Update: I originally posted this in November 2009 but am digging it out again as it’s decent, no one remembers it and I didn’t have time to get anything fresh together for Halloween 2015. Do you like the vampire films? Then please read on – you may find one you’ve missed.
Up and coming comedian, Bo Burnham, made a joke via Twitter two days ago that has stuck with me and induced chuckles ever since.
@boburnham: i cannot wait to see the next instalment of twilight. apparently, the real weakness of vampires/werewolves is shirts.
Transylvania 90210, as I’ve decided to refer to New Moon for our purposes, premieres tonight across the universe and has set ticket pre-sale records that have left Spiderman and Lucas in the dust. It’s easier for me to believe that Vampires actually exist than to get my head around the popularity of these books and movies. Yes, I watched Twilight. In between shots of Kristen Stewart biting her lower lip in angst there was some semblance of a vamp tale. For many young people (girls), however, this will be their introduction to the rich lore of the fanged ones and that’s a frightening thought.
As a potential remedy that no one will pay any attention to, here are my 5 favorite batty flicks, and I’m hoping the legions of Mullen and Black fans get around to watching them before being forever convinced that the undead won’t kill you if only you have a secret crush on them.
Jerry Dandridge makes Edward Mullen look like Louis Skolnick
5. Fright Night: Yes, that Fright Night. Second only to Road Warrior on my “films to rent for sleepovers in the 80s” list, if you haven’t revisited it since legwarmers were in style – do yourself a serious favor. Chris Sarandon was born to play the slick vampire that moves in next door to Charley, creating a Disturbia sort of surveillance situation that leads less towards house arrest anklets and more towards exploding heads. Currently being blessed/cursed with the remake treatment. Hopefully not starring Robert Pattinson.
Swedish Girl Guides sell those little red fish door-to-door. Then fucking kill you.
4. Let the Right One In: This incredibly well-conceived, original and terrifying pool scene is the tip of the iceberg. I hadn’t even heard of this movie (it’s a Swedish film released only last year) until I started thinking about this article last night. I quickly downloaded it and can see why it has garnered such a fast vamp-fan appreciation. Uber-violent Stockholm romance with lots of children thrown into the mix as a bit of a differentiator. As for the title, watch the above clip and see if you think the little boy might have possibly just let the “wrong” one in. Come on – the Swedes have had it easy for a long, long time. It’s nice to see some bloodsuckers thrown into their fish-eating midst.
High on the list of nightmare-inducing movie scenes from my childhood.
3. Salem’s Lot: This Stephen King-authored spookfest was originally a TV miniseries, so when you plop down in front of the DVD release you’ll know why it clocks in at a whopping 3 hours. Directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame and starring Hutch (David Soul) the parts are better than the whole. James Mason is excellent in one of his last roles and I double dog dare you to find a scarier vampire movie scene than this spectre of a boy scraping the pane with his undead little fingernails (shudder).
“Gimmie a couple shots of whatever donkey-piss you’re shoving down these cocksuckers’ throats.”
2. Near Dark: The most underrated and overlooked film on my short list came out in 1987 to minimal applause, but has since evolved into cult status and holds a place near the top of every other “best of vampire” film list you’ll be able to find. Bill Paxton had made Aliens only the year before, and a little bit of Hudson spills over into his likewise over-the-top (and likewise no less awesome for it) portrayal of Severen. In spite of his mullet, Lance Henrikson personifies evil as Hooker and the above scene might just inspire you to head down to your local, get drunk and start swinging. Or dismembering.
The absolute pinnacle of nightmare-inducing movie scenes from my childhood.
1. Nosferatu: My preadolescence was a worse place for having accidentally run across this absolutely horrifying movie on PBS one Sunday evening during my 6th year on Earth. I’d be dreading the dark long before the street lights came on as a result. My cowardice is somewhat vindicated, however, because Count Orlock is no less terrifying to this day. Not bad for a movie that’s barely a fang shy of 90 years old. Also excellent in its own right is the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire which imagines made-up funny and frightening events during the filming of Nosferatu. Casting Willem Defoe as Orlock probably saved the production thousands on makeup.
These are my personal favorites when it comes to blood-suck-fests, so don’t burst a vein because I left off Horror of Dracula or Lost Boys. Turn your dark side into lemonade, or something, and list your own favorites in the comments below. Happy New Mooning.