Why ‘Warm Bodies’ Is Not ‘Twilight’

Edward vs R: Why 'Warm Bodies' is not 'Twlight'. Photo from ScreenCrush.com

Edward vs R: Why ‘Warm Bodies’ is not ‘Twlight’. Photo from ScreenCrush.com

Here we are again, dear readers. Another blog where I truly do not want to get personal, but this article is about more than the namesakes it features. This is about hopefully distinguishing some large arguments in regards to film comparisons by taking a fanatic point of view and applying it with facts as well as reasoning. Looking beyond aesthetics and dissecting the subjects at hand. Basically, in layman’s terms, I really hope after reading this, people stop whining about why “Warm Bodies” is the same thing as “Twilight”.

To start, those who were expecting “Warm Bodies” to be a box office failure – after opening weekend and months of advance/test screenings, as of Feb 5th 2013, the film is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 77% with an 83% audience rating, a B+ CinemaScore, and even the very finicky folks of MetaCritic give the film a 58/100 (a “yellow” score means mixed reviews). The movie also made an unexpected $20mil opening weekend haul, which looks promising re: the film making back and surpassing it’s $30mil budget. This may be mostly thanks to the PG13 rating in the market on this opening weekend which was saturated with R ratings, but it’s impressive a zombie Rom-Com beat out a cinema veteran like Sylvester Stallone! If this is the only criteria you base a film off of for it’s worth, then thanks for coming, folks. Don’t forget to tip your waitress on the way out.

Anyway, to clear out some critical cobwebs I hear from other fellow fanatics online. I had seen a complaint that “Warm Bodies” would have been original if it was released “like, 10 years ago when Twilight first came out”. “Twilight”, the first novel in the series by Stephenie Meyer, was published in 2005 (not ten years ago) with the first film having been released 2009 (still not ten years ago), while “Warm Bodies” began as a short story by the author Isaac Marion who then developed it into a book in 2010 (yes, still not ten years ago). And in the positive reviews for “Warm Bodies”, one comes from Meyer herself! The “Twilight” creator obviously needs no help in the publicity department and doesn’t need to take the time to give public kudos to a story that is now cinematically being criticized as copying the vampire saga, but she did. Refreshing that Meyer did not take a Stephen King route in regards to literary competition.

One of three different covers for "Warm Bodies" by Isaac Marion

One of three different covers for “Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion

In terms of the story from the books and not the films, “Warm Bodies” is assumed to be a young adult book just because the movie was made by Summit, who churned out the “Twilight” series over the years. As someone who read “Warm Bodies” and the prequel “The New Hunger”, I can assure you that Marion’s tales are not young adult, or they could be under supervision of a parent who decides when it’s appropriate for their teen child (mid to late teens, I’d say) to read books containing many repetitions of the “F” word, detailed descriptions of zombies tearing apart humans, pot smoking, and even some zombie sex thrown in the mix. I am sure teens are no stranger to these concepts, but I hate thinking of overprotective parents coming back and blaming Marion for planting the ideas in their fragile little brains. Basically, if you think an 11 year old would have nightmares watching “The Walking Dead” on AMC, “Warm Bodies” is not appropriate yet. This is akin to “Breaking Dawn” in the “Twilight” literary series, which features the wedding night of Bella and Edward, consummating their marriage, as well as a very gruesome, violent child birth, and parents wondering when it is okay for their kids to read it. Needless to say, though, after research since I have not read the “Twilight” books yet, there appears to be no cussing or detailing of sexual encounters in Meyer’s writing (please correct me if I’m wrong, readers). Related, but I have to thank the Team Jack podcast and the ladies of Team Jack, as well as Nuttymadam, for their insight into the “Twilight” series in various forums for helping my research, by the way!

In terms of marketing and products, “Twilight” is a juggernaut. There are “Twilight” dolls, shirts, notebooks, jewelry, Burger King toys, and I’m sure any item you’d need in day to day life can be found in relation to the franchise. This is not an insult in anyway, but with all due respect, “Warm Bodies” had a very modest marketing campaign with very little merchandising before the release weekend (Hot Topic carried a few themed shirts with a promotion of free Valentines Cards if you purchased a “Warm Bodies” item), but it still did surprisingly well. Also, all the “Twilight” films have their own soundtrack for each installment, while “Warm Bodies” does not. You can, however, find the film track-listing here and it’s refreshing that you can buy all the songs from the film that you want on iTunes without being hit with the pesky “buy the whole album for that ONE song” ultimatum. I’d also suggest checking out the album “Holy Weather” by Civil Twilight, as I feel like all the songs together comprise a kind of unofficial soundtrack for the film.

A group of survivors scavenge for supplies in "Warm Bodies" Image from GameZone.com

A group of survivors scavenge for supplies in “Warm Bodies” Image from GameZone.com

Finally, I come to the heart of the matter: the story. What makes “Warm Bodies” down to the bone, no pun intended, different from “Twilight”. In Meyer’s world of sparkling vampires and menacing werewolves, life goes on as normal for those in Edward and Bella’s world, unaware of the mystery that surrounds them. Kids still go to high school, to their proms, drive in their cars, and eat at the local diner. Until Bella confronts Edward about his secret and had she not known Jacob, who planted the thought in her mind, she would have been none-the-wiser he was a vampire. The world of “R” the Zombie and Julie Grigio is drastically, heart-breakingly different. Complete collapse of civilization has left both communities, the Living and the Dead, scavenging for what they need to survive and very aware of one another. When I look at “R”, my first impulse isn’t to take him home to mom. Edward, while a bit moody for my taste, still appears human and imposes no immediate threat to his surroundings. “R” and his friends are, frankly, terrifying and blatantly not human. Sure, certain fans want to get into the aesthetic logistics of why the films are identical, but they are not sinking their teeth into the meat of both stories. Are these zombie analogies doing anything for you guys, by the way? Sorry. Anyway.

Basically, if you want to compare movies to this basic principle of the natural born killer taking a drastic personality turn outside their nature, then sure, “Warm Bodies” is the same as “Twilight”. Then “Twilight” is the same as “Terminator 2” (a robot built for the destruction of humans who instead saves man kind), and “Terminator 2” is the same as “Silence of the Lambs” (a cannibal psychopath killer spares Clarice, an FBI agent, who he’s enamored with), and “Silence of the Lambs” is the same as “Casablanca” which is the same as “The Green Mile”, and so on and so forth. As they say in “Fight Club”, everything is just a copy of a copy of a copy, right?

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About Amanda Rosenblatt

I have always been obsessed with fan stories, the origin of fanaticism and pop culture in general.
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10 Responses to Why ‘Warm Bodies’ Is Not ‘Twilight’

  1. Donna says:

    Like you i never read Warm Body books not my taste obviously, i would love to see vamps sex than zombies sex…so sorry not sorry! But if Warm Body get good BO, good for your fav movie…ok

    • You should perhaps review your post and spelling because I have NO idea what kind of argument you are trying to convey here. For instance, you start your post with “like you [,] I never read Warm Body books” when in the article, I clearly state that I have. Thank you for contributing, though.

  2. from WARM BODIES author Isaac Marion on Twitter of this article “Loved your comparisons at the end. If you want 100% originality, you’d have to go full Dada. Oops, Dada already did that.” https://twitter.com/isaacinspace/status/299785024679600128

  3. from pop culture expert Fong Sam on Twitter of this article “Everyone should read ‘Why Warm Bodies is not Twilight'” https://twitter.com/fonger/status/299901895928057856

  4. Crazy4ComicCon stamp of approval and shared with over 4k Twitter followers https://twitter.com/Crazy4ComicCon/status/299737647776145408

  5. Pingback: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion | Bookish Feelings Recorded

  6. Jane says:

    I like your review. I read both the books Twilight series and Warm Bodies along with its prequel The New Hunger. And I think the message from Warm Bodies wanted to convey to the readers is so much more than supernatural romance story but a philosophically deeper meaning. It tells how the Living and the Dead struggling on their daily lives. Not to survive but to live meaningfully and with hope. Warm Bodies although does not have a conclusive ending, but it makes you wonder: life keeps going on and we all try our very best to find its purpose, even though it is an endless journey.

    In my opinion, Warm Bodies is far better and is different from Twilight. I won’t say Twilight is bad but it is only a one-time-only read through. But for Warm Bodies, it makes me want to re-read the story again to explore the meaning of life.

    • Thank you for the feedback 🙂 I agree. I feel that while “Twilight” is not my cup of tea or thought provoking for me, it doesn’t make it bad writing. It’s just different strokes for different folks.

  7. Cindy Lewis says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article.

    I detest Twilight. A vampire, to my mind, is a creature that must drink human blood to survive, or to live optimally, at the very least. A monster is no longer monstrous if its nature doesn’t demand that it harm human beings. The epitome of the vampire, to me, is Christopher Lee. Sure, Anne Rice’s character Louis drank the blood of rats for a while, but he was an embarrassment to himself and other vampires for doing so.

    So then imagine my surprise and embarrassment when I absolutely adored Warm Bodies. I’d have been happier had Julie become a zombie rather than the other way ’round, and I wish there were more explanation for how the dead could return to life, (Wouldn’t they still have the unhealed wounds that originally killed them?) , but otherwise I find the whole thing highly enjoyable. So of course I need all the validation that it’s different from Twilight that I can get.

    I love that the zombies here are killing and eating people. I love that R learns about Julie by smashing her boyfriend’s head open, eating some of his brain, and putting the rest in his pocket to munch on over the next few days.

    • I agree with your entire POV (except I don’t detest Twilight exactly, but I could never get into the fandom/storyline and I don’t enjoy Meyers’ writing style) and I myself too wondered how one could look at why they could heal themselves without the “oh, it’s magical love” POV. I started to learn more about Isaac, the writer, and found his background is very much immersed in escaping a life of religion because he found it to be very cult-like and in the book “Warm Bodies”, that is very much reflected. I think the way they were, the zombies, was looked at as a plague instead of a disease, and when the human race started to take the time to understand the zombies, and vice versa with R protecting Julie and seeing her value as a living thing, the plague started to reverse itself. And obviously, the bonies were far too long gone, biologically speaking, to repair themselves, so they were like non-secular demons trying to keep things as they were. And Julie’s dad’s extreme resistance against R reflects the general population’s resistance to accept people for their differences. I hope this maybe gives you a different POV 🙂

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