Cox, Blackthorne Lead the Charge - Swarm of New Vampire Shows, Movies on the Way
By Stacy Jenel Smith
Get out your garlic and silver bullets, the vampires are coming. Sure, vampires are always in vogue in Hollywood, as we all know. However, a definite surge in movies and television shows about these undead is upon us.
This year has already seen the launch of two series that deal heavily in the world of the vamps: Lifetime has the new "Blood Ties" starring sexy Christina Cox as vampire-hunting private eye Vicki Nelson, based on Tanya Huff's popular The Blood Books. And the Sci-Fi Channel has "The Dresden Files," with the also sexy British actor Paul Blackthorne as reluctant wizard Harry Dresden -- from Jim Butcher's best-selling novels. Vampires are certainly in his purview as well. That's in addition to such established fare as the CW's "Supernatual" with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as brothers bent upon combating paranormal evils, and frequently finding themselves facing off against you-know-what.
But there's more - much more - ahead.
"Six Feet Under" creator Alan Ball is getting down to business with "True Blood," his forthcoming series for HBO that was announced in 2005, based on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries. These decidedly off-beat tales of the undead -- who are able to roam about freely in the daytime in Harris' fictional world, thanks to the creation of a synthetic blood - will begin shooting in May. Ball is planning to retain the Southern flavor of the piece, which centers on a single waitress able to hear vampire thoughts.
Super producer Joel Silver has a pilot for CBS called "Twilight," about a character named Mick St. John, who was turned into a vampire in 1947 and has been using his supernatural powers for good, versus evil predators, ever since.
Gerard Butler of "300" and 'Phantom of the Opera" has a vampire tale on his list of upcoming movies: "Priest," in which he's a warrior priest who hunts down the undead.
Francesco Quinn is reportedly in talks to make "Blood," about a butcher who discovers that the love of his life is being seduced by a vampire.
There's also "Restless Dead" in the works. It has regular folks being turned into vampire zombies by "a burst of aberrant solar radiation," as casting notices put it, with only those who happened to be protected from the sun at the key moment being spared. This turn of events leads to the unlikely marriage of gang bangers and cops fighting the scary bad guys together. Hey, whatever it takes.
Then there's "Blood - The Last Vampire," a feature now in production in Argentina and China based on a Japanese animae film.
And you've got to know there'll be a market for the indie big screen "Live Dead Nudes" about vampire zombie strippers. That one is slated for an end-of-April production start, and it's referred to as a political satire.
Regardless of what accounts for all this vampire action - desire for escape from the ills of today's real world, perhaps, a simple case of cyclical popularity - it's raking in cash and heating up careers.
In the case of "Blood Ties," that includes those of Kyle Schmid, who plays 450-year-old vampire Henry Fitzroy (Henry VIII's illegitimate son), who serves as Christina Cox's character's guide into the supernatural world. And it includes Dylan Neal, who plays her former police partner/mortal love interest.
It isn't easy being a vampire hunter.
Cox, whose lengthy list of credits includes playing Eve Logan in the Vin Diesel hit "The Chronicles of Riddick," describes the "Blood Ties" production as "seven months of intensity."
Chatting on her cell phone during a break in production on the show's Vancouver set one morning, the actress wryly notes, "I'm working on four hours sleep. I got up at five this morning. I'm in the loopy place, and if I'm loopy by nine in the morning, I'm baked by two in the afternoon. I know the caramel corn on the craft services table is a bad idea, but right now I'm convinced it's the thing that will see me through."
But no. The fact is she is much more disciplined than that to be meeting the challenges of standard 15-hour-plus days in which she's in nearly every shot. The Canadian actress, who once aspired to become an Olympic gymnast, trains "three or four mornings out of the week. I have to work out. If you're not healthy, you have to search for other ways to get an energy boost. Working out is my warm-up. It's how I get my breath going so I don't walk in here choking out my lines, not looking tired and puffy.
"Just like you have to prepare to run a marathon, you have to prepare for this kind of show and learn how to pace yourself," she adds. "It's also how you perceive it. If you choose to look at it a as a bad thing, it's very difficult. If you choose to look at it as something great, it's an exciting challenge. I don't want to look tired -- I choose not to be tired."
Of course, if anyone had a good excuse to look tired, it would be a woman who's up all night with the vampire crowd.