Last time I covered zombie movies, and today I’m diving into vampire films. The ones I’ve chosen to focus on aren’t your typical bloodsucker movies, and some might be brand new to you. There were a couple that I watched for the very first time. I’m going to say this up front: the ones on this list aren’t necessarily the greatest vampire stories of all time. Some are excellent.
I wanted to bring attention to them now. You may have seen all of them or none of them, but I’d love to know some obscure vampire films that you enjoy and ones that I should check out, so let me know about those in the comments below. I’ve put chapter markers in the description so you can jump around if you want, and I’m also going to let you know where I watched them. Just about each of these is available in the US on some sort of streaming platform now before I get to the list.
I want to give you two that should be on here. I didn’t get an opportunity to revisit them, so I just didn’t feel comfortable talking about them while they’re fresh in my mind but if you have never seen the Russian films Night Watch and Day Watch by director Timmer Beckham (that’s a tough one) and Timmer Beck Mamatov, you really do need to watch them. I mean, Night Watch is from 2004 and Day Watch is from 2006, and right now, Night Watch is only available on demand and Day Watch can be seen on stars now. I own both of them, and you might want to get those all right. So let’s get into the list.
1. Vampyr (HBO Max)
This is a Criterion release, and it is only on the list because it is extremely old and should be experienced in the same way that Wassing Nosferatu was. Vampir was made in German, French, and English in 1932, but some of it was lost or damaged, including the audio and music. These have now been fixed so that we can enjoy this look back at some of the early days of filmmaking.
I love the use of shadows that showcase action on our walls, so we’ll see actions playing out solely with the shadows, helping to create movement as well as progress our story, and there are also times when the camera does a great job of panning on something to draw our attention to just a creepy element in a location, but then it turns back to watch Alan Gray walking away in the other direction, and I mean it’s almost surprising that the character wasn’t examining the things that we were being shown. At points, it makes the camera almost a living character within the film or it puts us in the story through these camera movements.
This is a slower and quieter presentation, with minimal dialogue in the first half. Now it’s relying on the music to inform a lot of the atmosphere when it’s combined with the actors’ movements and their expressions, and the scenes are drawn out at times. I mean, sometimes creating an unsettling effect and other times just making the actions drag.
I was enjoying the isolated setting; it created loneliness and sadness; and plus, there’s this very creepy old doctor who comes into the story; he’s very crotchety and mysterious; and he just adds to the loneliness. Now, the story focuses more on the religious or spiritual side of being a vampire and what it means to really give yourself to the devil than on the sexual side.
That’s not impressive for 1932, but it’s kind of cool. There’s also a great scene near the end of the movie that features the camera looking up through a window in a coffin, which provides a very unique and haunting perspective. And as the coffin is then transported, we get to see from the body’s point of view. I mean, we see trees moving overhead, and it’s just a really eerie way to experience this part of the story.
This is a different look at vampirism. Now the premise is that there is this device called the Kronos device that was designed by an alchemist hundreds of years ago and it prolonged the guy’s life who wanted it created and it was hidden, and now in the story we meet another older guy named Jesus and he owns an antique shop. He discovers the device in a statue and he accidentally activates it, and then later he activates it again on purpose and it begins to have a healing effect on his body. I mean, wounds heal quickly and it begins to feel like I am younger. Now I love the idea of the lore within this, where a device can affect a person and cause them to live much longer than is natural. Now I also love the side effects of using the device. I mean, it was filled with so many cautionary tales.
The thing that looks like a dream come true typically has a high price attached to it, and in this case, the user of the device has to consume blood in order to maintain the effects. Ron Perlman stars in this as a henchman for the wealthy old guy who’s looking for that device. Now, Perlman is very quirky, and he rides that edge between serious and silly with his character. There are times when he’s menacing, but at the same time, I almost had a hard time taking him seriously because of some of his goofy mannerisms. He does become scary at one point, but most of the time I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or wince.
What also helps to set this apart from other vampire-ish movies is that Jesus doesn’t fall into that self-centered mindset that is typically associated with immortality. There’s this cockiness that usually comes with being impervious to death, but Jesus doesn’t approach it this way. I mean, he enjoys the effects of feeling younger, but he doesn’t like the cost, and he’s not sure if it’s worth the price. Now there are some practical effects that are used in this and they’re very impressive and then disgusting. I mean they have to reinforce the cost of using this Kronos device, showing us how it may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Something that I appreciated is that this is meant to knock our senses off kilter. Now we see her innocence and how Jesus works to protect her.
But there’s a moment that is made to be shocking by using that innocence in an extreme situation. Now the ACT isn’t lingering on and, okay, nothing happens to the kid. I mean, I don’t want your mind to just go off and wander there, but the whole scene really helps to solidify Jesus in his trajectory. This is one that’s good for a one-time watch.
I don’t think I’m going to revisit it though. It’s quieter in its presentation and while it feels a little slower than 93 minutes, it does move efficiently I think some of that slow feel just comes from extended portions without dialogue,which isn’t a bad thing.
2. Only Lovers Left Alive (HBO)
axe and it stars Tilda Swinton as Adam Ry, a musician who’s in an epressive state of mind and he’s clusive. He barely ever leaves the house, and he absolutely loves his anonymity. Eve is in Tangier, and she seems to be less depressed but still lonely, and they’re both cryptic in their interactions.
We learn very quickly that they require blood to be sustained. There’s a lot of self-indulgence in the filmmaking here. There are so many long and drawn-out sequences that are allowed to play out so that a song or maybe the musical score can fill the air. I mean, it’s not all necessary, but this does create a mood for the presentation too. I mean, the movie’s just over two hours and I felt the time a ton. I mean, I still liked the movie overall, especially with the quiet sadness that permeates the story. We’re just really watching these people who have lived on Earth together for a really long time, and they’re somewhat bored or maybe even ambivalent about humanity. I mean, Adam refers to humans as zombies. I mean, he still interacts with a select few, he has dealings with Anton Yelchin, and it’s so great to see him on screen again.
And then there’s Jeffrey Wright. He’s a doctor that Adam sees to get blood. Their interactions are strained and then very funny, but then in this super subtle way that only Wright can deliver. For me, the dynamic between Adam and Eve is what makes this worth watching. They have such a long shared history together that the relationship arc is filled with knowledge and understanding but also no nonsense. I mean, that allows them to function together flawlessly, and there’s a certain Romanticism to their shared arc, which leans heavily into the idealistic portion of immortality. There’s not a tonne of gore or even violence in this one, but we do witness a lot of blood drinking and it’s typically a glass so if you’re looking for fangs you are going to have to be very patient for that payoff
The performances are great, they’re paid, and that drew me in and kept me engaged, but the sloshiness of the execution and then just the lingering of the scenes don’t make me want to re-watch it.
3. Thirst (2009)
which I saw on Peacock, and it’s a South Korean take on vampires, but, like some of the others on this list, it’s not a traditional approach. So a priest takes part in a medical experiment. The performances are great, they’re paid, and that drew me in and kept me engaged, but the sloshiness of the execution and then just the lingering of the scenes don’t make me want to re-watch it. Number two is “Thirst” from 2009, which I saw on Peacock, and it’s a South Korean take on vampires, but, like some of the others on this list, it’s not a traditional approach. So a priest takes part in a medical experiment.
I like how this conveys desire.The priest just wants to help and serve others, and he frequently visits a family he’s close to, and he has to try and balance the divide between excessing blood for survival and not harming others, but the changes in him aren’t just with his appetite, and that’s what causes him such a massive internal struggle.I love how this shows desire. The priest just wants to help others and serve them, and he frequently visits a family that he’s close to, and he has to try and balance the divide between excessing blood for survival and not harming others, but the changes in him aren’t just with his appetite, and that’s what creates this massive internal struggle for him.
This is dealing with desires, and we have at least one character that’s losing all inhibitions. There. There are some sex scenes in this that you probably wouldn’t want to watch with your parents or kids because they could be a bit uncomfortable. Sprinkled throughout is a bit of subtle comedy also. When: We reach the finale, it feels earned, and it’s very fitting for the character journey that we’ve been witnessing. There. There’s not a lot of happiness to be found here, but it is a good conclusion. Okay, so Okay, I want to hit up an honourable mention, and that is
4. The Hunger
The Hunger from 1983. It can be found on HBO Max.This. This is a very 80s movie in its look, feel, and execution. staring. It’s directed by Tony Scott and stars Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon.
The music is loud and jarring, and the entire production has a cold tone to it with lots of blues and greys that just filter the light in about every way. We also have characters who wear sunglasses in the dark, and almost everyone has their hair slicked back and up so that they look like they would fit in with the greasers and The Outsiders. The music is loud and jarring, and the entire production has a cold tone to it with lots of blues and greys that just filter the light in about every way. We also have characters who wear sunglasses in the dark, and almost everyone has their hair slicked back and up so that they look like they would fit in with the greasers and The Outsiders.
But but there are ways that this could have been so much more effectively written to make a story that had more melodrama to it. Susan Sarandon’s a doctor performing research on ageing and it’s intriguing, intriguing, I mean,mean, and even some of the imagery that we see is visceral and it’s kind of creative,creative, but it feels like a half thought within her story. I mean, her research is what drives her curiosity which then leads her to encounter Catherine Deneuve, but Sarandon’s whole storyline leading up to that point then gets forgotten. I mean, it’s making those sequences pretty inconsequential, and the film’s only 96 minutes, so it really could have used another 20-ish to round out the film, but even with that shortcoming,
I mean, this is quintessential 80s glam. There. There is a haunting element to the loud music, the sparse marble interiors, the interiors, and even the Dark Shadows. and. And even though David Bowie is billed as one of the top three, I mean, he has a relatively small part in the story. I mean,. I mean, I like him in that part but it just doesn’t call for a large amount of screen time for him. This. This is definitely another example of a different vampire film, which is, of course, why it made the list. There’s one. There’s not much that’s creepy in it. Instead, instead, the movie goes for the sultry. sultry.
At first it’s the sensual vibe, romanticisingromanticising his journal life and then glamorisingglamorising the carefree lifestyle, at least for a little bit. Then, The ending is strange, but I think it is also somewhat fitting. It retains some of the optimism for success and longevity that was prevalent in the 1980s. all for longevity. All right,right, so number one,
5. Let the right one in (1983)
It’s available on Amazon now. This is one of my personal favourites from the list. It’s from 2008 and 2008 and now there is an English language remake and I didn’t like it nearly as much as this one. and. And then Showtime is releasing a series about this film with exactly the same title. I don’t really understand the need for a series but I’m also not here to talk about it.
I just want to focus on the Swedish movie, which is the original and best. Then, the story follows a boy and a girl, Oscar and Ellie. Now, now Oscar’s a loner. He’s getting bullied at school. He spends most of his time alone while his mom works to support them. Ellie is new to the apartment where Oscar lives. She appears to be about the same age as Oscar, but she’s certainly different. Despite this, the weather being winter and snowy, Ellie will walk around outside without a jacket and sometimes even in bare feet. We learn. We learn very early on that the adult man living with Ellie is collecting blood for her to drink. So. So now we’ve got a young looking vampire.
What makes this special is the quiet storytelling that works to build a friendship and then love between Oscar and Ellie. I mean, the friendship is awkward, just like one between a boy and a girl. They’re matter-of-fact but also shy and shy, but I love,love, really love the openness that Oscar has. It convincingly showcases how alone he is but also how earnest and kind of a friend he can be. He’s got a great heart and we see that through small actions like when he lends Ellie his Rubik’s cube because she’s never even seen one before. before
But, as sweet as much of this is, the story has a wickedly violent arc to it, from LED’s Father Figure trying to gather blood for her to the way we see Ellie just go ham on people when she’s hungry, and while not all of the violence is shown in close detail, it’s there.
I don’t think this is ever really creepy or even scary. It’s a relationship story at its heart, just one that happens to feature a kid who feeds on people. One. One of the greatest scenes of violence comes at the end of the movie, and despite us not being shown much of the action, we see the ramifications. They’re visceral, and then they’re also slightly funny. I mean, the outcome is very fitting and a resolution I think most are going to root for, even though it’s a very disturbing premise.
I mean, the time passes quickly, the story is engrossing, and it’s very touching when viewed through the lens of friendship and love. If you’ve never seen it, or if you’ve only seen the American remake called “Let Me In,” or if it’s just been a while, give it a shot. I mean, it’s well worth the time, and the story still holds up, making for a touchingly violent story. I mean, the time passes quickly, the story is engrossing, and it’s very touching when viewed through the lens of friendship and love. If you’ve never seen this, or maybe you’ve only seen the American remake called Let Me In, or maybe it’s just been a while since you’ve seen this, give it a try. I mean, it’s well worth the time, and the story still holds up, making for a touchingly violent story.