Friday, January 8, 2010

Top Ten Vampire Flicks

Top Ten Vampire Flicks

Lately vampires have been all the rage (specifically with teenage girls, it seems). Of course, there's a lot of crap being produced, but I don't want to focus on that. Let's take a look at the ten best vampire flicks ever made.

10. Thirst (2009) - Part of a recent run of more artsy vampire flicks (perhaps a backlash to things like Twilight?), Thirst comes to us all the way from South Korea and the mind of genius director Park Chan Wook (Oldboy). It's the story of a priest with a death wish that is unknowingly changed into a vampire during a blood transfusion (which he was doing to advance research/martyr himself). From there on out, we see him struggle with his convictions as the more base urges take over. The conflict that results from his newfound vampirism and his priesthood are amazing to watch play out. It's actually a great character piece that speaks about a number of things including religion and the human condition. A bit of trivia - the poster I'm using was actually banned in South Korea (eventually they photoshopped the woman's legs out, and deemed that appropriate).

9. Shadow of the Vampire (2000) - A fine piece of meta-fiction, Shadow of the Vampire is the story of the making of Nosferatu (see number 1 on this list). John Malkovich plays FW Murnau and Willem Dafoe does a spectacular job playing Max Schrek. Oh, but did I mention that in this movie Max Schreck is actually a vampire? How else do you think that Murnau got that performance out of him, dumbass? Of course he was a vampire. If that's not a storyline that you want to watch them, I'm sorry, maybe you should find a new genre.

8. The Lost Boys (1987) - A distinctly eighties film, The Lost Boys manages to capture everything that was right about being a kid in that decade. Everything from the soundtrack (which includes Gerald McMann's theme "Cry Little Sister") to the fact that it has BOTH Cories in it make it amazing. In the eighties, you could make adult-themed films with child protagonists that appealed to everybody. I don't know if you can do that now, but movies like The Monster Squad and The Lost Boys were really able to capture something so fun, and special that it just feels good to watch these movies.

7. Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (1932) - Often unheralded, and unseen, in horror circles, Carl Theodor Dreyer's beautifully haunting Vampyr is a true gem. Now, be forewarned, this is an unconventional film. It's something like experiencing a nightmare. I don't know that it would even be classified as horror at all, really. Oddly, it's Dreyer's first picture with sound but he still relies heavily on silent film style cards to tell most of the story, only using dialogue in sparse amounts. This is likely because he had to record dialogue in three different languages. The story, such as it is, follows Allan Grey, a young wanderer, as he goes through a waking nightmare in Courtempierre. Luckily, for anyone looking, The Criterion Collection has recently released a definitive edition of the film that looks fantastic.

6. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) - Otherwise known as Danceo of the Vampires, Polanski really hits the stake on the head in, what amounts to, this zany re-telling of the classic Dracula story. Professor Abronsius and his assistant, Alfred, find themselves in all sorts of trouble when their search for vampires leads them to Transylvania and the mysterious Count Krolock. For some reason vampire comedies seem to work for me. I enjoyed Vampire's Kiss, Love at First Bite, and, hell, even Vampire in Brooklyn, but none of them (save Fright Night) tickle my fancy quite like Polanski's fun fanged out film.

5. Fright Night (1985) - Fright Night is a bit of a throwback piece. Maybe "homage" is a better word for it. I mean, for the Pete's sake there's a character named Peter Vincent. Anyway, it's another movie about a teenager in trouble. Young Charlie Brewster, avid horror fan, notices that his new next door neighbor keeps odd hours and wonders if there is something more. Spoiler - there is. His neighbor is a blood-sucker! That's why the movie is on the vampire movie list, you see. Anyway, Brewster enlists the help of Peter Vincent, a "fright night" television host, to kill the ghoul next door.

4. Near Dark (1987) - This may be the movie that Bill Paxton was built for (and I'm fairly certain he was built - by machines of awesomeness). It's the tale of a group of marauding vampires that kick tons of ass in the great Peckinpahian revisionist Western style. They could be like their own little super villain team or something - The Vampyros! Anyway, there's also a story about a teenager and a girl, but the real meat of this thing is the ASS KICKING. Lots of great violence and some great turns by the likes of Lance Henriksen and the aformentioned Paxton. It's a really dark film, with some fun black humor peppered in for good measure. My only qualm with the film is that the ending is pretty laughable, but what can you do?

3. Let the Right One In (2008) - I've written about this little Swedish number a few times now, but I'm just going to repeat myself: This movie is absolutely the single best vampire movie I've ever seen. It is a wonderful little Swedish masterpiece, full of all the things horror movies never contain. The movie is rather sweet, has endearing characters, features young romance, and all of the things you never knew you wanted in a horror movie. Luckily, the craftsmanship behind this cold beauty carries everything, it's an absolutely breathtaking film, the cinematography is spectacular, and the direction is sometimes inspired, and always very good.

2. Dracula (1931) - Tod Browning's gothic masterpiece shines as the best MGM monster movie. Of course, Bela Lugosi stars as the titular Count Dracula and he is the most iconic vampire there is. When you think Dracula, you think Lugosi. When you think Lugosi, you think Dracula. And that's no accident, as Bela gives a phenomenal performance in the lead role - managing to be both devilishly charming, and mysteriously menacing at the same time. Obviously it's not the most faithful adaptation of the Stoker work, and has been heavily truncated, but somehow Browning is able to create a new mythos out of the Dracula character with the film.

1. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) - What really needs to be said about FW Murnau's classic German Expressionist silent film? I guess a lot of people have never actually seen it, but it is basically the Dracula story with name changes (due to copyright issues, if I remember correctly) to the characters and a few other deviations. For instance, Max Schreck's character is named Count Orlock instead of Count Dracula. But the power of the film lies not within the plot but in the performance of Max Schreck and in the crafty direction of FW Murnau. It's as beautiful a movie as you're ever likely to see and Schreck's performance is on par with the greats of silent cinema. Something that might interest all of you horrorfiles to know is that there is a remastered DVD in which Type O Negative does the score and David Carradine hosts the film. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy for a while, but with no success.

1 comment:

Cinema Du Meep said...

I truly love that you included The Lost Boys in your list. You rule.

I just awarded you 2 blog awards. ("Kreativ Blog" & "One Lovely Blog") Well deserved my man!

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