16 December 2011

13 good Vampire movies part 2

Interview with the Vampire

A rather moody story about Louis a vampire (Brad Pitt) telling the story of his life to a reporter (Christian Slater). The story spans 200 years, starting out with how he was a prominent land owner in America in the late 18th century where he met with Lestat, a vampire played by Tom Cruise. Lestat pretty much tricks Louis into wanting to become a vampire since there does not seem to be any other vampires in the world or at least in America. The story then follows the two characters as they travel to Europe in search for others afflicted with vampirism and where they look for answers about their condition. On the way they also pick up a young girl played by Kirsten Dunst and end up visiting Paris where a vampire theater troupe led by Antonio Banderas make horror shows for a living.

The cool thing with this movie is that you get to follow a vampire character for a longer period of time than you usually get to with any movie character. It is fun and interesting to see how the vampires try to blend into the society around them, how they get by feeding on people while hiding their true nature, Louis struggling with his human morality not wanting to kill innocents while Lestat being more of a "fun loving party animal" who fully embraces his vampirism. Kirsten Dunst also adds a disturbing point of view of a person who gets turned into a vampire at an early age and who never can grow up no matter how many decades have passed (a similar situation is also present in Near Dark).

Of all the movies listed here this is probably the one that is the most straight and serious one. There is no tongue in cheek, no unnecessary explosions, stylistic combat sequences or anything like that. So if you want a more mature take on the whole vampire film then this movie will serve you well.


Night Watch

This stylistic Russian movie is probably not everyone's cup of tea. The characters and effects are just so outlandish and bizarre that you either find it all very refreshing or just simply too much. The plot is essentially that there was a war between good and evil a long time ago and a truce was reached between the forces of light and dark. Each agreed to keep watch of the opposite side to maintain the truce up until pretty much the judgment day when it would be decided who will be favored and chosen by "the great one".The watchers are made up of a bunch of people with supernatural powers and abilities.

Sounds weird? That's just the prologue! Anyway, the movie is about the Night Watch and their little adventures with all kinds of people and creatures with weird powers waging war in the night.
It is easily to get lost trying to explain the film plot fully, and perhaps it is best to leave it up to each one to watch and experience it for themselves. I remember myself thinking it was all so weird when I watched it, it was truly memorable and stayed with me even after the years that have passed since it was released.


Underworld

A much easier and simpler concept than the movie mentioned previously. Basically about a war between vampires and werewolves. Werewolves had been kept as slaves and wardens of the vampires during daytime until one day when they rebelled for being treated like shit one time too many by the ruling class. Ever since the times long past vampires had waged war on their former servants trying to destroy their race completely. This also takes place in a world pretty much unaware about anything of this as both vampire and werewolves often just move about in their "human shape" when appearing in public.

Much of the focus of the movie, beside Kate Beckinsale in tight leather is a man called Michael who is a descendant of one of the werewolf ancestors without knowing it. And his blood supposedly holds an important secrets, so important that the werewolves and vampires end up chasing him.

This is basically a "cool action movie" with vampires and werewolves thrown into it. And it works pretty well. Just don't go expecting anything really deep or smart from the plot and you will be satisfied.


Blade

Almost the same thing as above, a vampire action movie. Blade, the titular character, is half vampire half human. His mother was bitten while being pregnant, so Blade got the best of both worlds. Strenght and vampire reflexes, but won't be killed by sunlight. Getting help from an old vampire hunter he is able to control his bloodlust and dedicates his spare time to killing vampires for a living.

Vampires live among humans and have infiltrated all parts of human society, often having people around them completely unaware of their true nature. Blade spawned 2, the first being decent while the 3rd being utter crap. But the first movie is also lot grittier with more blood to go with the violence.

Wesley Snipes is cool as Blade, Kris Kristofferson is great as his old vampire hunter mentor and Stephen Dorff is a suave villain who has become tired of being vulnerable to sunlight and tries to find a way to make the vampire race "daywalkers" just like Blade.


30 Days of Night

An Alaskan town is making itself ready for a period where the sun won't rise for a month (hence the title). Some people are leaving, some are staying behind in the town to ride out the dark period. Just as the darkness descends over the small town a deranged stranger played by Ben Foster is making trouble and the Sheriff played by Josh Hartnett locks him up not taking him seriously. The stranger rambles on about serving some badass master who will come and kill them all and reward his good work messing up the town by turning him into a vampire.

True enough, soon after the dark period starts a band of vampires show up in town and first make sure it is completely isolated and cut off from the rest of the world before they go on a killing spree feeding like lunatics on anyone they can capture. The townsfolk try to hide from the terror and the sheriff tries to find a way to save what's left of the population.

The vampires look very animalistic and great, probably the best looking vampire makeup in a long while (at the time the movie was released), and they are pretty damn scary with their vampire language and utter disregard for anything but to get their bellies full as they act like a swarm of locust killing the population of one small village before moving on to the next. There is no reasoning with these guys.


Daybreakers

Taking vampire society one step further this movie portrays vampire as not only living amongst normal people but having multiplied so that they are a huge majority with humans being kept in "blood farms" and harvested for blood while almost everyone else is a vampire and does not need to hide the fact.

The plot of this movie is that there are so many vampire now that it is hard to keep up the blood supply - the "human farm animals" are being drained dangerously low on blood and replenishing them is almost impossible as very few humans are left to hunt. So one scientist played by Ethan Hawke is tasked with finding some sort of blood substitute for his evil corporation boss wonderfully played by Sam Neil

Hawk gets kidnapped by a small band of human rebels led by Willem Dafoe who convince him that making a vampire cure is a much better idea so that's what they try to do - using Hawke's character to get access to places and research material otherwise off limits to them. I really liked the idea of vampire dominating and even resorting to depraved acts of cannibalism to get their fix of blood - something that is prevented by the authorities since vampires feeding on vampire have led to mutated monstrosities evolve and in turn hunt vampires for food.

Maybe Willem Dafoe channels a bit too much of his Platoon character Elias into his role in this movie, but on the whole it is quite good.

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Honorable mention


Martin, this is a very odd movie, it's hard to know whether it should be classified as a real vampire movie or not since the "character" is human with mental health issues. It was directed by George Romero and it's about a young guy named Martin who thinks he is a vampire and goes about drugging and killing people for their blood with his little "murder kit" made up of sedatives and razorblades. Trying to clean up his act he visits his equally deranged religious uncle who keeps calling him "Nosferatu" and threatening to stake him if he learns that the boy killed someone in his town. It is not as cool as it might sound, but it is different, though the slow pacing and odd plot might be off putting.

Stake land a post apocalyptic vampire movie that could be described a bit like "The Road"+vampires. Made a review about it a couple of months ago. Really liked it.

Let the right one in, a Swedish vampire movie that I didn't really like as a whole. I thought the main kid  and "protagonist" was extremely annoying making it hard to relate to his situation. What I liked about the movie however was the atmosphere and the trashy feeling (movie takes place in the 80's) and the interesting twist to the whole "vampire master / human servant" deal. The ending is also open for interpretation, and what happens to those characters in the future after the movie ends is probably much darker and sinister than one might realize at first.

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This concludes what has been  "movie week" for this time, hope you guys found something new that you ended up checking out and liking.

7 comments:

  1. I love all these films, well all but Interview with a vampire.

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  2. 'Underworld' may be based on White Wolf's 'World of Darkness' but is rather enjoyable, though the actor playing the male 'hero' is imho terribly anti-charismatic; but of course the real hero is Selene, and with KB in the role... The semi-'Matrix' look is pleasant. Not a 'serious' movie but entertaining.

    A stroke of genius if '30 days...' is the social structure of the vampires, copied on that a wolf pack. Logical, and essential to the plot: having killed the 'Alpha' in fair fight, the (no longer) 'human' hero becomes in fact the new Alpha of the pack, and can persuade the lower vampires no to bother the heroine.

    Btw, that vampires are killed by sunlight is not really 'canonical': as I remember Dracula walked the London streets by day (maybe not a sunny one, and perhaps with fog, but nonetheless...).

    For me I confess I'd mentioned Carpenter's 'Vampires' rather than 'Blade'?

    'I'm a legend' (the novel, not the movie) is memorable in that he transferred the vampires from the realm of Fantasy to that of Science Fiction: nothing 'magical', religious or supernatural Buffy-fashion, but an infectious agent (almost a symbiont). Zombies followed later, no longer 'undead' reanimated by sorcery but diseased people.

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  3. John Carpenters Vampires is an OK movie, I am legend with Will Smith was terrible though - it was an excellent film up until they showed the badly CGI'd monsters...

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  4. Night Watch is really a movie defying categorization. What I like about it is that as a Russian film it doesn't try to copy its Hollywood counterparts. Instead it goes for something I'd call "the aesthetics of ugly". The witch uses a bottle of cheap vodka in the spell/curse, the good guys drive a decked-out soviet-era truck, one bad guy wears a tacky combo of a tracksuit and dog collar ... hard to explain, but details like this tie the fantastic elements with the contemporary Moscow in a believable manner. The effects are totally over the top, but I think it somehow really works. I also liked most of the russian cast; very refreshing and, me being european, much easier to identify with.
    The film reportedly grossed more than the LotR trilogy in Russia, but fans of the novel say it's quite dumbed down from the source material (usually is).
    There is also the sequel; Day Watch.
    I'd suggest the film even if you're just a fan of the genre, simply because of the cool urban fantasy ideas and concepts.

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  5. My only complaint with Night Watch was that the subtitles drew you away from the action too much. The dialogue was important to the film for a change too.

    Daybreakers I was undecided about, I sort of enjoyed it, yet didn't for some reason. Underworld was great, but I enjoyed each sequel less and less. The same for Blade.

    How about FDTD 2 & 3? Despite being a prequel and a sequel, they were quite unconnected to the first and not bad at all on their own terms imo.

    The novel 'I am legend' hasn't really been done right in film since the Vincent Price offering in 1964(?). The whole point was that the single surviving human swapped places with the usual single vampire within the genre and became 'the monster'... He was the thing the 'vampires' scared their children with... he hunted them.

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  6. @Luka

    I feel the same way about "the aesthetics of ugly", it often adds realism and authenticity.

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  7. Well it is a great list and I am very impressed by your job. I must say that you have maintained a well synchronization of vampire movies in this blog which seem really effective to any user.

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