Everyone is going nuts over Twilight like it’s the second coming of Harry Potter, even though the producers have said their franchise is barely a fraction of the Boy Wizard’s story. Still, expect big things from the Stephanie Meyer novel adaptation this weekend, because this is definitely a fanbase that can’t be stopped.
I’ll admit I don’t have a deep knowledge of the franchise, but everything I’ve heard about the movie sounds pretty derivative. What’s worse is it sounds like a lot of it has been done before on film even better. A young vampire in love, fighting against adversity to be together, with a girl who would much rather be one of the immortals than with her own people. If that doesn't sound familiar than you've obviously steered clear of any kind of vampire tale over the past two decades. I'd almost wager there are more vampire stories with similar storylines than with different ones, so it comes down to what each story does to make itself unique that counts.
I still have trouble getting used to the notion of a vampire without any fangs. It just feels like the franchise has no teeth, both literally and figuratively. Not only do I not see Twilight adding anything unique to the vampire genre, but most of the movies it resembles could kick its ass. Sorry Twilight, our vampire is cooler than your vampire, and not just because they’ve been around longer. Here’s a look at half a dozen examples why.
The Lost Boys
Sleep all day. Party all night. The Lost Boys took the idea of Peter Pan’s counterparts and put a nice supernatural spin on it, resulting in a gang of teenage vamps who take great delight in their undead status. Okay, maybe there’s no heart-melting romance going on here (at best David and Star share a little lust), but the contribution of The Lost Boys to stories like Twilight’s is irrefutable. Personally, I like this story without the teen angst and romance, just watching a stupid move of bravado trap a silly teenager in a world he doesn’t quite understand, and the chaos that follows as a couple of boys attempt to rid the world of a vampire onslaught
Our vampire is cooler than your vampire because… the idea of teen vampires was still original when it was done here; plus, we have Kiefer Sutherland, who kicks ass regardless of whether he’s undead or alive.
But your vampire is cooler than ours because… these vamps were beaten by two kids named Corey. How much more embarrassing can you get?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Coppola’s adaptation of the classic tale makes a romantic figure out of the count and plays up an intense love created in the bond between the vampire Dracula and the human Mina. Over time, other parts of the movie have dominated people’s memory of the movie, such as bland performances from some of the cast, or the outlandish portrayal of Oldman’s vampire, but if you’re going to recreate that human/vampire relationship, you’re just following in the footsteps of this story.
Our vampire is cooler than your vampire because… it’s the classic vampire story brought to the screen. Sure, there is some dramatic license in the adaptation, but without this vampire, you have nothing to build your story on, although Twilight is about as far from Stoker’s creation as you can get, so it might go unaffected if Dracula suddenly never existed.
But your vampire is cooler than ours because… ours has to contend with Keanu Reeves, who will also rival Twilight but as a space alien (in The Day the Earth Stood Still) instead of potential prey within the movie.
Interview with a Vampire
The last major vampire novel to be adapted to film was surrounded by much controversy, mainly because the author, Anne Rice, all but denounced the movies when she refused to accept the casting of her anti-hero, Lestat. Thankfully the movie proved her wrong and she even apologized publicly on the DVD. Interview brought a nice balance to vampire violence and the more contemporary romanticized view of the sexual side of vampirism. Here you get a little something for every vampire fan, joined together in a well-told dramatic story.
Our vampire is cooler than your vampire because… The whole presentation of the vampire society keeping itself in check here is just fantastic, not to mention when Brad Pitt dons the vampire fangs, everyone wins.
But your vampire is cooler than ours because… this movie was followed up by Queen of the Damned. We’d rather have excessive teen angst, thank you very much.
This one may seem in odd company here, but Twilight’s vampires can move about in the daytime, which reminds me of Blade’s day-walker, and the short-term solution Deacon Frost comes up with so his vamps can travel around during the day as well (that’s one hell of a sunblock). Like Lost Boys before it, Blade does an excellent job of showing a vampire culture that relishes its supernatural status, but this movie adds in the fly in the ointment - a vampire who wants nothing to do with that society other than putting an end to it. Even for Blade it wasn’t an original idea, but it’s certainly fun watching this vampire hunter take on the opposition, even if he is a vampire himself.
Our vampire is cooler than your vampire because… Blade is revolting against the vampire culture by kicking ass and foiling plots instead of just brooding around and whining a lot. He’d stake Edward in a second, and look stylish while doing it.
But your vampire is cooler than ours because… he probably pays his taxes on time - important lesson for the cast of the new franchise.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Just about anything Twlight is attempting to do in an allegorical form, Buffy did first, and did it better. Here you have the romance between a human and a vampire, but unlike Twilight it can never end up happily for the couple, since he’ll become truly evil if they share a moment of true happiness. Take that, sexual metaphor! Twilight makes an analogy for sex, but Joss Whedon transformed the entire teenage experience into a supernatural nightmare and left us wanting for more when this and the spin off series ended before fans were ready.
Our vampire is cooler than your vampire because… can anyone do the brooding, soulful vampire better than David Boreanaz? We think not.
But your vampire is cooler than ours because… Bella the emo-chick seems a lot more likely to have a romance with a vampire than Buffy the cheerleader type. That probably explains why Buffy went more emo as the series went on.
If you want to do a supernatural Romeo & Juliet you don’t do it with vampires and humans. No, instead go for two factions that are much more in opposition, like vampires and werewolves. Shakespeare would be proud of the parallels between the two factions and the Capulets and Montagues, although the idea of vampirism as a metaphor for something else is pretty much lost here. It may not be clever, but the relationship here is more interesting as passion replaces angst. Just watch out for the vicious attack smurf before the story comes to a close.
Our vampire is cooler than your vampire because… there’s definite teeth to this vampire love story, making the star-crossed lovers’ story a bit more volatile than angsty.
But your vampire is cooler than ours because… Twilight is pretty much guaranteed four pictures, while this franchise’s cast jumped ship after two pictures, leaving a third movie with a lower budget and less known names attached. If Twilight can keep its cast attached, it’ll dominate just about all of these movies at the box office - the final battleground for these immortals.