Best Vampire Films For Your Halloween Movie Viewing Pleasure
by Jesse Baker
Wanting to watch vampire films can be a bit of a chore given the vast number of them out there and the quality of them ranging from awesome to atrocious. So for Halloween, I’ve selected a number of carefully selected classic high quality vampire films sure to give you a Halloween fright!
Dracula (Universal Studios): Considered by many to be the definitive Dracula film, Bela Legosi’s portrayal of Dracula remains the most iconic version of Bram Stoker’s legendary creation. Legosi’s take on the vampire count is considered the definitive take on the character. And in spite of it’s age and countless spoofs and parodies of the Legosi Dracula, Legosi’s Dracula remains potent in his ability to scare movie goers to this day.
Satanic Rites of Dracula: With the last two Hammer Dracula films, the famed British film studio moved Dracula to present day London to revive interest in the film series. The final film of the Hammer Dracula series, presents the Christopher Lee incarnation of Dracula at his most diabolic. Resurrected by a cadre of British generals and a Chinese-British vampire, Dracula has decided to genocide all of humanity with a military created biological plague. Dracula is scary enough on his own, but with plans to wipe out humanity with a man-made plague, “Satanic Rites of Dracula” ups the tension and scare factor with the way that it gives Dracula a plan beyond feeding on hapless victims and getting laid.
Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979 Version): While the original silent film version of Nosferatu is a verified horror classic, it’s 1979 remake is a rare example of a remake that is just as good as the original. Directed by Werner Herzog and starring longtime collaborator Klaus Kinski, the film adapts Nosferatu for the sound era and produce an updated version of the classic film that holds itself as just as scary as the original.
The Hunger: Vampirism has never been as sexy as was in “The Hunger”. Directed by Tony Scott (who’s works include “Top Gun” and Beverly Hills Cops II”), the film follows a femme fatale female vampire (Catherine Deneuve) and her sensitive artist boyfriend (the legendary David Bowie) as they rope in a bisexual doctor (Susan Sarandon) to treat Bowie, when his vampiric immortality begins to wear off. As Sarandon is lured into both vampires’ beds, she soon discovers the nightmarish fate worse than death that awaits Bowie and other lovers once their “eternal youth” wears off. The film’s sultry sexuality and goth rock soundtrack brought vampirism into the sinful 1980s and helped introduce people to goth rockers Bahaus, who’s track “Bela Legosi Is Dead” plays in the film’s opening sequence.
Lair of the White Worm: Ken Russell’s lesser known vampire novel, was given the Ken Russel acid treatment in 1988. Featuring a then unknown Hugh Grant and an utterly unrecognizable young Peter Capaldi, of Doctor Who fame, “Lair of the White Worm” twists the vampire myth by making venomous snakes as the animal avatar of the vampire. Featuring Ken Russell’s trademark explicit nightmarish psychedelia sequences and Amanda Donohoe as a sly lesbian vampire/snake goddess who walks around spouting one liners as she plots to raise a giant snake creature from it’s resting place, the film remains a transgressive vampire cult favorite.
Tales From the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood: Once upon a time, Dennis Miller was the embodiment of snarky cool and this “Tales From The Crypt” theatrical film spin-off features Miller at the height of his counter culture fame. Miller plays a detective investigating a woman’s missing brother, who was last seen being lured to a newly opened bordello. Miller promptly discovers a conspiracy between a recently resurrected vampire goddess (Angie Everhart) that is running the bordello and a local televangelist, who is using the bordello to eliminate “sinners” in town. Both scary and funny, it remains an underrated classic and swan song for the HBO incarnation of the Tales From the Crypt franchise.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula: For years horror fans have longed for a proper full-scale adaption of the Dracula novel, one free from a lot of the trappings that Nosferatu and the Universal Studios version of Dracula have shackled adaptations with. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1993 adaptation isn’t the perfect adaptation of the novel, but it’s damn near close and knocks it out of the ballpark. Featuring an all-star cast, this big budget blockbuster remains one of the best modern adaptations of Dracula ever made.
Ganga &Hess: Rarely seen and eclipsed by the more populist “Blackula” on it’s initial release, Ganga & Hess is an arthouse vampire film featuring an all black cast and which explores the existential side of vampirism and relationships. Transformed into a vampire after being stabbed with a cursed knife, Doctor Hess Green soon finds himself turned into a vampire and turns the attractive wife of a colleague, who he has killed. Together, they enter into a relationship, but the reality of their need for blood to live off of threatens their bliss. The film was heavily butchered upon initial release and the original edit presumed lost. Thankfully, in the late 1990s, the original uncut version of the film was discovered and subsequent home video releases have allowed this lost classic to find a new audience.
Lemora: Another lost vampire classic that was butchered on initial release, and sadly remains incomplete with several major sequences lost to the ages. Director Richard Blackburn tells the story of a young girl named Lemora in the deep south. Lemora’s mother is dead and father is a wanted fugitive, forcing her to become the ward of a young minister, Lenora deals with judgmental townspeople who hold her father’s crimes against her and who whisper false accusations against her legal guardian, claiming that he secretly lusts after the teenager girl. When Lenora gets a letter from her father, she runs away from home to reunite with him, only to find herself in a town run by a vampire queen. The vampire queen collects orphaned children as her own, and forced Lenora’s father to summon her in exchange for his life. But as Lenora prepares to be turned into a vampire, she finds out that transformation carries a potential price: half the children turned by the vampire queen turn into Nosferatu-type abominations who are exiled into the woods. And they are now planning to murder the vampire queen for rejecting them. Dark and disturbing, the film remains a lost masterpiece in horror due to the studio cuts made to it removing several critical sequences from the film.