Vampires take a bite out of film and TV
Leslie Shumate | Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Twilight Saga
Those who are familiar with Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” book series understand that the novels have become a national obsession, capturing the hearts of teenage girls everywhere. Anyone who is unfamiliar with “Twilight:” Welcome to 2009.
All four novels have made The New York Times’ Bestseller List and enchanted thousands of teenage girls in the process since the first books debut in 2005. The Twilight Saga chronicles the romance between Bella Swann and Edward Cullen, a century-old vampire. Bella is immediately attracted to the mysterious, brooding vampire who struggles to resist the tempting scent of her blood. The couple’s love is tested when quarrels with other vampires place them both in mortal peril.
Teenage girls (and those at heart) are captivated by the tantalizing love story and have contributed to the success of the 2008 film adaptation. The film grossed more than $382 million at the domestic box office and “New Moon,” the sequel to “Twilight,” promises to equal, if not exceed, that return.
Promising more vampires, action and bare abs from America’s favorite vampire and werewolf, “New Moon” is guaranteed to thrill “Twilight” fans. The newest installment depicts Bella’s heartbreak after Edward (Robert Pattinson) leaves her in order to ensure her safety from the vampire world. Grieving Bella (Kristen Stewart) turns to risky and self-destructive behavior in order to feel close to Edward, much to the concern of her friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner).
In addition to tending to Bella’s broken heart, Jacob must make some rather drastic adjustments of his own after he becomes a werewolf. He also must deal with his intensifying feelings for Bella, leaving her in the middle of an agonizing love triangle. While “Twilight” fans are divided in their “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” loyalty, all agree that “New Moon” will provide plenty of drama to sink their teeth into.
Last week, “The Vampire Diaries” premiered on the CW and proved to be the most-watched season premiere in the network’s history. The TV adaptation of L.J. Smith’s 1991 series of young-adult novels follows the romance of Elena Gilbert, a popular but grieving high school student at Mystic Falls High, and Stefan Salvatore, a mysterious stranger hiding a dark secret (three guesses what it is).
Yes, Stefan is a vampire. His evil brother’s reappearance in Mystic Falls coincides with a score of new “animal attacks.” Stefan is torn between his love for Elena and his duty to protect her and the other residents of Mystic Falls from future vampire violence.
Sound familiar? It is impossible to ignore the blatant similarities between “The Vampire Diaries” and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series. Both chronicle the romance between a human girl and a brooding, handsome vampire. The couples fall in love over an absurdly short amount of time, after the vampire has borderline stalked the object of his affection. In both narratives, the star-crossed lovers are connected by an inexplicable bond, yet separated by one party’s need to suck the other’s blood.
While some critics are calling “The Vampire Diaries” a rip-off of the “Twilight” franchise, Smith published her version of the vampire romance more than a decade before Stephenie Meyer claims the idea for “Twilight” came to her in a dream.
One can only wonder if she fell asleep reading “The Vampire Diaries.”
With the teen market flooded with vampire-themed media, HBO attempts to attract more mature audiences to an edgier version of a vampire’s love story. The network’s darker, sexier rendition of a vampire-human romance, “True Blood,” premiered in September 2008 and has since become HBO’s most popular show since “The Sopranos.”
The show, based on Charlaine Harris’ “Southern Vampire Mysteries” book series, is set in Bon Temps, Louisiana, where many residents are gifted with mythic abilities. In this small, fictional town, the invention of “Tru Blood,” a synthetic blood supplement, has allowed vampires to “come out” to mainstream society and live side-by-side with their human neighbors. The tension between vampires and humans is intensified by a number of local murders, as well as “inter-species” relationships between vampires and humans.
“True Blood” centers on one such relationship – vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and clairvoyant waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin). The relationship is frowned upon by many members of the Bon Temps community, both human and vampire. In the first season, this tension comes to a head when Bill chooses to break vampire law in order to protect Sookie and must then accept the grim consequences.
Since its first season, “True Blood” has slowly gained critics’ approval and has seen a moderate increase in its weekly viewers. In fact, the second season of “True Blood” ended on Sept. 13 with twice the number of viewers as the previous season’s finale. In light of its growing popularity, HBO has confirmed the show will be back for a third season, possibly airing next summer.