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Published on October 13th, 2009 | by Darren & Lottie

31

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.

Buffy the Vampire SlayerI 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.

The Lost Boys3. 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.

From Dusk Till Dawn4. 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?

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About the Author

The couple that blogs together, stays together. Check out here and here for other posts by Darren. Click here and here for posts by Lottie.



31 Responses to Two Sheets to the Wind: Top 5 Vampire Movies

  1. Andy Gaffney says:

    dead on with Let the Right One In you two crazy love birds.

    On the subject of vampires, I always felt that Angel doesnt get enough love, stunning show.

  2. hugo fitzpatrick says:

    What about 30 day’s of night? When that came out it was heavily lauded as one of the best vampire flicks in yonks, and yet afterwards barely a peep?

    And i know it was weak, but buffy was a classic!

  3. manuel says:

    The Hunger…..sake

    it has music by goth masters, Bauhaus and has David Bowie as a god damn vampire! what else do you need? a love scene with susan sarandon and catherine deneuve? oh wait it’s got that too…..best vampire movie ever…..

    [walks off muttering about kids these days]

  4. Tom says:

    First, Interview With The Vampire pales, PALES (haha, vampire joke), in comparison with the novel, and should never be considered in any top five list ever. Also, I’m shocked that the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer didn’t make the cut, it’s the whole reason Gellar is a household name! (Also, I didn’t notice Twilight on there…what gives?)

  5. Travors says:

    Great lists guys but it hurts me that Near Dark wasn’t in there anywhere… a moody, cowboy vampire movie, with half the cast of Aliens in it… come on!

  6. Darren Byrne says:

    @Andy I was a fan of the Angel TV show. It may have dipped in the middle, but the final few episodes were TV gold. I was sad to see it end.

    @Hugo 30 Days was brilliant. It really did have an original take on the Vampire thing. It’s on my top 10 list.

    @Manuel We had a bit of a Vampirathon on Sunday, but couldn’t get hold of The Hunger. I’m downloading it at the moment, so maybe the list will change.

    @Tom I’m not disagreeing – Interview is an incredible book and the film can only hope to capture a tiny bit of its magnificence. BUT the film was amazing in its own right. The films are never as good as the book (with the exception of The Shining). And please tell me the Twilight comment was a joke? Please!

    @Travors We watched Near Dark on Sunday for the first time. Great movie. Bill Paxton is brilliant in it. I think the thing that kept it out of my top 5 was the slightly disappointing ending. It just didn’t quite work for me.

  7. Lottie says:

    @Andy – I loved Angel more so the later series. Angel himself annoyed me in Buffy and I always favoured Spike. Ah Spike….Spike….sorry, where was I?

    David Boreanaz strength is humour – he does comedy brillianty and towards the end of the series it was a 50/50 Humour/Drama. And what an ending? I hope they never make a 6th Series only becuase it would take so much from it.

    @Hugo – 30 Days was so close *SO CLOSE* to the top 5. It’s my #5.1. It’s the polar opposite to the likes of Let The Right One In or even Interview – it’s creepy, vicious, primal and is based around actual humans, vilifying the vampires for a change. Blade won out in the end only becuase I’ve watched it a bazillion times.

    @Manuel – Neither of us have seen it. We did go looking at the weekend but didn’t get it on time for the list. Everything is open to revision.

    @Tom — We had that very discussion! The book entrely rocks! But it’s still a great movie, brilliantly told, beautifully shot.

    And Twilght? Seriously? I appreciate that Twigshite works for the teenagers and yes, I watched it and indeed Robert Pattison is distractingly hot- but it’s just not a good movie. It’s clichéd, poorly scripted, mediochre at best. (ahem: http://www.geekologie.com/2009/07/31/twilight-cake.jpg)

    Get your boots on and go get Let The Right One In.

    @Travors – Choosing TLB over ND was tough – as I said ND is probably the better movie – much more violence which is always good. It was hard alright – now stop tormenting me.

  8. Emlyn says:

    Great choice for number one Darren, ‘Let The Right One In’ is superb, and yes surprisingly expresses the concept of love better than all those awful rom-coms out there 😛

    I would persinally include ‘Near Dark’ (highly underated) and the orginal ‘Salem’ Lot’ in there too…and i think ’30 Days Of Night’ is probably the grimmest one out there. I’m just too much of a vamp fan to have a top five i guess! 😉

  9. Emlyn says:

    Oh, and ‘Fright Night’ too! the classic 80’s vampire flick (along with The Lost Boys of course) 😉

  10. Sweary says:

    I’m beginning to think I’m going crazy, because I found Let The Right One In extremely underwhelming.

    Don’t get me wrong; there was nothing horrendous about it, but I was certainly disappointed after reading all those marvellous reviews. I thought it was really stodgy. Plus the ending was ridiculous.

    I thought Lina Leandersson was great, though.

  11. Mark says:

    Personally I would far prefer to watch the likes of Nosferatu or the old Universal and Hammer vampire films, than the vast majority of the modern stuff.

    del Toro’s directorial début Cronos is well worth a look also for an interesting take on the vampire film. It’s a far better take on vampires than his later work on Blade II, which is also pretty good

  12. Peter says:

    Seething? SEETHING????

    Well not really 😉 Let me be honest – I actually like all the movies on both your lists. All kinda worthy. But (yeah you knew this was coming) its all very recent – earliest vampire movie is 1987!

    So as part of my ongoing series of lectures (yeah they are too! :P)) I want focus on possibly the most influential and still ball curdling movie – Nosferatu. In fairness you have mentioned it above and Darren goes so far as to have Shadow of the Vampire in his Top 5. A good movie to be sure but not a patch on the source material.

    Bram Stokers Dracula has been around since 1897 and has, without a doubt, had the most popular impact on cinematic vampires – over 170 versions to date! In fact Dracula has been portrayed on film more than any other single fictional character! Kinda ironic that for the creature who can not cast a reflection or be caught on film has become the number one filmed fictional character in the history of cinema.

    SO we are back in 1922 – Dáil Éireann has just ratified the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Ulysses, by James Joyce, is published. The Irish Civil War begins. Elsewhere Mohandas Gandhi is arrested in Bombay for sedition and is later sentenced to 6 years in prison. The USSR is created. And on March 4th Nosferatu is released.

    OK so people who know movies know that Dracula at the time was still copyright material. Prana Film (the studio who produced the film) did not obtain the film rights so they simply changed some names and locations and pretty much broadly followed the plot of Dracula. This made it not only the first production of Prana – but also the last as they declared bankruptcy after Bram Stokers estate sued them for copyright violation and won. The court actually ordered all copies of the film destroyed. Luckily for cinema history some copies had already been distributed around the world and so ensured – like the vampire – they were able to rise from death.

    The film was unlike anything else seen at that time. By todays standards it may seem somewhat slow and considering the excess blood and chronic need to action and more action is not to everyones taste. But its and unsettling film, setting up a sinster and brooding atmosphere. Max Shreck (I kid you now – the word schreck is also the German word for fright, or terror) portrays Dracula (renamed Count Orlock here) in a way that leaves an image as scary today as it was then. Lanky though stooped with oversized fingers and nails and large ears with sunken eyes – this was some scary shit! Shreck was such a method actor that his antics on set become somewhat of a legend themselves – prompting the movie – Shadow of the Vampire as noted above. The scene where he rises suddenly erect from his coffin aboard ship is one that horror directors everywhere should study very carefully. Preferably with a spare pair of pants nearby.

    So I urge everyone to hunt downa copy of this masterpiece if not only Vampire movies – but movies themseves.

    Peter

    PS movie nerd fact – it was Nosferatu that single-handedly came up with the idea of the sun being lethal to Vampires. In the original novel Dracula – the vampire is walking round London int he day time – sure sun annoys them but is not lethal to them. EVERY Vampire film that has the Vampires killed by the sun is solely based on this idea being created in Nosferatu.

  13. Emlyn says:

    Yep Pete, Nosferatu is still the eeriest vampire movie out there…and Max Shreck still downright terrifying as Count Orlok (his rat-faced count is actually the nearest to the Dracula Stoker described in the book).

    LOL, and yes, the whole sunlight thing was added to the mythology by said movie above. I remember chastisting someone on this exact point years ago when they were dissing Bram Stoker’s Dracula 😉 My reply was actually published too (in Starburst magazine!) lol. It’s the same deal with werewolves and the full moon, etc.

    And regarding other pre-eighties vampire movies, i think the Lugosi Dracula is a classic, but very stage-bound and downright hammy…the (first) Hammer Dracula still terrific…and Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu remake well worth checking out – if Klaus Kinski doesn’t match Max Shrek’s terrifying portrayal. Mario Bava’s ‘Black Sunday’ is also a pretty atmospheric creeper.

    Oh, and G. Del Toro’s Cronos is in my opinion probably the most original take on the myth out there – a real gem of a movie!

    Hope to see werewolves in the top five next week!! 😉 lol

  14. Lottie says:

    @Sweary – Really? Well each to their own.

    @Mark – I’ve been looking for Cronos – features high on so many lists.

    @Peter & Emlyn- I agree that Nosferatu is entirely creepy. That image of the white monsterous figure is so much more terrifying that the suave romancer. Joss Whedon used the Nosferatu-look for his Uber-Vamps in the finals series.

  15. Emlyn says:

    Well the whole suave romancer image really sprung out of the Lord Byron inspired ‘The Vampyre’ and the early Dracula stage plays. And yes, those Uber-vamps were definatly Nosferatu inspired…as were the horrors in ’30 Days’, the (original) ‘Salem’s Lot’, and (to a lesser degree) ‘Blade 2’. They really are opposite ends of the spectrum that seem to vary with each decade! 😉

  16. Kitty Cat says:

    I’m with Sweary on this one, didn’t like Let The Right One In at all and couldn’t wait for it to end so I could go do something else. I agree with all the other choices though, and Shadow Of The Vampire is on my to see list!

  17. Peter says:

    @ Lottie – While I love some good gore and blood all over the place I do think there is alot to be said for down-right creepy and some decent atmosphere!

    Oh and to balance things up – worst Vampire movie has to be either:
    Blood Rayne (even a naked Kristanna Loken doesn’t elevate it. And don’t even get me started on the sequel) Another travesty from the director who just won’t stop Uwe Boll. Even its stars hate it: Michael Madsen, who strongly despised the film has called BloodRayne “a horrifying and preposterous movie.”

    Or Dracula 3000 Well I guess a good rule of horror is that it eventually ends up in space! Let’s just say it is NEVER a good sign when the best performance is by a rapper…..

  18. Emlyn says:

    @ Pete – Uwe Boll…only Michael Bay is a possibly more terrifying name in the world of modern cinema! Saw ‘House Of The Dead’ many years ago to realise what a horrible director Mister Boll (oh God, that sounds so close to my own surname) he really is…sure my Gimp movies are better! 😉 lol…have yet to be horrified by ‘Bloodrayne’ though (and it’s based on a friggin’ game!!!)

    My worse vampire movie ever is a Swedish movie called ‘Frostbite’, and the title alone should be enough to give you an indication…an interesting idea ruined by horrible directing, acting, etc.

  19. Emlyn says:

    LOL…and yes, they all seem to end up in space! Dracula, Pinhead, Jason…what’s up with that?!? And the poor aul Alien, well he just ends up in terrible sequels with the Predator! 😉

  20. Peter says:

    And don’t forget Leprechaun 4: In Space

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116861/

  21. Emlyn says:

    LOL, of course…to be sure 😉 lol

  22. Niall says:

    @Peter I will add Dracula 2000 to the list of crap, but BloodRayne is the worst.

    @Emlyn I second Black Sunday, it’s great. As are George A. Romero’s Martin and The Night Stalker.

    I love all of these, but I do have to question the honourable mention for Blade: Trinity. I hated that movie.

    If you’re into Anime/Manga I’d suggest Vampire Hunter D, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and Hellsing Ultimate: The OVA Series.

  23. Emlyn says:

    @ Niall – The Night Stalker (the original tv movie) is really good – very atmospheric and quite creepy – shame about the series though 😉 Only saw Martin once many years back, but found it quite memorable.

    Blade Trinity has its (brief) moments, but is pretty terrible compared to the other two – David Goyer is a good writer, bad director.

    And I love the two Vampire Hunter D movies, and Blood: The Last Vampire is worth a mention also 😉

  24. Keleher says:

    The only vampire related show that I liked was ‘Dark Shadows’ amidst the soap operas on American television like 40 years ago, dating myself 😉

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059978/

  25. Emlynb says:

    @ Keleher – i loved Dark Shadows use to catch it on the old sci-fi channel here years ago. Yes, it bordered on high camp and was full of bloopers (from being filmed live), but had a terrific gothic atmosphere and some good old-fashioned storytelling. Have you heard Tim Burton is making a big-screen version? With Johnny Depp (apparently a huge fan of the original show) as Barnabas Collins? Should be cool! 😉

  26. Emlyn says:

    This is my fourth attempt answering this so here goes nothing 😉 lol

    @ Keleher – i love Dark Shadows – they used to show it here on the old sci-fi channel years ago. Yes, it was a bit over camp and blooper-filled, but had great atmospheric and storytelling. You hear Tim Burton is doing a big-screen version? With Johnny Depp (a huge fan apparently) as Barnabas Collins? Should be cool 😉

  27. Emlynb says:

    Oops, apologies for the double comments above! Thought none of my attempts had gone through! 😉 lol

  28. Keleher says:

    Thanks, no I did not know about a Dark Shadows film with Johnny Depp, sounds great.. I have to say that it does seem rather camp looking at the clips now even though when it was on back then it was quite mysterious and kept the viewers on the edge of their seats.

  29. Emlyn says:

    Oh I think it definatly had a heavy gothic atmosphere (still does), and a real cliff-hanger quality – like good storytelling should. They don’t make them like that anymore! 😉

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