Of all the mythical horror creatures out there, it’s probably safe to say that none have been given the big screen (or straight-to-video) treatment as much as good old Mr. Vampire. Audiences have enjoyed having the crap scared out of them by one form of blood sucker or another for decades upon decades. But here, in all it’s glory is my list of the top 5 greatest Vampire Movies.
5. Near Dark. (1987)
Near Dark is overlooked by most movie fans because of it’s low budget and limited circulation but it always had a lasting impression on me. Written and Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Near Dark follows a young man, Caleb, who joins a family of travelling vampires (although the word ‘vampire’ isn’t used once in the whole movie) after a woman he tries to seduce turns out to be one of them.
The movie is thick with 80s cheese but this only adds to the power of the film over all. It’s cast includes Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen, the smell of Pinewood Studios still fresh in their nostrils following the filming of Aliens, not a year previous. Henriksen in particular plays an exceptional part in Near Dark as Jesse, the leader of the family of vampires. It is Jesse’s ruthlessness that causes Caleb to lash out against the family and their evil, murderous ways.
Near Dark is by no means perfect, none of the movies in my list are, but it mustn’t be ignored when contemplating a vampire movie marathon. It provides a refreshing twist on the usual vampire mythology and is as gory and relentless as any movie in my list. Watch it.
4. Interview with the vampire. (1994)
What’s great about Interview’ is the perspective from which the story is told. Most vampire movies focus on a group of humans fighting for their lives against the evil blood-sucking nasties but give very little background into the origins and inner characters of the vampires themselves. From the start, Interview’ is told by a vampire, in this case played by Brad Pitt, telling the tale of his transformation into a vampire and epic struggle with his acceptance of blood drinking and coffin-sleep.
As a rule I am not a fan of the Anne Rice school of vampire stories. The clean cut, pompous and seductive style vampire never really grabbed me as what a vampire should be like. Interview with a Vampire, however is my one exception to this rule. The great storyline and exceptional cast make it a fantastic movie in spite of it’s flaws and certainly worthy of it’s place in the top 5.
3. Blade. (1998)
As you no doubt know by now, I’m a huge comic book fan. I’m also a big fan of vampire movies so when Blade was announced I could barely contain my excitement. Thank the movie-gods then, that the movie delivered. It was a no-holds-barred action gore-fest from start to finish with a kick ass story and a superb villain (played by Stephen Dorff).
Blade showed vampires to be a highly organised secret society with a long reach that penetrated police and government institutions. This, by no means, meant that they were any less brutal and the gore-scenes in Blade were testament to this. The opening scene is probably the most memorable with Blade entering a vampire night club and proceeds to kick arse while blood rains down from the sprinkler system.
The movie spawned 2 sequels as well as a TV series but they all failed to deliver with the sequels being shallow, shark-jumping disappointments and the TV series being tame as baby lambs. It was a shame because the original movie left the plot open for a really nice sequel.
The whole movie had a kind of blue tint which gave the viewer the sense that their eyes were constantly adjusting to bright light and set the tone for the move just as well as any costumes, sets and characters. Although it hasn’t made it to my top spot, you’ll be hard pressed to find a vampire movie as slick as Blade!
2. From Dusk til Dawn. (1996)
This is a strange choice for the list of top 5 Vampire movies because for the first half, From Dusk til Dawn isn’t a vampire movie! The story picks up with two fugitives; Seth and Richard Gecko (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) on the run after a brutal bank robbery gone wrong that resulted in the deaths of several police officers and members of the public. The Gecko brothers have only hours to make it across the border into Mexico before the net of Police and FBI closes around them. They hijack a family’s camper van and sneak across the border to the meeting place (a biker bar called the Titty Twister) agreed by their Mexican ally, Carlos. This is where things go tits up.
While the Gecko brothers and their hostages enjoy a shot or five of whiskey and a burlesque show involving Salma Hayek and a large snake, the dancer spies blood pouring from Richard’s hand and proceeds to transform into a vampire and the bloodbath starts.
From Dusk til Dawn mixed comic-esque ultra-violence with black humour in a way only Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino can. The special effects are kinda crappy and the continuity is hella ropey but boy is it one hell of a ride! Supporting cast including Danny Trejo, Juliette Lewis and Harvey Keitel make this a must have in any horror fan’s collection.
1. 30 Days of Night. (2007)
Made exactly 20 years after my number 5 slot, my top pick comes from a comic series of the same name. The Niles/Templesmith cult classic 30 Days of Night tells the story of Barrow, Alaska. A town above the arctic circle that, for 30 days in winter endures constant night. A perfect feeding ground, then for a band of ultra-brutal, ultra-strong and ultra-fucking-scary vampires.
The reason I chose this as my top pick is for one main reason; It scared the living shit out of me… it still does, even though I know what’s coming. The sets are eerie, the death scenes are wickedly gory and, more importantly very realistic, and the vampires are simply the best I’ve ever seen. They’re way creepy in the way they move, their language is disturbing and their brutality is second to none. What makes them even scarier is that for a time you believe them to be mindless animals until it is revealed that they are far more organised than their behaviour lets on.
The cast was great and with the exception of Lucky Number Slevin, was, I feel Josh Hartnett‘s best film. But it was Danny Huston as vampire leader, Marlow that stole the show for me. I’ve seen him in a lot of other movies but I can’t seem to shake the chills I get when I imagine him as Marlow (Yes, I even shuddered when I saw him in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People). He’s that good.
So there you have it. Five top class Vampire flicks. Want my advice? Watch all five of them, back to back, in that order and you’ll be truly satisfied. Please note, however, that I have not yet seen Let the Right One In. This could change everything. 😉 Of course I’d love to hear your favourites, so sink your fangs into the comments section already!