Along with many Vampire movie fans I find myself somewhat appalled by the Twilight franchise’s deconstruction of the legendary creatures. Stephanie Meyers and the various directors of the films carelessly disregard established vampire rules such as burning in the sunlight or being invisible in photos or mirrors. Needless to say I will be avoiding the newest installment to the teen vampire franchise, Eclipse, while it is in theatres and I recommend you do the same. Instead here are ten Vampire movies that are definitely worth your precious time:
1) Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror (1922)
The original vampire movie that has influenced countless others throughout film history. The film was released while Bram Stoker’s wife was still alive and Mr. Stoker’s estate strongly opposed the adaptation of his work. Even though the story parallels the novel Dracula, all of the names and characters are changed and Bram Stoker was not given a writing credit. Director F.W. Murnau’s German Expressionist take on the classic story has been mimicked by horror films for decades with its sharp angles and fragmented camera shots. Even for a silent movie the film establishes brilliant visual suspense and offers Count Orlok, one of the most unique and terrifying vampires ever portrayed on film.
2) Thirst (2009)
This South Korean film by brilliant auteur Chan-wook Park is a darkly comic look at the vampire legend. A catholic priest volunteers for a radical blood experiment that nearly kills him until a life-saving blood transfusion turns him into a vampire. The priest faces a moral struggle as he is torn between the dogma of his Catholicism and his insatiable desire for blood. It’s expertly filmed by Park’s masterful eye and features some excellent performances from the cast. If you’re looking for kinky vampire romance that isn’t ridden with forced teenage angst, this would be a great movie for you to check out.
3) Night Watch (2004)
Before Timur Bekmambetov went commercial with the 2008 film Wanted he directed an excellent two part film series in Russian. The film is about two rival factions that govern during the day and during the night. The evil night forces are made up of Vampires that roam the street while the “Night Watch” is responsible for preventing them from harming normal humans and maintaining the centuries long truce between the forces of day and night. The film is visually impressive and offers a much more intellectually stimulating battle than the one between vampires and werewolves.
4) Let the Right One In (2008)
Heralded by many as the best Vampire movie in at least a decade, Let the Right One In, is a Swedish horror masterpiece from director Tomas Alfredson. It tells the story of a neglected and bullied 12-year old boy named Oskar who falls in love with his peculiar new neighbor, Eli. Oskar soon realizes that Eli is a vampire and must decide how much love can forgive. The film is brilliantly written by John Ajvide Lindqvist who adapted it from his own novel. Even though the characters are much younger than Jacob, Bella, and Edward they show much more maturity and depth.
5) Dracula (1931)
Before there ever was a Twilight, this was the movie that came to mind whenever somebody said “Vampire movie.” Two decades after Bram Stoker’s death his work was finally able to be legally portrayed on screen without changing names or plot points. Bela Lugosi established the image that everybody now thinks of as the Dracula archetype with his suave and scary performance. In Bram’s vision there is no “good” vampires or “bad” vampires, there is only the Count who is a manifestation of pure evil.
6) Nosferatu: The Vampyre (1979)
Werner Herzog’s visceral retelling of the Dracula story creates a brilliant mood through the director’s excellent vision. The Dracula story has been told on film dozens of times so Herzog makes the plot secondary and creates a film that is all about tone. Herzog’s surreal vision is dreamlike and entrancing and it makes the well-known story feel remarkably original. Klaus Kinski is terrifying in the title role with a powerful screen presence that simultaneously draws your attention and makes you want to avoid eye contact. If you’re looking for moody and deep, this is a more intelligent film than any Twilight.
7) Near Dark (1987)
Over two decades before Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for Best Director she delved into the vampire genre with this romantic thriller. A young farm boy inadvertently becomes a vampire when a girl he tries to seduce bites him. He is then forced to join the roving gang of vampires as they travel the country side and attack unsuspecting victims. If you’re looking a teenage vampire movie, look for one that was in the capable hands of Kathryn Bigelow rather than the cycled through group of jokers behind Twilight.
8) Cronos (1993)
One of Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro’s first films is not exactly a vampire movie. However it does tell the story of a man who discovers an ancient machine that gives him eternal life and a vampire’s thirst for blood. Much like Del Toro’s other works, the story is great but the symbolism is greater. The film is visually rich and filled with hidden clues and objects with significant meanings. The overarching theme is one that is present in many vampire movies, but this time Del Toro intertwines mankind’s desire for immortality with its obsession with technology.
9) From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino combine slick criminals and vampires in this dark comedy. The Gecko brothers knock off aÂ family and take one member hostage before crossing the border into Mexico to meet at an established rendezvous point. The suspicious criminals they meet at the bar turn out to be vampires who give them until dawn to survive. Rodriguez seamlessly combines a crime thriller with a horror thriller in a movie that’s filled with Tarantino’s signature dialogue and a quick editing style that makes the overall viewing experience a hell of a lot of fun.
10) Salem’s Lot (1979)
This made for TV movie is based on a Stephen King novel about a young man returning to his roots. Ben Mears returns to Salem’s Lot, Maine to investigate a haunted house that overlooks the entire town and terrorized him as a child. After several strange run-ins with the townspeople, Ben realizes that Salem’s Lot is actually overrun with vampires. Directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist), Salem’s Lot is a great watch for some entertaining, Stephen King style thrills.
Now you have 10 good excuses not to go out and see Eclipse this weekend. Can you add ten more in the comments?