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Archive for November 19th, 2009

Inspired by The Mad Hatter from The Dark of the Matinee who recently published his Top Five Vampire Movies I decided to publish my top ten. And in the spirit of Hatters original post there are not vampires who sparkle on the list 

 

TEN) 30 Days of Night (2007): Based on a graphic novel, the premise of a group of bloodthirsty vampires descending on an Alaskan town as they shut down for a month of perpetual night is nothing short of geniuses. The film isn’t without its problems, the plot is so simple that it drags a little in the middle and there is a very poor sense of time and space. These are small concerns as the action scenes are really well handled and the good verses evil element is played out well with fearsome vampires and likeable leading characters.

NUEVE) Cronos (1993): Moving further from the usual myth than other movies Cronos creates its own. The visuals range from mundane to sumptuous director Guillermo del Toro achieved this with the help of cinematographer Guillermo Navarro in the first of many collaborations. The setting is contemporary but this doesent detract from the style of the film giving totally visceral experience.

EIGHT) Underworld (2003): I have always described this film as a guilty pleasure rather than a great film, but I may have been unkind to it. Making the most of its relatively small budget it is possibly the most stylish/stylised vampire movie ever. The sets and the costumes (particularly Kate Beckinsale’s are amazing) and the Budapest locations are used to full effect giving the film a perfect blend of modern and gothic horror. But the real victory for the film is the premise, the war between vampires and werewolves gives an extra dimension to the plot and means that the vampires have a worthy advisory. And if you still don’t like it watch it for Kate Beckinsale, to say she looks amazing is an understatement, I said it was a guilty pleasure.

SEVEN) Innocent Blood (1992): When you mention John Landis’s and horror in the same sentence An American Werewolf in London is usually the subject up for discussion but Innocent Blood is a little seen gem of the vampire genre. Combining horror, mafia and comedy it really should be a mess of a film but amazingly really works. The main reason for this is a slickly directed film with a good script and a great cast.

SECHS) Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922): Essentially an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As the studio failed to obtain the rights to the novel the film changes many details, mainly character names, Count Dracula is called Count Orlok. They don’t even use the term vampire. As well as the style of the film that has inspired horror movies ever since, the film is also widely believed to be the origin of the part of the vampire myth that vampires are killed by sunlight. There are some questionable video and DVD transfers kicking around, but if you get a good version it is must for horror fans.

FIVE) The Lost Boys (1987): Accusations of being dated are misguided, The Lost Boys is only a film of the 80’s in the fashions and the soundtrack. Look beyond this and what we actually get is a very traditional vampire movie that explores what it is to be human. Some of the acting is questionable but the film is really stylish and well shot with likable characters and effective vampires. And did I mention the dialogue is really funny.

FOUR) Blade (1998)/ Blade II (2002): Wesley Snipes is perfect in the lead role of Blade, a half human /half vampire, vampire killer. A departure from horror, Blade moved the genre into action adventure with just enough deadpan humour. Vampires are portrayed in a Godfather like family structure, presenting the gangster like families. Then came Blade II, visionary director Guillermo del Toro who presented an even more bold and sumptuous film that retains the action but also introduces a morel subtext.

THREE) Dracula (1958) Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966): Very loosely based on the original Bram Stoker source material the original Hammer Dracula is moody, atmospheric and extremely watchable, not least because it stars the best Dracula Christopher Lee and THE Van Helsing, Peter Cushing. The first sequel Dracula: Prince of Darkness has little original to offer but is still a great film (and incidentally the first vampire movie I ever watched way back in 1986). Lee’s Dracula doesn’t speak in the second film, allegedly because the dialogue in the script was so poor he refused to speak his lines. Whatever the reasons the character is all the more menacing for it.

TVÅ) Let The Right One In (2008):The grim and gritty feel give the film a sense of realism despite the supernatural subject matter. The title (abbreviated to Let Me In, in some countries) refers to the aspect of the vampire myth that says a vampire can not cross a threshold without being invited. Going a step further than other films it shows what happens when a vampire comes in uninvited. It isn’t pretty but it is effective! Just like the films photography, using mainly fixed cameras and no noticeable steadicam instead opting for simple pan and dolly tracking. Although not particularly violent or gory, it  is brutal in places. There is a certain amount of ambiguity of the androgynous young cast and the morals of their actions. A strangely beautiful film that may be about kids but it certainly isn’t a film for kids.

ONE) Near Dark (1987): Directed by Kathryn Bigelow Near Dark was like nothing I had ever seen before. It moved vampires away from the supernatural and closer to the real word with victims saved with a blood transfusion and not a prayer or ritual. The nomadic family of vampires combined elements of road movie, serial killers and a modern western. A bleak but enjoyable film, possibly one of the best vampire films ever made, certainly may favourite.

Also worth seeing:

  • Interview With The Vampire (1994)
  • Shadow Of The Vampire (2000)
  • The Hunger 1983
  • From Dusk Till Dawn 1996
  • Drácula (1931)
  • Martin (1977)
  • The Brides of Dracula (1960)
  • From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
  • Twins of Evil (1971)
  • The Vampire Lovers (1970)
  • The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998)
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
  • The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
  • The Addiction (1995)
  • Nadja (1994)
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
  • Paris, je t’aime (2006) segment “Quartier de la Madeleine”
  • Ultraviolet (1998) not to be confused with the crap Milla Jovovich film from 2006
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