Hallowe’en is here, folks. There’s barely a better time of the year to spend the night-in, turn the lights out, put on a horror film and start screaming until the next door neighbour starts banging on your door. But before all that commotion, you begin browsing your film library to choose the best all-out scare when you begin wondering – when was the last horror film you’ve seen that brought you to a point of near heart-attack? The modern day horror cinema is currently built around shock tactics and pseudo-documentary post-Blair Witch gimmicks in the likes of[REC] and Paranormal Activity. That’s barely scratching the surface. Those people who shrieked their way watching these have probably done so just because the entire cinema is roaring with screams, to go along with the flow, and have never seen a genuinely terrifying horror movie. With monsters. Or vampires. Speaking of which, the recent day audiences have seem to be desensitised with sparkly kiddywink fantasies pretending to be ‘horror’ movies. Before in the old, halcyon days, kids go trick-and-treating dressed up as the wolfman or the vampire, replete with fake plastic fangs and dripping Heinz ketchup on their chin. Now, they’ve all grown some chest hairs and start wearing leather jackets to look like a rip-off version of Edward Cullen.
Unless you’ve been living in an underground bunker recently, planet Earth is presently run over by vampires. No, we’re not talking about power-hungry politicos nor soul-sucking corporations. We’re talking about the fantastical fanged creatures of the night that have recently claimed resurgence in our screens both big and small, drawing a phenomenal amount of the hot-blooded female audience that would make Count Dracula sweat in excitement. Whenever you stare into a screen, may it be cinema, television or even your computer, chances are, you’ll find a flour-faced bloodsucker staring back at you. So impossibly debonair and good-looking that these transmuted species don’t look like they just stepped out from a coffin, but rather from a Dolce & Gabbana advertisement. The Twilight Saga, as you ordinary moviegoer very well know, is to be blamed for this consternation. Those that watch, worship, roll over the ground in the holy name of Twilight – you are to be blamed that the next instalmentBreak Dawn is going to be split into two movies and do a Deathly Hallows route. As if the abominations the wereNew Moon and Eclipse were enough to send this back to its abyss. Apparently, movie producers have realised that there are hordes of teenage girls (and their mothers, too) that could carry on vehemently screaming their way into the brink of throat cancer in the next stage of the franchise. Nevertheless, aside from this Twilight shithole, arthouse cinema saw maverick filmmakers also dabble into the vampire genre with Let The Right One In and Thirst,with the former being remade in the Stateside as Let Me In. In the box, Stateside television is mauled by True Bloodand Vampire Diaries, two TV series that serve as great magnet to soaring ratings and female titillation. The plague is here, people. The apocalypse looks like it’s all teeth-on-neck action.
This trend is somewhat baffling at first, at least from the male perspective. Vampires these days have seem to shake off their dust-beaten, castle-lurking existence. Gone are the cobwebbed days of literary monsters that prowl in the dark, the black-clad, insomniac, bloodsucking spawns of Vlad the Impaler. Hello, gorgeous, glamorous vampire – all fashion-model locks, brooding stares, looks that kill, Abercrombie & Fitch six-packs and flawless, sparkling skin. In The Twilight Saga, vampire protagonist Edward Cullen glitters under the sunlight. Literally. The new breed of vampires are now anti-photosensitive, and don’t burst into flames at the touch of sunbeam, unlike what happens to curmudgeonly Uncle Dracula during the old days. They don’t flap around ancient castles and hunting for village virgins anymore. Instead, they infiltrate high school grounds looking like a bunch of reanimated James Deans – admired, socially recognised yet dangerous. Their prey are now females of the emotive, obsessive sort, who longed to be bitten and to be one of the vampires’ ultra-elite, Alpha-Omega-esque fraternity.
The Twilight Saga is responsible for this current revivification of vampire culture, fulfilling the caprices of the tween dream; young, barely legal girls who harbour unabashed fantasies of being whisked away by some handsome hunk who happens to be a vampire. The premise of this romantic fantasy is that the heroine, Bella Swan, is willing to give up his mortality to be with elusive dog-toothed lust object Edward. Nevertheless, there’s a central conflict (surprise, surprise). Bella is torn between vampire Edward and werewolf boy Jacob. But oh no, it’s a difficult choice and she shouldn’t shag either of them because it’s really about abstinence. And preservation. And love. And romance. It’s a blatant contradiction, then, given that vampirism practically links to eroticism, sexuality and often unfeigned hedonism, not gift-wrapped in a Mormon Sunday service. This is the stuff scarlet Harlequin novels are made of, the butch guy and the damsel in distress, only with fangs. And this is not without justification – the novels of Anne Rice about Southern American vampires carousel around this premise.