Exclusive Interview: Marianne de Pierres on Priest and the evolution of vampires

Priest - Paul Bettany
Marianne de Pierres

Photo: mariannedepierres.com

To celebrate the release of Priest on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD this month from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia, The Reel Bits had a chance to chat with Marianne de Pierres, an award winning author of speculative fiction. Author of Parrish Plessis and Sentients of Orion, she has also penned the Tara Sharp humorous crime series under the pseudonym, Marianne Delacourt. She gives her opinions on the ongoing vampires and post-apocalyptic stories, and how they offer us a sense of hope in these troubling times.

“Aside from the fact that vampire and post-apocalyptic movies offer good escapism”, she argues “there’s a number of subtexts going on as well. Even though they’re very grey, dark, bleak stories, ultimately within that context the humans survive and are reborn. I think there’s that sense that even under the worst circumstance we can reinvent ourselves. They give us a great deal of hope”.

[quote_right]”Almost all vampire fiction has moved into a women’s genre”[/quote_right]De Pierres goes on to say that in the last 5 to 10 years of her 15 year career writing speculative fiction, there have been a number of significant chances to the genre of vampire fiction, and most notably their target audience. “Almost all vampire fiction has moved into a women’s genre”, she says, jokingly taking a note out of True Blood TV series creator Alan Ball’s book in referring to the genre as “lady porn”.

“Certainly in the last 5-10 years, vampires have become a lot more human. Taking into account movies like Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, vampires have become almost metrosexual. There’s an appeal in that, but there’s the ultimate foe”.

With Scott Charles Stewart’s Priest, on the other hand, we have a very different breed of vampires. The character design on the a-typical vampires is quite inspired and reminiscent of Guillermo del Toro’s singular vision. A war has existed since time immemorial between humans and vampires, with the former having the advantage of daylight. Locking themselves away in walled cities, the humans created a set of ultimate weapons against the vampires: superhuman warriors known as “Priests”. With the vampires seemingly all but extinct, the Priests are outcasts in a totalitarian Church-run world they helped protect. At least that is until some fringe-dwellers are attacked by vampires, and one Priest (Paul Bettany) goes against the wishes of the council and returns to  wage war on the fanged enemy.

[quote_left]”We are rather deluged with vampires that are touchy feely…Priest’s actually quite a welcome relief…”[/quote_left]”What Priest offers is that we are rather deluged with vampires that are touchy feely”, states de Pierres “and Priest’s actually quite a welcome relief from that in the sense that the vampires are aliens, they’re not humans, they’re vicious, they’re unrelenting, we don’t have that touchy-feeling connection with them”.

Priest connects more closely with earlier kinds of vampire literature and…it deals with the religious aspect that you don’t actually get an awful lot of these days. It offers that very hardcore horror, but it’s a movie about scruples and beliefs, but it is staying away from the current romantic films”.

Ultimately, de Pierres feels that stories like Priest remain popular because they give viewers a chance for escapism and hope. “It’s a meta-human anxiety. We want to live out our worst nightmare and know we survive. I want to imagine the worst thing I can possibly imagine, and know that, like the cockroaches, we’ll still be there”.

Priest is available on on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD this month from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia.

Marianne de Pierres can be found online at her official website, and has a new Western-themed sci-fi comic out called Peacemaker.

Priest Blu-ray cover (Australia)