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Bringing the undead to life on the big screen In Focus by Richard Crouse November 21, 2008

let-the-right-one-in-26799_1This week audiences will travel into another dimension: A dimension where vampires and humans fall in love; where bloodsuckers feed on animals instead of people.

They’ll take a journey to a wondrous land where a series of books can become a movie blockbuster. They’re about to cross over into the Twilight zone.

Twilight, for the uninitiated, is Buffy’s worst nightmare. It’s the first in an insanely popular series of books about seventeen-year-old Bella Swan who moves to Forks, Washington and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with ninety-year-old vampire Edward Cullen.

The books are required reading for every teenage girl on the planet and now those undead literary characters are coming to life on the big screen in what will undoubtedly be the weekend’s number one film. Vampires, despite Buffy’s best efforts, are hot again.

Until recently vampire movies were stuck in a rut, duller than a blunt wooden stake. Too often they relied on the age-old conventions of the genre — bloody fangs, holy water and black velvet capes — while every other horror icon was given a makeover.

28 Days Later gave us fleet footed zombies and Ginger Snaps suggested an alternate werewolf back-story but vampires were stuck in gothic Bela Lugosi Land.  The undead were reinvented for the series True Blood, but until recently interesting revisions of the vampire story at the movies were as rare as baked garlic at Dracula’s Diner.

That’s what makes Twilight and a new film called Let the Right One In so refreshing. The latter is a Swedish movie about Oskar, a bullied twelve-year old boy who finds love and revenge through Eli, a pretty but peculiar girl who is also a vampire.

Relocating the story from Transylvania or a giant gothic castle to a snowbound Stockholm suburb blows the cobwebs off of the traditional vampire tale. The setting is bright white, stark without a gargoyle or coffin in sight.

It’s a curious backdrop for a horror movie and the otherworldliness of the setting adds to the disquieting aspects of the story.

So if Twilight is sold out your local theatre this weekend, check out Let the Right One In, or, dig a little deeper and blow the dust off of DVD copies of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce or The Hunger (David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve as elegantly wasted vamps) or even Blacula for a different take on the vampire myth.

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