quality television through and through, and I'm not ashamed of watching it or saying so or hoping that it gets a bunch of Emmys this year. It's pulp in the best sense, but it still manages to become significant art too. I hope that more people give it a shot and overlook the snap judgments or the initial vampires hook to see that there's more to the show than that.


@Yoseph... i don't know anything about either set of books (well... a bit. I tried to get through the first Twilight before the movie came out but found it too dull) but when you're talking about film/TV adaptations there has to be a million ways to tweak things so that they don't seem so exactly similar.

but it does seem that there more i read debates about twilight this and twilight that the more it seems like Stephenie Meyer must have stolen from other vampire novels? Because your same argument I've read about other people's books that people have said are too similar.

Can the Vampire Diaries's teen brooding boy vampire Stephan who falls in love with a pretty brunette classmate can also be out in the sunlight and walks with her in a forest just like Twilight's teen brooding boy vampire Edward who falls in love with a pretty long haired brunette and can be out with her in the sunlight and walking through a forest?

@hrob i actually don't remember. I think the vampires there do grow old but it just takes longer.

@adam we'll discuss later... i don't wanna give spoilers.

Wayne B. said...

Oh "True Blood" is such a great show; Lafayette (even though he's a ho) is awesome. Love his combination of aggression and flirtation. The confrontation he has with that trio of rednecks still makes me laugh: "Bitch, you come in my house, you eat my food the way I f---ing make it!"
I wonder what his fate will be when the second season premieres...

anna said...

Before hearing about "The Vampire Diaries", I was pretty sure Stephenie Meyer got the idea for writing "Twilight" from
1. the Sookie Stackhouse (i.e. "True Blood") books: vampires + a telepathic who's fascinated by someone because he/she can't read their mind
and 2. Roswell: beautiful boy saves girl from certain death, she finds out he and his equally beautiful siblings/friends aren't exactly human (to make it short, there's a lot more),
but now I think she ripped off all three series. ;)

I love "True Blood"! Hope there'll be a bit of naked Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) this season... ;)

Yoseph said...


I've only actually read the first Twilight book, and it was painful. (Poorly written, as well as containing themes I don't personally care for.) The only reason I know about The Vampire Diaries is because I was obsessed with them as a preteen. OBSESSED.

But you bring up a good point. I actually don't care too much about the Stephenie Meyer debate, because she's already laughing all the way to the bank. I would hope, however, that someday young girls will idolize something that is well written and doesn't demonize their sexuality.

Ahhh, dreams.

As for the TV show, it looks bland to me. But I'll watch because I read those books over and over and over. So I'm not so different from the Twihards, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Harry Potter>>>>>>Twilight

True Blood is awesome!


Anonymous said...

Ultimately, no matter how many vampire movie/tv/etc related things I see, one will *most likely* always be my favorite - The Hunger - four 4 reasons:

1. Catherine Deneuve
2. Susan Sarandon
3. David Bowie
4. Catherine Deneuve

I just don't foresee any vampire media being able to top that.

Arkaan said...

Heh, interesting.

I struggled with True Blood (gave up after three episodes or so) because I thought Ball's handling of the metaphors was very weak, and I didn't forsee him getting stronger because metaphor isn't his strong suit. His strength is generally in casting, not storytelling or mood, and that wasn't enough here (like it was in Six Feet Under for a couple seasons). Plus I don't think Ball nailed the casting either (issues with Paquin and Kwanten)

I don't understand the Twilight love. The TV show looks bad, though knowing it's based on a book from eons ago makes sense.

I agree with Nathaniel in that anything involving vampires, especially in romantic/sexual situations should at least mention that danger inherent in that sort of relationship.

Karen said...

All this vampire chatter makes me happy! I like Underworld, Blade, Blood Ties, Twilight and although I haven't seen True Blood and Vampire Diaries yet I'm sure I'll probably like them too. Yes, I'm casually obsessed with vampire entertainment.


arkaan -- well, it's not that twilight doesn't mention the danger but it seems to me that the danger is all about Bella being too attractive. it's her fault if Edward loses it essentially.

which is such a sad sad commentary and age-old problem, demonizing female sexuality... even when the man is literally the demon ;)

MichaelMcl said...

DAYBREAKERS has been icnredibly held up. I was at the scoring sessions for it in March 2008! Rumour has it it won't be out until Jan 2010. That's quite a shelf life.

Andrew David said...

Effing love True Blood. "Good trashy fun" doesn't really do it justice to me, because even if it is rather trashy it is still one of the smarter and better quality shows on TV.

I cannot wait until season 2 to see Michelle Forbes steal the show even more. Seriously, it wouldn't be a big stretch to call her my favourite TV actress. She' AMAZING all the time.

Seeing_I said...

Yeah, "Lost Souls"! Though they could never find dudes skinny or pretty enough.