A Fangtastic Finish

It is Halloween and I did promise to finish the countdown by tonight. I do hope you have enjoyed the COUNTdown of my favorite vampire movies and discovered some new films to watch and revisited some you may have forgotten about. Fangs for indulging me.

3. Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 1992

Oh, how I crave a faithful adaptation of my favorite horror novel. I’ve never gotten one. A couple have come very close. Francis Ford Coppola helmed this ambitious picture that tries to stay very true to the novel with a few major differences. I do not know why so many screenwriters and directors want to inject a love story into Dracula. There is no love story in the book. There is no reincarnated princess from Dracula’s days as the Prince of Wallachia.

I have done a fair bit of research into Bram Stoker’s process for writing the book and I can say with confidence that he did not “base” the Dracula character on Vlad the Impaler. He borrowed some elements, most notably the name, but the creature itself owes more to Countess Elizabeth Bathory, werewolf lore, and the Irish vampire legend of the Dearg Due than it does the one-time prince known for his sadistic methods for dealing with enemies.

An all-star cast featuring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes, and Tom Waits bring Stoker’s story to life in ways never seen before. Too bad Reeves is not far enough removed from Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan. Hopkins seems to be in a different movie from everyone else. I love the film for its music, costumes, effects, and most of the acting. It is the truest adaptation of the book (in my estimation) and that’s probably why I like it so much.

2. The Lost Boys – 1987

Let’s see … Jason Patric (son of Jason Miller, The Exorcist’s Father Damien Karras), Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, the two Coreys, an awesome soundtrack, vampires … what’s not to like?

Set in Santa Carla, Calif., (actually Santa Cruz, along the beach boardwalk), vampires take up residence and they are recruiting. Well done in a manner that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s heavy and dark with lighthearted moments. This film explores the seduction the life of a vampire offers and the struggle to maintain one’s humanity.

Soundtrack spoiler, this is a bit of a pet peeve – it’s Echo and the Bunnymen’s version of People are Strange over the closing credits, not The Doors. That being written, I think this film has the best horror movie soundtrack in movie history.

1. Dracula – 1931

I wrote about the genesis of this film in my piece about the Universal cinematic universe. As the title of the countdown stipulates, these are my favorite vampire films. I was very young when I first saw this, I read the book at a young age too. I have to remind people that this is a film adaptation of the stage play that was derived from the novel. Many characters are omitted, names changed, etc. A good bit of the story is reworked as well. However, there is one reason this movie is No. 1 on this list – Bela Lugosi. Many people argue that the Spanish-language version, filmed at night during the making of the English version, is better. It does have some good cinematography and technical elements that surpass director Tod Browning’s effort, however, Lugosi is masterful as Count Dracula.

There is so much to unpack with regard to how Lugosi came to play Dracula. He was fantastic in the stage production. And he is who we imitate when we think of Count Dracula today. I won’t go into all the differences between the movie and the book. The film is dark and atmospheric and almost plays like a Sherlock Holmes mystery movie.

Edward Van Sloan plays Van Helsing, and Helen Chandler and David Manners also star. Lugosi only played Dracula one more time on the big screen in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Just remember, there are such things.

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

17. Interview with the Vampire
16. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
15. Twins of Evil
14. Lifeforce
13. Thirst
12. What We Do in the Shadows

11. Hammer Studios’ Dracula franchise
10. Fright Night
9. Underworld
8. From Dusk Till Dawn
7. Blade

6. 30 Days of Night
5. Nosferatu
4. Let the Right One In/Let Me In

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