Television Listings

"Suck" takes bite at "Twilight" vampires

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Hard core vampire fans take heart, a new movie about the fabled living dead has a bit more bite to it than the popular "Twilight" brand of blood suckers.

Actor/director Rob Stefaniuk brings an EDGIER twist to the vampire story in his rock 'n' roll romp "Suck," which debuted at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Stefaniuk's hero is a conflicted musician in a go-nowhere band looking for immortality and a record deal. Then, the female bassist, played by Jessica Pare, is made into a sexy vampire, transforms her bandmates, and fame quickly ensues.

"I was getting into my 30s and feeling a little old. I came up with a vampire idea as far as staying young forever," Stefaniuk told Reuters.

"That metaphor worked so well with rock 'n' roll -- staying up all night, sleeping all day, the look itself. Dead people sell more records, rock 'n' roll will never die, blood sucking managers, it just kept working."

The roughly $3 million film boasts real-life rock stars Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins and Moby, a big coup for Stefaniuk, who is himself a musician. And the movie is an immensely personal one for Stefaniuk, 38, who wrote it the same way he would've penned a song, filled with gritty emotion.

But when he tried to sell the idea of a vampire/comedy/rock flick to Hollywood "people just thought I was crazy," he said.

Yet, one look around this year's Toronto film festival, which annually premieres movies that play in theaters for the next year, and it seems the notion of sentimental and caring vampires currently in vogue -- meaning the "Twilight" series of teen romances -- is facing some hard-edged competition.

Other blood-lusting flicks at this year's festival include "Jennifer's Body," in which Megan Fox plays a high school girl who eats up boys, and "Daybreakers," about vampire overlords conquering the world, starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe.

THIRSTING FOR VAMPIRES

People are always coming up with popular, new ways of telling the vampire tale, said author Anne Rice, a queen of the genre widely known for her popular novels going back to 1976's book "Interview with the Vampire."

"Vampires are a powerful metaphor," Rice told Reuters.

"He's conscious, he's conflicted, he knows if he's not careful he may kill the thing he loves. He has to drink blood to survive, but he doesn't really want to hurt people because the longer he lives the more he sees them as beautiful. It's just an irresistible way of talking about humans," she said.

In recent years, those new ways have included HBO cable TV series "True Blood," in which vampires are trying to assimilate into human society, and the "Twilight" series of novels by author Stephenie Meyer, made into last year's hit movie of the same name that raked in $384 million at global box offices.

Rice said the popularity of the new-look vampires is a bit of a mystery to her, although it sticks to the formula of targeting lovers of romance and mostly women of all ages.

But love isn't always what it's cracked up to be, and when that's the case, fans have movies like "Suck" and the others.

British actor Bill Nighy, who plays ominous killer Viktor in the "Underworld" horror movies, told Reuters he'd watch any vampire flick.

"They have kind of caught fire," he said. "I really want to watch the Alice Cooper one." When told names of who else was in "Suck" he quickly added: "Iggy Pop is in it? Oh my god. Well, yeah, I'll be there."

(Reporting by Jennifer Kwan)

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