Leo Craven On… Vampires

Vampires

Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.

When someone mentions the word ‘vampire’ today, too often a person’s mind can flood with images of sparkly-skinned teenagers, nauseating love triangles and eternally conflicted losers who got bitten and blah, blah, blah…this saddens me.  Not in an “I’m going to reflect on my feelings and become moody and depressed like a Twi-Hard” sad; more like a sympathetic kind of sad for the person who’s had their mind corrupted by the likes of Stephanie Meyer, Anne Rice and L.J. Smith (“Vampire Diaries”).

Vampires aren’t supposed to be melodramatic; they’re supposed to be ‘bat sh*t crazy’ (pun intended)!  Their ancestry includes Lilith, a Babylonian demon who devoured young babies and is often referred to as the ‘original vampire’; the lamiae, monsters who seduced the young men of ancient Greece and fed on their blood; and Vlad the Impaler, a 15th Century Romanian prince who had a reputation for torturing, impaling and devouring his victims.

I’ve already mentioned the guilty parties who have played their part in ruining the vampire image; let’s now reflect on the movies that got it ‘right’ when it comes to the blood-sucking kind…

Dracula

DRACULA

While there have been many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s masterpiece, this iconic image of Christopher Lee portraying the most famous of all vampires is my personal favorite.  I couldn’t tell you exactly which version(s) of Dracula I watched as a kid growing up (they all blend together), but I’m old enough to remember that no one used to dress up as a ‘vampire’ for Halloween; they dressed up like friggin’ Dracula!  And speaking of my youth, how about…

Lost Boys

LOST BOYS

If you’re going to feature teenagers in a vampire movie, Lost Boys is a perfect example of how you’re supposed to do it. Kiefer Sutherland always portrays an *sshole to perfection, and this role was one of his best as the psychotic vampire, ‘David’ .  Throw in the Corey’s (Haim and Feldman that is) and a vampire-slaying grandpa and you have one of the best movies to come out of the 80’s.  If you want to go scarier then I recommend…

30 Days of Night

30 DAYS OF NIGHT

Based on the comic book miniseries of the same name, 30 Days of Night features an Alaskan town that becomes infested with a group of terrifying vampires during its 30-day long polar night.  I imagine the vampire ancestors I mentioned previously would enjoy this tale.  There’s a ton of carnage and very little hope to be had for the townsfolk, who run around like mice trying to escape from a cat that hasn’t eaten in a month.  Be warned – there’s no ‘happily ever after’ to be had in this one.  Looking for something with a happier ending…

I Am Legend

I AM LEGEND

Just kidding; you won’t find it in this movie either.  Another literary adaptation (this time from a 1954 novel of the same name), I Am Legend boasts Will Smith as a US Army virologist trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic New York City.  The ‘Darkseekers’ that Smith’s character spends the movie trying to allude are basically vampires that were turned sadistic by a virus originally created to cure cancer.   What would have happened, you ask, if the Darkseekers had been able to turn Smith into one of their own kind?  Then you’d get something more like…

Blade

BLADE

What do you do when you’ve been turned into a vampire without your consent?  You don’t brood and moan about it through the whole damn movie (ahem, Brad Pitt); you get angry and take revenge on all of the blood-sucking bastards!  Blade is one of my favorite vampire movies, starring Wesley Snipes at the peak of his career, as it incorporates loads of violence and gore and also paved the way for one of my other favorite vampire movies…

Underworld

UNDERWORLD

Underworld picks up where Blade left off, adding some terrific, bad*ss werewolves to the mix along with Selene, a ‘Death Dealer’ vampire portrayed by the hypnotic Kate Beckinsale.  This vampire movie brings the ‘sexy back’ while still keeping the violence and scary at full-speed; it’s like Halloween (the holiday) jumped right into your big screen!  However, if you want a vampire movie that takes violence and sex to an even further extreme, then there’s always…

From Dusk Till Dawn

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN

This is how you combine ‘Scary, Sexy and Sadistic’!  From Dusk Till Dawn is a completely over-the-top vampire movie that makes an almost 2-hour film feel like 15 minutes of pure adrenaline rush.  Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez (always an explosive combination), this movie features vampire strippers (Salma Hayek), a bank-robber-turned-hero (George Clooney) and a ton of bloody fun!

If you haven’t seen any of these movies in a while, watch them again to remind yourself what vampires are really supposed to be: Scary, Sexy and Sadisitic… and, occasionally, they can be Heroes as long as they’re killing a lot of bad guys in the process!

2 Replies to “Leo Craven On… Vampires”

  1. Thank you Marie; I always relish the opportunity to talk about my favorite vampire movies!

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