So, Vampires

I’m going to be immersing myself in a lot of vampire related material over the next few weeks, as a way of finding my way back into a vampire book I started some years back and then abandoned because it was going in several wrong directions at once.

I’ll be watching pretty much nothing but vampire films and, apart from a few review titles and Black Static stories, reading nothing except vampire novels and short stories, so if you have an aversion to bloodsuckers then you might wish to give this blog a wide berth for a while, or at the best be very selective about which posts you choose to read.

For those who haven’t as yet clicked the back button, any thoughts on which are the best vampire films?

My own personal Top 10 would have to include Murnau’s Nosferatu and Dreyer’s Vampyr, both of which I watched over the weekend just gone, and the Universal and Hammer takes on Dracula, plus Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire and Bigelow’s grunge classic Near Dark, but I’m of an open mind as regards the remaining four slots.

Romero’s Martin would probably make the cut, and in a similar vein The Addiction, but what about The Hunger? Lost Boys and Fright Night are good, but are they that good? Does Herzog’s Nosferatu measure up to its source material, and is Shadow of the Vampire a one trick movie, elevated by excellent performances from Dafoe and Malkovich?

Should films like Blade and From Dusk Till Dawn be more properly considered as action/vampire hybrids than vampire movies per se, and why does Buffy the Vampire Slayer suck so badly when the TV series was the best thing evuh? Was Bram Stoker’s Dracula the bloated monstrosity that I remember it as, with Gary Oldman probably doing the worst turn ever as the Count? How do the exploitative Hammer Carmilla films compare with more openly erotic fare such as Vampyros Lesbos and Embrace of the Vampire? Is the idea of an erotic vampire movie a contradiction in terms?

And what about the worst vampire film? My vote would go to Shower of Blood in which a bunch of teens turn up unannounced at the isolated desres of Uncle Marty, and make themselves at home which, basically, means taking lots of showers, before getting slaughtered by the vampire to the strains of “Roll out the Barrel”.

All these and similar questions may or may not be resolved in the days and weeks ahead.

Stay tuned.

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6 Responses to So, Vampires

  1. DC5 says:

    Gary Oldman was the worst turn ever as CD? Say it ain’t so! I thought Oldman excelled in the role. He’s so good at playing offbeat weirdos.

    Fright Night is actually underrated as far as vamp movies go. There’s more in that movie to enjoy than there is in any ten buckets full of blue-veined twilighters.

    • petertennant says:

      Maybe not the worst ever CD – from memory Patrick Bergin did a particularly dull interpretation of the role, and I wasn’t too keen on John Carradine in the later Universal films – but while I like Oldman in a lot of things, I couldn’t take to him here. His performance seemed almost camp to me, but I’ll give it another look shortly and may feel differently, though I doubt it. Overall I thought the film was beautiful to look at, but with some poor casting (Keanu Reeves especially) and the attempt to ‘romanticise’ the story was a distortion of Stoker.

      No argument from me about the virtues of “Fright Night” (and I’ve never seen or read anything Twilightish), but would it make a Vampire Films Top 10?

  2. Hi Pete,

    Great choices on your part, but you might also want to consider the following films, which have different takes on the concept of vampirism. I don’t know if they’d make a top ten, but each offers an askew look at vampirism, and might help you find a different angle for your vampire work in progress:

    Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (A truly creepy independent film from 1971. If you’ve never seen it, please give it a look.)

    Nadja (Experimental vampire story executive produced by David Lynch)

    Rabid (Great early David Cronenberg film, with a powerful final scene)

    Worst vampire film? It’s gotta be John Carradine’s Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. It’s the Robot Monster of bloodsuckers.

    Regarding Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, I agree, not on the same level with Near Dark, but did you know all the special effects were done in-camera? None of the effects were added post-production. It deserves some credit just for that.

    Best,

    Rob

    • petertennant says:

      Hi Rob

      Yeah, “Jessica” is a film I’ve heard good things about – Kim Newman for one speaks very highly of it – and would like to see, but it doesn’t appear to be on Region 2 DVD at the moment. I’ll keep an eye out, as all things come to those who wait, allegedly 🙂

      I saw “Nadja” back in 2004 and liked it very much. It was a powerful and evocative interpretation, with some great camerawork, capturing perfectly the appeal and eroticism of the vampire’s existence, and ultimately the nullity. An excellent cast too, apart from Peter Fonda as Van Helsing, who I recall as very uncomfortable in the role, verging on slightly absurd.

      “Rabid” is an excellent film, but I’d never thought of it as a vampire film per se. Rather the bloodsucking seems incidental to Cronenberg’s theme of ‘body horror’.

      I haven’t seen “Billy the Kid vs Dracula”, but it definitely sounds like it could be a contender for the worst ever vampire film slot.

  3. Cate Gardner says:

    30 Days of Night is brutal.

    • petertennant says:

      Hi Cate

      “30 Days” had a great idea, some striking visuals with the scene with ship especially memorable and bringing to mind Dracula’s arrival in Whitby, and I loved the savagery of the vampires, but I thought it was let down by a slightly dodgy ending, with Hartnett infecting himself to go head to head with the lead vampire, who has had centuries to perfect his skills while Hartnett’s character has only had minutes. Good stuff, but I wouldn’t put it on my Top 10.

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