Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Top Ten: Alternative Vampire Films

Top Ten: Alternative Vampire Films

So what are alternative vampire films you might ask. Well pull up a coffin and let me explain a few fangs to you. Blood suckers aplenty but nothing mainstream here. Maybe these films might not be everyone's tastes but for open minded horror film lovers into more edgy progressive films should stake these out. Ok enough with the puns... If your tired of the run of the mill check out these 10 films!

10: The Addition: (1995)
Abel Ferrara the mad man/genius behind "Driller Killer" "Kings of New York" and "Ms.45" (among other things) brings us his take on the Vampire lore. Like "The Hunger" "The Addition" uses vampires lusting for blood as a metaphor for addition. Like his other films this is gritty and real and oh so violent.

Its also worth noting that this film turns 20 come Oct 6th.

9  The Hunger (1983)
David Bowie and Susan "Toucha toucha touch me" Sarandon (sorry but she`ll be Janet to me) star in this taunt sexy bloody take on the vampire mythos. Featuring the amazing song by Bauhaus "Bela Lugosi Dead" which sets the tone for the audience. Panned by critics this visually stunning slow paced erotic film has finally received the praise and following it rightly deserves. I think of this as a art film with a decent budget. Its a joy to see master effects genius Dick Smith creating on screen magic with his makeup kit. Bold and visually stunning The Hunger is a must for fans of transgression films. The seduction scene with Susan is vastly erotic and memorable. I can even forgive Tony Scott from "borrowing" a few shots/ideas from "Daughters of Darkness"

Aug 18th a blu of The Hunger comes out from Warner Archives.

8: Near Dark (1987)
The 80s were a time of pop art loud,wild splatter films and like the decade everything was over the top. However Near Dark is quietly understated and has a top notch cast that includes Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton,Jenny Wright etc. Near Dark is beautifully shot and written with equal parts violence and poetry with an interesting mix of vampire lore and western motif that somehow works.
 It also is a glimpse of the talents of Kathryn Bigelow who would go on to win an Oscar for "The Hurt Locker" It also scores big with the infamous bar room scene which is manically over the top and splatter goodness. Its interesting that "The Lost Boys" came out the same year however I always thought of Near Dark as its older more mature brother and an antidote to other films of the decade.

7: Let Me In (2010)
I`m about to say something you don't hear (or read in this case) very often. This remake is much better than its Swedish counterpart "Let the Right One In" 2008  Like "Near Dark" it to has a quiet understated quality yet can be very violent and bloody as well.. But when you get to the heart of the matter its about a well crafted story that is relate able to many viewers myself included. Chloe Grace Moretz really shines as Abby the pint sized vampire. It really show cases her talents and range. I`m not saying don't check out the Swedish film, by all means do however hands down this is far better.

6 Vampires Kiss (1989)
Wanna see a black comedy about Nicolas Cage totally losing his shit and donning plastic fangs? Sure we all do and that is just what we get with 1989's "Vampires Kiss" Over the top madness doesn't even begin to describe whats happening in this cinematic treasure. Its truly a sight to behold. You can also see a little bit of Patrick Bateman and his yuppie NY lifestyle in this film. One wonders if a little inspiration for the ground breaking book 1991's American Psycho wasn't drawn for this film, even if just a tiny bit. Brilliant direction well shot,coupled with lots of sex and totally Cage insanity.If you`ve never seen it, your in for a real treat. Scream Factory released this with "High Spirits" and is worth it for this alone. Look for a cameo from Larry Cohens (cult director; God told me to etc) daughter as a victim.

5:Martin (1977)
After George A.Romeo made his watershed film "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) He made "Martin" a very different vampire film. Romeo takes all the camp out of other blood sucker films of the decade such as  "Blacula" (1972) and gives it a stark and haunting flavor. I have to say as Romeo films this ranks right up there with the likes of "Dawn of the Dead" which he would make a year later. John Amplas (who would later on to star in Day of the Dead) plays the titular character. Amplas does an amazing job in his acting range and is damn creepy. George also uses his in your face camera work (a trademark of his) that really gives this film an extra kick. Like Night of the Living Dead it has an unpolished gritty feel which heightens the audiences uneasy feeling.

Sadly "Martin" will never get the kind of attention that his zombie films do however fans of his have discovered this gem and it holds a growing cult following and rightly so.

4: Blood for Dracula (1974)
Warhol regular Paul Morrissey broke away from the factory and started a very interesting film career. The second in two films shoot back to back (the other being Flesh for Frankenstein) this one stars Udo Kier this time as the titular blood sucker.  The satire is very "biting" and Morrissery plays with many interesting themes.His ironic humor is dry and played for the smart set rather than low brow slap stick. What could have been high camp is played totally straight and it never gets hammy. More so than Flesh for Frankenstein the on location shooting is used to its advantage and is just amazing to look at. Hardcore horror fans will remember Stefania Casini in "Suspria", meeting a grisly death via razor wires. If you seen "Flesh for Frankenstein" you know the kind of madness your in for, if not get ready for off beat characters, sex and wirgin blood i mean virgin blood. Look for a cameo by Oscar winning director Roman Polanski. It goes without saying but I highly recommend Flesh for Frankenstein which obviously is wrong for this list. The pair makes a great double feature.

3: Daughters of Darkness (1971)
I must say i`m obsessed by this film and its cast me firmly in its spell. I had often heard people say certain films have a dream like quality and I never understood that until I saw this. It has enough quirky characters, sex and abit of the red red kroovy to keep even the most jaded fan satisfied. The film also has a timeless feel and even the fashions the young couple wear are very in style. I`d kill for John Karlen's red leather jacket and sun glasses. Speaking of color the characters are always wearing dominantly either white, black,red or black and white, its just one of the many details inserted. The film also makes use of the great shooting locations.  I mentioned above about quirky characters and this one has them in spades. For explain I love the retired detective, he is creepy as hell and has a past with the main character; however wisely we never are filled in. (Yes you actually have to use your imaginations )  An amazing soundtrack fuels the dream like feeling and when the credits roll you`ll wonder if it was all a dream. I could go on and on but you get the point. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Fans of Rob Zombie will no doubt recognize samples he used on his debut solo album "Hillbilly Deluxe"

2: What We Do In the Shadows (2015)
I`m going to go out on a limb here (and rightly so) and say this is THEE best mockumentary since "Best in Show" and even "This is Spinal Tap" Yes its that good. Also this is the only full comedy that made it on the list.From the genius's "Flight of the Condors" brings "What We Do In The Shadows" Various archetypes of vampires are spoofed as well as time honored lore. Besides the vampire we have the other staples such as the poor soul that does the vampire's bidding and of course the vampire hunter. Simply put if you don't laugh at this movie than check your pulse because you might be among the undead. Once you start it will be hard to wipe a goofy grin from your face. You`ll seriously want to be flat mates with these undead.

1: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Out of all the films on this list this one really divides fans. Obviously its very clear which camp I belong to. To say Jim Jarmusch makes offbeat films is a huge understatement so its no surprise that his take on the vampire mythos would be very different. People complained that nothing happens in this movie yet I feel they totally miss the films point. Its more of a mood it creates and even more so than "Daughters of Darkness" has a surreal dream like feel while remaining very much in reality. Other vampire movies on this list may have more sex and blood but none can touch the can of feeling of dream like cool that it oozes. You may not like it but it also may turn out to be your favorite film.

Currently it holds a strong 85% on Rotten Tomatoes

Honorable mentions: As always its hard to pick just ten and here are titles that are every bit worthy of checking out: Cronos, Thirst, Let the Right One In,

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