Schreck's Orlok remains the most fearsome neck gnawer of the genre.
With vampire lore being watered down for bedroom wall worship these days, I feel it's best in the interest of Halloween to excuse ourselves from the Twilight and Vampire Chronicles teen 'n tween fodder and get real. Though vampire films have frequently been sensuous over the years, we've lost sight of the darkness, so to speak, in the interest of creating hipster love and angst fang bangs for a current MTV generation raised on melodrama instead of music.
The vampire film today has become slick, metro and focused on exploiting the same teenage social subdivision syndrome which has spoken to 13 to 18 year olds since The Blackboard Jungle in the Fabulous Fifties. Kids ostracize one another even without a hidden pair of incisors, so enough already, I say. Let's get back to the primitive. Vampires were once frightening. Now they're cleverly used as pitch-Nosferatu.
Vampire films have been coming at us for nearly a century now and there have been many attempts to deviate from the stalk and suck motif by utilizing comedy like Once Bitten and Love at First Bite or going to absurd extremities, i.e. Blacula. Malcolm McDowell portrayed a whimsically skittish vampire doubling as a night watchman in a blood bank in Tales From the Crypt's "The Reluctant Vampire." Batman and Dracula have squared off in animation land and then there's the space sucker gallavanting in zero G through Lifeforce.
But honestly, the true vampire tale is one trying to provoke or titillate, not one plying for Moon Man Awards. Here's a generous handful of vampire films to get real with...
The original Nosferatu from 1922. Still the vamp yarn to beat.
What else needs to be said? For the ages.
Is that Emily really a vampire or is Jessica F-ed in the head?
One for my Danish sista across the pond, Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1932 classic, Vampyr.
One of George A. Romero's earlier films, this vampire is perhaps more insidious than your average as he drugs up his victims then slices their wrists to drink their blood. Is he really a vampire, though? Sick.
Another of Bela's runs in the vampire mire. Legendary only due to a cutting of 15-plus minutes of footage that reportedly suggested incest back in 1935 when this film was released. Dogs willlll hunt!
I nearly pissed my bed as a young 'un watching that kid's best friend come back from the dead, scratching on his bedroom window. Zoiks and away!
It may have bombed theatrically in '87, but Near Dark has earned a major cult following, deservedly so. One of the best vampire films of the modern age.
Too bad this one's being remade. Who can possibly outdo Roddy MacDowell's Fear-Laden Vampire Killer in Fright Night? One of my personal favorites.
Not much of a story, but it's stylishly filmed (come on, it's Hammer!), attractively lit and oh yeah, the delicious Ingrid Pitt shows her yabbas. That alone earns a thumbs up.
Next to Bela and Max, is there a more iconic Drac than Christopher Lee?
A loose interpretation of Bram Stoker's classic yarn Hammer-style, it holds up due to the tag team awesomeness of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
The film poster for Dracula Has Risen From the Grave is funnier than the content. Hard to believe it came out rated G in the U.S. back in '68.
Love it or hate it, 30 Days is one of the coolest fang frolic concepts ever.
Yeah, this is a vogue film, but seldom few have matched the lushness of Interview and how can you not be impacted by the emotional sunlight dispatching of their adopted "daughter?"
Turning a so-so Marvel comics character into a major league vamp buster, the Blade series lost sight of itself on the second film after delivering a high-impact first installment. Blade Trinity is pretty good, too. The opening scene with the vampire rave and Traci Lords' banging techno in the original Blade is one of the most visceral moments in vampire cinema.
Red hot Lucy Liu tears some up in this excellent vamp-action vehicle also featuring a cameo by Marilyn Manson.
Alright, admittedly The Lost Boys was the Twilight of the eighties, but it still packs a wallop.
The Subspecies series was done on the cheap by filming all three films in the same location in Romania. A direct-to-video phenomenon courtesy of Full Moon, Subspecies holds a captive cult audience because of Radu's badass-ness, plus those little minions are such nasty buggers!
The best of the numerous attempts to convey Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. Two words: Vincent Price.
Yet another retelling of Stoker set in Virginia. The cover's juicy, anyway.
The undead takes on the mob! This one's a bloody riot.
They wanted to develop this Hammer fan favorite into a regular t.v. series. Imagine the possiblities...
Bringing things full circle, the brilliant Shadow of the Vampire, a fictional account about disturbing events surrounding the filming of Max Schreck's Nosferatu. Bold and provocative, a must-see.