Now that “Twilight” has taken over the big screen, and the Anita Blake series is firmly cemented as a part of the trashy romance genre, vampires are once more all the rage. However, let’s back up past the body glitter and suave immortals. Back to a time when vampires were terrifying and horrible, and were things that children feared were living in their closets. Back when they were monsters.
Perhaps the greatest vampire movie of all time, if for no other reason than it was one of the first, is “Nosferatu”. Made in Germany, this movie was a horrifying bastardization of the Dracula tale, featuring the hideous and unsettling Count Orlock. Between the rat-like fangs and long, creepy fingers, Orlock was a far cry from the dashing and charming vampires of later years. Creepy, disturbing, and given the look and movements of a Japanese ghosts by the old style film, “Nosferatu” was one of the firsts in a genre that has forgotten what it means to be a creature of the night.
Another great vampire movie, once more for its contribution to the genre, was “The Lost Boys”. Made in the 1980’s, the film is about a rebellious gang of teenage vampires wrecking havoc and corrupting the innocent. Originally meant to be a comedy, the movie became darkly disturbing. With such an evocative title, the film brought across the impression that these boys were lost to time, and they would remain eternally young, eternally beautiful, and eternally cruel. Not bad for an under-funded Buffy knock off.
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is another movie that deserves its place on the list of greatest vampire movies of all time. Despite the miscast Keanu Reeves as a British man, and the wildly over the top performance of Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Van Helsing, the movie was a modern re-imagining of what was done with Bela Lugosi in the original. Though it has its flaws, this take on Dracula set many standards for other vampire movies to live up to in later years.
Moving more into the modern age, “From Dusk Till Dawn” earned a place on the top five list. Set in a grungy dive of a strip club, the movie has grind house grit with a fairly compelling, action movie plot. Other than Cheech Marin’s famous monologue which I won’t write here, and Quentin Tarantino’s appearance as an important character, “From Dusk Till Dawn” set a new standard for violence, gore, and sex in a genre where these things are the life blood of films.
Last on this list, though it does hurt to put it here, is “Interview With The Vampire”. Vampire movies aren’t about suave men of mystery, but rather about death, blood, and the true horror of immortality. Interview managed to give a new take on these things. Though the main characters were suave and cultured, they were made in an era where that was the norm. This film also didn’t pull punches, showing the agony of being an immortal trapped in a child’s body who can never experience the pleasures of an adult woman. Free from plague and death, vampires are empty, sorrowful creatures for whom even the pleasures of life will eventually fade. This is what “Interview With The Vampire” brought to the genre, and though it was put on with a trowel at times, it is an important contributor to vampire movies.