I swear, life gets in the way and I get lazy. Apologies for the delay continuing the countdown, which was meant to be daily. Work and televised sports have not helped matters, but I am ever your intrepid and humble scribe. Without further ado …
17. Interview with the Vampire – 1994
Much ballyhoo surrounded the making of and the casting of this film based on the novel by Anne Rice. The wildly successful author had modeled the character of Lestat after actor Rutger Hauer and many were disappointed by the casting of Tom Cruise. In fact, it was the casting of Brad Pitt as Louis that bothered me the most. My disdain for Cruise in almost all things is well documented and yet, I found that he did a wonderful job. Antonio Banderas and a very young Kirsten Dunst round out the cast. Neil Jordan directed Rice’s screenplay.
As the story goes, a journalist named Malloy (Christian Slater) “interviews” Louis, who tells the story of his past, how he meets Lestat and becomes a vampire, and their subsequent bloody adventures. As they find ways to survive and entertain themselves, they turn young Claudia into a bloodsucker, which is apparently against the rules and subsequently condemns Claudia to a rather gruesome death. Louis eventually escapes Lestat and his machinations and finds his way to San Francisco where he meets Malloy.
Two years ago, Ed Power of The Independent took a substantive look at the film that you either love or you hate. I enjoy it for numerous reasons and I think it was a great way to bring the novel to life, as it were.
16. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter – 1974
Horst Janson is Captain Kronos, a mercenary vampire hunter roaming the European countryside with his faithful companion and expert assistant. Eventually he runs afoul of the Karnstein descendants. Caroline Munro also stars in this rollicking adventure written and directed by Brian Clemens. I bet you didn’t know she starred in Adam Ant’s video for Goody Two Shoes.
More than one vampire meets their demise at the pointy end of Kronos’ sword. Another example of an original concept, Kronos would go on to influence numerous other films, such as Van Helsing, helmed by Stephen Sommers. Kronos was refreshing after years of Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Not that Cushing was bad, quite the contrary, it was simply a case of needing fresh ideas … fresh blood if you will. Unfortunately, it heralded the beginning of the end of Hammer Films run as a horror powerhouse.
I rediscovered this movie a few years ago and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Munro, who also went on to become a Bond girl and then later star in the disastrous Starcrash, was a treat in this one as Kronos’ love interest.
15. Twins of Evil – 1971
Twins of Evil does feature Peter Cushing, but not in a role you’d expect, quite the opposite actually. He plays a religious zealot convinced that witchcraft is the scourge of his community. When his voluptuous twin nieces come to live with him, they fall prey to a vampire.
Played by the Collinson twins (Mary and Madeleine), Frieda and Maria are of two minds when it comes to Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas). You would think that blood was thicker than water when it came to the twins, but you’d be wrong. If there was a bus, one of them would have been thrown under it by her sister. And this is another Hammer Film that mined Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla for material.
This is an interesting role for Cushing and he plays it well. The Collinson twins were Playmates of the Month for October 1970. John Hough directed and Tudor Gates penned the screenplay.
14. Lifeforce – 1985
Naked. Space. Vampires. Do I have your attention now?
Steve Railsback stars as an astronaut who brings back three naked space vampires, two male and one female. Directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame, this film combines science fiction and horror in a way not seen before or since. Mathilda May plays the leader of the trio of deep space bloodsuckers. Okay, well, they don’t drink blood, they drain the “life force” of their victims. Same difference.
Patrick Stewart also makes an appearance as scientists and government officials try to discern the invaders’ end game and try to stave off a global apocalypse.
May, who was all of 20 years old when this was released, and her compatriots are inexplicably nude throughout most the film. This seems to distract the authorities and May is able to mesmerize Railsback’s character. Loud, different, stylish and influential, Lifeforce is much more than naked space vampires running around London.
13. Thirst – 2009
With Squid Game all the rage right now, maybe you should give this Korean vampire flick a whirl. Written by Park Chan-Wook and Seo-kyeong Jeong, and directed by Park Chan-Wook, Thirst tells the story of a priest Sang-hyun (Kang-ho Song), who becomes infected during a vaccine trial and turns into a vampire of sorts. He eventually infects his girlfriend Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin), of sorts, who become psychotic with power and bloodlust while Sang-hyun tries to maintain his morality and humanity.
A bit slow and muddled at times, Thirst is well worth the payoff to watch Tae-ju unravel as her mind and body are ravaged by her vampirism. Sang-hyun tries to keep his act together and survive without killing people.
If you’re looking for something substantive and different in the vampire genre, this gritty film is worth a watch.
12. What We Do in the Shadows – 2014
New Zealand’s Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame is becoming a Hollywood powerhouse. He has done some pretty good voice over work to go along with his acting. He is also a writer and a director. Perhaps his best work to date is the vampire comedy, What We Do in the Shadows.
Written and directed by Clement and Taika Waititi, this irreverent take on vampire myth and lore is filmed documentary style, a la MTV Cribs. A reality TV crew follows a group of idiot vampires who each has unique traits or abilities. The bottom line is, none of them really know how to vampire. IMDB describes the movie this way: “Viago, Deacon and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane – like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs and overcoming flatmate conflicts.”
It’s like Friends meets Keeping Up with the Kardashians, only with vampires. The film has spawned a popular TV series of the same name. The film and the series are hilarious, and this is the only comedy in the countdown.
31a./31b. Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream
30. The Lair of the White Worm
29. Son of Dracula
28. Vampire Circus
27. Innocent Blood
26. The Hunger
25. Countess Dracula
24. Dracula (1979)
23. Count Dracula (1977)
22. The Vampire Lovers
21. Dracula’s Daughter
20. Kolchak: The Night Stalker
19. Salem’s Lot
18. Shadow of the Vampire