20 FURIOUS FRIGHT FLIX: Vampires

To kick off October, the month that brings us one of the greatest holidays that film geeks love: Halloween, we’ve put together a new list featuring some of our favorite films in the classic horror subgenre that’s famous for certain blood drinking characters. You know the one that is filled with such things as: bats, fangs, mirrors with no reflections, garlic, holy water, crosses, castles, deranged servants, wooden stakes…yes that’s right, it’s VAMPIRE TIME! Each chosen title has a basic synopsis with a few personal thoughts included. Click on the bold links for some added features.

Nosferatu

Nosferatu (1922, Dir: F.W. Murnau)

What better film to kick off our list then the godfather of the subgenre? This was the first filmed adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula but at the time it was made the studio was unable to obtain the rights to the book, so names were changed accordingly. The enigmatic German actor Max Schreck who plays Count Orlok, brilliantly embodied a blood drinking creature of the night with his striking performance. The film’s controversial production would be the basis of the film Shadow of the Vampire (2000) starring Willem Dafoe as Schreck and John Malkovich as F.W. Murnau. The truly bone chilling imagery of Shreck’s Orlock is the stuff nightmares are made of and remains one of the iconic images of early cinema. WATCH THE TRAILER

Dracula (1931)

Dracula (1931, Dir: Tod Browning)

A British barrister named Renfield (Dwight Frye) travels through the Carpathian Mtns. on business. After refusing to stay at a local inn, he is transported by carriage to a castle where he encounters the ominous Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) who invites him to stay the night before returning home. During his stay, Renfield is attacked by Dracula who is revealed to be a vampire. During the boat trip back to London (where Dracula will be leasing Carfax Abbey), Renfield goes mad and is later committed by Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston) when he arrives in the city. There, Count Dracula meets the lovely Mina (Helen Chandler) her fiancee John Harker (David Weston) and their friends. The evil Count then begins a spree of blood drinking until a friend of Dr. Seward, Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) figures out what Dracula really is and plans to kill him. Bela Lugosi’s iconic take on Bram Stoker’s vampire character was really the first to bring in elements of eroticism. Lugosi turned Count Dracula from demonic ghoul into a suave, mysterious, sensual being but still with an air of menace and evil. WATCH THE TRAILER

The Hunger

The Hunger (1983, Dir: Tony Scott)

In this 80s new wave/goth spin on the genre, Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) a medical specialist in sleep and aging research finds herself in a bizarre love triangle with a bloodsucking couple: Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) an immortal Egyptian vampire and her lover John (David Bowie) who was a cellist in 18th century France. While Miriam retains her youthful appearance, John begins aging rapidly and goes to Sarah for help. Tony Scott’s directorial debut. Look for a cameo at the beginning of the film by the goth rock band Bauhaus singing their hit “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. WATCH THE TRAILER

The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys (1987, Dir: Joel Schumacher)

The 1980s saw a popular resurgence in the vampire genre with the release of several modern classics (some of which are covered here), but this title in particular really rose above most with its furious rock and roll style, youthful exuberance and dark humor. After their parents divorce, teenagers Mike (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) and their mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest) move from Arizona to the coastal CA town of Santa Carla to live with their grandfather who happens to be a taxidermist. What they don’t realize is that they’ve just arrived in Vampiretown USA. Co-starring Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland and Jami Gertz. WATCH THE TRAILER

From Dusk Til Dawn

From Dusk ‘Til Dawn (1996, Dir: Robert Rodriguez)

Criminal brothers Seth (George Clooney) and Ritchie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) are on the run from the law. They must cross the Texas/Mexico border to meet their connection who will get them to safety. Along the way they kidnap a vacationing family (Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu), who they use to smuggle them to Mexico in their motorhome. After successfully evading the FBI, their next stop is the Titty Twister a strip club/bar filled with rowdy truckers and unsavory characters. What the group don’t realize is they’ve just become the main course for a legion of loco Mexican bloodsuckers. Filled with witty banter (screenplay by Tarantino), over the top humor and plenty of action and gore, it’s a bat-tastic blast! Co-starring Cheech Marin, Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo, Fred Williamson and Tom Savini.WATCH THE TRAILER

Near Dark

Near Dark (1987, Dir: Kathryn Bigelow)

Teenager Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) meets a young attractive drifter named Mae (Jenny Wright) who is a vampire. After Mae sinks her fangs into Caleb, she and her vampire friends including the psychotic Severen (Bill Paxton) and their leader Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) decide to let the newbie go along with them on the road. The only trouble is, Caleb is unwilling to kill, causing a rift within the group. Part road movie, part horror film, part Western, this one is an offbeat 80s cult gem. WATCH THE TRAILER

Innocent Blood

Innocent Blood (1992, Dir: John Landis)

French actress Anne Parillaud plays Marie, a nymphomaniac who also happens to be a vampire. After biting a ruthless crime boss named Salvatore “The Shark” Miceli (Robert Loggia), Marie begins targeting Miceli’s entire family of mobsters. She also must elude the police who are looking for her. It’s really an odd mix genre wise, but somehow it all works since the mob are, like vampires, violent characters. Landis injects the proceedings with plenty of humor and sexy sequences along with the blood draining. Note: Soprano’s fans will recognize several familiar faces including Tony Sirico and David Proval in here. Also look for fun cameos by Sam Raimi, Frank Oz and Dario Argento. WATCH THE TRAILER

Vampires

John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998, Dir: John Carpenter)

James Woods is Jack Crow, a Snake Plissken-esque vampire hunter looking for one of the most deadly bloodsuckers on Earth: Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith). Crow must keep Valek from obtaining an ancient cross that could potentially help him take over the world. Carpenter delivers a slick edgy horror film even injecting aspects of the Western genre he loves into the storyline. Co-starring Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee and Maximillian Schell. WATCH THE TRAILER

Taste The Blood of Dracula

Taste The Blood of Dracula (1970, Dir: Peter Sasdy)

A trio of Englishmen who have been pleasuring themselves at different brothels meet a young man named Courtley who they learn was disinherited for celebrating a Black Mass. The friends who are looking for wild times, decide to talk to Courtley who has obtained the ring, cloak and dried blood of the legendary Prince of Darkness: Count Dracula. Courtley brings the men to an old church where he places the dried blood of the Count in goblets and tells the men to drink it, but they refuse. Courtley then goes through with it by himself the men angered at this begin kicking and beating him. When Courtley appears he has transformed into Dracula (Christopher Lee). The evil king of the bloodsuckers then vows to kill the three men for trying to kill Courtley his faithful “servant”. (NOTE: Athough there have been many films in the Hammer Dracula series, I picked this one simply because its my favorite.) WATCH THE TRAILER

Martin

Martin (1977, Dir: George Romero)

A depressed, alienated teenager named Martin (John Amplas) believes himself to be a vampire and looks for victims in the city of Pittsburgh, where he seduces women with drugs, then slices their wrists so he can drink their blood. After moving in with his granduncle Cuda (Lincoln Maazel) and cousin in the industrial town of Braddock, PA he begins to have strange visions of seductions and lynch mobs. Martin’s uncle treats him like a vampire placing crosses and garlic around the house. Martin feels compelled to open up about his odd problems, he even calls into a radio talk show to get help. This film is considered one of George Romero’s best works outside of his zombie movies. WATCH THE TRAILER

Blacula

Blacula (1972, Dir: William Crain)

In the 1800s, an African Prince named Mamuwalde (William Marshall) and his wife Luva travel to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula seeking his help in stopping the burgeoning slave trade. What begins as a pleasant meeting turns into a deadly trap as the evil Count bites Mamuwalde turning him into BLACULA, the Black Prince of Vampires, while his wife is entombed with him in the castle’s wall. Decades later, two interior decorators buy his coffin and bring it to America. Mamuwalde finally awakes and begins a bloodsucking spree turning residents of the modern black community into his minion of undead followers. WATCH THE TRAILER

Vampyros Lesbos

Vampyros Lesbos (1971, Dir: Jess Franco)

A beautiful female vampire named Countess Nadine (Soledad Miranda) uses her sexy nightclub act to lure victims into her bloody clutches. One night she meets a gorgeous blonde woman named Linda who she invites home with her. The two have a sexual trist, but Linda decides to leave Nadine’s compound and walk along the beach. It’s there she meets Dr. Seward (Dennis Price) who helps overcome her predicament. Seward secretly intends to use her to get to Nadine so he can become a vampire himself. Franco departs from the standard vampire plot and tells the story with atmospheric, surreal visuals that really make it a dreamy experience and sets it apart from others in the genre. Trivia: Dr. Seward is a reference to a character of the same name in the story of Dracula. WATCH THE TRAILER

Blood For Dracula

Blood For Dracula (1974, Dir: Paul Morrisey)

In this pitch black comedic farce Udo Kier stars as the blood craving prince of vampires who travels from his home in Transylvania to Italy to find virgin blood as he will die if he cannot consume it. There he meets Marchese di Fiori (DeSica) an Italian landowner who owns a large estate. DiFiori agrees to marry off one of his daughters to the Count. The situation gets more complicated (and comical) when the Count is introduced to di Fiori’s other daughters. Udo Kier is exceptionally funny in this movie and he really makes it enjoyable. Trivia: He would play another vampire years later in Blade (2000) WATCH A CLIP

Interview with the Vampire

Interview With The Vampire (1994, Dir: Neil Jordan)

In 1791 New Orleans, the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) turns a suicidal widower Louie (Brad Pitt) into one of the blood craving undead. The two become fiendish colleagues and explore the macabre, decadent lifestyle of being vampires together. While Lestat fully enjoys his status and gives his soul over to it, Louie is conflicted and tries to restrain his urges as much as possible. After biting a young girl named Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) Louie and Lestat take her under their vampire wings to teach her how to survive. Soon conflicts arise between the trio with Lestat becoming a deadly enemy to Louie and Claudia, who attempt to kill him and then flee to Europe to escape his wrath. All the actors are in top form here and it’s one of Brad Pitt’s best performances. Co-starring Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas. Based on the best selling novel by Anne Rice. WATCH THE TRAILER

Vampire's Kiss

Vampire’s Kiss (1989, Dir: Robert Bierman)

In this dark comedy, Peter Loew (Nicolas Cage) is a yuppie literary agent whose only happiness in life comes from money and power. One night, Loew meets a girl at a club named Rachel (Jennifer Beals) who seduces him. At his home, it’s revealed she is a vampire and she bites him. After the encounter Loew begins to lose his grasp on reality and believes he is a vampire too…but is it all only in his mind? In one of the film’s most memorable scenes Loew eats a cockroach. Trivia: Nicolas Cage actually ate three of the bugs because he had to do multiple takes. Co-starring Maria Conchita Alonzo. Screenplay by Joseph Minion (After Hours). WATCH THE TRAILER

Salem's Lot

Salems Lot (1979/TV, Dir: Tobe Hooper)

Author Ben Mears (David Soul) has returned to his hometown of Salem’s Lot to do a story on the Marsten House, which is believed to be haunted. He soon learns an antique shop owner Richard Straker (James Mason) has recently bought it. After a large crate is delivered to the eerie house several residents begin dissapearing. Straker and Mears are the intial suspects since they are new in town. It turns out Straker’s partner in the antique business, Mr. Barlow (who has never been seen by anyone) is actually a vampire who is attacking the unsuspecting townspeople. This is one of the best Made for TV movies ever and Tobe Hooper really brought a suspenseful, blood-chilling vision of Stephen King’s book to the small screen. Co-starring Bonnie Bedelia, Lance Kerwin, Geoffrey Lewis and Fred Willard. WATCH THE TRAILER

Brides of Dracula

Brides of Dracula (1960, Dir: Terence Fisher)

A young French school teacher Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) travels to Transylvania to start a new job, but is abandoned in a village by her coach driver. Luckily she is invited to the home of Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) who invites Marianne to spend the night at her castle. Marianne encounters The Baroness’ son (David Peel) who is said to be insane and is kept confined in his room by chains. When Marianne disobeys The Baroness and sets her son free, she soon finds out that he is in fact a vampire. Along with the help of her new friend Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), Marianne must elude Baron Meinster before he turns her into one of the undead. With its cast of sexy seductive actresses, this is certainly one of the most sensual of the classic vampire films. Note: Although the title implies Dracula is a part of the story he does not appear in this film. WATCH THE TRAILER

Blade

Blade (1998, Dir: David S. Goyer)

Based on a 1970s Marvel Comics character, Wesley Snipes is Blade, a half human/half vampire known as a “Daywalker”. While Blade is immune to sunlight and other things that are deadly to vampires, he still craves blood. Along with the help of his friend Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) Blade vows to hunt down and exterminate all blood drinkers. Meanwhile his main foe, the diabolical Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) is intent on turning the world population into bloodsuckers. The vampire thrills combined with hard hitting action make it an interesting/entertaining spin on the horror genre. WATCH THE TRAILER

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, Dir: Francis Ford Coppola)

Out of the many remakes of the Dracula story, this film stands fangs and wings above most mainly because of the fantastic lead performance by Gary Oldman as the embattled, love lorn Count. Coppola used the film as an exercise in high style and made a beautifully macabre work of modern gothic cinema. The film went on to be a box office hit and also earned three Academy Awards. Co-starring Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves and Anthony Hopkins. WATCH A CLIP

Fright Night

Fright Night (1985, Dir: Tom Holland)

A horror film geek named Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a major fan of a TV show called Fright Night hosted by actor Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) who had previously played a vampire killer in the movies. When Charley discovers his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire, he tries to get help from those around him, but is turned away as being an overimaginative teenager. When Jerry realizes Charley has discovered his dark secret, he gives him a chance to ignore what he knows, but Charley refuses. His next step is to contact his idol Peter Vincent, someone he believes will take him seriously only to find out even he thinks he nuts. Charley must do anything he can to make people realize the truth before it’s too late. This film mixed teenage angst, horror, sex and comedy together exceptionally well making it an 80s cult favorite. It was remade in 2011 and starred Colin Farrell. WATCH THE TRAILER

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Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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