Thanks to the epic success of the Twilight phenomenon, bloodsuckers are alive and well at the movies. Here we sink our teeth into past fang flicks that broke the mold or turned genre conventions on their head (e.g. - check out Dracula's Dog from 1978 - classic). It turns out that the children of the night have quite a diverse catalog.
By Bryan Reesman
Vampires tend to help each other out. But Blade’s a bit different – he’s a badass undead assassin offering payback for being crossed over unwillingly. Wesley Snipes got buff for this high-octane action picture that brought undead warfare to the big city, and it also begat a trilogy of toothy films.
Before he made Blade II and Hellboy, Guillermo Del Toro offered this variation on vampirism in which an old antique dealer discovers a strange mechanical insect that rejuvenates his body to its youthful state…and makes him hungry for blood. It’s a moody, unorthodox tale that proves that if something seems too good to be true, run away!
1993 October Films
Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002)
No one would dare call the King of the Vampires “twinkletoes.” At least not until Guy Maddin’s silent, black-and-white treatment done through ballet with a Chinese lead! Even in slippers Drac is still more fun and ferocious than the uptight, pervy Brits whose women he beds.
2002 Zeitgeist Films
The Hunger (1983)
We all know that vampires can roast in the sun. Except if you’re David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. This arty film reinvented our favorite parasites as chic clubgoers who can roam the city streets by day and party by night. It also conjured an eerie, ethereal score to haunt your dreams.
We all have energy vampires in our life, and they are brought to the screen here by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist). In this saga co-authored by Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, American and British astronauts unwittingly bring energy-sucking aliens back to Earth, and when one escapes into London – naturally, the nude, busty female one – all hell literally breaks loose.
1985 Cannon Group, The
The Lost Boys (1987)
Combining Sunset Strip chic with bloodsucking freaks, Joel Schumacher’s classic ‘80s update on the legend finds hip teen revenants hunted by stake-armed tweens along the California coast.
And you might ask yourself, how did I get here? If you’re Martin, a young man who claims he is 84 years old and descended from Eastern European vampires, you might think you know. But is he telling the truth or does he crave blood for other reasons? This early George Romero film, shot partly in gritty black and white, gave the genre a neo-realist twist.
1977 Libra Films International
Moon Child (2003)
Japanese rock stars Gackt and Hyde co-star as a streetwise vampire and his gangster friend who have been brothers since their rough, orphaned childhood, with the fanged one teaching his human companion how to fight and dodge bullets. Sadly, various tragedies in their lives prove that the concept of immortality isn’t such a great thing.
2003 Shochiku Company
Near Dark (1987)
Kathyrn Bigelow’s modern-day vampire twist presents Southern drifters prowling the countryside in a car with blacked out windows. When Caleb Colton gets turned into one of them after being seduced, he becomes initiated into their bloody world. But when his family become targets, he must decide which side of him will win, human or beast.
Night Watch (2007)
Bloodsuckers and other shapeshifters engage in a modern battle of good versus evil in this bizarrely entertaining Russian creation. The film combines supernatural lore with Matrix-like action and a sense of epic grandeur from Timur Bekmambetov, the director who brought us this year’s over-the-top action flick Wanted. Day Watch has since emerged, and Twilight Watch should close the trilogy next year.
No, that’s not an indoor tanning experience gone horribly awry. It’s Marilyn Chambers as the woman infected with a rabies-like virus that makes her crave human blood. She soon wreaks havoc on Montreal once her victims develop the same symptoms. What starts as a low-key horror affair soon balloons into a disaster movie.
1977 New World Pictures
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
What if F.W. Murnau shot Nosferatu using a real vampire? This fun little fear flick imagines just that, and it also makes you realize, ironically, that striving for too much realism in a fantasy movie can be a dangerous thing. Particularly when members of your crew become dinner.
2000 Lions Gate Films
This classic, low-budget chiller took us into the heart of Romania for its tales of two brothers: the ugly, evil Radu, who thrives as a blood junkie, and the dashing, noble Stefan, who renounces his monstrous heritage. What won our hearts was the choice of locations, creative cinematography, and fantastic score. And the beautiful babes don’t hurt the eyes, either.
1991 * Full Moon Entertainment
Sundown: The Vampire In Retreat (1991)
Bruce Campbell and David Carradine prove the sun isn’t fatal in this horror-comedy in which sanguinary Southwesterners can wear plenty of clothing and powerful SPF 100 and pass for regular folks. But old schoolers wage war within this modern order of bloodsuckers that drinks only synthesized blood, claiming human hunting is their birthright. And a hail of wooden bullets is unleashed!
1991 Vestron Pictures
Got blood? In this fun Aussie flick, a lovely descendent of the bloodthirsty Countess Bathory is lured to an alleged vampire cult that harvests humans for food. Sometimes it pays off to be a civilized creature. Or at least it might make you feel better about drinking other people’s blood.
1979 New Line Cinema
Marrying Gothic style with high-powered action, the first of a trilogy (part three arrives in January) focuses on the battle between vampires and Lycans (werewolves). Kate Beckinsale brought brooding looks, moral fortitude, and sex appeal to an exciting, if emotionally underwhelming, tale of undead warfare in London.
2003 Screen Gems
Vampire's Kiss (1989)
Nicolas Cage has taken on some odd roles, but perhaps nothing like this twisted tale of a Manhattan yuppie who believes he has crossed over to the fanged side after being bitten by a bat. But is it true or is he merely deranged? And how many bats actually habitate NYC anyway? Who cares – the engrossing Cage chews on the scenery. And more.
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