Well, the day has finally arrived. Despite worldwide protests for crimes against humanity, new Moon opens nationwide today. Proving that they can be every bit as scary as vampires and werewolves, teenage girls and soccer moms promise to turn out in full force, howling at the screen every time RPATZ glowers sulkily at nothing or shows of a sparkly, underdeveloped pectoral. In the face of this unnatural phenomenon, we at All Things Horror have listed some of our favorite vampire works this week. I’ve been a bit more preoccupied with work and the NYC horror Film Fest than I initially imagined, so this is a quick list of other works you should try to put in the hands of Twilight fans.
Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel spans three decades as a family of academics are drawn in by a strange book, blank save for a wood cut of a dragon. This image is a symbol of the Order of the Dragon-the family crest for Vlad Tepes-the historical Dracula known as the “Impaler”. Told in flashbacks and journal entries, Kostova paints an amazingly detailed picture of landscapes as far ranging as the declining Ottoman Empire in the thirties to communist Eastern European blocs in the sixties as our historians search for the hidden burial ground of Tepes. Along the way they are menaced by Dracula himself as he is determined to orchestrate events to his advantage. It’s a gorgeous piece of work, dramatic and suspenseful. While Dracula may be the most iconic character in horror, the real man was a million times scarier. Taking the historical figure and supposing he was transformed into a vampire makes for real scary stuff.
It’s impossible to overrate this early Stephen King novel. King took the idea of what would happen if Dracula was taken out of his Victorian setting and dropped into a modern small town and ran with it. The first half of the book is vampire –free. King simply builds the suspense in his story of a young writer returning to the small town he grew up in years before where strange deaths and disappearances begin to occur at an alarming rate. By the time the culprit Barlow is revealed as a vampire, you’re already scared enough to lock all the doors and windows in your house, and grab a rosary for good measure. This early novel marked King’s first time working with a larger ensemble cast of characters, setting the stage for his interconnect later novels set around the fictional Castle Rock. Also Recommended-the Tobe Hooper Made for TV film adaptation of the novel.
Before he put nipples on the Bat Suit, Joel Schumacher made some quality films. This 80’s classic showed that vampires can be both sexy and terrifying. Plus, who doesn’t love the two Corey’s before they got into, well whatever they got into back then? Aside from Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland is probably best known for his role as David-the punk rock inspired leader of this vicious gang f vampire rejects. With eye popping color straight out of a comic book junkies wet dream, and terrific visuals (the maggot/rice scene anyone). This film managed to make me laugh and jump almost simultaneously. Plus, find me a better damsel in distress than Jamie Gertz’ Star in this movie and I will PayPal you a quarter.
Most of the Full Moon movies aren’t anything to write home about, but they got these right. There is nothing sexy about Radu as a vampire. He looks horrific, with pasty, cracked skin, stringy hair and an emaciated look. He’s almost more of a ghoulish wraith than vampire. Add in his raspy, sandpapery voice and you have one of the more chilling portrait of vampires committed to screen. Shot on location in Eastern Europe, these films look gorgeous with real nourish visuals, especially early on in the second film when Radu stalks his prey through the city streets and his shadow seems to have a life of its own.
Francis Ford Coppola’s film gets no love for some reason. I thought this film was gorgeous, both in its look and sound design. This was the first DVD I ever purchased and I used to use the carriage scene as a surround sound demo when I sold Hi-fi equipment. Oldman is genius as Dracula, the film set pieces are stunning and despite the liberties taken with the novel and the overwrought love story, it’s a bloody film. If they could have gotten a better Harker than Keanu Reeves (he’s clearly overmatched by the other talent on screen and fails to rise to the occasion), people may remember this film a bit more fondly. Plus, if you’re going to pursue the romance angle, wouldn’t you rather have a take-sure dude like Oldman over Captain Wish Washy Sparkle Pants? What a mope.
A reimagined “behind the scenes” look at the making of the original Nosferatu. Willem Dafoe is unrecognizable and brilliant as Max Schreck, or the vampire playing the role of Max Schreck playing the role of vampire. He manages a perfect blend of terror and humor in his portrayal of the ages old vampire that strikes a deal with Malkovich’s Murnau to take a part in the movie if he can eat the lead actress in the end. Malkovich is also genius in his role of the overbearing director that will spare nothing in order to complete his masterpiece. A great art house film, this really belongs in your collection.