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Grushenka’s 5 Essential Vampire Films

by on 2011/01/31

It is hard to pick just five. But for now, these are my favourite films about the “pointy, bitey ones” reviewed on this site.

The Horror of Dracula (1958)

There’s a pair of enlarged incisors behind that stiff upper lip. This Hammer Horror classic was the first time movie great Christopher Lee played Dracula. Lee’s portrayl was unique – British all the way through to his black, unbeating heart. This is a damned entertaining film. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are great, both looking every inch their respective parts. Christopher Lee was born to play a flashing-eyed villain and Cushing has the face of a driven, possessed crusader. Beautiful gothic settings, lovely women, bursts of action. Directed by Terence Fisher, Horror of Dracula is a movie that deserves our love just for the title credits’ font alone.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)

Take Jesus, add a Mexican wrestler named Santos (Jeff Moffet) a jumpsuit-wearing femme fatale Mary Magnum (Mary Moulton), and a whole whack of lesbian vampires — and you’ve got the recipe for some sacrilegious hilarity. Directed by Lee Demarbre and written by Ian Driscoll, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter was made for only $100,000. The infectious, almost giddy enthusiasm of this crazy-bad movie makes it an absolute delight. I will say that there’s really nothing more joyful and hilarious than watching Phil Caracas’s Jesus clothesline a couple of surly atheists in a sunny city park.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

From Dusk Till Dawn is two movies in one – stitched together with tar-black thread to make a wonderful monster of a film. Sort of like when Bart Simpson’s evil, formerly conjoined twin makes a pigeon-rat in the Treehouse of Horror VII. But this pigeon-rat can sing, dance and blow things up. Starring George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayek and Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn is the gore-spattered love child of Robert Rodriguez’ direction and Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay.

John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998)

A Western vampire film – two great tastes that taste great together. That’s what John Carpenter’s Vampires is, a Western shootout with vampires. When I first saw this movie, it was a bit of a revelation. It certainly wasn’t like any vampire movie I’d seen before. First, there was the setting: dusty, sun-scorched desert country. Then there was our hero: Jack Crow (James Woods), a hard-bitten, tightly-wound vampire slayer in skin-tight jeans.

Underworld (2003)

This blue-black beauty of a film features one of my favourite opening sequences ever. Selene tells us her story atop a rain-slicked gothic cathedral in a long, black trench coat. Like a shimmering, gorgeous gargoyle, she looks down on a dismal Hungarian street. Pure magic. It is damned hard to be rational about this movie that I so love so I won’t try. Underworld and its sequels Evolution and Rise of the Lycans are similarly films I would wedge into my duffle bag for that desert island banishment or in preparation for the end of the world. I can hardly wait for more.

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