Wednesday, November 18, 2009

15 Essential Vampire Movies

"New Moon" comes out Friday. I could go on a huge rant about my hatred of all things "Twilight", but I won't. Instead, here's a list of superior vampire movies.

Nosferatu (1922)

The best vampire movie ever made, this loose adaptation of "Dracula" has the most memorable vampire in movie history-one that gave me nightmares as a kid. Also worthy of mention is Werner Herzog's 1979 remake, and the 2000 movie "Shadow of the Vampire", which is an interesting take on the making of the movie, and got Wilem Defoe a best supporting actor nomination.

Martin (1977)

George Romero's other true masterpiece is actually an ungratefully ignored film that is also the best American made vampire movie ever made, and the "Taxi Driver" of it's genre. The movie deals with the title character (John Amplas), who may or may not be a vampire. The film never lets the viewer know for sure, which makes it all the more original and intriguing.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Based on a bestselling novel of the same name, this Swedish movie is also one of my favorite horror movies of the decade, and in my list of 25 best movies of the decade as well. Though eerie and scary, this is also a suprisingly tender and honest, and features what may be the best example of childhood friendship of this decade.

Near Dark (1987)

Before she got attention for "Point Break" and got praise from just about everyone for this years "The Hurt Locker", director Katheryn Bigelow gave the world the tale of a man who reluctantly joins a "family" of vampires after being bitten by a girl. The best vampire movie of the 80's, this is a movie that works due to great set-pieces (especially one at a diner), solid acting and an intriguing story. Oh, and Bill Paxton rules in it.

Dracula (1931)

It wouldn't be a list of vampire movies without Todd Browning's seminal classic starring Bela Lugosi. Though it's been parodied to death at this point, it's still a solid, pure bred classic that every horror fan needs to see.

Horror of Dracula (1958)

The film and role that made Christopher Lee a star, this is also Hammer's best movie overall. A masterpiece of Gothic horror, it's also the first Dracula film to use blood, red eyes and fangs.

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

One of the best horror movies from the 70's nobody knows about, Richard Blackburn's sole directorial effort is a haunting, poetic and lyrical low budget film that serves as a fairy tale for adults that's about the end of childhood and adolescence as much as it is about vampires.

Fright Night (1985)

Before he directed "Child's Play", Tom Holland did a little movie about a teenage boy (Charlie Ragsdale) whose next door neighbor (Chris Sarandon) just happens to be a vampire. Creepy, campy and tongue in cheek throughout, "Fright Night" is a perfect movie for Halloween, and features a fun performance from veteran character actor Roddy McDowall.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

"Vampires. No Interviews."

So says the tagline for this Robert Rodriguez directed, Quentin Tarantino written tribute to exploitation that serves as a great antidote to the Anne Rice style brooding vampire that plagued the 90's.

Fascination (1979)

Out of all the vampire movies Jean Rollin directed, this surreal mix of doomed romanticism, predatory imagery and unabashed eroticism best represents his artful style.

The Lost Boys (1987)

Though not as great as "Near Dark" or as good as "Fright Night", this movie is still a classic, and unlike most vampire movies, actually says "Brooding angst? To hell with that, being a vampire is fun!" It's a movie that's impossible not to love.

Blacula (1972)

got into the vampire genre in this tale of an African prince (William Marshall) who comes to Los Angeles. More campy than scary, "Blacula" features a fun performance by Tucker, and is essential viewing for Blaxploitation fans. Also, "Blacula! Dracula's Soul Brother!" is one of the best taglines ever.

Habit (1996)

Larry Fessenden directs and stars as an alcoholic named Sam, whose girlfriend has dumped him and whose dad just died. Good thing he finds Anna (Meredith Snaider), who he takes solace in. Too bad she's a vampire that's dragging him into a world of addicton and insanity. Well acted and atmospheric, this is the movie that really got Fessenden attention among horror fans and critics alike.

Lifeforce (1985)

Space vampires, a hot vampire chick whose naked all the time, London turning into zombies and Patrick Stewart kissing Steve Railsback. It may have tanked in the box office, but Tobe Hooper's film has a bonkers quality that warrants a look.

The Black Room (1984)

Though it'll be a bitch finding it (it's not on DVD), Norman Thaddeus Vane and Elly Kenner's unique take on the vampire as a swinger and sexual predator isn't perfect, but it has an offbeat charm that should appeal to 80's Grindhouse movie devotees.

1 comment:

  1. Great list, I still cannot understand how the fanbase for the twilight series is increasing. Shameful.

    From Dusk Till Dawn is one of my favorites.

    I was thinking of another vampire film by Francis Ford Coppola titled "Bram Stoker's Dracula" with Gary Oldman, I enjoyed it a lot... although the acting skills of Kaunu Reeves was stiff, if not... awful.

    Overall, I thought that film was awesome.

    Merry Christmas!