Tuesday 17 September 2013

VAMPIRES: From the 1980's to Present (2013). A List of My Top 5 Vampire Films from each Decade

As most of you should know, I love vampires! It's my favourite sub-genre of Horror and my ultimate fantasy. So in celebration of this, I thought I'd do a list of my favourite vamp flicks. As there's probably too many to mention, I've decided to go back to the 80's (as I was born in 70's and started watching vamp movies in the 80's) and work my way to present, giving a top 5 from each decade. Here we go...

~ From the 80's ~

Number 5: Vampire's Kiss (1988)

Nicolas Cage plays Peter Loew, a publishing executive that thinks he's turning into a vampire after an encounter with a woman who bites him. Shortly after the meeting, he starts exhibiting erratic behaviour. The woman continues to visit and as his madness deepens, it begins to look as if some of the events he's experiencing may be hallucinations.

Watching Cage going from normal to complete and utter delusional madness is magic. This is still one of my favourite films that Nicolas Cage has starred in. There's no actual vampires in this, but it's still great watching Cage run around trying to find fake vamp teeth!

Number 4: Near Dark (1987)

A mid-western farm boy reluctantly becomes a member of the undead when a girl he meets turns out to be part of a band of nomadic vampires who roam the highways in stolen cars and cause havoc wherever they go.

It stars Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein. The film did poorly at the box office upon release, but was viewed favourably by critics subsequently and has a sizable cult following.

My favourite part of the film is the bar scene, plus most of Bill Paxton lines! You can check a couple of these scenes in the video below.

Number 3: Fright Night (1985)

For young Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale), an avid horror fan, begins to suspect that his new neighbour is a vampire after he exhibits some strange behaviour. No one believes what Charlie tells them he has seen, so he enlists the help of a washed-up actor, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who hosts Charlie's favourite TV show, Fright Night.

This 80's classic still stands the test of time, even when it was remade (but not bettered) in 2011. It also spawned a sequel in 1988.

He's the "spying scene" for you. WARNING: Contains 80's boobs...

Number 2: The Hunger (1983)

The Egyptian vampire lady Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) subsists upon the blood of her lovers. In return the guys or girls don't age... until Miriam has enough of them. Unfortunately that's currently the case with John (David Bowie), so his life expectancy is below 24 hours. Desperately he seeks help from the famous Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon). She doesn't really believe his story, but becomes curious and contacts Miriam, only to get drawn in by her.

This neo-Gothic exercise in style and atmosphere is perhaps most widely known for a lesbian sex scene involving Miriam and Sarah. Maybe why it was one of my favourites growing up???!!! Plus Bowie is just cool as fuck.

Number 1: The Lost Boys (1987)

Lucy and her two sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move to a small coast town in California. The town is plagued by bikers and some mysterious deaths. Sam makes friends with two other boys, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander) Frog, who claim to be vampire hunters while Michael is drawn into the gang of vampire bikers by a beautiful girl named Star (Jami Gertz), which is lead by David (Kiefer Sutherland).

Was this a surprise to anyone?! This is still on my favourites movies of all time list. I love everything about this film, included the soundtrack.

It was the first vampire movie that I really payed attention to as a kid after watching some of the Hammer Films of the 70's. It made me fall in love with the sub-genre.

My favourite quote of course...
"Now you know what we are, now you know what you are. You'll never grow old, Michael, and you'll never die."

Here's a tribute video I found on YouTube featuring the theme song Cry Little Sister...

~ From the 90's ~

Number 5: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Two criminals, brothers Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his psychopath rapist brother Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino), and their hostages, Jacob (Harvey Keitel), Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu), unknowingly seek temporary refuge in an establishment populated by vampires. During a sexy dance routine performed by Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek), all hell breaks loose!

Directed by Robert Rodriguez from a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, this film boasts one of the best array of cast members that also includes genre legend Tom Savini, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Fred Williamson, Michael Parks and John Saxon. Clooney's performance in this is still one of my favourite roles he's ever played.

Number 4: Blade (1998)

Half-vampire, half-mortal man, Blade (Wesley Snipes) is out to kill all vampire kind with the help of his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). In the meantime, vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) is looking to complete an ancient prophecy that will involve Blade's "day walker" blood.

I went to see this film while on holiday in Florida (the first time I ever visited the States) so the whole experience was amazing. As a fan of Snipes' previous work, I loved his performance, which was only equalled by Dorff, who was just so cool! I even have the Frost vampire mark tattooed on the back of my neck. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Check it out...

Number 3: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

A widowed plantation owner named Louis (Brad Pitt), is befriended by Lestat (Tom Cruise), who offers him the chance of immortality by becoming a vampire. Centuries later, Louis tells his 200 year long epic life story of love, betrayal, loneliness and hunger to a reporter, Daniel Malloy (Christian Slater).

Based on the novel written by Anne Rice, she also wrote the screenplay. The film also stars Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea and a very young Kirsten Dunst.

This is in my top 5 because of the excellent performances, great direction by Neil Jordan and Rice's spellbinding writing.

Number 2: Vampires (1998)

A vampire slayer, Jack Crow (James Woods), and his team must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by the vampire Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), will allow him to endure sunlight.

One of my favourite John Carpenter films, this bloody and brutal entry into the sub-genre sees James Woods at his best, having some of the best lines in a movie, ever!

"You wanna try garlic? You could stand there with garlic around your neck and one of these buggers will bend you fucking over and take a walk up your strada-chocolata WHILE he's suckin' the blood outta your neck"

Number 1: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

No list can be complete without the mention of the vampire of all vampires, Dracula!

Bram Stoker's classic Gothic tale of eternal love, lust and blood is brought to life by The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola.

Despite the dodgy English accents from Keanu Reeves and
Winona Ryder, I still love this movie. With fantastic performances from Gary Oldman as Dracula and Anthony Hopkins the eccentric (if not slightly crazed) Professor Abraham Van Helsing, added to the stunning cinematography, I can watch this film over and over again.

It actually picked up a few awards at the 1993 Oscars which included Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Best Makeup and Best Costume Design.

~ From the 00's ~

Number 5: Thirst (2009)

Beloved and devoted priest, Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song), from a small town volunteers for a medical experiment which fails and strickens him with vampirism. Physical and psychological changes lead to his affair with a wife of his childhood friend who is repressed and tired of her mundane life. The one-time priest falls deeper in despair and depravity. As things turns for worse, he struggles to maintain whats left of his humanity.

Directed by Chan-wook Park, this a very interesting and different take on the vampire sub-genre. And that's why it's in my top 5.

Number 4: 30 Days of Night (2007)

This is the story of an isolated Alaskan town that is plunged into darkness for a month each year when the sun sinks below the horizon. As the last rays of light fade, the town is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires bent on an uninterrupted orgy of destruction. Only the small town's husband and wife (Josh Hartnett and Melissa George) Sheriff team stand between the survivors and certain destruction.

Based on a graphic novel, this is a harsh and moody piece with vampires that are primeval and animalistic, which is why I like it. If you've not had the chance, check out the prequel mini-sodes 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails, if you can find them.

Number 3: Let the Right One In (2008)

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a bullied 12-year old, dreams of revenge. He falls in love with Eli (Lina Leandersson), a peculiar girl. She can't stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited. Eli gives Oskar the strength to hit back but when he realises that Eli needs to drink other people's blood to live he's faced with a choice. How much can love forgive?

This Swedish film was directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on the 2004 novel of the same title by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay. Again, this is quite a moody piece and has strong performances from the young leads.

Number 2: Suck (2009)

Joey (Rob Stefaniuk) is the lead singer of the struggling band The Winners. After a show in a bar, bass player Jennifer (Jessica Paré), leaves the place with the creepy Queeny (Dimitri Coats) and they spend the night together. The next day, Jennifer turns up late for a gig, looking extraordinary stunning. She soon reveals she's been turned into a vampire and one by turns the rest of the band to further their success. In the meantime, Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell) is hot on their trail.

With appearances from Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins and Iggy Pop, this comedy horror is just simply a fun and refreshing with a pretty damn good soundtrack. Check out this movie soundtrack trailer...

Number 1: Underworld (2003)

Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a beautiful vampire warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael (Scott Speedman), a hybrid, who is being hunted by the head of the werewolf clan, Lucian (Michael Sheen).

I might get some stick for this, but I don't care! I love this action horror and not just because Beckinsale has blue eyes, dark hair, is a vampire, and runs around in tight PVC!

I love the Gothic style and dark ambiance. I love soundtrack. I love the fact it's filmed in Budapest (Hungary). The first time I watched it, I was like "I've been down that street!"

The best performance comes from Sheen though, followed closely by Bill Nighy as Viktor.

~ From the 10's ~

Number 5: Byzantium (2012)

Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara (Gemma Arterton) meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) befriends Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.

Neil Jordan returns to the vampire sub-genre again with this horror drama. The big difference between this film and other vampire films is the mythos itself, but still has a similar feeling tone as Interview with the Vampire.

Number 4: Midnight Son (2011)

The story of a young man called Jacob (Zak Kilberg) who is confined to a life of isolation, due to a very rare skin disorder. His world changes when he meets local bartender Mary (Maya Parish) and falls in love. Jacob's condition worsens and forces him to drink human blood for sustenance, leading to law enforcement suspecting him in a series of grizzly murders.

Again, this has a different take on the vampirism, specially for Jacob's character. Smart, intense, and unpredictable throughout, the small cast delivers a rock solid performance in between the blood, the plot twists and a score, that all keeps you on edge.

Number 3: We are the Night (2010)

Set in Berlin, the story follows 3 female vampires, Louise (Nina Hoss), Charlotte (Jennifer Ulrich) and Nora (Anna Fischer) and their lavish nightlife style. The trio of vamps are soon joined by small time pickpocket Lena (Karoline Herfurth), as Louise has fallen for and made her a vampire. Their actions soon catches the attention of the police which add a whole load of complications to their lives.

This seductive and sophisticated German offering into the sub-genre is an excellent addition.

Favourite quote: "We eat, drink, snort cocaine and fuck as much as we want, and we don't get fat, pregnant, or addicted. Come on, smile. Millions of girls would kill for that."

Number 2: Stake Land (2010)

Martin (Connor Paolo) was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities, and it's up to Mister (Nick Damici), a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden.

This is a harrowing and brutal film with a zombie apocalypse feel to it, but with mindless and aggressive vampires instead.

It also stars Kelly McGillis and scream queen Danielle Harris.

Number 1: Kiss of the Damned (2012)

The vampire Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume) resists the advances of Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia), but soon gives in to their passion. When her trouble-making sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) unexpectedly comes to visit, Djuna's love is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered.

I'd go as far to say that this is one of the best 21st Century vampire flicks to date. I find it hard to believe that this is only the first feature, written and directed, by Xan Cassavetes.

It pays homage to classic vampire/horror flicks of the 60's/70's and is quite simply...


So that's it, for now anyway. I'm looking forward to watching many more Vampire movies in the decades to come. I hope you enjoyed going through the list and if you haven't seen some of them, I recommend you do! There's a few of these films that I've reviewed on this blog and you can check them out by clicking HERE.

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