Sucking It Up: Vampires Suck vs. My Sucky Teen Romance

15 August 2010 at 00:39 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

***Quick thanks to Kristen over at Act Your Age for cluing me in on Hagins’ latest project.***

After a wave of successful vampire books, films, and TV series, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see spoof versions of these texts coming down the pike. Most prominently, Vampires Suck has been heavily promoted with spots on TV. Here’s the trailer:

It’s also probably no shock that I’m not itching to see this one. As the Vampires Suck trailer demonstrates, the spoof genre has gone from a hilarious and even at times legitimately subversive form of social critique (a la Blazing Saddles) to a hodge podge of cultural references (Lady Gaga, Black-Eyed Peas, Jersey Shore), body humor, and over-the-top antics.

This already stale genre has become even more trite in the age of the internet. As Felix Vasquez of Cinema Crazed points out in his review of Vampires Suck, comedic parodies of the Twilight series already pervade blogs, YouTube, and comedy sites like Funny Or Die. Here are a few samples:

By all appearances, Vampires Suck fails to really say anything new or substantial about the vampire phenomenon, which is to be expected since the same crew brought us such slap-sticky schlock as the Scary Movie series, Epic Movie, Date Movie, and Meet the Spartans. Like those offerings, this film merely cashes in on viewer exasperation with current trends in the media. It also critiques fandom in a very gendered way: teenage girls wearing “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” shirts duke it out with shovels–didn’t see that one coming! Such scenes, of course, play upon problematic stereotypes about the veracity of girls’ fandom.

I am far more interested to see how young filmmaker Emily Hagins tackles the trend in her upcoming film, My Sucky Teen Romance. Austin native Hagins filmed Pathogen, a full-length feature zombie film, releasing it in 2006 at the age of fourteen. Her efforts making the film became the subject of the documentary Zombie Girl: The Movie, raising Hagins’ profile in the Austin film scene and beyond. Below is the trailer for her film and for the documentary.

Hagins’ approach to the teen vampire craze differs dramatically from Vampires Suck. Instead of tweeking the Twilight premise, Hagins’ film takes place at a sci-fi convention. In that setting, actual vampires infiltrate the convention by hiding in plain sight amongst fans costumed as their favorite Twilight characters. As quoted by Slash Film, Hagins says:

“I want the characters to be real geeks– they know about Twilight and the teen vampire phenomenon. But these vampires are the real deal, and more than everyday teenagers can take on. The comedy comes from the awkwardness of regular kids dealing with monsters who have been over-romanticized in recent pop culture . . . This is a teen comedy written, directed, and acted by teenagers. It is a unique opportunity to capture the genuine teen experience.”

A still from My Sucky Teen Romance. Image taken from Slash Film.com.

Of course, it’s impossible to “capture the genuine teen experience,” but having an actual teenager writing and directing such a project gets you pretty darn close. What I’m more interested to see is how Hagins negotiates issues related to fandom. On the one hand, the description of the film seems to suggest a critique of “over-romanticized” vampires and their fans; on the other hand, Hagins uses these geeks as protagonists who fend off the monsters that they idolize in fictitious form. This seems like a more even-handed approach than Vampires Suck by allowing for a parody of fandom without dismissing it entirely. Such an inventive premise proves that Hagins is clever beyond her years, or at least beyond those who wrote Vampires Suck (admittedly, not a tall order).

To wrap things up, here’s the short promo for Hagins’ film:

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