Bella Bella! Beauties and their beasts

'New Moon' shows the lure of loving a monster. Danny Brierley and David Usborne report

A record-breaking number of filmgoers has been bitten this weekend by the film New Moon, the latest instalment in the Twilight saga. Teenage hearts both sides of the Atlantic have been set fluttering by the vampire tales featuring the British actor Robert Pattinson.

His co-star, Kristen Stewart, has her own, growing following. She reprises her role as Bella Swann in the new film, continuing her celibate on-screen love affair with Edward Cullen, a vampire with a heart.

The couple's chemistry – and the fact their passion is unlikely to be consummated – is driving the film's success, as it did the multimillion-selling books they first appeared in.

The 19-year-old actress is the latest to play a long line of heroines who fall for a leading man with a dark, not to say supernatural, side. They include FBI agent Clarice Starling, who, in Silence of the Lambs, finds it hard to resist the charms of a cannibal doctor, even when he is strapped in a strait-jacket and wearing a face mask.

Vampires feature heavily in the list of celluloid seducers, their hypnotic stares hard to resist, even for the damsels they devour. Werewolves, too, are no slouches when it comes to movie romance. Jenny Agutter, in An American Werewolf in London, found it hard to resist amorous advances – even when they were made by a slavering creature of the night intent on ripping her throat out.

The film critic Barry Norman explained the attraction behind these hits. "It's the appeal of the rogue; women think the power of their love can transform hopeless material into something better, whether it's a bloke, a beast or a vampire. There is also an element of danger involved. It helps that good-looking guys tend to play the parts."

Then there's the noble nature that lies beneath the fangs and fur. Obviously, only a woman can heal his hurts. "He is capable of great love, like King Kong's for Fay Wray, and the rest who followed her, which strikes a feminine chord," added Norman.

New Moon is expected to have the biggest US debut weekend this year. The LA Times reported that it was likely to gross more than $70m (£42m) by Friday, beating the $67.2m record set by The Dark Knight in 2008.

Additional reporting by Rupert van den Broek

IN LOVE WITH A MONSTER...

Winona Ryder in 'Dracula'

In the 1992 film Dracula, Mina Harker (Winona Ryder) is transformed into a vampire by Gary Oldman's lovelorn count. He is smitten by a photo that shows she is the reincarnation of his long-dead wife. Ultimately, he is only after one thing, her blood, and she is forced to lift his curse by driving a dagger through his broken heart.

Sinead Keenan in 'Being Human'

Hospital porter George (Russell Tovey) is transformed into a werewolf every full moon, but nurse Nina (Sinead Keenan) is initially ignorant of his metamorphosis. Won over by his good nature, she sticks by him even after he starts behaving like a dog. He claws her accidentally at the end of the last series, so their next tryst may be a little hairy.

Linda Hamilton in 'Beauty and the Beast'

It's the fairytale that every ugly bloke clings to, brought to life in the Eighties US TV series. Belle wins the heart of the grumpy beast by showing him what true love means. He pulls himself together and, despite his mirror-cracking looks, they fall for each other. The relationship blossoms and he is eventually transformed back into a handsome lover.

Jodie Foster in 'Silence of the Lambs'

He likes to eat his victims and finds FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) tasty. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) forms a strange bond with the woman sent to find a killer by unpicking his brilliant mind. He chews the fat from behind a perspex screen deep in a high-security prison and she – in the books at least – falls in love.

Jenny Agutter in 'An American Werewolf in London'

"Don't go out tonight," Creedence Clearwater Revival wailed in their soundtrack song, "Bad Moon Rising", and how nurse Alex Price (Jenny Agutter) must have wished she hadn't after falling in love with an American werewolf in London. Her love for Jack Goodman (David Naughton) almost costs her life after she invites him to live at her flat. He is cornered in an alleyway and shot by police, with a preternaturally forgiving Alex shouting, "I love you".

Anna Paquin in 'True Blood'

True Blood's psychic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), should have seen it coming but still falls for vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), who visits her diner after leaving his coffin. Bill wins her over by introducing her to vampirism in America but their affair is cut short by his dalliance with a former lover, another thing her telepathy failed to spot.

Naomi Watts in 'King Kong'

Beauty and the beast love affairs do not come any bigger than that between chest-beating King Kong and faded movie starlet Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) in the 2005 version of the film. The giant ape from a lost island is lured into captivity using Darrow, trussed between two posts, as bait. The primate swats fighter planes while perched on top of the Empire State Building in New York, still clutching Darrow in his other paw.

Geena Davis in 'The Fly'

Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) felt a buzz whenever she was with Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a scientist. Then he's transformed into The Fly when his wonky teleportation invention goes awry. He's soon covered in hair, vomiting on his food and climbing the walls of his apartment but that does little to squash their romance. Pregnant with his child, she eventually shoots him after he tries to fuse the three of them in one of his shoddy teleportation pods.

Kristen Stewart in 'Twilight'

New Moon, the second film in the Twilight Saga, where high-school meets the underworld, sees Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) continue her romance with the brooding Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). In a similar vein to other teenage vampire yarns, their chaste love struggles as he worries that his affection for arteries may cost Bella her life.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'

Buffy (Gellar) killed vampires and other creatures of the night, but fell for an immortal afraid of garlic, mirrors and daylight. Buffy's love of Angel (David Boreanaz) was at odds with her mission to rid the world of bloodsuckers, but she couldn't resist his pointy smile. A night of passion cost him the soul that made Buffy love him, but he recovered enough to spawn his own successful spin-off series.

Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are releasing Plectrum Electrum next month

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?