With True Blood
on cable and the Twilight
phenomenon, vampires have received an invigorating transfusion of new blood. But vampires have always been popular. There's never been a decade without a Dracula or some cinematic incarnation of the bloodsucking breed.
Since there are so many films featuring Dracula (beginning with Bela Lugosi and continuing with Christopher Lee in the British Hammer films, Frank Langella in a romantic 70s version, and George Hamilton and Leslie Nielsen in goofy comedies), any film with Bram Stoker's famous Count has been omitted from this list - just so you can get a taste of other vampires.
© Image Entertainment
Let's start at the beginning with F.W. Murnau's silent film featuring the creepiest looking vampire ever -- Max Schreck. Rumors at the time of the film circulated that the strange looking Schreck was indeed a real vampire. That became the inspiration for the film Shadow of the Vampire
. But you can decide for yourself.
© Lions Gate
This is the film that introduced Guillermo del Toro to the world and revealed his unique take on horror in which you feel sympathy for the monsters. Del Toro's film revolves around a vampiric character named Jesus Gris and offers a perverse tale of resurrection and redemption. You can see the influence of what Del Toro calls "Catholic horror." Hellboy
's Ron Perlman also appears.
© Lions Gate
George A. Romero sometimes cites this as his favorite film. The original cut of the film was 160 minutes, but that version no longer exists. The bizarre story involves a young boy who believes he's a vampire, even though he has no fangs and none of a vampire's powers. But that doesn't stop him from trying to "suck" the blood from some Pennsylvania housewives. Perversely satiric at times, but also deeply tragic, this is an underrated film and a clever reinvention of the vampire genre.
© New Line
Wesley Snipes plays the Marvel Comics superhero who's part human and part vampire. Referred to as a Day Walker, Blade makes it his mission to rid the world of vampires. This muscular, action-packed film also features Udo Kier as an aristocratic vampire; Kier also played the title character in Andy Warhol's Dracula
decades earlier. A worthy sequel, Blade II
, directed by Guillermo del Toro followed. But stay far, far away from Blade Trinity
© Warner Home Video
"Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire." That says it all! This one is just plain fun. The cast features Kiefer Sutherland as a punky teen vampire, Jason Patric as the newest reluctant convert, and the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman). Feldman plays one of two wacky brothers (Edgar and Allen) who insist the town is crawling with vampires. They made the phrase "vamp out" famous.
© Magnolia Pictures
While we're talking about teen vampires, here's a beautiful film from Sweden about two lonely adolescents, one of whom just happens to be a vampire. Like Del Toro, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson reveals sympathy for the monster and a poetic sense of imagery. But he also knows how to deliver the gore.
© Anchor Bay
Kathryn Bigelow's film gave us a memorable Bill Paxton as a vampire who, after chowing down on some locals, smacks his lips and says: "Finger-licking good." The word vampire is never used, but the strange extended family headed by an unnerving Lance Henrickson is definitely into sucking blood from victim. The film serves up a western-style take on the vampire formula, combining both action and a love story.
3. 'The Addiction' (1995)
© October Films
"Wanna go someplace dark?" That's the line that Christopher Walken ominously entices Lili Taylor with in Abel Ferrara's urban vampire allegory. Ferrara offers a vampiric Heart of Darkness, in which Taylor's character journeys out of the light and into the darkest corners of the soul to discover the horror that lurks within. Perverse and delectable.
© 20th Century Fox
Based on a series of books, this film broke all Russian box office records at the time of its release. Director Timor Bekmambetov shows us the bureaucracy of fighting the forces of darkness. There's a funny Soviet logic to the notion of licensing and regulating evil. A delicious horror treat with some amazing car stunts and effects.
© Warner Home Video
And finally, Roman Polanski's film takes top honors for its additional title: Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are In My Neck
. The lovely Sharon Tate (who would be murdered by Charles Manson's Family shortly after the film came out) plays a woman seduced by the local vampire. Polanski and a hilarious Jack MacGowran play the somewhat inept vampire hunters. Comic bits include a Jewish vampire on whom crosses don't work and a peasant vampire who doesn't like his pine coffin and would prefer the Count's elegant one.
Honorable Mentions: Hellsing
(anime); Vampire Hunter D
; Buffy the Vampire Slayer
; From Dusk Til Dawn
; Bloody Mallory
(the French Buffy)