The connection between Vampire lore and romance dates all the way back to 18th century Gothic poetry (like Goethe’s The Bride of Corinth). Think about it: notions of everlasting love, on the fringes of society… midday strolls on the beach are kind off the table, but hey — no relationship is perfect.
Anyway, it’s almost Valentine’s Day once again. If love and horror sounds like your kind of combo, do we ever have a treat for you! Grab your sanguisuge sweetheart and cuddle ‘round the set. We’ve got a V-Day lineup that’s sure to make your skin crawl.
5. Dracula (1931)
Grab a couple of bloody cupcakes for good measure and settle in with this classic vampire film. Todd Browning’s film was based upon the Dracula stage show (penned by Hamilton Deane) which toured the world with Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi in the lead role. The film culminates with Dracula travelling to London to wreak havoc amongst the living. Upon arriving, he continues to stalk and kill in the night, eventually turning to the sanitarium director’s daughter, Mina (Helen Chandler). Once Mina has been infected, the characters pitch together to save her from joining the undead. While contemporary audiences might find the film slow-moving (do remember, it was released in 1931) the film firmly established a sort of template for vampire films that directors still use to this day.
4. Martin (1977)
Martin hardly delves into supernatural themes, and that’s part of what makes the film compelling. It tells the story of a young man named Martin (John Amplas) who claims to be a centuries-old vampire. What’s more: he scoffs at popular notions of what it means to be a vampire. He can eat garlic. He doesn’t have “fangs,” as such. He can walk around freely in the sun. He is less of a vampire in the conventional sense than he is a serial killer with an infatuation with vampire lore. But his fervently religious host family believe that he is a flesh and blood vampire in the Bram Stoker tradition. Martin will occasionally have visions of the past, where he is pursued by torch-clutching hordes in Elizabethan wears. Are these the recovered memories of a ghoul, or the delusions of a sick young man? Writer and director George A. Romero, famous for his Night of the Living Dead films, delivers a memorable on-screen appearance as a hedonistic priest (pardon any redundancy).
3. Fright Night (1985)
When young Charley (WIlliam Ragsdale) becomes convinced that a group of vampires has moved in next door, no one believes him, despite all of the strange rituals and body discarding that he witnesses. After the cops tell him to stop calling, the boy turns to a washed up movie actor turned horror-host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) who claims he knows how to hunt down and kill vampires. As the second highest grossing film of 1985, you are sure to be entertained by Fright Night’s comedy-horror hybrid. This often-overlooked classic from director Tom Holland (of Chucky fame) is now available on Netflix, and it’s also shown regularly on El Rey Network (check local Direct TV listings so you can catch it on the tube). A word of caution: stay away from the 2011 remake, which received mediocre reviews from both fans and critics.
2. Blacula (1972)
A modern spin on the classic Dracula tale, Blacula is the story of an African ruler (William Marshall) who makes the mistake of asking Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) for help ending the slave trade. Dracula places a curse on the African prince and seals him in a coffin. The coffin is opened two centuries later in Los Angeles, circa ‘72. Trouble ensues when Blacula finds a love interest whose friends realize the man is a vampire. The film’s flaws make it all the more endearing, and the film set the stage for countless blaxploitation reimaginings of classic horror stories. Brace yourself for a soundtrack unlike any other Vampire film soundtrack. Can you dig it?
1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola’s take is highly imaginative but also fundamentally loyal to the underlying themes of Stoker’s novel. In a new addition to the plot, Coppola integrates fragments of the stories of “real-life” vampires” Vlad Tepes (the Transylvanian prince who loosely inspired Stoker’s count) and Elizabeth Bathory (who bathed in the blood of young victims to preserve her youth). Gary Oldman is terrific in the film as Dracula, and look for a wonderful bit role from musician Tom Waits as Renfield. Coppola’s interpretation and over the top special effects are truly unique and not to be missed.
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