A look at St. Louis’ connections to the most popular bloodsuckers in pop culture.
Once the stuff of myth, vampires have become mainstream. Pale ghouls with kaleidoscopic eyes charm hot-blooded fans in books, on TV and at the movies.
Starting June 13, the good times will resume in Bon Temps, the fictional Louisiana town where HBO’s “True Blood” is set. The steamy vampire series is based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels and bears the stamp of TV auteur Alan Ball (also of “Six Feet Under” fame). Like ancient Greek immortals, Bon Temps vamps are wildly anthropomorphic: (blood) lustful, dissipated, jealous, despairing and capricious. Think Zeus with a Southern accent and fangs. And speaking of skin-piercing incisors: Kristin Bauer, whose character Pam co-owns the vampire bar Fangtasia, said she and the other blood lovers on the show wear a customized mouthpiece. “Kind of like a denture with gums and everything,” says Bauer, who spent one of her college years in St. Louis. Sink your teeth into the extended story on Bauer on page 74.
The Twighlight Saga: Eclipse
The cosmic success of Twilight and New Moon, the first two movies in the Twilight series, cramped actors’ style when making the third film, Eclipse, which arrives in theaters June 30. “During the first Twilight in Portland when we were shooting, there was a lot more hanging out,” said cast member and St. Louis native Sarah Clarke. “It got really tricky in Vancouver by the third one for people to be able to go anywhere, just because there were a lot of paparazzi.” Clarke, who also appeared in the Fox hit “24,” plays Bella’s mother, Renee Dwyer. At first, the youthful Clarke wasn’t sure she fit the part. “Especially talking to [Kristen Stewart], I thought, ‘Oh, my God. No one’s going to believe that I’m her mom,'” Clarke says. But then it all came together. “Once [I started] working with Kristen, it just sort of clicked. We were, like, ‘Yay, this is going to be good.'” We’ll say.
This low-budget, locally made vampire chiller has had a bloody good run on the festival circuit, traveling the globe and collecting awards for best director, best actress, best cinematography and best horror film. The heroine, Laura, is a vamp who inspires sympathy instead of dread.
“Typically, vampires lean toward being evil and blood-thirsty or they’re morally ambiguous like in Interview With the Vampire,” says Shadowland writer and director Wyatt Weed, who lives and works in St. Louis. “We made a conscious effort to break with the cliche.” Weed said an architecturally rich St. Louis offered his crew a ready-made set. “Very few things had to be built,” he says. “We lit it, we shot it—boom.” The U.K. DVD is out this month, while the North and South American releases are set to follow later in the year.
(Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter No. 19)
The undead lead normal lives in the novels of Laurell K. Hamilton, a New York Times bestselling author based in St. Louis. In Hamilton’s fantasy-horror-mystery series Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, supernatural beings have entered society at large. “You could go into your local grocery store, and the person bagging your groceries could be a vampire,” Hamilton says. “Or it could be that the person teaching your kids junior high science was a werewolf.”
Anita Blake’s main gig: Bring criminal vampires to justice. “Fans and friends say that Anita teaches them how to be strong,” Hamilton says, reflecting on the series’ popularity. The 19th novel in the book series, Bullet, hits bookstores June 1. All we know: “There’s a lot of shooting in this book—and we lose one of our characters,” Hamilton says.
The Twighlight Saga: Eclipse, starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
True Blood: Season 3. Kristen Bauer as Vampire Pam on the hit show
Photo credit: Photos courtesy of HBO, Summit Entertainment, Penguin and Wyatt Weed