The Rise of the 'Sentimental Vampire'

Posted by Malory Beazley | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on 8:48 PM



While the Twilight fever has died down (at least, for the moment), the influence of the monster phenomenon remains fanatical.  The recurring image of the new ‘sentimental vampire’ has virtually taken over our film and television screens.  Most obviously, the television world has seen the emergence of vampire-related shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, neither of which would have been able to break into the market without the overwhelming triumph of The Twilight Saga.  Even Paul Wesley, who plays Stefan the tender-hearted vampire on the CW's The Vampire Diaries, attributes his growing popularity to the phenomenon: “Do I think the show would be successful as it is, if it weren’t for Twilight?  No.”  And the shows themselves often recognize this influence by paying a brief homage to the series.  In The Vampire Diaries, the bad boy vampire Damon scoffs as he flips through a copy of Twilight, remarking, “What’s so special about this Bella girl?  Edward’s so whipped!  I miss Anne Rice.  She was so on it.”  And when asked why he doesn’t sparkle Damon retorts, “Because I live in the real world where vampires burn in the sun.”  More subtly, in the Season Two finale of HBO's True Blood, a brief shot of a red-orange Chevrolet truck is seen parked outside of Merlotte’s Bar and Grill.  It’s no coincidence that Bella drives the exact same vehicle in Twilight and New Moon.

Suddenly, it seemed like our film and television screens were dominated by an onslaught of emotional vampires.  This includes Jordan Galland’s film, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead, which debuted its first teaser twelve months ago, but is finally being set for release this year.  Remarkably, at the end of the four-year span between 2009 and 2012 there will have been a total of 80 new films and television shows that feature the vampire.

In addition, new screenplays that don’t even involve vampires are piggybacking on the success of Twilight to be launched into production.  Two new Bronte films, Wuthering Heights (starring Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick as Heathcliff) and Jane Eyre are set to begin shooting this spring all because of a “renewed enthusiasm among financiers for gothic romance.”  Producers cite the ‘star-crossed’ relationship between Edward and Bella as a source for this new obsession with old gothic tales.  Even Bella Swan goes to sleep every night with Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice on her pillow.

In a similar vein, film producers and distributors are taking advantage of the niche market that has been conveniently created: 12-18 year old girls.  Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones was initially promoted as a dark film targeted at adults (and rightly so, with the sexually violent content).  However, when the critics slammed the film and box office numbers were less than anticipated, Jackson quickly re-cut the trailer to make it more suitable for younger audiences (i.e. Twihards) and acquired the rights to run the trailer prior to the screenings of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.  The marketing strategy paid off big time as Jackson walked away with a surprising additional $20 million: 72% of the audience was female and 40% was younger than 20 years old.  Genius.

So, you think the 'sentimental vampire' craze will end with the release of the fourth and final chapter in The Twilight Saga?  Bite me.

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