Saturday, June 23, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Vampire Films

For the genre edition of this week's Top 5 Movie Guide, we have some fun with one of the strongest sections of film we've ever done before. This week, looking at "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", we take a look at some of our own favorite Vampire Films of all-time. There are many ways we could have narrowed that down a little further, but we decided to just go with it and see how it turned out. So for this list, every film featuring vampires was considered. These films are usually associated with the horror genre, but even since it's early silent film-era days, Dracula has crossed over into almost every category of film, including Horror, Science Fiction, Comedy, Romance, and Fantasy.


The term vampires was used in the earliest days of film, but did not embody its blood-sucking supernatural form until the 1922 film, "Nosferatu". And almost a decade later it was Bela Lugosi in Universal's adaptation, simply titled "Dracula", that really reformed the characteristics of the creature, including the use of the cape and the Romanian-accent in speech patterns (in fact, as legend goes, Lugosi didn't even speak English when he accepted the role - he memorized all of his lines phonetically and never actually understood the words he was saying).

Since those days the Vampire genre has exploded and become a popular subject of every decade. The characters and creatures are constantly being reworked and re-imagined for newer adaptations, and dozens of big-name actors have taken on iconic roles in these movies. To date, over 170 different feature films have portrayed some version of this character, in some regard or another.

Even with as many different versions of these films as there are, spanning multiple genres and almost an entire century, we each try to narrow our lists down to five apiece. So hit the jump and see what we came up with!

Alex Schopp -
This might be the most solid Top 5 list I've put together since we started doing these. I'd be comfortable with having any of these five as my overall number one selection. There are even two or three films that didn't make this list at all that I'd be okay having at number one. This genre is incredibly strong, with so many great selections. Make sure to give each of these a watch.

     1. The Lost Boys (1987)

First off, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. Then you add a neat concept for this universe (I love that they're figuring out how to fight them through vampire comic books), some great music, and plenty fantastic camp, and you have a gem of a movie! Definite staple of the genre.
     2. Near Dark (1987)
I love the western vibe to this film. The older I get the more I love that genre. Again, plenty of cheese and camp, but this one is also beautifully filmed, and really has an elegance and some emotion to it for being about vampires and bikers. Give this one a watch - I feel like there's chance this got passed over earlier in your life.
     3. Let the Right One In (2008)
So eerie. So beautifully done. Approached very delicately and seriously, but there are also some really great gore scenes that we love in our vampire movies too. The American version was also quite good, but I give the edge to the original. Maybe the "best" vampire film on this list.
     4. Fright Night (1985)
I feel like the word of the hour here is camp. You have to have a certain campiness to your film when dealing with these types of movies; the ability to make light of what seems like a serious yet silly situation is key for this entire genre. This movie has plenty of fun and is so easy to watch over and over again.
     5. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
A perfect Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino team-up. The cast and characters are great, and it's another cool concept for a vampire flick. The film has the same southwestern/grindhouse/dirty/trashy feel to it that the bar in the movie embodies. A fun watch for sure.

Ben Foutch -
There were quite a few that could easily have been on this list. I went for the ones that I absolutely love and have a tremendous amount of respect for.

     1. Interview with the Vampire (1994)

A perfect blend of drama and horror. Easily one of the best vampire films. Priority level watch.
     2. The Lost Boys (1987)
This film has so much nostalgic value. If Cry Little Sister or I Still Believe doesn't get added to your physical and/or digital library after watching this, then you don't deserve this film.
     3. Let the Right One In (2008)
Terrific atmosphere and unforgettable performances from all of the young actors. It will touch and horrify you all in one swoop.
     4. Near Dark (1987)
Atmosphere and memorable characters propelled this film to the cult status that it most definitely deserves. Also, it doesn't hurt that Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton are on the bill.
     5. Nosferatu (1922)
This film is still creepy. Definitely a place where nightmares are born.

Derek Clem -

     1. The Lost Boys (1987)

And thus began the two Corey's. A lot of nostalgia here with this choice. plus that soundtrack is so monumental!
     2. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Such a lush and beautiful film. Where were the Oscar nominations for Pitt and Cruise?
     3. Blade II (2002)
Fun vampire on vampire slaying action!
     4. Twilight (2008)
The atmosphere, score and soundtrack to this movie put me in such a relaxed mood. I love having it on in the background, one of my ultimate background/nap movies. If it's raining outside you can almost guarantee I have this movie playing. It pairs so well with the sound of raindrops falling into puddles outside my windows.
     5. Daybreakers (2009)
This spot could easily be interchanged with about four other vampire movies, but today I have to give it to "Daybreakers" due solely for its art-deco visual characteristics. Absolutely gorgeous.

Nathan Hinds -
Definitely my favorite creature branch of the horror genre. I know I wasn't the only one who found this extremely difficult to narrow down to five films.

     1. The Lost Boys (1987)

I regret that I didn't see this movie until my late-teens. There is little doubt that had I seen this movie when I was a kid, this could've been my all-time favorite horror film. It has everything: it's cool, scary, funny, and has a rockin' soundtrack. From the moment I heard Cry Little Sister, I was hooked.
     2. 30 Days of Night (2007)
This could easily be #1 on my list. This film features what are easily the scariest vampires in any film in my opinion. Both of these movies are in my Top 10 (probably top 5 even) all-time horror films. I gave the slight edge to "The Lost Boys" because of Kiefer Sutherland.
     3. Blade II (2002)
Maybe the best action/horror film of all-time. I think this is a very underrated comic book movie as well.
     4. Let Me In (2010)
I give this movie a slight edge over its Swedish original "Let the Right One In". They are both terrifying yet beautiful, but I love Chloe Moretz and that made the difference. I won't name names, but to a certain series of films centered around sparkly vampires that have come out at the same time as these films, it is laughable how inferior they are to "Let Me In"/"Let the Right One In".
     5. Near Dark (1987)
Filling this fifth spot was tough. I had to cut out several other great vampire films that were just as deserving as this one. Still, there is so much to love about this film. I love the western vibe it's got going on. Plus plenty of scares, laughs, a healthy dose of cheese, and a rockin' performance from Bill Paxton.

Andy Schopp -

     1. The Lost Boys (1987)

It's the best vampire movie ever made. Period.
     2. Fright Night (1985)
A great tale of friendship, family, love, and betrayal. And also it's full of a very perfectly distinct type of cheesiness!
     3. Vampires (1998)
James Woods owns this movie! He bends it over and...well, you get the idea. Also the score is very memorable.
     4. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Some great performances all-around here. Also, this is a fantastic through the ages kind of story of the vampire.
     5. The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Such a great movie with some incredible concepts and a fantastic portrayal of the human spectrum. The best adaptation of this particular short story to date.

And there we have it. So many great films listed above, and no surprise that a lot of the same titles continued to appear. I'm not sure if it's more or less than expected, but 14 different fantastic titles did show up above. So even though there are clear favorites here, there's still a great variety for everyone to work with. For the top selections though, "The Lost Boys" dominated. This was the only film that appeared on all five lists, and even took the top spot on four of them. It doesn't hurt that this hits a special nostalgic chord with each of us, but nonetheless, this entire film embodies the perfect spirit and style you want in a vampire film. Even if you don't think this is or will be your favorite of the genre, this is a must see.

Two films hit on three of the five lists, "Interview with the Vampire" and "Near Dark". Both pretty different ends of the spectrum for the genre, but both fantastic watches. Not only are both of these films fan favorites, but they're also critically acclaimed, and offer more than just standard vampire fun. The only other films with multiple selections were "Fright Night", "Blade II", and "Let the Right One In". Again, all great selections, but each of the films listed above - and even still dozens more - seems a staple for the genre and definitely worth a watch.

As always, we hope that each of these selections can help you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films this genre has to offer, and guide you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!