Published on October 13th, 2009 | by Darren & Lottie31
Two Sheets to the Wind: Top 5 Vampire Movies
For the month that’s in it our Top-5’s are all scary ghoulish themes.
Last week we had the Top 5 Zombie Movies and some disagreements about the exclusion of The Evil Dead series from our list. This week it’s all about the Vampires.
I am a huge fan of the Vampyre, from the classically kitsch to the bloodcurdling frightening. I enjoy the movies that follow the formula of the legend as much as those that defy convention and say damn the “rules” shunning cross, garlic and even the sunlight. The genre is so varied – there’s the gore, horror, terror, drama, sensuality, romance and comedy to be had. I rate Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer as one of the best TV series of all time and my number one movie on this list as one of the greatest films that I have ever seen.
You won’t find Vincent Price in my list or the likes of Return of The Vampire (1944) or Nosferatu (1922). Are they fun? Yes. Did they start the revolution? Yes. But will I be sitting down to watch them over and over again? No. I think that it’s important to consider the quality of the film more so than it’s historical value – when I hold the likes of Dracula’s Daughter up against Shadow of a Vampire or even Fright Night it just doesn’t hold my attention. My Top 5 consists of those movies which will keep me coming back for more.
Lottie’s Top Five Vampire Movies
5. Blade (1998)
“Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.”
Fair enough, it lacks depth but it’s a quality action movie that just oozes cool. There’s kung-fun, deadpan quips and a bit of a love story all drenched with a healthy dose of sarcasm and as you will see, I am rather fond of the “good-guy” vampire line.
4. Interview With The Vampire (1994)
“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith”
How do you try pinpoint Neil Jordan’s Interview With a Vampire? A romantic horror? A sinister period drama?
A wonderfully in-depth story taken from the Anne Rice vampire series IWTV is perverse and haunting. Tom Cruise breaks type-cast perfectly, Pitt is all bad and moody and Kirsten Dunst is astounding as the child vampire. In my opinion Dunst should have been up for and the recipient of Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the role which instead went to Mira Sorvino for her role as a prostitute in Mighty Aphrodite.
It’s just a pity the other Rice adaptations have been such disappointing drivel.
3. The Lost Boys (1987)
“Come on, be one of us.”
Referencing Peter Pan in the title, The Lost Boys is the reason why I thought Jack Bauer was going to be the bad guy for the first two series of 24.
The Lost Boys emerged at the height of new horror genre. It was entirely aware of it’s audience and played on that. It was dark and bloody enough to be scary but left the audience with a sense of ease, embracing the trend and ending on a joke.
It’s easy to draw similarities between Lost Boys and Near Dark, a movie of the same year and it’s certainly arguable that Near Dark is the better made movie. It has more emotion, more violence and a great ‘pub brawl’ scene but I felt I had to choose one over the other and The Lost Boys pipped Near Dark to the post on the grounds of nostalgia alone.
2. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
“Attention pussy shoppers! Take advantage of our penny pussy sale! If you buy one piece of pussy at the regular price, you get another piece of pussy of equal or lesser value for only a penny! Try and beat pussy for a penny! If you can find cheaper pussy anywhere else, fuck it!”
This is hard. I can already hear resident commenter Peter seething on the peripherary but this movie is just so much fun! Body count 122, swear-word count…who the fuck cares?
It has one of the best mid-movie plot shifts in history, the dirty fugitive movie doesn’t go vamp until the hour mark. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written by Quentin Tarantino one could almost say that the vampires are incidental to the story. It’s funny, sexy, gory and toe-suckingly vicious.
Random factoid: Rumour has it that Tim Roth, John Travolta, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, and Christopher Walken were offered the role of Seth Gecko which was eventually taken up by George Clooney. It was a perfect role for Clooney’s ER exit to wash clean the clean-cut goody-two-shoes image of Dr. Doug Ross.
1. Let The Right One In (2008)
“Are you a vampire?”
“I live off blood… Yes.”
“Are you… Dead?”
“No. Can’t you tell?”
Borrowing it’s title from a Morrissey song, Let the Right One In is the little Swedish film that made it big about a tormented young boy who through a chance meeting befriends a twelve-year-old (more or less) vampire girl. To me, this movie is perfect but don’t take my word for it.
“beautiful…will floor you.” – NY Times
“Astounding, beautiful” Rotten Tomatoes
“everything Twilight wanted to be but wasn’t: beautiful to gaze at, achingly romantic, emotionally involving, unexpectedly terrifying.” – Telegraph
“Stunning” – The Guardian
A Hollywood remake of this is already on the way (god knows why it’s needed) and will no doubt entirely suck ass so please, make sure you see this before it’s tainted by an inferior dumbed down remake.
Honourable mentions: Shadow of a Vampire, Near Dark, Salem’s Lot, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Underworld, Fright Night, Brides of Dracula, Blade: Trinity, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Nosferatu the Vampyre.
Darren’s Top Five Vampire Movies
Before I touch on my list, I have to question Lottie’s inclusion of Blade. Sure, it’s a fun action movie, but as far as quality goes, it lags far behind many other movies about vampires. How can you say it’s a better movie than Shadow of a Vampire, Coppola’s Dracula or even Near Dark, which we watched yesterday for the first time.
5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
“We’ve all become God’s madmen, all of us.”
I do agree with Lottie, in that the early Christopher Lee Draculas or the earlier again Nosferatu deserve to be remembered in their historical context – they are important milestones in the history of a great artform, cinema. But they won’t find a place on my favourites list. These five places have to be reserved for great movies, ones I return to time and time again, ones that stay with me, ones that I truly love.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, with Gary Oldman in the lead and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, is one such film. It’s a huge, sprawling film that brought a fresh excitement to a faded, jaded genre of horror. It it a terrifying movie? No, not really – but it is a gothic horror with timeless themes of love, loss, betrayal and lonliness. It’s a drama, as well as an action packed adventure. Beautifully shot with some superb performances (briefly ignoring Keanu Reeves), Dracula belongs on this list.
4. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
“I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard.”
Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez created the most fun vampire movie ever. George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino star as the Gecko brothers – two dangerous outlaws on a wild crime spree. After kidnapping a father and his two kids, the Geckos head south to a seedy Mexican bar to hide out in safety. But when they face the bar’s truly notorious clientele, they’re forced to team up with their hostages in order to make it out alive. My other choices in the top five have serious drama elements. This, most definitely does not. From the well paced robbery and kidnapping first hour, to the camp, kitch, blood spattering remainder, From Dusk Till Dawn took Fright Night, The Lost Boys and the other cheesy-but-fun vampire movies and raised the bar.
3. Shadow of a Vampire (2000)
“Dracula hasn’t had servants in 400 years and then a man comes to his ancestral home, and he must convince him that he… that he is like the man. He has to feed him, when he himself hasn’t eaten food in centuries. Can he even remember how to buy bread? How to select cheese and wine? And then he remembers the rest of it. How to prepare a meal, how to make a bed. He remembers his first glory, his armies, his retainers, and what he is reduced to. The loneliest part of the book comes… when the man accidentally sees Dracula setting his table.”
Perhaps Shadow of the Vampire is a tale of fantasy gone awry – the what if’s taken to the nth degree. We are given F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) at the infancy of filmmaking in 1921 Germany. He is a break-the-rules filmaker and want to tell the story of Dracula (though copyright demands he change it to a film about the ficticious Count Orlock). He finds the perfect Orlock in Max Schrek (Willem Dafoe). Twisted and completely in character at all times, Murnau tells his cast and crew that Schrek is a method actor who will only film at night. The film plays with convention as we have a vampire playing an actor playing a vampire and the strange occurances throughout filming are both chilling and often funny. The premise of Shadow of the Vampire is to ask us who the greater monster was Shrek or Murnau, and that’s where the genius of this film plays out.
2. Interview With the Vampire (1994)
“I’m going to give you the choice I never had.”
Interview with the Vampire surprised everyone. Neil Jordan took Anne Rice’s ‘unfilmable’ sprawling novel and created a gorgeous world in which vampirism was sensual, provocative and beautiful. Casting Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt was a stroke of genius. Cruise was a far from obvious choice to play Lestat and while he was never going to be the novel’s Lestat that my mind’s eye saw, I can’t imagine anyone else coming so close to getting it right. As for Pitt’s Louis, he proved to be the perfect anti-hero. Add in the brilliant Dunst, Stephen Rea and Antonio Banderas and we find it is an ensemble movie to rival the best of them. Then consider the music, the sets, the cinematopgraphy, this is the Gone with the Wind of Vampire movies.
1. Låt den rätte komma in – Let the Right One In (2008)
“Oskar, I do it because I have to.”
I can’t help but agree with Lottie on this one. Let the Right One In is not just the greatest vampire movie I’ve seen, but it is now on my list of greatest movies of all time. It’s subtle, charming and beautiful, while also brutal, painful and bleak. I can’t think of a film that portrays love, however unconventional, in such a perfect way as Let the Right One In. I will join in Lottie’s plea and ask that you see this film. You will not be disappointed.
So, I don’t think our lists are particularly obvious – do they say something about us? Are we philistines for leaving out Nosferatu? Are we being disrespectful by not focusing on Christopher Lee’s glory days? What do you think? What are your top five Vampire movies?