13 Vampire Movies

Vampires are mythological creatures, famous in folklore for their need to feed on the blood of animals and humans for survival.  While regarded as part of the horror genre, vampire films do have their own characteristic style, as many motifs have spawned from the famous 1897 Bram Stoker novel Dracula.  But Dracula himself originated from Southeast Europe and was not the first vampire myth; cultures such as Mesopotamians, Hebrews and Romans have long had tales of demons and spirits that would drink blood and feast on flesh.

Filmmakers have interpreted the cult of vampires in many ways, some emphasizing the primal and ancient instinct of the ungodly, while others using vampires as tools to introduce generic horror and gore.  For example, vampires have been portrayed as rock stars in Queen of the Damned, next doors neighbours in Fright Night, space creatures in Lifeforces, melancholic aristocrats in Interview with a Vampire and criminals in From Dusk Till Dawn. Vampire comedy is a sub-genre, which tries to make light of the vampire myth by appealing to the popular culture.  Most of these films are dismissed as B-grade trash, although some gradually develop a minor cult following and are definitely worth a view or two.

Ranking My List

My list is based purely on personal preference within the genre.  Some of my grindhouse gore and horror hound friends will, I am sure, make comment that I have left off some of the best and darkest films pertaining to blood suckers, and other popcorn eaters will cry that the Twilight series doesn’t appear (real vampires don’t sparkle or reproduce, sorry).  As always, please post your favourites that I have most definitely missed in the comments section below. Cheers!

PS.  Movies that do NOT appear on my list but I feel deserve honourable mention include: Dracula (1931), Nosferatu (1922) and Vampyres (1974).

13. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 1992

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the story of an American cheerleader who holds the destiny of being the Slayer; the one woman who holds the duty of defending the world from vampires.  With her best friends slowly abandoning her, Buffy finds solace in the town outcast, Pike, who knows very well the terror of vampires.  Together, they combat the forces of the old and the powerful vampire, Lothos, who has his eyes set on Buffy.

Directed By: Fran Rubel Kuzui

Stars: Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reuben, Like Perry, Hilary Swank and David Arquette

On the List: Um like because like Dylan McKay is Pike…duh!  Written by Sci-Fi master Joss Whedon, this entire movie makes me laugh out loud, from the always hysterical performance of Paul Reuben, to a slayer who detects near by vampires thru menstrual cramps, this film is just plain campy, vampy fun.

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12. The Monster Squad – 1987

Young kids form a club that is devoted to monsters, but soon get more than they bargained for when Count Dracula adjourns to Earth, accompanied by Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, The Mummy, and the Gillman.  The uglies are in search of a powerful amulet that will grant them the power to rule the world.  Our heroes – The Monster Squad are the only ones daring to stand in their way.

Directed By: Fred Dekker

Stars: Andre Gower, Robby Kiger and Stephen Macht

On the List: Here is a good idea for a kids movie.  Take all the Universal Monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, the Wolfman, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon) and have them face off against the Little Rascals.  It’s done 80’ style with lots of cheesy music, bad acting and language that would never be found in a kid’s movie today.

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11. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles – 1994

In 1791, plantation owner Louis De Pointe Du Lac is unhappy with the life he has until Lestat De Lioncourt comes into his life and makes him a vampire forever.  Not until his decision is already made, does Louis realize what he has become.  He refuses to take human life and is about to leave when Lestat being the clever being that he is, turns a little orphan girl in a vampire to make Louis stay.

Directed by: Neil Jordan

Stars: Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater and the Gay Midget Dwarf (Tom Cruise)

On the List: This one almost didn’t make the list.  I am an enormous fan of Anne Rice’s vampire series and have had a love affair with the vampire Lestat since my late teens.  He was the quintessential naïve yet malevolent creature that you couldn’t help but sympathize with despite his evil and mischievous ways.  The movie remained on my list for the simple fact that the screenplay and cinematics paint (in my mind) an accurate picture of Rice’s vampiric world.  It is as far down (up) the list as it is because the Gay Midget Dwarf should NEVER have been cast as Lestat.  If you have read the series you will understand that he does not justice to the character at all, and even if you haven’t his whining and spitting will make you cringe and then you can just believe me.  I guess on the plus side at least he doesn’t sparkle.

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10.  Fright Night – 2011

Senior Charlie Brewster finally has it all going on: he’s running with the popular crowd and dating the most coveted girl in his high school. In fact, he’s so cool he’s even dissing his best friend. But trouble arrives when Jerry moves in next door. He seems like a great guy at first, but there’s something not quite right—yet everyone, including Charlie’s mom, doesn’t seem to notice. After observing some very strange activity, Charlie comes to an unmistakable conclusion: Jerry is a vampire preying on the neighborhood. Unable to convince anyone, Charlie has to find a way to get rid of the monster himself, in this Craig Gillespie-helmed revamp of the comedy-horror classic

Directed By: Craig Gillespie

Stars: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

On the List: A perfect balance of comedy and horror.  This film is scary without taking itself too seriously.  Colin Farrell (hubba hubba) plays evil exceedingly well and takes a beating like a champ.  Toni Collette shines with the sarcastic comedic timing she is now known and loved for, and well, any movie with McLovin (Mintz-Plasse) as a demonic, hilarious if not somewhat retarded vampire, is bound to be gold.  I actually screamed out loud in the theatre during this movie, it may be funny, but the BOO! factor will get you every time.

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9. Van Helsing – 2004

During the late 19th century, legendary vampire hunter Gabriel Van Helsing is a man cursed with a past he cannot recall and driven by a mission he cannot deny.  Van Helsing finds a land still mired in past, where legendary creatures of darkness come to life.  A place ruled over by the evil, seductive and unbeatable vampire, Count Dracula.  It is Dracula that Van Helsing has been sent to terminate.  Anna Valerious is one of the last of a powerful royal family, now nearly annihilated by Dracula. A fearless hunter in her own right, Anna is bent on avenging her ancestors and ending an ancient curse by killing the vampire.  Joined by a common foe, Van Helsing and Anna set out to destroy Dracula along with his empire of fear.  But in challenging an enemy who never dies, Van Helsing uncovers a secret he never imagined and comes face-to-face with the unresolved mysteries of his own enshrouded past.

Directed By: Stephen Sommers

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale and Richard Roxburgh

On the List:  Van Helsing, is one of my favourite literary characters of all time, the original slayer, and the arch-enemy of Dracula.  Changed from Abraham to Gabriel by Universal so that they could copyright the character, it made Jackmans version of the hunter no less awesome than that written by Stoker, on which it is loosely based. Plus, Hugh Jackman belongs on every list.

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8. John Carpenter’s Vampires – 1998

By night, vampires rise from graves in search of human prey.  By day, vampire slayer Jack Crow led a contingent of Vatican mercenaries in a long-waged war against these enemies.  After destroying a vampire nest in rural Mexico, “Team Crow”, is savagely ambushed during the victory celebration by the unholy Valek, a vicious 600-year old vampire.  Valek is nearing the end of a long search for the Berzier Cross, the implement of ritual that can give him, and all the vampires succeeding him, omnipotent power to walk in the daylight.

Directed by: Um… John Carpenter?

Stars:  James Wood, Daniel Baldwin, and Cheryl Lee

On the list: Two of my favourite things combined.  Bad ass Mexican vampires (they are the best kind) and James Wood.  Plus this little gem was directed by the “Master of Evil” himself.

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7.  Near Dark – 1987

A young boy is seduced by the new girl in town only to find out he has been kissed by a vampire. Slowly turning into a creature of the night, he is persuaded to join up with the girl and a roaming band of ghouls.  When his own father and sister become targets of the vampires endless search for food, he is forced to choose between loyalty to the vampires, or loyalty to his own family.

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Stars: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright,     Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen

On the List:  Bigelow’s (not Deuce… but the one who directed Point Break) created a hybrid Western-Horror film that has a distinctly 80’s feel to it but is still original.  The special effects have aged well and still pack a punch and the pulsating score from Tangerine Dream fits perfectly.

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6.  30 Days of Night – 2007

This is the story of an isolated Alaskan town that is plunged into darkness for one month each year when the sun sits below the horizon.  As the last rays of light fade, the town is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires bent on an uninterrupted orgy of destruction.  Only the small town’s husband-and-wife Sheriff team, stand between the survivors and certain destruction.

Directed by: David Slade

Stars: Josh Harnett, Melissa George and Danny Huston

On the List: This is the first American film, in a very long time to show vampires not as beautiful and “shiny” but as they were originally told of in European folklore.  These vamps are grotesque, blood hungry ghoulish-like creatures with black slanty eyes and razor-sharp, shark like teeth…. Bravo!  Slade pulls out all the stops in this movie and delivers some truly grindhouse goodies!  Unlike any before it on the list, this movie scared the hell outta me .

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5.  Underworld – 2003

For centuries, two races have evolved hidden deep within human culture, the aristocratic, sophisticated Vampires and the brutal feral Lycans.  To humanity, their existence is no more than a whisper of a myth.  But to each other, they are lifelong mortal rivals, sworn to wage a secret war until only one race is left standing.  A Vampire warrior (death dealer) Selene, discovers a secret that has terrifying repercussions for both tribes – a nefarious plan to awaken a new invincible species of predator that combines the strengths of both creatures and weaknesses of neither.

Directed by: Len Wiseman

Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman and Bill Nighy

On the List: Bill Nighy is dressed as the Kinks Ray Davies in the early 80’s.  Kate Beckinsale is a kick ass “death dealer” in a pleather get-up that can only be described as “painted on”, and oh me oh my the beautiful Scott Speedman.  Tooth & Claws vs. Guns & Knives!  Side bar: The physical transformation of the lycans from man to wolf is pretty boss and intense.

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4.  Let the Right One In

Oskar, a bullied 12 year-old, dreams of revenge.  He falls in love with Eli, a peculiar girl.  She can’t stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited.  Eli gives Oskar the strength and courage to hit back but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other people’s blood to live, he’s faced with a choice.  How much can love forgive?

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

Stars: Kre Hedenbrant,     Line Leandersson and Per Ragnar

On the List:  Like all true masters in the horror genre, Alfredson recognizes that it isn’t necessarily what the audience sees, but what they don’t see that makes a film truly horrifying.  This movie hands down is the creepiest movie I have seen in a long time, let alone the bonus of it being about a blood sucking kid.  Creepy Kids = Freaky Movies. Yes, it has subtitles…. get over it.

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3.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 1992

This version of Dracula is closely based on Bram Stoker’s classic novel of the same name.  A young lawyer (Jonathan Harker) is assigned to a gloomy village in the mists of Eastern Europe.  He is captured and imprisoned by the undead vampire Dracula, who travels to London, inspired by a photograph of Harker’s betrothed, Mina Murray.  In Britain, Dracula beings a reign of seduction and terror, draining the life from Mina’s closest friend, Lucy Westerna.  Lucy’s friends gather together to try to drive Dracula away with the assistance of Professor Van Helsing.

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves and Sadie Frost

On the List: With dizzying cinematic tricks and astonishing performances (I mean even Keanu comes across as semi-believable), Coppola’s version of the oft-filmed Dracula story was one of the most exuberant and extravagant films of the 90’s.  There is something for everyone: gore, high-speed horseback chases, passion and intrigue.

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2. From Dusk Till Dawn – 1996

Seth Gecko and his younger brother Richard are on the run after a bloody bank robbery in Texas.  They escape across the border into Mexico and will be home-free the next morning, when they pay off the local kingpin.  They just have to survive “from dusk till dawn” at the rendezvous point, which turns out to be a strip joint infested with vampires.

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez

Stars: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis and Selma Hayek

On the List: a) Tarantino b) as previously discussed some seriously Bad Ass Mexican vampires c) Juliette Lewis d) The Titty Twister might be the most fantabulous strip club created… EVER e) Selma and the Snake… vampire or not, this is what real women look like.

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1. The Lost Boys – 1987

Financial troubles force a recent divorcee and her teenage sons Michael and Sam to settle down with her father in the California town of Santa Carla.  At first, Sam laughs off rumors he hears about vampires who inhabit the small town.  But after Michael meets a beautiful girl at the local amusement park, he begins to exhibit the classic signs of vampirism.  Fearing for his own safety Sam recruits two young vampire hunters to save his brother by finding and destroying the head vampire.

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Stars: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Keifer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Dianne West, Edward Herrman

On the List: The Lost Boys is the epitome of the 80’s.  Big hair, loud music, and layers, layers, layers.  It had a veritable cornucopia of 80’s actors that adorned many of the teen magazines of the day, with perhaps the best pairing of Corey and Corey ever on-screen.  Schumacher manages to mix the perfect amount of comedy, blood, guts and vampire horror to produce a cult classic.  The soundtrack for this film was outstanding including Gerard McMann’s eerie single “Cry Little Sister” and Echo & the Bunnymen’s remake of The Doors classic “People are Strange”.

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All movie posters and cinematic trailers are property of the movie and production companies that they are affiliated with.

Facts about direction and actors were taken from IMDb.

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A Sunday Dinner at Ethel’s

Very short post this evening.  I am all caught up with my adventures and blogging, wohoo!  It is an interesting goal to set for oneself, blogging everyday about something new or positive or fun.  When your days are full and the experience is new, its hard to find time to write about it.  I will get better at it I am sure, as time goes on.

Today I spent the day reading and writing.  It is the first Sunday in a very long time that I haven’t spent the day drinking or with a massive hang over or ramping up to drink again, and I was thankful for it.  In fact, I enjoyed it much more then I would have thought was possible.  Trust when I say this is not an anti-drinking campaign… I said my goal was to make my life more positive not impossible 😀  It was just a welcome change and one I feel needs to be noted.

Tonight I ate at a tiny diner in Uptown Waterloo (that is never going to get old) called Ethel’s Lounge.  Just wanted to give a shout out, as the Buffalo Chicken Wrap was delicious and the atmosphere perfect for people watching.  Also to my company, which probably was the best part.

http://www.ethelslounge.ca/

Happy day friends!  Here is to the week ahead!

~Franki Figgs

Things That Go Bump in the Dark….

~Written Wednesday August 24th, 2011

~ Posted late we have been busy!

All across Southwestern Ontario there are storms “a brewin” tonight. Being connected in through social media streams has really changed the way we communicate our fears to one another.  Some people this evening were poking fun (myself included) at the thought of tornados and severe weather, others (the wiser and probably experienced storm goers) were hunkered down in basements or battening down the hatches. I Facebooked of houses falling and ruby slippers tonight, making light of an actual serious situation for many Ontarians, I thought to myself, if storms were actually something i was actually afraid of, would I have reacted the same way?  Would I be my inappropriate self?

With this in mind, I thought about what actually scares me.  I have three sincere fears in life.  And when I consider what other people are scared of, storms, dying, love, marriage, loss, flying, failure, …. it seems ridiculous.  I am however, a little ridiculous so here we go.

Fear #1.  CLOWNS. 

My fear does not come from the movie/book IT by Stephen King.  This seems to be the assumption.  Of course NOW Pennywise the clown scares the bejesus out of me, but that is not where the fear stems from.

Pennywise the Clown

It is partly because I don’t like it when I can’t see people’s real expressions.  It freaks me out, and its not normal.  The other reason comes from being traumatized as a kid at the Paris Fair.  If you were a kid in Paris, every September began with the Fair.  It was the end of summer, the last big event before school started.  If you were a farm kid, it was a weekend of work, showing, competition and if you were lucky, eventually the fairway and the derby.  Like rain and “bacon on a bun” one of the things you could be certain to encounter, was Smoky the Clown. Smoky was an institution within the fair itself, buttons, t-shirts, flags and flyers were all designed depicting a cartoon “likeness of him”.  By the time I was seven or eight Lorne Reeder (Smoky the Clown)had developed full on Parkison’s disease (which, I would like to state is actually very sad).  He was such a tradition at the fair, despite the fact that he could barely walk, and could barely speak, they still allowed him to come out with his balloons and “entertain” the fairway. I have already said I don’t like it when I can’t read people’s expressions, now imagine being seven years old and having a person with Parkinson’s approach you with balloon’s in hand, face painted like a madman, shaking and mumbling words. Traumatic.  Life changing in fact, because I have never been able to be around clowns since.  Seems rather mudane and perhaps very “dramatic of me”, however, it is what it is and I officially think that all clowns, should be wiped off the face of the earth and remembered only as a “passing phase”.

Fear #2 BIRDS

Yes, I have a feather tattoo.  What the heck does that have to do with the price of tea in China?!  My feather tattoo doesn’t flap its wings and fly at me.  My feather tattoo is not symbolic of a BIRD!  Birds are just creepy.  And chickens are the absolute worst.  I could never be a vegetarian because I actually enjoy eating chicken THAT MUCH, one less chicken to evil up the world we live in!  Ever had a bird fly at your face?  Sooooo not a good time.  They are dumb pets, they aren’t fluffy or furry, you can’t cuddle them, and even if someone were to argue that they could… I don’t care, they are stupid!  Right here is probably where I should apologize to bird owners, but tough, I am not going too. Birds are meant to eat.  That is all.

Freaking Crazy Ass Bird!

Fear #3 Super Grover

Do you remember Super Grover?  He was on Sesame Street.  It was always a story about Grover learning something new, or putting fear to rest.  But the skit would always begin with “faster then lightning, stronger then steel, smarter then a speeding bullet, it’s Super Grover!” and he would bust through that big G and wave his arms about manically with a helmet on his head.  Completely violent and disturbing.  I am sure many of you don’t remember Super Grover, so I have included a clip to bring you up to date with the horror, and I apologize in advance for any trauma it might cause said viewer.  If you close your eyes, plug your ears and hide behind your couch, you might be safe.  And I stress the MIGHT.

Yes, these are my fears.  To most they will be lame.  Too some you will understand.  To those of you who have witnessed me actually freak out over any of the above it is probably an amusing memory.  I am sure there are other more significant things that I am afraid of, but I prefer to think of those things are scars or emotional baggage :D.

~ Franki Figgs