Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 22, 2010

Twilight, Inc. :”Sexy Vampire Romance” or Stupid Cheap Thrills?


Oh Bella?! Lugosi would be horrified by you...

At the risk of raining curses down upon my head (and my blog) from pre-teen Twilight fans and vamps-in-training, I’ll come right out and say it: The Twilight Saga is ridiculously bad.  In fact, the whole resurgence of vampire stories and the trend of combining them with melodramatic  forbidden romance is flat-out idiotic.


Bad storytelling (for example, reducing genuine European and Native American mythology … or Romeo and Juliet… to a series of stupid American cliches about Jacob’s red team vs.  Edward’s blue team… which is, like, REALLY blue!).

Bad acting. (Especially Kristen Stewart, playing every pouty, low-affect, alienated teen who’s ever donned a pair of ripped jeans, caked on the eyeliner, and claimed nobody understands her. She’s basically a zombie, but without the appetite for human brains. Stewart’s done better — in Into the Wild, Zathura, and elsewhere… but seems to mostly just have one speed: mopey.)

Bad oversaturation of all broadcast and marketing channels, all to make a buck off the similarly vacuous and alienated American population under 25.  They should change the series name to Harry Potter and the Barbiturate Eaters, or maybe Dreck Forever After.

Put this series up against good teen angst films like Rebel Without a Cause, River’s Edge, the S.E. Hinton/Francis Coppola collaborations, or Rachel Getting Married (talk about dark, brooding and terrifically acted!) and the Twilighters look utterly bush league. Especially because they’re surrounded by so much CGI and high-tech distraction, to keep one from realizing the characters are thin as tissue paper.

And is this crap supposed to be scary? Where’s an Exorcist when you need one? Even the Wesley Snipes Blade films had style and tension in them. Instead of a mumbling bunch of Beautiful People with nothing to do, in books, graphic novels, cable shows, movies, and on the back of a cereal box near you.

But Twilight doesn’t get all the blame. Despite her being an amazing writer, I was never a fan of Anne Rice’s vampire series, either. Remember the film version of Interview With a Vampire? More Beautiful People (ahem… Brad Pitt didn’t look a day over 200 years old, and he was supposed to be twice that age).  

Or how about Gary Oldman seducing Wynona Ryder in Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Willem Defoe in Shadow of the Vampire? — Dafoe’s scarier as an actor playing a vampire than that foppish Rob Pattinson would be if you gave him a real bazooka. Because Oldman and Dafoe know how to be good at acting bad. Today’s “True Blood” and other fare rings false,  by comparison. It’s opportunistic, hollow soap opera, disguised as intelligent exploration of the Shadow Self present in all humans. These productions are like community theater meets nihilistic, pretentious goth performance art meets Abbott (but without Costello for the entertainment value).

Here’s the even more exploitive aspect of the whole movement: The big-budget marketing campaigns for Twilight have created a hunger (The Hunger !, now there’s a well-executed vampire flick! Bowie is God.) — a hunger being filled with cheap junk food like this 9-part series of “sexy vampire romance” novels that is a quick and easy click away from my favorite Ning forum site. I’m no prude… but does good sex have to involve blood and danger to be interesting? I know for sure that good writing doesn’t have to smear itself in blood or coming-of-age sex… it lives and breathes fire, it knows that “less is more”, and it keeps you up at night on the sheer believability of those intelligent portrayals of the nearly impossible.

Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, for example, may be one of the best of the lot, when it comes to the “vampires among us” storyline. But that’s been filmed already… twice… and King had the good sense not to beat a horse to death by writing nine other vampire novels.

I can’t wait for the backlash on this one… when whiny vampires will be too lame and oldschool for 2012’s tweens and teens, and we can get back to the serious business of building a better zombie-trap.



  1. Excerpt of my comment on the Andrew O’Hehir review of “Eclipse”at

    If such bad entries in the Twilight Saga end up yield such brilliant writing as O’Hehir’s Threesome piece, then I say “Keep makin’ them bad movies.”

    “Cream-cheese” hues of vampire skin?! Love it. And I totally agree with his artistic and social assessment of the whole series (esp. Kristen Stewart, a decent actress at times, being utterly trapped in this one-dimensional character).

    [Go to Salon for full effect…]

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