Salty's Vampire Movies 101
A history of the vampire movies I have watched.
Hey there everybody! This is my article primero uno. I got the idea for this article after watching 30 days of night, which I'm sure will be remembered by some as "the" vampire movie of their generation. Besides being a movie buff, I also watched tons of movies as a kid. In fact, when I was in 5th grade or so, I was terrified of Vampires, which happened after reading a book about "real vampires". I would stay up all night scared sometime. I conquered my fear when I found the book at my library and saw that it was published by Apple Fiction. When you are a kid, irrational fears can really get the better of you. so without further ado, I'm gonna tell you about the vampire movies that are worth our love and nostalgia, and some that aren't. On the silver screen, the vampire has made many, many appearances. fingers crossed that the Castlevania movie coming soon will be good! So, let's start things off, old school style.
Nosferatu: A symphony of Horror (1922)
Now, I saw this when I was only eight, and it scared the gushers right out of me. Made in 1922 by F.W. Murnau, a German, this movie was really close to Bram Stroker's classic novel Dracula, published in 1897. Unfortunately for Murnau, he could not get the permission to use the characters in the novel.
So, the Count, seen here:
became Nosferatu, aka Count Orlok, a vampire very miraculously similar mannerisms to Dracula.
Anyway, Count Orlok, played by Max Schreck, is really creepy, especially considering that this film was made in the silent era of films. Instead of being the somewhat handsome, articulate Dracula from the book. Orlok is portayed as a nasty, unhuman monster that gave my eight year old self the willies.
Orlok could also be hurt by sunlight, even though it didn't really phase the original Dracula all that much. Instead of his book counter-part, Orlok was quite literally a creature of the night. He has such a menacing prescence, that, when I saw it again when I was sixteen, I still got chills. Know how vampires always rise from thier coffins? Three guesses where that tradition came from...Even though the characters names are all changed (Johnathan Harker becomes Hutter, Van Helsing becomes Professor Bulwer, etc.) I would still definetely recommend this film, not only because it is scary, but because it is one of the first major film of the horror genre. It's a pity more people haven't seen this masterpiece. It was even on Spongebob, for crisssakes.
Final Verdict:This one is a definite buy. Heck, buy the remake, too. (with Dracula characters, even!)
Now, I remember seeing this film at the ripe old age of just six months ago, when I was seventeen. Unlike the germans, who got sued for all they were worth, Universal studios was able to pick up the Dracula copyright from the estate of Bram Stoker. If Nosferatu's vampire created the ugly and nasty vampire, then Bela Lugosi, the man hired to play Dracula, created the exact opposite. Lugosi's Dracula was handsome, he was stiff, and he was articulate. His portrayal of Dracula would is what most people think of when they think of Dracula. He invented Dracula's drown out way of speaking. "I...am Count Draaaacuula"
It had some definite creepy moments in it, like when Dracula talks to his servant, Renfield. "Count Dracula: This is very old wine. I hope you will like it.
Renfield: Aren't you drinking?
Count Dracula: I never drink...wine." Several sequels were made, although they began to get a little less scary and a little more campy as time went on.
Final Verdict: Rent it from netflix or blockbuster. It's definetely worth seeing. Might want to skip the sequels, except for Son of Dracula, though.
the "Hammer" series (1958-1974)
Picture this scenario. It's 2004, and a fourteen year old boy spots a box set of nine Dracula movies at his local Sam's club. Thinking, wow, what a bargain, he buys them. What he just bought is what many believe to be the pinnacle of the Vampire movie. If Bela Lugosi played a great Dracula, then Christopher Lee was Dracula.
The original film stands out for being the goriest of its time. Although I grew up with movies like Evil Dead, Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers, I was still shocked to see a movie from that time with so much blood and guts. This movie series also stands out with the idea of stakes through the heart killing a vampire. Christopher Lee, with his fangs and his slightly insane demeanor, provided for a couple of not so sleep filled nights. Despite a couple of character ommisions, thiese movies are still all time classics of the horror genre.
Final Verdict: Buy them. Now. I fully recommend the original and all of its eight sequels.
Black Sabbath (1963)
I must admit, I did not purchase this film willingly. Rather, it was precariously placed next to a black sabbath (the band) DVD, and I picked it up, thinking that I was buying that. When I discovered my mistake, I decided to give it a whirl. Anyway, Black Sabbath is divided into three mini movies. They were originally Italian made, and they featured Horror Legend Boris Karloff. The second mini movie, The Wurdalak, deaks with Vampires.
In wurdalak, a vampire known as Gorcha is terrorizing a Russian town. The other stories are equally as creepy as the second.
Final Verdict: If you can find them, give them a try. The first movie isn't as good as the second and third are though.
Fun Fact: Guess where the band Black Sabbath got its name from. That's Right!
The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974)
Remeber when I said that I would recommend all of the Hammer sequels. Maybe I spoke too soon. The Legend of the 7 golden vampires is, get this, a Kung-Fu Vampire movie. I'll repeat that.
A KUNG-FU VAMPIRE MOVIE!!
In the movie, legends tell of 7 vampire that have been ravaging a small chinese village. Van Helsing has gone to China to investigate. As it turns out, Dracula has disguised himself as a Taoist monk, and has in fact taken control of these undead. This is an example of a movie that is unintentionally funny. Anyway, Never Fear, Van Helsing is here. He recieves help from the locals, some of which have apparently mastered the martial arts, to defeat Dracula once and for all.
The movie brings up inconsistencies with the hammer series, but it is a refreshing change of pace from London and Eastern Europe.
Final Verdict: BEST CONCEPT EVER?
Seriously though, I can't really recommend this film unless you are looking for something stupid to watch.
Once Bitten (1985)
One of Jim Carrey's first films, this movie was filmed on the relatively low budget of $3.2 million. I remember watching this one on Halloween last year, when I watched a bunch of cheap horror movies with my friends. This is the story of a high school loser who is seduce by a sultry vampress, played by Lauren Hutton.
While it is in no way, shape, or form one of the great Jim Carrey films, or the great Vampire films, it is only not so because of it's tough competition. Jim Carrey is funny in this role.
The highlight of the film is Carrey turning into a vampire, after being bitten by Hutton's vampress. It is humourous, and it sort of made me wish I was, too.
Final Verdict: Although this film has a generally bad rap, I found it to be enjoyable.
The Lost Boys (1987)
A Joel Schumacher Film about a gang of perenial teenage Vampires, this movie reeks of the 1980's. It has a soundtrack rich with 80's music, like INXS and Run D.M.C. It also features The Corey's in their very first roles together.
Other stars in the film are gang leader Keifer Sutherland, Big Brother to Corey Haim Jason Patric, and one of my favorite actors, Alex Winter (Bill from Bill & Ted) as the smallest vampire Marko. Incidentally, he's in the remake of Rock n Roll High School, coming out soon.
Anyway, this gang of Vampire's trick Jason Patric's character, Michael, into drinking Vampire Blood. This movie does a great job showing Michael's transition into a vampire. The Expert Vampire Hunters, Edgar and Alan Frog, are in Santa Clara, the fictional town where this all of this takes place, to track down and kill, "the head vampire."
Final Verdict: I definetely recommend this, even to the casual viewer. The sequel, the Lost Tribe, should be recommended only for the hardcore fans of the first film though. (out on July 29th, 2008)
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
This isn't one of my favorite movies, and I hesistated to put it on the list. This movie made over $200 Million, and was extremely successful both in the U.S. and abroad. Truthfully though, I just never got into it. Brad Pitt tells his story of how he came to be a vampire to Christian Slater. After losing his wife and child, Brad Pitt's character Louis loses the will to live. Tom Cruise, playing an apt role as a bloodsucker, offers him eternal life.
After taking the offer, Pitt finds out that being a vampire kinda sucks. A young Kirsten Dunst shines as Claudia, a young girl vampire who Cruise bites and becomes a daughter for Louis and Cruise's character Lestat. Antonio Banderas plays the Vampire Armand, who leads a secret vampire coven and shows Louis how vampires came to be. This is definetely more of a drama than a horror film.
Final Verdict: If you like drama, and vampires, this one's for you.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
This movie, directed by Robert Rodriguez, is a very interesting film. After robbing a bank, Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney, the Gecko brothers, must survive "from dusk till dawn" at a rendezvous point where they can pay off a kingpin. Alnog the way, the Gecko's kidnap the Fuller family, promising no harm will come to them if they make it to the mexican border and rendezvous point. As I often do with movies, I watched this movie with no prior knowledge as to what it was about. Vampires don't really make an appearance in the film until late in the first hour. The rendezvous point they are waiting at turns out to be a vampire bar/strip club. The action at this point really gets kicked up a notch.
Final Verdict: Yeah, It's good, but make sure little kids aren't around with you.
Blade Series (1998-Present)
Blade, one of my favorite comic book characters (I like to read my Marvel) got his own movie in 98'. My mom wouldn't let me see it when it came into theaters, but I did see it when it came on TV. Watchin gthe movie convinced me to read the comic, because I thought it was awesome. Wesley Snipes plays Blade, a vampire hunter who is himself half-vampire. As he is half-vampire, he gets all of the advantages of a human, with the added advantage of being able to withstand sunlight.
What makes this movie awesome is that, rather than being a conventional horror film or a drama film, it is an action thriller. Just like From Dusk till Dawn, it set a 90's trend for more action, and less horror with monster movies. So, anyway, Blade must defeat the evil vampire Deacon Frost, who plans to enslave humanity.
Final Verdict: I love these movies, and I think they are worth buying.
Fun Fact: This is the first Vampire movie to include the Creedance Clearwater Revival song "bad moon rising".
Others: keeping my list from reaching huge lenghts was my goal. Certain movies I decided not to include on my list. I've never seen Vampire Hunter D. I also purposefully left off Dracula 2000, Dracula the 1992 version, Underworld, and I am Legend. If I forgot any other major vampire movies, I probably have never heard of them. Thank you for reading my article.