As Twilight gets an official DVD release Time Out selects its 10 favourite vampire movies of all time
Twilight on DVD: Twilight was readily dismissed as a racier version of Harry Potter crossed with Buffy The Vampire slayer when it was first released. The DVD is out this week and well worth a second look. Or, you can revel in Time Out’s top ten vampire movies of all time.
The Lost Boys: While it cannot be considered the original teenage vampire movie this 1987 classic is still definitive of the genre. Wolves, bats, fangs and plenty of leather – it has everything you would expect from a modern vampire flick with a hearty dose of comic book humour and an all star cast thrown in for good measure. Few would argue that its stars (Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Keifer Sutherland and Jason Patrick) ever did anything better and it is unlikely we would have ever had a Twilight or even a Buffy without it.
Interview With a Vampire: If Lost Boys was a vampire film for rocking 80s teenagers then this adaptation of the Anne Rice novel was something for sullen 90s Goths to sink their teeth into. The study of loneliness, betrayal, love and, above all, sucking blood out of women in elaborate costumes is a slower paced than all out action films such as Dusk ‘til Dawn or Underworld. The general message is that it sucks to be a vampire. Notable for the high eye candy quota for ladies with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Christian Slater all featuring.
Dracula (1931): The Anne Rice books are not, of course, the first novels to be given a big screen makeover. That honour lies with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The count has taken many forms over the years, with dozens of bloody remakes and adaptations but it was Bela Lugosi’s turn as the Transylvanian terror that set the format most closely followed for almost 80 years. The slicked back hair, the big cape, the hokey accent and dramatic posturing all come from this 1931 version. Further significance comes from the fact that it is considered the first horror film with sound and thus was extra petrifying for the developing audience.
Dracula (1958): If Bela Lugosi gave Dracula a sense of style it was Christopher Lee who gave him a face to remember. He has appeared as the Prince of Darkness more than 10 times and the character has influenced most of his other roles. His turns in the Star Wars movies, Lord of The Rings and even when he played Willy Wonka’s dad he had a touch of the Dracula about him. But it was his 1958 Hammer Horror outing opposite Peter Cushing that got him started. The ultimate vampire? Probably.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula: It wasn’t until the 1990s that Dracula was given a makeover that shook off the influence of Lugosi and Lee. The Francis Ford Coppola directed effort is probably the closest to the actual book in terms of its content. Gone are the deep laughs and stylish cad with a cape of previous performances as Gary Oldman puts his false teeth in. His portrayal of Dracula as part bitter and twisted old man and part new romantic playboy was met with mixed reviews from horror aficionados. But in terms of a different spin on the classic old tale you can’t go far wrong here.
Blade: Updating the genre means ditching Dracula in favour of more high-octane assailants. And they don’t come any more aggressive than Wesley Snipes’ Blade. The daywalking vampire breaks as many rules of accepted undead behaviour as he does noses of assailants. Essentially this is Buff the vampire slayer for film fans who want to enjoy some ass-whupping gore with their comic book storyline.
Nosferatu: The grand daddy of all vampire films has to be the silent classic that is Nosferatu. What the 1922 audience would make of modern films it is impossible to say. What we do know is that Max Schreck’s hideous Count Orlok has the same spidery spookiness that terrified cinemagoers almost 90 years ago. His creeping silhouette goes to real frights are those that come with a chill rather than covered in gallons of fake blood.
Salem’s Lot: This is never more true than when considering the film version of Salem’s Lot. Stephen King is a master of suspense and silent fears and this is one of his most chilling efforts. Yes, his novel- to-screen adaptations have never been short of vat of blood or two, ever seen Carrie or The Shining? But under the control of horror specialist Tobe Hooper (of Poltergeist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame) it never gets out of hand. This was originally released as a TV movie but don’t let that put you off a sincerely scary vampire film.
Dance of the Vampires: The term vampire comedy tends to make our blood freeze. Having sat baffled through Leslie Nielsen’s Dracula Dead and Loving it and Eddie Murphy’s Vampire in Brooklyn we’d happily slit our own throats. But Roman Polanski’s Dance of the Vampires is a class apart. It does what few comedy horrors can – provides screams of both laughter and terror. If you don’t catch it late on TV you can also look out for DVDs under the alternate name of The Fearless Vampire Killers.
Cronos: Often overlooked even within the genre Cronos is now starting to be realized as a minor masterpiece. That it is gaining a revival only because of the fact that it is part of the back catalogue of supremely talented Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro is no shame. As visually stunning and creative as anything he helms, Del Toro gives an intriguing spin to the time-honoured vampire picture. Out go gratuitous blood letting, in comes dry wit, a sombre pace and a substantial emotional kick, as the sucker in question seeks to maintain the powerful bond with his wife and young granddaughter, even though he looks, well, like something from a horror movie.