Monday, 25 April 2011

The Good, The Bad And The Bloody Of Vampire Movies

The continuous vampire sacrilege scourge that is the Twilight series of films will eventually end, but, before it does, here's a look at a bunch of vampire films:

Let's start with a Hollywood film that got it right, 1994's Interview With The Vampire. Directed by Neil Jordan and based on Anne Rice's novel, it drew real chemistry from Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. It even featured Antonio Banderas and a young but freakish Kirsten Dunst.

Thinking that Anne Rice's vampire novels would guarantee good films, Hollywood later made Queen of the Damned. Once again, it was filmed very nicely. But it was a rubbish film, full of bad acting.

But before this foray into Rice books, there was the Lost Boys. It was the only "vampires with 80s hair" film and it was geniunely creepy. This Joel Schumacher film could have been an awful teen-vampire film but it was not. That would come about twenty years later.

One teen vampire flick that does not really delve that deeply into vampire lore but is one of my favourite films ever, largely because of its quirkiness and originality, is 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kristy Swanson, David Arquette, Luke Perry and Donald Sutherland. This film launched a television series in the 1990s, starring a different actress as Buff; Sarah Michelle Gellar and Anthony Head as her guardian, Giles.

Before, I get into the evil that is Twilight, let's not forget the twenty-something vampire series, the Blade trilogy. I'm not sure if Blade I was made with people in their twenties in mind, but it does show vampire clubbers and young rebel vampires trying to boss the old vampires at board meetings. It's a stylish film with good music, clever lines that aren't annoying and some excellent action sequences. Blade II also looked cool and was nicely directed by Hellboy director, Guillermo del Toro. He had had practice though, making the quirky 1993's Cronos.

In 1535, an alchemist creates a machine that is supposed to convey eternal life to its owner. It ends up in 1997 with an antiques dealer but another group of people is looking at it too. Anyway, the device also makes the owner crave blood so it's all "chompy chompy suck suck".

Finally then, before discussing Twilight, I pay homage to the classic Dracula films.

Bela Lugosi was the main actor in the 1931 original Dracula film. He was from Romania just like the Dracula character was in Bram Stoker's famous novel. Then, the Hammer movies did vampires rather well. Christopher Lee was a brilliant Dracula. Francis Ford Coppola then made a Dracula film in 1992, starring Gary Oldman as the Count. It garnered very mixed reviews.

There are many other vampire films I could mention. Sweden's Let The Right One In (2008) was fresh and disturbing. A boy develops a friendship with a vampire child in Stockholm. It toned down some of the very twisted bits from the novel on which it was based but it won many awards. Last year, it was remade by Americans and called Let Me In. Reviews for the remake have slightly positive.

And, so Hollywood has been making the Twilight series of vampire books into films. In this series, girls go through puberty. Goth girls find loser boyfriends. Guys fight over girls. The vampires wear sunblock during the day. Yes, Deacon Frost wore sunblock in Blade but he torched a vampire in that. Twilight just has a vampire teen perving over a girl. And why did werewolves have to be involved too. The Underworld series featuring Kate Beckinsale mixed werewolves and vampires together too but that was before the Twilight series was released and the characters were always vicious. Kate Beckinsale's character had also been through puberty and had a personality. Maybe the Twilight films appeal to teenagers but they are not the kind of vampire films that I enjoy. The final book, Breaking Dawn, is being made into two films, just as is the case with the Harry Potter series. I will make a point of watching Harry Potter but Twilight is only invading my eyes when I'm doing something mindnumbing at the same time.

Alistair Anderson

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