Writing and Reviews – Denise Pasutti
Kicking off Movie Goodness with one of my favourite genres, Vampire Flicks. I think there has a lack of good vampire movies released in the last 10 years but there have been a few. Here is my list of favourite vamp movies.
Suck (2009): Brilliant movie! I love this one even though there is singing in it. I don’t like musicals, I don’t like TV shows with singing episodes but I love Suck and part of its brilliance is the music. Written, directed and starring Rob Stefaniuk who also co-wrote the music for the band in the movie, The Winners, and he does the lead vocals. The Winners, an indie rock band of little repute, sets out through eastern Canada and into the eastern US on a tour in a last ditch hope of hitting it big. Well, they do after the beautiful bassist, Jennifer (Jessica Pare) is turned into a vampire by Queeny (Dimitri Coats lead singer of Burning Brides). The movie has appearances by Malcolm McDowell, Alice Cooper, Calico Cooper and Iggy Pop as well Moby and Dave Foley. A fun and entertaining vampire flick.
Interview With The Vampire (1994): Based on the bestselling novel and first book in the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, I was skeptical about this when Tom Cruise was cast as the iconic Lestat. I was wrong to be skeptical. Cruise played the part incredibly well and the movie was beautiful and atmospheric like the novel. Joining Cruise in the lush and elegant tale is Brad Pitt as the suicidal Louis who is turned into a morose vampire and Kirsten Dunst as the eternal child vampire Claudia. All wonderful performances to go with and enhance a story that was the first vampire novel I read way back in 1990.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992): I’m not sure how many times Stoker’s tale of the Transylvanian count has been made into a movie (a lot) but this is by far the best. A host great actors, a great love story and vampires set against the gilded background of Victorian London. Gary Oldman was wonderful as Dracula and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Van Helsing was well cast. Some of the performances were weak, Keanu Reeves was meh and Winona Ryder was decent but not my favourite performance.
Near Dark (1987): Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) is hanging out with his buddy in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma when he sees the beautiful Mae (Jenny Wright) and his life changes forever when she bites him. He is plunged into her world and becomes a reluctant and not really wanted member of her family who happen to be rogue vampires. Gritty and base, this is one of the best vampire movies. They don’t live in castles or mansions, don’t wear the finest clothes; they travel by night in beat up RV’s and vehicles and stay in shit hole motels during the day. Caleb finds himself trying to adjust to vampire life but he can’t kill making him a liability to his new family while his old family frantically search for him. The cast includes Lance Henrikson as the patriarch, Jeanette Goldstein as the matriarch, Joshua John Miller as the pre-teen vampire and Bill Paxton as Severen, what I like to think of as the obnoxious Uncle. If you haven’t seen this gem, watch it!
The Lost Boys (1987): This was apparently a good year for vampire movies. The Lost Boys stars Keifer Sutherland as David, the leader of a small group of vampires in Santa Carla California. His wild and reckless vampire ways are interrupted when Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move to the small Californian town and discover that vampires are real. Michael falls for David’s only female vampire Star (Jamie Gertz), and becomes a fledgling vamp but not a full vamp. It is up to Sam and his new friends, the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to kill the head vampire and save Michael from immortality. Great movie but could have been better without the Frog brothers and Haim as mini vampire hunters. That is the one part of the story that I have always found to be the weakest. Still, this is a classic and must see. Note: I have not see the sequels and have no plans to.
Let the Right One In (2008): Based on the novel by Swedish author, John Ajvide Lindqvist. 12-year-old Oskar is just trying to make it through school while being bullied and abused, when he meets his new neighbour, Eli, a young mysterious girl with a secret – she’s a vampire. Oskar connects with the strange girl and the two form a bond of understanding and a mutual need for love and protection. This is a tender love story that is tragic and beautiful. An American version was made in 2010 but was not nearly as good. The performances by the young leads were good but I just didn’t like it. Perhaps if I had seen the American version first I would have. I recommend skipping it though and watching the original Swedish movie.
From Dusk Til Dawn (1996): Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez teamed up for this blood filled tale of two criminals trying to escape the law. George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino star as the Gecko brothers, leaving a trail of blood and death as they head to Mexico and hole up for the night across the border in a bar, the Titty Twister. Forced along with them is former reverend Jacob (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu). This is pure entertainment with gory and great effects by one of the masters, Gregory Nicotero. Love this movie.
Underworld (2003): This is an action pack tale of vampires and werewolves battling one another with guns, leather and the beautiful Kate Beckinsale as the kick ass death dealer, Selene. This movie reminds of the pen and paper role playing game, Vampire The Masquerade. Moody and dark, I really enjoyed the story, acting and production of this flick. Highly entertaining, action filled and a good story to boot.
Shadow of the Vampire (2000): The story behind the making of the 1922 vampire film Nosferatu. Shadow tells the tale of F.W. Murnau’s pursuit to make the first vampire film as authentic as possible and hires an actor who really gets into the role, Max Schreck, or is he really a vampire? Willem Dafoe is stunning and creepy as Schreck and John Malkovich is wonderful in his portrayal of Murnau as the relentless director determined to finish Nosferatu at any cost, even if it means losing a few members of the crew and cast to Shreck’s blood hunger.
Blade II (2002): The day walker, half human and half vampire Blade continues his war against bloodsuckers in the follow-up film to the 1998 action/horror flick Blade. I really enjoyed this because of the mutant vampires that Blade is in pursuit of, the Reapers; insatiable vampires infecting and turning humans and other vampires with their deadly virus. A fast paced action filled flick. This was the best of the Blade trilogy. Note: Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3 was the only redeeming part of that movie.
Subspecies (1991): Three pretty graduate students are staying at an old Romanian fort, studying the culture when they become the objects of desire of the sinister and creepy looking vampire, Radu (Anders Hove). Radu returns to his family’s castle to steal the fabled Blood Stone and kill his father but his younger brother, Stefan, is there to try and retrieve the stone and keep the girls safe from the blood thirsty Radu. There are 4 movies in this series and they are all good and yes, pretty cheesy. Radu is like a more modern version of a Nosferatu vampire, with bloody saliva dripping down his chin and long, claw like fingers. Very cool.
Honorable Mention: Here are a few that were entertaining but not great. Fright Night (1985 & 2011); The Forsaken (2001); Dracula 2000 (2000); Dracula II: Ascension (2003); Underworld Evolution (2006).