Here’s my conundrum: I am the wrong person to try and point out the best or the worst in terms of vampire films. Let me get a confession off my chest right now: scary movies frighten the bajeezus out of me. I gasped so many times in the theater while watching 30 Days of Night that my friends were visibly embarrassed by me. So, I consulted another expert in this area to school me in the vampire vs. zombie movie ‘best of’ lists. Here, in no particular order are The Undeath Match’s 10 Best Vampire Films.
Martin (1977) directed by George A Romero
A creepy, gross and strangely sweet vampire tale. Lots of blood and flowing white shirts. It’s a really disturbing and beautiful (yet not disturbingly beautiful) film.
Let the Right One In (2008) directed by Tomas Alfredson
Oskar, a terrifically awkward twelve-year-old, befriends the new girl in his apartment complex. Set in the dead of winter in Sweden, this stark, shockingly heartwarming, story slowly reveals Eli’s true nature.
Near Dark (1987) directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Good, old country boy Caleb picks up Mae, who then bites him by accident (in a fit of misguided passion, natch). Soon, Caleb’s feeling terribly unwell. Before he can even start to feel better, he’s abducted by Mae’s “people.” The film plays with the Dickensian notion of families formed of disparate folk and that any of us is worthy of redemption. It’s also the hey day of vampires with punky haircuts and trench coats, although not gelled hair. That was more Lost Boys, which we’ve left off the list.
Fright Night (1985) directed by Tom Holland
Roddy McDowall as vampire hunter and Chris Sarandon as the vampire/neighbour is a winning combination. A lovely mix of pop culture and playing with and against the genre. Horror film tropes are discussed and on display then mocked (sort of). Also, the scene of Roddy McDowall holding a crucifix in front of vampire Chris Sarandon and vampire crushing the crucifix with his handing saying, ‘You have to have faith for this to work’ kind of sticks with you.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui
The original film doesn’t have the cache of the long-running, beloved and asskickingly awesome TV series, but it definitely has its moments. David Arquette floating outside the sliding glass window saying, “you’ve got to let me in man,” or something like that, toes the line between utterly creepy and oddly funny in that pop culture-esque only Joss Whedon does so well.
Nosferatu (1922) directed by F. W. Murnau
C’mon, this one is obvious! Rotten Tomatoes (linked above) has this as it’s #1 reviewed vampire film, and for good reason.
Nosferatu (1979) directed by Werner Herzog
Doubly so! Same movie (as above) but very different.
NOTE: Honorable mention goes to Shadow of the Vampire (2000), which is a meta-kind of film about the making of Nosferatu (1922) where the main character takes himself just a little bit too seriously. Willem Dafoe is wicked in this film.
Vampire’s Kiss (1988) directed by Robert Bierman
Back when Nicholas Cage was good and Jennifer Beals wasn’t.
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001) directed by Lee Demarbre
If anyone has seen all of the above, and any other brand of low-budget horror and action, well, how could you not like this fine example of Canadian cinema?
So what have we missed and what have we gotten all wrong? Holler back if you completely disagree with us. We’ll continue with the best 10 zombie movies tomorrow.