We take a look at some of the best vampire movies
Neil Jordan has made a most welcome return to vampire movie making as BYZANTIUM hits our screens this week. Since INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was released in 1994, the vampire film has become hugely popular thanks, in some part, to the TWILIGHT series of films. Since we are old school vampire fans and refuse to accept a mythology that allows vampires to sparkle in sunlight (sorry, TWILIGHT fans!) we took a look back at some of the best vampire flicks to hit our screens over the years…
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
Oh we had to start with this one, seeing as Jordan inspired this article. Before Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles books took a turn for the religious, INTERVIEW revamped (sorry!) the vampire film in the 90s.
Set mostly in New Orleans – and filmed there too! – INTERVIEW tracks the life of Louis (Brad Pitt), a Plantation owner turned vampire in the 1790s by the charismatic but erratic Lestat (Tom Cruise).
The film received mixed to positive reviews on it’s release and spawned a sequel – many years later – THE QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, which starred our own Stuart Townsend as Lestat. Although the sequel was a camp mess, the soundtrack was fantastic, and it did not tarnish the shine of INTERVIEW.
An unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, NOSFERATU has gained a cult following over the years. Vampire stories have fascinated audiences since the advent of cinema, and there is something about the silent film that adds a layer of fear and mystery to NOSFERATU, although it is not scary by today’s standards.
Max Schreck played the vampire of this film more like those of European folklore, and Orlock’s destruction by sunlight had a huge effect on later films and was accepted as part of vampire lore.
Bram Stoker’s widow sued the makers of NOSFERATU, demanding that all copies of the film be destroyed. One survived though, and we are glad it did, otherwise we would not have Max Schreck’s wonderful performance to look back on… And Willem Dafoe’s Oscar nominated role – which mimicked Schreck’s, and put forth the idea that Schreck himself was a vampire – in SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE to enjoy.
Guillermo del Toro’s first film focused on the mysterious cronos device that injected people with a solution that made them youthful, strong and immortal, the only drawback is a thirst for human blood. Antique dealer Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi) finds the device in an ancient statue and is injected with the formula. A dying businessman is searching for the cronos device however, and will do almost anything to get his hands on it.
CRONOS was well received, although it did not receive a large cinema run at the time of it’s release. The film is now considered to be one of the best films in the vampire genre and, although it plays with vampire lore a little, this is what makes it great.
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA
It is hard to choose one version of Dracula over another, and certainly the role will almost always belong to Christopher Lee, but there was something wonderful about Francis Ford Coppola’s version, which starred Gary Oldman in the title role. Not only did the film have a fantastic soundtrack and one of the best casts of the 90s – including Sadie Frost, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves – but Gary Oldman was simply outstanding as the lovelorn and destructive vampire.
The film also helped to drag the vampire genre back from the brink of campy destruction, and although it was overblown and Oldman’s make up was questionable at times, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA is beautifully designed, shot and soundtracked.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book of the same name, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is the story of a bullied and ostracised 12 year old boy who makes friends with the girl next door, not realising she is a vampire.
Although the film was remade with Chloe Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee, the Swedish version is still scarier and darker. Again, this is a film that plays with vampire lore, but it also raises, and deals with, the issue of child vampires in a different manner than INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE.
Honourable mentions to…
The FRIGHT NIGHT remake, which after years of sparkly, pensive vamps, reminded audiences that bloodsuckers are meant to be monsters.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT if for nothing else than the clever use of arctic winter ‘daylight’.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER because the film may have sucked, but at least it spawned the TV show.
There are so many vampire films; we could not include all our favourites. Which is yours? Let us know in the comments below.
BYZANTIUM is in Irish cinemas on May 31st
Words: Brogen Hayes