ROGUE ELEMENT #55: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me…and Turn Me
By Avril Brown
At my workplace one of my more print-appropriate nicknames is ‘the vampire chick.’ Nearly every person I have conversed with is aware of my obsession with the creatures of the night as they pertain to popular fiction. If one of my co-workers has questions about immortal blood-drinkers or is looking to gush about certain television shows or movies, odds are this vamp-obsessed chick has the answers and/or the ear to bend. In the interest of retaining the feeling I am a wikipedia of current vampire fiction, I feel it is my duty to inform the masses of the recent goings on in the wide world of vampire wonders.
Thanks to the PTB (People That are Billionaires AKA people constantly looking for easy ways to make a shit-ton of money), when vampires stepped back into the spotlight everyone and their mom jumped on the vamp bandwagon trying to create their own bloodthirsty cash cow. This means there are is vast amount of variety in the recent vampire/fantasy realm to explore, depending on what gets your blood type flowing. The following is a brief summation of the dishes available for the vamp-curious palate.
I care not if you live in a cave or even the most rural sections of backwoods Indiana, you have to at least heard of HBO’s smash hit series ‘True Blood.’ Two episodes into the third season and I am already convinced ‘TB’ has managed to improve from the spectacular-ness that was the second season. Here is a show which acknowledges its extreme campy-ness and rather than trying to pretend it is not there, utilizes the momentum and boundless material which comes with embracing said campy-ness. ‘True Blood’ consistently makes fun of itself while delivering pant-wetting one-liners and colorful, addictive characters. Vampires, telepaths, shape shifters, maenads and werewolves have debuted on this soap opera of a show, surrounded by tongue-in-cheek humor, beautiful bodies and oh-so much spine-tingling sex. I cannot imagine who could love their job more than the cast and crew of this series.
On the teenage side of things, there is ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ a widely popular CW show based on the books of the same title. Although the series started out somewhat slow and has consistently remained cheesy as hell, this ranks as one of my favorite shows on television. On hiatus for the summer, I encourage vamp fans to give this show a chance. Weather through the first half of the season and it will become a guilty pleasure you never expected. From the battle of the hot brothers to the badass witchy-ness and teenage hormones running amuck, this show knows how to work it. Nina Dobrev plays Elena, the female lead who is more than a little annoying and could use a good bitch-slap or two, and yes, the show is marketed towards teens given the youthful cast and setting. However at some point during the drama, angst, Damon’s quirky eyebrows, Stephen’s puppy dog face and more cliffhangers than you can shake a stick at, the debut season of ‘Vampire Diaries’ sunk its teeth into me so hard I found myself looking forward to Thursdays and shouting almost every commercial break: “I love this show!”
Naturally the latest cinematic installment in the ‘Twilight’ series deserves a shout out as ‘Eclipse’ hits theaters June 30th. The fact that the movie release date is in the middle of the week goes to show the confidence of the producers in the movie’s inevitable success, and who precisely the movie is marketed towards. ‘Eclipse,’ a tale of vampire versus werewolf in the battle for true love (with some ‘vampire/werewolf tag team against bad vampires’ action for good measure) is not the first choice of the typical age bracket for the date night demographic, but it will almost certainly grab number one at the box office regardless considering the entire teenage population of the United States will be clamoring to get into a premier night showing. Not to mention many women of all ages will attend whenever they can fit a screening into their schedule, and will either be accompanied by a gaggle of close girlfriends or flying solo, if they have the cojones and a sufficient disregard for the opinion of strangers (*cough* me *cough*).
‘Disappointment’ is too kind of a word when it comes to my feelings about ‘Daybreakers’ which debuted in early 2010. When I first heard about this film I was wicked excited and annoyed with myself when I did not see it in theaters. A world where a vampire virus has turned ninety percent of the population into blood-drinkers, a society of beings which is now in crisis due to blood shortage, sounds like a stimulating scientific take on vampire fiction. With a star-studded cast including Ethan Hawke, Willem Defoe and Sam Neill I was convinced I was in for a treat, yet what resulted was so awful I nearly cried. A few brief moments in the movie were entertaining enough, one example being a scene where a vampire solider volunteers for an experimental procedure. He is injected and appears to be burning from the inside out with his skin bubbling and rippling, screams of pain erupting from his throat. Finally the symptoms and pain seem to abate and he takes one sigh of surprised content before Sgt. Guinea Pig explodes into a million bloody chunks, half of which end up on a disgruntled Dr. Ethan Hawke who is pissed solely because the experiment did not work. The rest of the movie, despite Neill’s calm authority and Defoe’s always amazing presence and dry sarcasm, was forgettable and often boring. Rare comes the day when I will steer a fellow vamp fan away from a particular project, but unless a horrific script and leaky plot do it for you, ‘Daybreakers’ is a film which can be skipped.
In the mystery section, as in I know little about them, we have two new-comers: ABC’s summer television series entitled ‘The Gates’ and a new fiction release by Justin Cronin entitled ‘The Passage.’ The former is ABC’s response to the vampire fad by seemingly blending ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Vampire Diaries,’ and after having seen the first episode I am quite frankly not holding my breath for a breakaway hit. I am, however, giving it a chance to find its feet. Starring Rhona Mitra (who also starred in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans; at least she has vampire experience) as a reluctant, struggling vampire/housewife in the well-to-do Gates neighborhood, and thus far the best part of the show, ‘The Gates’ pilot episode also introduced teenage werewolves, competing witches, a murder mystery and an obsessed, disgraced police officer. I am all about varying forms of fantasy and fiction, but slow it down a pace, willya? Give the characters time to develop, give central plot lines time to unfurl, give some of the cast acting lessons and this show could have potential.
The plot of ‘The Passage’ by Justin Cronin sounds a bit like World War Z if the Z was a V. A post-apocalyptic take on what would happen to the world if a vampire virus had been running rampant for years, I was recently tipped off to the existence of this book by a close friend and a fellow fiction fiend. Given his tangible excitement and my own craving to find this concept in a less crap-tastic story venue than ‘Daybreakers,’ this book is going on my reading queue.
Obviously there is no shortage of vampire fiction to choose from, which is why being a vamp slut is so exciting at the moment. If you have been thinking about dipping your toe into the bloodbath of vampire addiction, then dive on in; the ‘water’ is 98.6 degrees and just fine. Try not to be overwhelmed by the choices available but rather take a deep breath and sample one course after another to determine what best suits your tastes. Whether you stop at appetizers or stay until dessert, at least one fictional foray will likely be a meal for the mind you will not soon forget.