Vampires in pop culture have been hotly debated among nerds for years. Which ones are the best which ones are the lamest, why Buffy The Vampire Slayer is the most awesome show ever (I am not a Buffy fan. That's right, I said it, and I'll say it again. It's smug.) Just by me declaring my disdain for Buffy has already negated any opinion I have on the topic to thousands of people (including my husband) when it comes to the Pop Culture Vampire Canon but I don't really care what you people think. Tonight I'm not here to talk about the best, coolest most fierce vampires in pop culture. I'm here to talk about the worst, because there is nothing I love more than a cheesy vampire.
May I first present to you Jasper Cullen:
The Jasper I am referring to is the Jasper of the Twilight movies since I don't really recall the Jasper from the books but I'm sure he's equally bad. Jasper Cullen is played by slight actor Jackson Rathbone who has been in that one episode of Criminal Minds and nothing else of note. In the first Twilight movie he played Jasper as a weirdo who didn't say much and stared too long at people. It was very awkward, but that entire movie was pretty awkward. The second movie has less to do with the Cullen family and more about dishcloth Bella Swan and her relationship with hot Native America werewolf Jacob. At the beginning of the movie it is all Jasper's fault that Edward pulls away from Bella. Since Jasper is a Nu Vampire he has a hard time falling in line with the family's "vegetarianism" and tries to attack Bella after she gets a paper cut apparently on a major artery because she bleeds all over the damn place. I don't mean to gloss over the Jasper of the second movie, but the Jasper in the third Twilight movie is where he gets really good/terrible.
Like I said, I didn't read all the Twilight books so I don't know how this plays out in the book, but in the movie it's hilarious. Apparently, Jasper was a Confederate Solider during the Civil War. Only now remembering this particular background story Jackson Rathbone starts to play Jasper with a, wavering at best, Southern accent. It is so distracting and out of place it makes the movie all the much better/worst. There is also a flashback scene where human Jasper is attacked by a vampire during the war and everything about that scene is laughable. From the in-and-out accent, to the costuming, to the "Is this a flashback? What's happening? Voice-over? What?" *Sigh* ...The Twilight movies are....not good.
Next up, Dracula 2000:
First of all, Christopher Plummer is in it, so you think that it can't be all bad. He was in the Thornbirds, after all. But then you see that Vitamin C is in it....okay, well she was in the original Hairspray, and that's a great movie! It still can't be all that bad. Johnny Lee Miller, he's alright, Oman Epps, he's solid in some things he's in....wait a minutes, is that the chick from Star Trek? Seven-Eight-Nine? Oh, that main actress I've never seen in anything before.....hmmmm....you quickly start to lose faith in the cast. But the cast isn't the problem. They were all solid actors, I guess, for the material they were given. Which is sub-par to say the least. So, Drac is now hanging out in New Orleans, apparently with Lestat, since I don't think any vampire were occupying in New Orleans until Anne Rice had them move to town. In New Orleans, Dracula is trying to find the granddaughter of his nemesis, legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing. She is working at a record store (remember those?!) in New Orleans with her roomie Vitamin C, who quickly becomes one of Dracula's brides. Poor Vitamin C. There are lots of cheesy fights and convoluted plot points, but the best part is the end, the epic fight between Dracula and Granddaughter Van Helsing, you can see the cables attached to the actors. Yes! That's right! Harness, cables and various other safety materials are visible throughout the entire scene. Oh, man, is it ever a laugh. I guess my beef isn't really with the vampire in Dracula 2000, even though he does where leather pants and calls a Monster Magnet video "Brilliant." Oh, also, Dracula is Judas. So there's that.
Stuart Townsend's Lestat:
Say what you will about Tom Cruise, he did play a pretty decent Lestat. Even Anne Rice warmed up to his portrayal after first bristling at the idea of having him play her legendary character in Interview with the Vampire. So, poor Stu had big shoes to fill in Queen of the Damned. To be fair, the path that the character of Lestat goes on would look kind of silly on film no matter who was playing him. Anne Rice makes him a rock star. A vampire rock star. Yeah.
While Tom Cruise got to flounce around with a baby-faced Brad Pitt and engage in a little Hoyay (homoeroticism, yay!) Stuart Townsend had to lip-sync to the singing voice of Korn's Jonathan Davis and act like he was make the most brilliant music ever made and slither up against a half-naked Aaliyah as an ancient Egyptian Vampire Queen. Yikes. Next to Aaliyah, a beautiful singer who wasn't even 23 when she made this movie, anyone would look like a pasty Englishmen with very little muscle definition, which unfortunately for Stuart, that is what he is. And again with the leather pants! I wonder what would happen if Drac 2000 and Lestat where roomies? They would fight over hair-care products and who use the last of the leather conditioner Also, there is a funny scene where Lestat first emerges from his coffin after here the generic rock stylings of a band where he attempts to jam along with them on his violin.
Lucky for us vampire fans, there are more good ones out there in the pop culture world than bad ones. I can't think of a single poorly executed vampire character on True Blood, and even when I wanted to take Stephen Dorff's Deacon Frost from the first Blade movie to task, I really couldn't. He does a nice job playing that character and it's a solid vampire character too!
I can't imagine how difficult it may be to attempt a fresh take on such an iconic creature. How do you make something that has such set rules in the minds of millions of people and make it something new and interesting? Or do you just hold to the traditional archetype and try and make the best vampire character you can within those boundaries? People are going to continue to create new vampire characters for years to come because people like vampires. They're sexy and scary and can have long and complicated back stories. But in these new attempts and fresh takes, there are going to be a few of them that well, suck. (I'm so sorry for that.)
And I just want to add one thing quickly, can they live somewhere other than New Orleans?