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Here you go.   You asked for it.   My top ten best and worst vampire movies of the last few decades, in no particular order…

 

The favourites:

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Starts out as another kind of film entirely, and morphs into monsters and murder, Psycho-style.   Fucking awesome morally ambiguous characters, Selma Hayek as a sensationally hot vampiress, and I liked the fun location reveal at the end.   Only movie where I’ve ever seen the appeal of Clooney too…

Let The Right One In (2008)

Eli (typo amended).   She may well be my favorite fictional vampire character ever.   American remake is not going to be able to match the eerie, eternal, ethereal uneasiness of the performances of those kids.   Sympathizing with sociopaths and celebrating the slaughter of innocents by the not-so-innocents – slick, clever and unsettling.

The Lost Boys (1987)

80s teen angst reimagined as vampire culture.   Brilliant.   Great balance between cutsy love story, comic relief Coreys-as-slayers side-story, and the actually glorious, grotesque undead gang themselves – and some fucking hilarious dialogue.   Get nostaglic for back when Keifer was cool.

Near Dark (1987)

The cast of Aliens forgo fighting facehuggers to actually become blood-suckers, directed by the woman who went on to win the Oscar for The Hurt Locker.   Go figure.   Brings a whole new meaning to  the phrase ‘red-necks’: white-trash roadie movie as a campervan of vampires tear up Texas.   Lance Henrikson and Bill Paxton are fucking legendary, and the infamous bar scene is joyously and unashamedly vicious.   Makes me hungry.

The Hunger (1983)

Smooth, sensual, seductive side of vampirism – a mesmerizing, eroticizing movie.   David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve are on slow sizzle, and if the plot and characters are strangely cold and incoherent at times, the movie itself is fucking beautiful and melancholy visually.

Night Watch (2004)

The original theatrical subtitles of Nochnoi Dozor are an artform unto themselves, as language invades and bleeds down the fucking screen.   Dark, distopian and dirty, day and night battle it out in a film shot with sophistication.   Fumbles trying to untangle the complex novel plots for a new medium, but still well worth the – watch…

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

As much about the art of gothic film-making as it is about my lot.   Masterful, nightmarish, and sometimes hilarious performances, and a taut elegant script kinda let down by a dull ending.   Still – Nosferatu lives…

Fright Night (1985)

Prince Humperdink goes all Rear Window, and Roddy Macdowell self-satirizes unabashedly.   Sure, early on, the girl wears the most terrifyingly fashion ever, and the hero is lame-as throughout, but you know how I feel about nosy neighbors myself…   Fluffy B-grade fun, with some bloody good blood-splattering for good measure.

Martin (1977) 

George A. Romero’s personal favorite.   A grotesque, gauche and grisly film – uneven in pace and revelation sure, but such a fucking unexpected take on the Nosferatu tale.   The narrative is messy and awkward and ultimately and frighteningly effective, just like its protagonist.   The ending? – chilling and unreasonably dissatisfying…

Cronos (1993)

One of the most innovative, iconoclastic vampire films ever.   Del Toro is a fucking legend.   An antique Jesus discovers immortality in a box, but all that is gold does not glitter.   Wound tight, full of delicate mechanisms, and a hidden cinematic gem – dark, unusual horror and a personal Jonathon favorite.

 

The wildly overrated:

Underworld (2003)

Con: Mostly Kate Beckinsale stalking up and down long corridors in leather corsets.

Pro: Mostly Kate Beckinsale stalking up and down long corridors in leather corsets.

Interview with a Vampire (1994)

Con: Terrible wigs, florid prose, and a dull, whiny title character (rivalled in dreariness only by boring, broody Bill from True Blood) whose face is as wide as it is tall, and who you keep hoping will get staked soon…

Pro: Kirsten Dunst’s Claudia, the sensationally creepy and delicious scene in the theatre, and the sound editors for the awesome crunchy sound when fangs meet flesh…

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Con: More fucking terrible wigs, appalling sentimentality and the perversion of calling it after the author then chucking the whole bloody masterpiece of a book out the window…   Oh.   And Keanu Reeves’ English accent.

Pro: Increased sales of the novel, one hopes.

Blade (1998)

Con: Lame effects, final fight is unsatisfyingly shit, and plot holes are wide enough to give birth to a blood god in.

Pro: Some slick action and based on a fucking cool character.

Salem’s Lot (1979)

Con: Yawn.

Pro: I fell asleep.

30 Days of Night (2007)

Pro: Some damn pretty camera work: the anticipating shot of Melissa George with her back to the wall, literally (as you only hear what’s happening behind it), and the crane shot of the bloody mayhem in the snow, for example.

Con: Clumsy plot, annoying characters, and appallingly schmultzy ending…

I Am Legend (2007)

Con: Lumps in vampires with zombies indiscriminately, and Will Smith is a plausible scientist in the way Denise Richards was so believable as a nuclear physicist Bond girl.   (Moreover – weird plot point.   The character is clearly wrong: he’s ruthlessly killing a sentient, emotional, socialised new breed of creature.   It’s genocide.   They try to defend themselves from death, save their loved ones from torture, and trap their killer with carefully planned strategies – and the movie shows this.   But then it concludes the character is still ‘legend’ – patriotic, saving human race, yadda yadda.   What the fuck?)

Pro: Some good jumps, some sweet action, and the one you hate the most dies in the end.   Hooray.

Van Helsing (2004)

Pro: Hugh Jackman is fucking hot.   And Kate’s back in the leather.

Con: Everything else.

Twilight/New Moon/Eclipse et al (2008 -)

Con: Falling in love with supernatural serial killers who stalk you when you sleep and blame you for being so desirable they could kill you = female romance fantasy.   Seriously?   For fuck’s sake…

Pro: Sorry.   I got nothin’…

 

NEXT ENTRY…

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10 Comments

  1. My favorite is your review of Underworld. *dies laughing*

  2. You may want to add the I Am Legend (2007) CHANGED THE ENDING OF THE BOOK. The whole point of the story was that the main character became the monster. They kept that in the Vincent Price version (Last Man on Earth). And when I saw that is where the new version was heading my stomach sunk. When they made Will Smith’s character a martyr, I wanted to kick the TV.

    But everything else in this list: Perfect.

    • second this. i’ve not seen any of the movie adaptations, but in the book the moment the protagonist realises that he’s become the monster is also the moment he realises that he has become legend. just as the vampire is legend.

      or just as Jonathon8 here is legend.

      • I did kick the TV.

        And stop with the ‘legend’ flattery – I’m blushing.

        Or it could just be leftover blood stains.

        Oh – yep. It’s leftover blood stains…

  3. You had me until Night Watch… I can’t say I was a fan. I felt like the vampires got lost in all the other supernatural hoopla that was going on, and thought Day Watch was a better movie overall.

    • I liked the grungy gothic look and feel of it: the vampire behaviour was – familiar… But then I’ve only read Day Watch, not seen it.

  4. Fright Night, Lost Boys, classic 80’s vamp films, the Soundtrack is a massive Pro for both films, and the delectable Keifer Sutherland in Lost Boys. Thank you for the giggle in reading! x

  5. The thing to remember about Night Watch, that in the book the vampires were the lowest level of the “others”. I think they tried to show that by how poor Kostya and his father lived. Although, working at a butcher shop, must have been a sweet gig for his vampire dad.

  6. methinks the vampire doth protest too much, you’re jealous of the sparkly Cullens, go on, admit it! bwahahahaha!


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