Since I wrote a trilogy of books featuring vampires, I thought it would be fun to share my all-time favorite fang flicks. I’m sure some of you will disagree. That’s cool. We’re all allowed to have our favorites. It’s fun seeing what everyone chooses. Some of us gravitate toward the classics like Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. Others crave the more modern, and visceral, terror of 30 Days of Night. Still others clamor for the Hammer films of the 1970’s. You really can’t go wrong with any of those choices. Anything that shines a light on horror is a good thing.
5. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
What makes this movie special, at least for me, is George Clooney. He pulls off one of the best anti-heroes this side of Snake Plissken. Quentin Tarantino pulls the old switcheroo with audiences as the first half of the film is more drama than horror. When the sun goes down, everything changes. From Dusk Till Dawn is cheesy one liners. It’s blood and gore. It’s everything you want out of a horror film. In a word, From Dusk Till Dawn is fun.
4. Salem’s Lot (1979)
As a kid, this film scared the innocence out of me. I would sleep with the covers pulled up around my neck to prevent Mr. Barlow from biting me. It didn’t matter how hot the weather, some kind of sheet or blanket was tucked around my neck. I slept that way for years. Salem’s Lot was a made for TV movie that networks used to show annually. My family would huddle around the TV and drink in the terror like a Glick brother on his friend’s blood. Make no mistake about it, this film starts out slow, but effectively builds tension until the shit hits the fan. I always remember the look of Mr. Barlow with his bald head, glowing eyes, and gnarled fangs. He seemed to materialize out of thin air and grunt before clasping a clawed hand on his victims. The director, Tobe Hooper, also utilized children in a way I think many horror films don’t anymore. Kids relate to kids. Seeing a nine-year-old vampire scratching at a friend’s window so he could feed led to more than a few nightmares in my house. Sometimes subtlety is key.
3. Nosferatu (1922)
Released in 1922, Nosferatu still shines today. It is a masterpiece and inspiration of many a modern vampire film. The director utilizes light and shadows so effectively that you don’t mind the silence. In fact, the silence only adds to the terror. The look of the creature has become iconic and is often borrowed to help create newer vampires like Mr. Barlow in Salem’s Lot (1979). If you like vampires and haven’t seen this film, you should. See where, in my opinion, it all began. There isn’t an official trailer for this film but I did find a fan created one I liked. Thanks goes to The Nosferatu Mysteria.
2. 30 Days of Night (2007)
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched this film. In my opinion, it gets just about everything right. There’s a sense of impending doom that the residents of Barrow, Alaska can’t seem to shake. The pacing is brutal, just like the vampires. Isolation also plays a key as those who survived the initial onslaught try to wait the thirty days until the sun rises again. What I love most about this film is the vampires. They are visceral killing machines. They’re higher on the food chain and act like it. They fear no one, nothing. How can you kill what seemingly can’t be killed? That’s what our rag-tag group of survivors has to figure out. The scene with the little girl in the grocery store is freaking awesome!
1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
I went with Bram Stoker’s Dracula as my favorite vampire film because of Gary Oldman. His performance is special and makes watching this film worth any vampire lover’s time. I also love how this film transcends the horror genre. At it’s core, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a love story told throughout history. One part romance, one part period piece, and two parts horror, this film stands out for its production value, superb acting, and subtle, yet spectacular special effects. The many different looks of Dracula is also a testament to the wardrobe department who also did an amazing job. To me, any film that can transcend the genre is doing something above and beyond. Films like this bring other viewers to the horror genre. And that’s what it’s all about, making new horror fans from all walks of life.