15 December 2011

13 good Vampire movies part 1

Movie week continues for a couple more days - after the weekend there will be some very cool stuff related to miniature wargaming like reports from our Early War FoW tournament and a very detailed look at the Polish made 15mm 17th century wargame "Ogniem i Mieczem"/"With Fire and Sword".
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This is the first part of my 2 part list of "old" and "more recent" vampire movies that I can recommend without flinching if someone asked "do you know any good vampire movies?".
I will write a short summary of each movie and try to explain why it is worth recommending.


Near Dark

Kathryn Bigelow's gritty vampire movie about a nomadic  trashy vampire family roaming the American south, with a superb cast which almost makes this an "Aliens" reunion party. You get Jeanette Goldstein (Vasquez), Lance Henriksen (Bishop) and Bill Paxton (Hudson) playing vampires in this movie - what else could I say to make you want to watch it?!

The story is about a young man, Caleb who goes into town to get a drink. He spots a nice looking girl and becomes interested in her. They seem to be getting along quite well but she starts to panic when she becomes aware of the imminent sunrise. She also ends up biting him. Caleb who thinks it has all been awesome assumes that he just got a hickey on his neck. He soon starts to be sensitive to light and feel weird.

As it turns out he is changing into a vampire and the vampire crazy family drops by and kidnaps him and gives him a condition to either prove himself worthy of being one of them or they will kill him. What follows is a crazy tour through the countryside where the vampires live out their evil sociopathic tendencies Natural Born Killers style and Caleb doing his best to get along while he tries to figure out how the hell he can get away from it all.

The acting is top notch, the cast is great all-round which is very rare in any movie, the story is simple but told in a good and efficient way without going into cliché territory. One of my favorite vampire movies.

The Lost Boys

A horror comedy akin to Fright Night. It is cheesy, tounge in cheek and campy as hell but also very cool and somehow pulls it off well enough to be both a fun movie and a good vampire story.

It also features Kiefer Sutherland as a pretty cool vampire who leads a gang of dirtbikers harassing the locals and the main characters in particular. The main characters are partially two brothers who move with their mom to a new town. The older brother gets drawn into this vampire gang by accident, while the younger brother bumps into two young vampire hunters who take themselves a bit too seriously. Together they try to find the lair of the vampires, how to save the older brother and destroy the master vampire in town.

It features both laughs and campy humor as well as serious parts. It also has really good effects and makeup


Fright Night (1985 & 2011)

Already reviewed previously on the blog, I can recommend both versions for different reasons. Click here for the full review.


Nosferatu

The Citizen Kane of vampire movies, a silent film from the 1920's based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. Stoker's widow hated it and even won a juridical battle which almost ended up with all copies of the movie destroyed. Anyway, the main attraction of this movie is "Nosferatu", the title vampire played by Max Schreck. This is one of the most bizarre and creepy looking vampires to date. Not only an anatomical oddity, but those staring eyes is enough to make you shiver. The plot follows that of the Dracula novel quite well if you are familiar with it and only makes minimal changes in plot - like changing the name from count Dracula to count Orlock, and he kills his victims upon feeding from them instead of turning the victims into new vampires.
If you can stomach the movie being a silent film it is quite well worth a watch.


Shadow of the Vampire

And if you cannot stomach the silent film you can watch this one instead. This is quite an interesting film that works on the premise that count Orlock in Nosferatu was in fact a real vampire who agreed with the director Murnau to be on film. This derives from Max Schrecks portrayal of count Orlock being so outlandish that it created such fantasy stories upon the movie’s release and shortly afterwards. In this film you get John Malkovich as the director and Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck. Both to a terrific job, and Dafoe looks really damn close to the original with all the makeup and mannerisms.
The story is about the shooting of the Nosferatu movie where some real weird stuff is going on the set with film crew disappearing, Max Schreck behaving strangely and Murnau's attempt to finish the movie at all costs.


Bram Stoker's Dracula

Staying with Bram Stoker story of Dracula I should mention the Francis Ford Coppola movie that some people hate, others really like. It sticks closer to the original novel of Dracula, but the most off putting thing about this movie would be Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker the main protagonist. However, I think most of the cast really makes up for him a LOT. Gary Oldman is simply brilliant as the main  villain Dracula and looks great in all renditions throughout the movie. Van Helsing played by Anthony Hopkins is also great. Then again these two actors are ALWAYS great, but they also work really well in this movie. And that would be my main reason for recommending this one. Gary Oldman looks really disgusting in the makeup and there are some pretty cool effects with shadows having a life of their own.


From Dusk Till Dawn

This movie is such an over the top "what the fuck" experience that it had to make the list. The story apparently is that they had 2 half finished movie scripts - one about a kidnapping and one about vampires. Neither script went anywhere so they mashed them together and made this hilarious and gory crazy movie that spawned a bunch of sequels.

Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney play 2 kidnappers who keep a family hostage and want to get over the Mexican border. Once there they stop at a raunchy club in the middle of nowhere known as the "Titty Twister" (yes really). Up to this point the movie had been about Tarantinos character being a bit mentally challenged, George Clooney trying to keep his brother from molesting the hostages, the kids in the family trying to focus on staying alive and their dad being a retired priest ramble about him getting out of touch with god.

Now AFTER they arrive at the club, all hell breaks loose. The place is a vampire sanctuary and run by vampires. As a drunken brawl erupts and ends in blood spillt the vampire employees and owners lose it and shed their human appearance and starts attacking and ripping apart the clientele and it becomes this hilarious over the top B movie horror action fest with a motley band of survivors holed up with improvised vampire killing weapons, trying to survive being besieged until dawn breaks so they can get the hell out of there. Lots of cool actors in this one. Harvey Keitel, Tarantino, Clooney, Salma Hayek, Juliette Lewis, Danny Trejo and a bunch of others. It's just such a crazy movie.

7 comments:

  1. Great post- can't wait for part 2 :)

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  2. "Near Dark" was one of my favourites along with "Dracula" and "From Dusk Till Dawn", various re-inventing of the genre, excellent.

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  3. You should take a gander at Stakeland. Its a fresh take on the vamp flick and pretty good to boot.

    Brian

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  4. @Brian

    http://anatolisgameroom.blogspot.com/2011/06/stake-land-review.html

    ;-D

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  5. I was just reading about Stakeland yesterday in the local paper. They had put up the top 10 movies you may have missed and Stakeland was one, saying it was an excellent vampire movie without the sparkle and teen angst we are tired of, back to being terrified of vampires.

    The post was great! I've seen all those movies and more. I had a guide I purchased long ago that referenced every vampire movie up to the 90's when I was in college and we would rent movies to check them off the book.

    Dusk Till Dawn was by far one of my favorites and I own a copy of the movie. I loved how they made the "family" out of various vampires from a variety of time periods. The only part that annoyed me was the crappy ending with how the "cured" the guy and girl. I don't want to spoil it if you have not seen it.

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  6. Can't argue with any of those, FDTD is my all time favourite. Shadow of the Vampire was excellent, purely for its different take. Coppola's suffered from some abstract over-weirdness in places, which marks it down for me, as it is a good story that he could have done straight from the book.

    Good reminders that originally Vampires sucked blood and not ****...

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  7. 'Starship trooper' was built almost similar lines as FDTD: two very different halves, with opposite tones :)

    The two seminal 'Gothic Vampire' novels were, first Carmilla, then Dracula: no movie (Jean Rollin...?) rooted in the older novel recent or good enough to be mentioned? Truth to tell, they generally are not 'all audiences'.

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