Earlier this week, we shared some other vampire books worth reading, in honor of our May Book of the Month, the Sucks to Be Me series by Kimberly Pauley. Today, we’re featuring some of our favorite vampire movies worth watching! (And no, I’m not including Twilight or New Moon, because — let’s face it — you don’t need us to tell you why you should watch those.)
The Lost Boys
Corey Feldman & Corey Haim. Those two names alone should be reason enough to check out The Lost Boys. (Those of us old enough to be “in the know” remember them more fondly as “The Coreys.”) If you need more reason, how about this: The Lost Boys is about two brothers who move to California with their mom. Sam, the younger brother, falls in with new friends who convince him the town is a haven for vampires. His older brother, Michael, falls in with said vampires — with Kiefer Sutherland as their wonderfully wicked undead leader (or so it would seem).
Is The Lost Boys campy? Cheesy? You bet. But is it fun? Absolutely! Plus, it has a killer 80’s rock soundtrack (complete with cheesy synthesizer and a choral backup theme). (Click for trailer.)
Interview with a Vampire
Again, the main draw for this movie is two big names: Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, plus a little Christian Slater for good measure. (I should note: this is Cruise, Pitt & Slater circa 1994.)
Interview with a Vampire is an adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel by the same name. The movie features Brad Pitt as the vampire Louis — who recounts his life story (in the titular “Interview” with Christian Slater ), including his transformation at the hands of Lestat (Cruise) and their life together in 18th and 19th century Louisiana. Interview with a Vampire also features a very young Kirsten Dunst as a child-vampire (who shares a semi-creepy kissing scene with Pitt) and Antonio Banderas, in one of his earliest English-speaking roles.
Interview with a Vampire may be a wee bit graphic at times … but it’s one of the best vampire movies around. I’m talking classic fangs, blood-drinking and general undead debauchery. Plus, we get to follow Louis as he deals with the agony of finding something to live for when you can live forever. (Yes, yes I am using a play on the Twilight tagline.)
Still not convinced? Click to view the trailer.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Though still a a very loose adapation, Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula is actually one of the more accurate takes on Stoker’s classic novel. The movie stars Gary Oldman as iconic Count Dracula. (Younger audiences may know Oldman better as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies.) The movie also features Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, Winona Ryder as Mina Murray and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing (the vampire hunter).
Besides the all-star leading cast — there are some other big names in the supporting cast, including Cary Elwes and, my personal favorite, Tom Waits as Renfield. (Seriously, his performance steals the show!)
In my mind, I always remember this movie as being really awesome … but then every year when I watch it (it’s sort of a Halloween viewing tradition in my family), I realize just how cheesy it is. But it’s good cheesy and totally fun to watch. And sure, the filmmakers took some liberties with Stoker’s novel. But they injected it with enough camp and melodrama that most purists don’t really care. (At least, this purist doesn’t really care.) This movie is just great, classic vampire drama at its finest. (Click for trailer.)
It doesn’t get more must-see than this: Bela Lugosi as Dracula, uttering that now famous line, “I never drink … wine.” This was Universal’s 1931 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel — and though it’s a far cry from the original novel, it’s also one of the most iconic and well-known presentations of Dracula. It also came when big screen horror adaptations were all the rage — and during Unversal’s golden age of horror movies. Around the same time, the studio also released Frankenstein (with Boris Karloff), The Mummy and The Invisible Man, among other big hits.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen Lugosi’s star-making performance as Dracula, you just haven’t lived. (Click for trailer.)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Before Sarah Michelle Gellar began patrolling with Mr. Pointy on the small screen, Kristy Swanson strapped on the wooden stake in this campy movie written by Joss Whedon (yes, that Joss Whedon). Fans of the show will find this a much campier presentation — but it’s essentially the precursor to the show, setting up how Buffy learns she is the slayer and fights her first vampires. It also shows us Buffy’s … er, “bimbo” side? Yeah, she’s a cheerleader and she really loves to shop. And, well, she can be a little less than friendly at times … but that makes it all the more fun to see her develop into the vampire-slaying, ass-kicking heroine we’ve all come to know and love. (Click for trailer.)
A sort of Romeo & Juliet for the vampires & werewolves set, Underworld is a moody action-drama starring Kate Beckinsale as the vampire Selene and Scott Speedman as the human-turned werewolf/vampire hybrid Michael. This movie is chock-full of mood and tension. And frankly, it’s just pretty to look at — with all the lovely blue tones and intense lighting. Plus, it’s a modern, action-packed take on the time-old “vampire vs. werewolf” storyline. (Plus, you can catch New Moon’s Michael Sheen as the werewolf leader Lucian.) This movie is also good for both ladies and gentlement … it’s got a nice mix of romance, intrigue and action to satisfy just about everybody. (Click for trailer.)
Wesley Snipes stars in this vampire action thriller as Blade, the half-human/half-vampire who uses his hybrid powers to fight vampires and protect humans. And though he’s filled with lots of angst and anger over his lot in life, my personal favorite in this movie is Stephen Dorff as the bad-guy vampire. He’s so delightfully evil, I can’t help actually rooting for him most of the movie. Still, Blade is an entertaining vampire action romp — no matter which side you root for. (Plus, this is another one you can watch with your boyfriends, husbands, guy-friends, etc.) And if you enjoy this, there are two more Blade movies you can follow-up with. (Click for trailer.)
This silent film from 1922 is based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula — though a lot of the finer details were changed, since the filmmakers didn’t actually have the rights to the book. But more importantly, Nosferatu is one of the earliest (if not the earliest) vampire movies around. Even to this day, the image of Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok remains one of the most iconic images of vampires in cinema. Watching this movie — as with any silent movie — is a different experience than most modern filmgoers are used to. But for any vampire fan, Nosferatu offers a lot of insight into the transformation and progression of vampires in film. It’s a nice glimpse into the history of these creatures of the night that we’ve come to know and love. (Nosferatu is free to the public domain. Click to view the entire movie for free here.)
Shadow of the Vampire
Once you’ve seen the original Nosferatu, you’ll have new appreciation for this 2000 movie. Shadow of the Vampire is the fictionalized story about how Nosferatu was made. The movie suggests that the actor protraying Nosferatu (with Willem Dafoe portraying Max Schreck in an Oscar-nominated performance) may have taken his role as the vampire a bit too seriously. In fact, the movie plays out as if Schreck is actually a vampire — except only the movie’s director knows this. It’s been awhile since I watched this movie, but Shadow of the Vampire is a really creepy, original story and it’s especially fun to see how they recreate scenes from the original Nosferatu. (Click for trailer.)
Now, this isn’t really a vampire movie. This is Tim Burton’s tribute to the worst director of all-time: Ed Wood, the man behind such horrific movies as Plan 9 From Outer Space and Bride of the Atom. But for vampire fans, this movie is worth watching just to see Martin Landau’s Oscar-winning performance as Bela Lugosi. (Of course, the movie also features other outstanding performances — such as Johnny Depp as the title character, Ed Wood, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Orson Welles … just to name a few.) It’s also based on the true life story of Ed Wood … and honestly, who doesn’t love a good Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaboration? (Click for trailer.)
30 Days of Night
Here’s a creepy, moody vampire movie from Eclipse director David Slade. But don’t be fooled — there is no sparkling here. 30 Days of Night tells the story of a sheriff in an isolated Alaska town — where for 30 days every year, the sun never rises.
It is during these 30 days of night (heh, get it?) when a group of blood-thirsty vampires lay siege to the town, bent on gorging themselves for an entire month. It’s up to the sheriff & his team to try and protect the survivors.
(Click for trailer.)
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assitant
This whimsical adaptation of Darren Shan’s book is fairly family-friendly, despite the vampire storyline. I’m not sure it was nearly successful enough to warrant a sequel — which, in a way, is too bad — since the first movie does more to establish future installments than it does to stand alone. Still, it’s a cute movie and is definitely worth watching at least once. Here is the official movie synopsis from IMDB:
A young boy named Darren Shan meets a mysterious man at a freak show who turns out to be a Vampire. After a series of events Darren must leave his normal life and go on the road with the Cirque Du Freak and become a Vampire.
(Click for trailer.)
Released earlier this year, Daybreakers is definitely a movie for grown-ups, and looks at a world where there are more vampires than humans. But that means bad news for the vamps — since they’re running out of food (aka human blood). Of course, in a world run by vampires — things don’t look too pretty for the humans, either. These definitely aren’t your pretty, sparkly vampires, but this movie looks like a cool, unique take on the vampire story:
In the year 2019, a plague has transformed most every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind. (Click for trailer.)