As promised last week, I’m going to take a hot minute to list my top five vampire movies. Mind you, these are just movies, so I’m not going to include television shows, which there have been several recently.
Like the books I talked about last week, the five movies listed here have influenced me and my writing in some way, as well as perpetuated my love for vampires. Just like last week, I’m going to list them in reverse order, from 5 to 1, and give the briefest of reasons why I loved the movie. Hopefully, if you haven’t seen them, you’ll want to. In some cases, if you haven’t, then you probably should. Of course, that’s just my ever humble opinion…
5. 30 Days of Night (2007)
Where does one begin with this movie? I mentioned it a few weeks ago as a smart, killer vampire graphic novel and the movie (while, naturally, not completely the same) is still a smart, killer vampire flick. What impressed me about this movie was the vampire hierarchy and culture. They have their own language, for fuck’s sake, and it’s not English. Their attack on Barrow is sleek, and coordinated, and just a complete blood orgy. This movie is more than ample proof that vampires can, in fact, be suitably mean and animalistic without losing the ability to think that they should have. The vampires in this movie could very well be the scariest I’ve seen depicted in film these last twenty years or so.
4. Let the Right One In (2008/Swedish)
Don’t mistakenly watch the Americanized version Lindqvist’s book, but rather make sure you get the Swedish film. While both versions follow the book pretty damn close, the Swedish version is a darker, more atmospheric movie which heightens the loneliness Eli and Oskar feel throughout. And that’s important, and what really makes this a great vampire film overall – the atmosphere. Everything is bleak and moody, and as Eli and Oskar grow closer and reveal their secrets to each other, you begin to realize the depth of their sadness. The two build a foundational relationship in the book, and while Eli is just as lonely as Oskar, make no mistake: she’s a killer vampire and has no desire to die.
3. Fright Night (1985)
Jerry Dandridge is a cool cat, man. Perfect hair, manicured nails, rich, and he also happens to be a vampire. The movie pits Dandridge against his teenaged next door neighbor, Charley Brewster, and the cowardly “I play one on TV” vampire hunter, Peter Vincent (in a wonderful performance by Roddy McDowall). What I like about this movie is that addresses the fact a vampire can be dead fucking sexy (c’mon, Sarandon was a good lookin’ dude back in the 80s) and also deadly. This cat ain’t a confused Cullen. He is an evil ass vampire as he pursues Charley and his friends and he gives them no quarter. Dandridge is well aware of what it takes to survive and he does what he has to do to live. That said, never watch the 2011 remake. While Anton Yelchin is growing on me as an actor, Colin Farrell still leaves a lot to be desired, and the remake sucked… no pun intended.
2. Near Dark (1987)
I’ll be honest here and say that Near Dark and The Lost Boys switch places depending on my mood. Near Dark is as much a western as it is anything, complete with a good guy cowboy, his lady love, vampire outlaws, and spurs. What always impressed me about this film was how hard the vampire “family” worked to stay together and stay alive. But, they are killers, as is evidenced by the body count in the bar scene, and then the motel shootout as well. It goes back to what I said about 30 Days of Night a few weeks ago: smart, with feelings, and deadly. This movie is darker, and slightly more mature than The Lost Boys. Also, a factoid, they never use the word vampire in the movie. Reminds me of a certain show on television today that refuses to use the word zombie.
1. The Lost Boys (1987)
The Lost Boys needs no introduction. This was the cool vampire movie of the 80s, the one geared more toward the teen crowd, the outsiders, the loners, and pretty much anyone who had a rebellious bone in their body. David and his vampires are long-haired, leather jacket, rocker cats who bully the boardwalk in Santa Carla. Everything about this movie speaks to that ultra-cool 80s vibe, from the dirt bikes and motorcycles, to the beach parties, the ripped up clothes, and, of course, the defiance. Hell, Corey Feldman’s character wears a John Rambo bandana throughout most of the movie. And it’s not just the humans defying authority, but the vampires, too. What I liked about this movie was Michael’s choice, teetering on the brink of living that ultra-cool undead lifestyle or remaining true to who he was and his own moral compass.
And there you have it, my top five vamper movies and a succinct recap of why. The 80s were kind to vampire movies, as there many good ones not listed here (Vamp, Lifeforce, and The Hunger to name a few) and you should check them all out.
Feel free to leave comments for discussion or add your own top five list!
Be sure to come back next week and listen to me wax philosophical about the vampire’s nemesis, the slayer…
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