BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992)
Director Francis Ford Coppola, this film is, in terms of plot anyway, the closest to Bram Stoker’s novel ever put on film, with the major addition of a love story between Dracula and the character of Mina Harker not even implied in Stoker’s original.
Gary Oldman goes all in for his performance as Vlad the Impaler, who we see both as an ancient rotting demon and as a young and handsome prince. Anthony Hopkins also steals the show in a truly off-kilter performance as vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, as does musician Tom Waits as Dracula’s servant, Mr. Renfield.
NEAR DARK (1987)
Caleb tries to become part of the vampire family, but when he sees their true viciousness in action, he realizes the vampire life isn’t for him. But this isn’t the kind of club you say no to joining once invited. The movie has some pretty spectacular (and brutal) action sequences, and you can see where Bigelow would go on to direct some of the better action movies of the next several years.
Near Dark has some annoying plot contrivances, like a vampiric clan that has been around for centuries but apparently has no money and have to live almost like homeless people, and a far too easy cure for vampirism that arises towards the end. But the movie is so entertaining and watchable, and filled with terrific performances (especially from Paxton), that you’ll forgive it for any and all min(three of the members of the vampire clan are played by Lance Henrickson, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein, who all starred in James Cameron’s Aliens just the year before). They reluctantly accept Caleb into the family, but it’s not exactly a smooth transition.or quibbles you may have.
THE HUNGER (1983)
The words “vampire” are never uttered in this movie, but ultimately that’s what these characters are. Actually, that’s what Deneuve’s character of Miriam Blaylock is, an ancient vampire who can pass on her immortality to her human lovers. But after a few hundred years, her human-turned-vampire companions begin to age rapidly… but, most horrifyingly, they don’t die. It’s what happens to Miriam’s lover John (Bowie) in the first half of the film, so when it’s his time, she must find a new companion.
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)
The first half of From Dusk Till Dawn plays very much like a balls-to-the-walls crime thriller in the classic Tarantino mold. George Clooney stars as that classic QT-style scumbag that you kind of like anyway, with Tarantino himself playing his brother and fellow bank robber. After a robbery, they kidnap a family (which includes Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis) to use their RV to make a run for Mexico to live the good life.And it must be said that despite a very brief screen time, Salma Hayek’s vampire queen Satanico Pandemonium is one of the most memorable lady vamps in cinema history
Wesley Snipes’ Blade is also known as “the Daywalker,” a sort of half human/half vampire hybrid (his pregnant mother was bit and turned into a vampire, resulting in his being born with all of their strengths and none of their weakness) who originated in the pages of Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula comic in the ’70s.After being adopted by the grumpy old Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who trains him and teaches him to control his hunger, he then spends his life kicking vampire ass and taking names. Snipes’ version of Blade is a stoic and a stone cold badass in this movie, and yet oozes charisma despite his lack of dialogue, or maybe because of it. And the fight sequences still hold up today, almost 20 years later.
The film finds married vampire couple Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) living across the world from one another despite having been together for hundreds of years. Despondent and bored with life and the growing stupidity of “zombies” (regular humans), Adam lives in an almost totally abandoned neighborhood in Detroit, creating music, but staying away from almost all human contact, and now contemplating suicide.Hoping to break her hubbie out of his funk, Eve flies from her home in Tangiers to be with him in Detroit. Most of the film is just the two of them hanging out, talking about old times and the state of the world, famous people they once knew, listening to old records, and eating blood popsicles. Things get crazy when Eve’s annoying vampire sister Ava arrives and manages to make a mess of things, forcing Adam and Eve to get out of Detroit. John Hurt and the late Anton Yelchin help round out a terrific cast, and the film’s cinematography and soundtrack are just superb.
FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
Fright Night is like a cross between Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the old Hammer horror films, with a healthy does of satire thrown in for good measure. The basic plot of the movie find suburban teenager Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) discovering that his new next door neighbor, the suave Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon), is actually a vampire sucking his way through suburbia. Only no one will believe him—not his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) or even his horror obsessed buddy “Evil” Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). With no one to turn to, he goes to a local TV horror movie host Peter Vincent for help in disposing of him once and for all.
When teenagers Sam (Corey Haim) and Michael (Jason Patric) move with their newly single mom (Dianne Wiest) to the seemingly idyllic small California beach town of Santa Carla (a barely disguised Santa Cruz) they instantly can tell something is amiss beneath the sunny facade. Turns out the cool group of motorcycle riding, MTV video-style bad boys are vampires, and they want Michael to join their club.Only the geeky Frog Brothers, played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander (who, of course, work in a comic book store) are hip to the vampiric plague that’s taken over their town, and they volunteer to help Sam kill the bloodsuckers off. Only, they’ve never actually really killed a vampire before.
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1994)
Interview tells the story of an 18th century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis who gets turned into a vampire by the aristocratic Frenchmen Lestat. Together they eventually turn a dying little girl named Claudia into their vampiric daughter. The book then follows this vampiric family through two centuries, from Antebellum New Orleans until the modern era. It also spawned a series of novels that lasts until this day.The novel eventually became the biggest selling vampire book since Dracula, and Hollywood was instantly interested in making an adaptation. Only problem being that the book’s not-so-subtle subtext of addiction, bisexuality, and loss of religious faith aren’t exactly the stuff Hollywood blockbusters were made of in the 1980s and ’90s. Scripts were written that had the part of Louis made into a woman pretending to be a man (to be played by Cher!) to avoid suggestions of homosexuality, and also some that had the child vampire Claudia excised altogether, to avoid suggestions of pedophilia.
Jordan made the extremely controversial choice of casting Tom Cruise as the androgynous Lestat, despite his status at the time as the All-American star and the angry protestations of Anne Rice and the novel’s fans. It was a case of miscasting that ultimately paid off, and even Rice herself had to admit her mistake in saying Cruise wasn’t up for it. Whatever one thinks of Cruise, he sunk his teeth into the role (pun intended) and stole the show from Brad Pitt’s mopey Louis. And a very young Kirsten Dunst also gave a career-making performance as the child vampire Claudia. Interview with the Vampire is the vampire movie as historical epic, and in that regard, no one has been able to touch it since.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvis, tells the story of a young bullied boy named Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), who lives with his single mother in a modest apartment complex in 1980s Stockholm. When a mysterious new pair of neighbors arrives to his building, an older man with a young girl, Osker eventually befriends the girl, despite her telling him they could never be friends. He soon discovers that his new friend Eli (Lina Leandersson) isn’t a little girl at all… or, as she describes it, she’s been a little girl for a long, long time.Eli’s arrival coincides with a string of murders in town, as her elder caretaker is killing people in order to drain them of blood for her to consume. Oskar is bullied in school badly, and dreams of getting revenge on the bullies. Eli becomes his best friend and his mentor, and shows him how to stand up for himself; the two develop a deep bond. The budding relationship between Oskar and Eli is like a weird version of The Wonder Years, only if Winnie Cooper had a penchant for killing people. It’s incredibly charming and heartfelt, helped by two tremendous performances from the two child actors.