Renfield, You have Betrayed Me!

With modern horror films focusing on torture with the deviant psychopath guilty of horrendous and brutal acts of violence, the more fantastical monsters had been tucked away into their dusty tombs and forgotten about.. at least until recently. Vampires have exploded in popularity in the last few years. While most of us shudder at the mention of Twilight, there needs to be some credit given to the book series (and now multi-million dollar franchise) for breathing life back into the creatures of the night.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not a fan of Twilight. Not by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m willing to acknowledge that it is the reason that vampires have become a mainstay in pop culture nowadays. Because they are so accessible, even my six year old niece has a t-shirt that says “I <3 Vampires,” and she thinks I’m the coolest aunt because I like them too (she still likes zombies the most though).

I’ve compiled a list of my Top Ten Vampire Films below, if you haven’t checked any of them out – I highly recommend them.

10. Nosferatu (1922)

How could I not include this on my list? This is where it all began. The hauntingly beautiful German silent film was originally based on the popular Bram Stoker novel, narrowly avoiding copyright infringement by changing the main character’s name. One of the notable differences from this movie to many of the others on this list, is that the vampire is disfigured. The story focuses on the loneliness that all fanged creatures suffer in their immortality and the need for companionship and this stirring tale is told with a chilling Gothic backdrop.

 

I really wanted them to kiss

9. Interview with a Vampire (1994)

I mentioned the deformed vampire, well how about the enchantingly handsome? Pitt and Cruise both offer stellar performances as new vampire, Louis and his maker, Lestat in this vampire story of love lost and the struggles of living for all eternity. Based on the popular Anne Rice book, the amazing costumes and a talented by the cast makes this a stand out romanticized bloodsucker film.

8. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

A preview of many films to come from the team of Rodriguez-Tarantino. This is more an action-horror film than anything else, but extremely entertaining. The Gecko brothers (Clooney and Tarantino) are criminals and in trying to escape the pursuing police force attempting to bring them to justice, they steal a Winnebago and the family found within. Where do they hide out? A sleazy strip club which, unknowing to them, is filled with the very sexy (and mostly naked) undead. All they need to do is survive until dawn. While gory and violent, the movie also offers quick and witty dialogue recited by an all-star cast.

The first time I tried to rent this movie, I was carded by the guys at the video store. To be fair, I was 15 – but it’s not like I was trying to buy cigarettes. My brother had to get it for me, and over the course of those three days, I watched it six times.

7. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Based off the novel of the same name, this will always be one of the movies that people associate with Francis Ford Coppola. This is the ultimate love story. The bloody Vlad Tepes tragically loses his wife and centuries later, believes he has found her reincarnated in Mina Harker (Winona Ryder). Gary Oldman is spectacular as the lead vampire who is able to provoke lust, terror and sympathy from the audience and while some of the supporting cast is questionable (Keanu Reeves, really?), overall it’s a brilliant and reasonably accurate telling of the famous book.

 

6. Underworld (2003)

While this is a more action oriented film, it does offer some political intrigue to the creatures of the night, especially surrounding Selene’s origins. In a modern setting where both vampires and lycans (werewolves) and are constantly battling against one another, the female death dealer is forced to choose between her loyalty to her kind and a man she has only just met, but seems to be at the root of the never-ending war between the two factions. Directed by Les Wiseman, it’s no surprise that this has the sex appeal of an hour and a half music video, and has a killer soundtrack to boot. Dark and sleek and interesting enough to spawn three sequels.

5. Fright Night (1985)

I could go on and on about how much I love this movie.. but you really should just read my “Nightmare on Netflix” review. It is the perfect blend of comedy, horror and romance and has some of the best special effects that I have ever seen. The only downside? It’s the remake that has David Tennant.

Check it out here: http://geekin-out.com/?p=920

 

4. Shadow of  the Vampire (2000)

A movie about the movie.. brilliant! This is a stylish telling of the torturous production of the 1922 film, Nosferatu starring Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich. Essentially this explores the original directors obsession with making an ‘authentic’ horror movie, regardless of the costs. When Count Orlok (Dafoe) arrives on set, everyone is surprised to see him decked out in Gothic regalia and it seems he has every intention of playing the role one and off camera. A smart, creative and thoughtful movie with plenty of creepiness.

 

Eternal Friendship

3. Let the Right One In (2008)

Another movie that I’ve already talked about in some detail in my Remade and Remasters post a few weeks ago, though to be honest, I could go on and on about this one. It takes a step away from the romantic and Gothic version of the vampire and focuses on the more brutal and cruel aspects and what makes it even better is that the fanged monster is in the guise of a young girl. Not uncommon in many foreign horror films, this has a slow build up to the terrifying climax and while the remake is good, this is far better.

2. The Lost Boys (1987)

Don’t be surprised by this. It seems the 1980s were the best time for vampires to stalk the night! A teen movie that accurately captures the rising problems of puberty: sex, isolation, and the desire to belong without being cliched. Michael, new to the city gets tangled up with a gang of vampires when he falls for the leaders gypsy girlfriend. Turned into one of them unwilling, he turns to his younger brother and a band of vampire hunters to help return him to his mortal self. Dark and brooding with a cast of hip and young rising stars enhanced with a killer soundtrack and wickedly clever marketing campaign, this film has found a home on nearly every list of ‘best’ vampire movies.

1. The Hunger (1983)

This has one of the most stunning opening sequences to a film I have ever seen. With the hauntingly melodic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus droning in the background, John and Miriam (Bowie and Deneuve) prowl nightclubs to satisfy their need for blood. While Miriam is immortal and has the ability to live forever, we soon learn that the lovers she turns into vampires cannot sustain the transformation as John begins to age. He attempts to reverse the process by seeking out the medical expertise of a doctor (Sarandon), but is eventually put to rest in a coffin hidden in an attic filled with past companions of Miriam, who is cursed to be alone forever. Moody and sensual, the story is as tragically sad and it is artistically stylized.

Honorable Mentions: Dracula, 30 Days of Night, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Near Dark, and The Blade Trilogy.

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