Magnolia Pictures via Everett Collection
The Twilight Saga is one of the most financially successful film franchises in history... which is perplexing, considering that the movies aren’t any good. For better or worse, the series has renewed audience interest in vampiric mythology, as exemplified by the success of The Vampire Diaries and the proliferation of more vampire films and television shows each year. This is fine, but those who believe that Twilight represents the best of vampire movies clearly haven’t seen much else. In order to correct this, below are 10 vampire movies that are better than Twilight.
Nosferatu is widely regarded as one of the most influential horror movies ever made. See it for the haunting visuals that represent the best of German Expressionism, and the terrifying depiction of evil on the actors’ faces. Unlike other silent films, Nosferatu isn’t dated, and still holds up to many horror films released today.
Let the Right One In
The American remake with Chloe Moretz doesn’t match the brilliance of this Swedish masterpiece by Tomas Alfredson. Essentially, Let the Right One In is Twilight for grown-ups, and it’s a reminder that vampire movies can be smart and sophisticated. The final climactic scene in the pool, in particular, is a work of art.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark isn’t as well-known as her Oscar-winning war flick The Hurt Locker, but it’s one of the best movies she’s ever made, and one of the coolest vampire films you’ll see. Even if you don’t care about Bigelow’s sly commentary on ennui and despair in Middle America, you’ll get a kick out of the lunatic vampires on display.
Even if you don’t like subtitles, it’s impossible to resist Chan-wook Park’s Thirst. Not quite an art-house experiment, not quite a horror film, Thirst is best understood as a melancholy love story. Be forewarned: it’s violent, sexual, and a little disturbing.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Everyone has their favorite version of this story, but mine is Francis Ford Coppola’s widely misunderstood rendition with Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins. Perhaps Coppola was never able to escape the high expectations he set for himself with The Godfather films and Apocalypse Now, but his version of Dracula remains the most moving vampire film ever made.
The Fearless Vampire Killers
Before Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown made him a star, Roman Polanski directed The Fearless Vampire Killers, an incredibly funny take on the vampire mythology. The film is worth seeing for its successful slapstick humor and satirical point of view.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Quentin Tarantino. Robert Rodriguez. Harvey Keitel. George Clooney. Juliette Lewis. Salma Hayek. Cheech Martin. Danny Trejo. Enough said.
Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon star in The Hunger, a movie so bonkers it isn’t worth explaining. All you need to know is that it’s director Tony Scott’s first movie, and that Deneuve plays a vampire.
Horror master George A. Romero shows everyone how it’s done with Martin, a story about a teenage boy who may or may not be a vampire. Romero is known for his zombie films, but Martin proves that he’s a master in more than one horror sub-genre.
Interview with the Vampire
In order to truly appreciate Interview with the Vampire, you need to understand that director Neil Jordan turned a hopelessly sappy novel into a surprisingly mature motion picture. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise play everyone’s favorite vampires (before Robert Pattinson stole their thunder), and Kirsten Dunst gives a star-making performance.
Magnolia Pictures via Everett Collection
It's Friday evening, that surreal few hours in which your work self evolves (or devolves) into your weekend self. You're feeling that bizarre mix of tired and excited. You're hungry for something fun, something relaxing, something... weird. And a good old-fashioned piece of oddball cinema — be it a mind-bending mystery, a psychological thriller, or just your standard trippy horror film — is the way to go. For this week's Freaky Friday, Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommends Let the Right One In.
If you've seen one vampire love story, you've seen them all, right? Not quite. Let the Right One In takes all of the conventions you're familiar with and flips them on their heads. The Swedish film follows Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a 12 year-old boy who spends his free time coming up with elaborate revenge plans for the kids at school who bully him mercilessly. One night, he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), a pale, quiet girl who has moved in next door, and the two develop a close friendship, bonding over their knowledge of morse code and enjoyment of Rubik's Cubes. However, Eli soon reveals that she isn't a normal teenager; she's a vampire, and she's killing people in their town in order to feed off of their blood. Despite his inital shock, Oskar soon learns that he and Eli might be able to see eye to eye on this development.
Dark and strange, yet still moving and beautiful, Let the Right One In is less a story about vampires and revenge than it is a tale about two lonely people coming together to find someone who understands and accepts them completely. Hedebrant and Leandersson, whose dialogue was actually dubbed in order to better fit an important secret about Eli, give performances that are nuanced and at times frightening. Despite their young age, they aren't afraid of exploring the darker, hidden elements of their characters, which allows Let the Right One In to keep its twisted edge, even as Eli and Oskar's affection for each other grows. At once a disturbing horror movie, which slowly builds up suspense and terror, and a moving art house picture, Let the Right One In is unlike any vampire movie you've seen before, and one that you're not likely to forget any time soon.
Let the Right One In is available to stream instantly on Netflix. Check back tomorrow for our pick for the perfect Saturday Night Fever flick.
If you need to get the bad taste of Twilight out of your mouth, go and rent Let The Right One In. It’s a smart, atmospheric, and genuinely disturbing vampire film, and one of the best films of the decade. But if you think subtitles are hard and really love that girl from Kick-Ass, you could do worse than going see the American remake Let Me In instead.
Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, of The Road, and Chloe Moretz, of Kick-Ass, Let Me In tells the story of Owen (Smit-McPhee), an alienated young boy who develops a close friendship with his mysterious new neighbor Abby (Moretz). The remake seems to be staying close to the original, at least visually. Judging by the trailer, it flat-out recreates several moments from Let The Right One In, though hopefully the cat-attack scene with horrible CGI will not be among them. While I appreciate that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I don’t see the point of remaking a film if it’s going to be exactly the same, but in New Mexico. Hopefully director Matt Reeves will be able to bring something new and unique to the material .
Let Me In is due out on October 1, 2010.