Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Hello, Space Monkees!

This time, I absolutely promise, is nothing but stupid pointless, completely meaningless fluff.  Any life lessons you might learn from this commentary is completely accidental and unintended.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't live on that advise though.  Who knows?  It might just be the path to glorious Nirvana.

Seeing "Daybreakers" come to theatres is something of a bittersweet moment to me.  On the one hand, just seeing a vampire movie these days with the nice classic horror grit that old horror movies had back in the 90s ("From Dusk Till Dawn" is the best example - great movie!) return to form might have been enough to get my ass in the seat.  Also, that the movie would have such an original idea:  a dystopian future where vampires have taken over, and thanks to their ravenous ways, there's a shortage of human blood which could lead to the existinction of the human race.  Its brilliant.  Simple, chilling, and it leads inevitably to a horrible gory conclusion.  On the other hand...  I thought of it first!!!

It had to be ten years ago - at least - when I first came up with this idea.  I remember at the time I was reading a Goosebumps You-Choose-the-Scare book called "Please Don't Feed the Vampire!"  During one of the "bad" endings, you [now a vampire] are imprisoned by the elder vampires out of the fear that too many vampires would lead to depopulation of the human race, and would ruin everything.  That's when the idea occurred to me:  what if that actually happened?  I didn't really put together much of a narrative (I was really too long for that) but I had the broad strokes put together:

A small desert village after what appears to be the apocalyse is the hometown of the main characters.  However, it turns out to a 'Human Farm', where human populations are allowed to grow, until finally the vampires come out from their subterrian SciFi cities to drain them of blood, and add these to their population.  This is how things have worked for thousands of years, until the vampire population grows too large, no amount of blood can sustaine them, and all the humans are wiped out.  The main characters are turned, and slowly go insane from lack of blood along with the rest of the world.  Losing their minds, they bite each other, they bite animals, they even begin to suck their own blood.  The story ends with the main character, barely a husk of a body at this point, crawling out of the cities into the harsh desert sun, where he or she is killed off.

Yeah, its a little weird that I was imagining stuff like this as a kid. 

Anyway:   what did I do with this idea? Absolutely nothing, just like always! So this is why Hollywood beat me to the punch.  Arrg!  I'm still mad though!

So anyway, was "Daybreakers" a good movie?  It seems like such a great idea like "vampiric dystopia" simply cannot fail, so why even ask the question?

Well...  Its really only "okay".  Maybe I'm bitter over seeing my idea used first or something, but I still think this movie could have been done better.  The story deviates from my idea in a number of ways.  First of all, vampires are a new thing to this world.  In fact, "Daybreakers" only takes place in 2019, which leads to the central argument of the movie:  is it better to be human or vampire?  Its a silly moral question in terms of our everyday life, but its better than most horror movies can muster.  Also, in what I personally think is a truly brilliant move, lack of blood mutates the vampire citizens.  They transform into bat-winged Nosferatus.  So the vampire world is infested with mad inhuman creatures attacking people and stealing what little blood is left.  Its some really good ideas, but the turns the story makes are purposefully designed to avoid the incomping disaster that this story needed.

The cast works largely, though a few casting choices got me personally a little confused.  Having Ethan Hawke as your main hero in any dystopia movie will immediately make me scream "Gattaca", and for the longest time I was certain he playing that same general role; a regular human pretending to be one of the majority superhumans.  Oddly enough, the human resistance is lead by Willem Dafoe - the one actor in Hollywood who I am positively certain really is a vampire in real life, "Last Temptation of Christ" notwithstanding.  Look at Willem Dafoe for a moment, I'll give you it.  Now come back.  Tell me now that he isn't an honest to God vampire.  But that's just me.  The characters they played weren't the most deep people in the world, "Gattaca" this is not.

Most of the scares are purely of the typical "JUMP-AT-THE-SCREEN-AND-SCARE-THE-LIVING-SHIT-OUT-OF-YOU" horror variety.  How many times can you have a bat jump at the camera?  The answer is found in "Daybreakers".  There isn't very much of a the deeper, psychological scares of watching a society break down and seeing the human race transform into something inhuman.  I was expecting this to be a horror on a level like David Chroneburg's "The Fly".  In that there are no "scares", only the disgust of watching Jeff Goldblum's body continuously fall apart right in front of you.  Ultimately it all breaks down into a zombie movie, only striped down to purely the gory parts.

I will say this, the movie does seem to have its own sense of style.  There's almost a 50s sort of look to this piece.  The vampire waitresses are freindly and wear lots of lipstick, everybody is chain smoking, and Willem Dafoe loves talking about Elvis.  The simple visual effect of watching a world where everybody has fangs and pale skin is brilliant right there.  But there just isn't enough.  There should have been more 50s echos, more exploration of what American society is like when we're biting each other's necks.  I mean, they never even bothered to ask what the churches are doing these days now that their parishoners will turn into embers just by carrying rosary beads.  Its just a horror movie in the end.  And I think it could have been so much more.  For horror fans, this is a great little movie.  My internal Fangoria loved it.  But as for the rest of you, its probably not much worth remembering.

So let's wait twenty to thirty years, then hand me the remake.  I'll show you something that you'll never forget.


  1. Ah, It's good to see that there are still real vampires left in the world.

    It seems a very interesting premise, I'll have to check this out.

  2. You're not the only one who got your idea stolen like that, I'm still mad at apple for stealing my iPhone idea i came up with about three years before iPhone was even announced -.-

  3. I've had ideas stolen as well by movies. Not entire plotlines like this, but I've notices some specific, authentic things in stories I've created end up in a movie. It's not fun, because then I usually get discouraged and start over. Now I'm actually writing a novel, just finished Chapter 2 on page 49, but still, this idea I'm working with is so good(IMO) the only thing that has a chance of stealing it is the plotline of FFXV.

  4. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with this review. Daybreakers was pretty good, but it had the potential to be so much better.

  5. I'm pretty sure that a lot of people have had that idea. I read a book with pretty much the same plot (only the Vampires used magic instead of machines to keep the humans alive and eventually the source of the spell faded or something like that), though I can't remember off the top of my head the title. I'll go pop in a Google search and see if I get anything.