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The ten-second vampire movie

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Mark Kermode | 11:33 UK time, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

So it's true: the undead really are. Since Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee first donned Dracula's wardrobe, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise have chugged romantic gore in Ann Rice's Interview with a Vampire and even Eddie Murphy blooded himself as a Vampire in Brooklyn. But this year has seen a rhesus positive infestation with Stephen Moyer in True Blood and Robert Pattinson in Twilight representing only the fang tips of a blood sucking army that includes representatives from as far away as Korea and Denmark. So why can't we resist vampires? And more to the point, how do you get to be one? Now Halloween is here, allow me to explain...

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  • Comment number 1.

    This analysis is very accurate I reckon.

  • Comment number 2.

    Dr K.

    I think that vampires will always continue to fascinate us no matter what period of time we live in. There will always be an excuse.

    And I don't necessarily think that it has everything to do with sex per se. While true that a lot of vampire stories are to do with sex, a deeper reading could be that what we find so fascinating about vampires particularly in today's society is to do with this idea of immortality and being forever young. Maybe that's what fascinates us. Vampires tap into our fear of getting old and the prices we have to pay for that eternal youth and that sense of immortality.

    I would say that one of my other favorite vampire films as well as Let the Right One In (Best film of 2009) would be Kathryn Bigalow's Near Dark. A truly fantastic vampire movie, which shows vampirism not as something glamourous or sexy but something dirty, feral and full of pain and hate and anger. One of the best vampire films ever in my opinion. Brilliant.

  • Comment number 3.

    'Let the right one in' is really a love story (a love that both releases and dooms the young 'hero'), great film. Twilight is Romeo and Juliet with vampires and werewolves.

    One of my favourite vampire movies is The Lost Boys; great soundtrack. Near Dark was good too. The first Chris Lee/Peter Cushing Dracula was excellent. I guess my favourite zombie movies are Night of the Living Dead & Evil Dead 2.

    But yes, we do seem to be awash with vampires (+werewolves) and zombies. What annoys me is that virtually no film maker does anything interesting with the premise.

    Zombie movies could be seen to be tapping into fears of societal breakdown and feral gangs, but vampire and zombie movies could be about other things; drug addiction, disease, the spread of hate politics, mob rule, hatred of the 'other' etc. An ideal background for cannibalism is a famine. Do the undead have to be cannibals? What would it be like to simply walk around decaying? Can zombies struggle to keep murderous instincts under control? When they turn why can't they retain aspects of their previous character?and so on.

    I might see Zombieland simply because it seems to be a comedy, otherwise it takes a lot to get me interested in seeing a zombie movie now, its all so predicable.

    Horror stories desperately need reinventing. New blood please.

  • Comment number 4.

    George A. Romero's "Martin" is definitely one of my favourite. Obviously about sex, not so obviously about vampires.

  • Comment number 5.

    'Near Dark'

    My favourite Vampire movie, it's a grubby grungey film that shows vampires relegated to hotwiring beat up old vans, and travelling across the American wilderness to feed off of hicks in seedy bars.

    It's not a film about the sexiness, it's a film about the sad life of a bunch of parasites looking for their next fix. It's a film about squalid addiction. A Must See!

  • Comment number 6.

    It's difficult to beat Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter as a so-bad-it's-good vampire movie (also a contender for most controversial Jesus movie alongside the Passion and the Last Temptation).

    I'm very excited that the Good Doctor seems to be wearing a sweater I've had for a long time...

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm not sure there's been much need for a new vampire flick since Dreyer's Vampyr. Along with Nosferatu it owns all the best vampire images (that disembodied shadow thing still creeps me out!). I think the popularity of the vampire genre is largely down to the fact that it's hard to make a vamp flick without at least one cool still image (and as Mark pointed out it's cheap to do!). Of course special mention must go to Romero's Martin (although technically a film about mental illness and obsession with the vampire image). I'm waiting for the inevitable remake with Shia LaBeouf and Jennifer Anniston...

  • Comment number 8.

    Great vampire, I'm surprised they never did that on Blue Peter

  • Comment number 9.

    Pale skin, dark clothes, sensitive souls, "brooding intensity"...i'd say it very likely has to do with the Emo craze unfortunately. In particular, Twilight seems to have been embraced by that particular trend-craze as no doubt Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant will. Much like in the 80's where the greasy leather-wearing "vampires" of Near Dark and The Lost Boys appealed to rock loving teens of that era, now is the time for rock music's latest trend to find something alluring in today's vampire films.

    As for my own candidates for the best vampire films...

    Near Dark
    The Lost Boys (uh oh, i'm starting to see myself in guyliner!)
    Dracula (1931 Bela Lugosi version)
    Salem's Lot (1979 version)

    The less said about Abel Ferrara's The Addiction the better!

  • Comment number 10.

    I am in partial agreement with Franju, that the 1920's silent classics of Vampyr and Nosferatu are near enough perfect films, not just vampire films, but films all together. That said though, I am a sucker (pun intended) for silent horror films!

    As for 'Let the Right One In', I am not sure it is a film without references to sexuality. Eli's relationship with the old guy is of a fairly tenuous nature, which is supposed to be a lot more explicit in the novel, which I heard from a friend who read the book, I have not read so I cannot comment exactly. In addition, there is a very important scene where Eli's sex is questioned.

    LTROI is a truly wonderful film, and even if it is not entirely about sex, it's still a very important issue in it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Not a film and briefly mentioned but Del Toro's novel 'The Strain' I found quite refreshing. I believe he said to you in an interview, Dr. K, that his vampires are not sexy, he's much more interested in the simple supernatural horror rather than analogies and metaphors of lust.

  • Comment number 12.

    I mentioned I was in partial agreement with Franju, as I forgot to mention I still greatly enjoy films like Lost Boys, Rabid and the Peter Cushing Dracula.

    My nomination for a modern/recent vampiric delight is the television programme 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Which I believed is akin to Twilight in some ways, where it concerned a doomed relationship between a girl and a vampire, but without the navel gazing aspects of Twilight and with a sense of humour, again something which Twilight failed to provide.

    I highly recommend an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called 'Hush', which is a homage to silent cinema in some ways. The episode is set up with the power of speech being stolen by none other than the mighty Doug Jones (Del Toro's favourite son) and the episode plays out in silence.

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree with savvifilm above about Near Dark, which manages to avoid cliche by blending it with the western genre and then bringing both to the modern day, allowing the director to pick and choose whichever bits of both mythologies appealed to her.

    As far as desexualising vampires goes, I think the excellent Ultraviolet is a pretty good example. (The 90s Channel 4 TV drama, not the more recent Milla Jovovich kick-ass-athon.) You could almost lift the vampire element out completely and still leave an intact cop thriller.

  • Comment number 14.

    On 'Let The Right One In': gotta agree with jayfurneaux above. For me the film was much more about consuming, parasitic love (dependence, betrayal...) than it was about teenage aggression. I read sexual awakening as an integral part of the film.

    On vampires in general: I think it's difficult to escape the sex => death formula. Biting the neck is both a sensual and a violent image. So wherever there is any neck-biting, sex and death are immediately invoked. Sex used to be very dangerous, so all this made perfect sense. What I found confusing about the 'Twilight' phenomenon is that sex doesn't have to be dangerous any more, so the whole abstinence theme should have struck everyone as horribly outdated.

    I spoke to a (female) friend of mine yesterday, who told me what Dr. K told me about 'Twilight'. Abstinence isn't its USP. Rather, it taps into entrenched teenage girl fantasies about wanting to feel safe and protected, and yet at the same time be rebellious / flirt with danger. So 'Twilight' succeeds despite its conservative sexual politics. It uses vampires in a novel way.

    So I guess Dr. K is right. The only way for vampires to remain relevant is to disassociate them from the sex => death formula. I've yet to watch 'Cronos', but it's definitely on my to buy list...

  • Comment number 15.

    I went with my Dad to see Let the Right One in after hearing your recommendation on the podcast.
    We concluded that the vampirism in this represents loss of innocence and also exploitation.
    At the end of the movie, when Eli and Oskar leave together on a train, it is plausible that Oskar will end up as infatuated and exploited as the man posing as her father at the beginning. Since she lives forever Oskar will end up looking far older than her and may find himself, out of love, being exploited in the same way as she did with her first companion.
    In vampire movies humans are referred to as "food", "cattle" etc. Exploitation is a recurring theme, but Let the right one in explores this theme in a beautiful way. (compared to "Blade" for example)

  • Comment number 16.


    'Buffy' is my fave vampire product. About a bazillion times better than 'Twilight', and probably the greatest fantasy / horror show ever made. On which note, everyone needs to check this out:

  • Comment number 17.

    Dear Dr. K,

    Firstly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the single greatest television series of all time. That is not a joke. If you are, at this moment, laughing into your laptop and shaking your head in a "the poor misguided fool" kind of way. I offer this in my defence: you think The Exorcist is the greatest film ever made, we all have our cross to bear.

    Seriously. Check it out, and persevere until at least the end of series 2. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. (Angel, it's spin-off is also brilliant).

    Secondly, Let the Right One in is about, among other things, homosexuality...or asexuality or any kind of 'deviant' sexuality depending on your interpretation. Hence the Morrisey reference in the title, the complex relationship between the castrated Eli and Oscar, the perverse relationship between Eli and her adult guardian and the (frankly disturbing) vibe that Oskar's dad's friend gives off when Oskar visit's his shack. The list goes on and on.

    It is very much about childhood adversity, friendship, rage etc like you stated, but sexuality is a HUGE part of the subtext.

    Also...where's NEAR DARK on your list.

    Tut tut.

  • Comment number 18.

    Also, Twilight was the worst film of last year. It ranks in the top ten of the worst films I've ever seen, just beneath Elizabethtown and Batman & Robin. Shame on you for not slating it.

  • Comment number 19.

    Near Dark has been high on my list of great vampire films for a while theres a lot to like about it, it was originally meant to be a western but Kathryn Bigelow could generate interest as the genre was considered a money maker.
    Still keeping with the western genre she blended the western with the vampire biker genres to create a classic film. In response to doctors theories about the sudden interest in vampires would have to do with Twilight, if ever a film comes along that makes a large amount money studios will look at that movie and desect which part drew the audience in twilights case vampires and forbiden love.
    Twilight as it turned out is a charming little film and as I later found out a blessing in degise as Platinum dunes production company were planning a remake of Near Dark but because of the release of twilight it has been put on hold.

  • Comment number 20.

    Near Dark is mine and after recently watching it, it doesn't feel as aged as I thought it would. Katheryn Bigelow's best film I would say even than the over rated Hurt Locker which is still good.

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree that Near Dark is one of the best, for it's original take on the Vampire format, it was a refreshingly different way to look at it compared to the overblown bloated Interview With The Vampire. I am also particularly fond of Shadow of the Vampire, the movie influenced by the filming of Nosferatu. And I know some people that think The Hunger, with David Bowie and Susan Sarandon is a fine example of the genre, though I admit to not having seen it all the way through.

  • Comment number 22.

    Werner Hezogs' remake of Nosferatu has a special place in my heart...much better than the original. Klaus Kinski is perfect in the leading role....but yes, it's about sex.

  • Comment number 23.

    "Near Dark" is brilliant, how can not like a film noir western vampire flick?
    Bigalow's best film is "Strange Days", very underrated cyberpunk flick.

    My favourite vampire film is probably "From Dusk Till Dawn" but Rodriguez often called it a "Zombie movie" over a "Vampire movie" which is more true to be honest, they are more zombie esq.

    I like "Bram Stoker's Dracula" a lot despite Keanu Reeves' horrid acting.

    "The Lost Boys" is pretty fun as well.

    I will NEED to see "Let the Right One in".

  • Comment number 24.

    The Good Doctor's review of Twilight made it sound exactly like the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as that was all about the danger of being attracted to a dark, supernatural force and how sex ends up being a destructive element that has to be avoided. Now this theme ran its course after three seasons and Angel left for his own show.

    However the idea of sex as a destructive force was still apparent in the show, not least in an episode where a derelict house is breaking apart around Buffy and the vampire Spike having sex. Subtle it ain’t but its powerful stuff.

    It seems that this show said everything there was to say about sex and vampires, both for teenagers and adults. That to me is why the genre is getting stale and why films like Let the Right One In was a refreshing change of pace. The Strain was a massive disappointment though.

  • Comment number 25.

    There are by far a lot more bad vampire movies than there are good. Some of my choice ones are-

    Vampire Hunter D- A truly great animated movie made before all the mindless crap animation thats around now.

    Marebito- A beautifully shot movie that you never expect to be a vampire movie its just a wounderfully paced and visually stunning.

    From Dusk Till Dawn- Its just a great over the top movie.

    I must admit that i did buy Near Dark and Let The Right One In but have not watched either yet, feel a late night coming on.

  • Comment number 26.

    Twilight? Pah! Real vampires don't sparkle!

    Near Dark is one of the best vampire movies. And I did like Gary Oldman as Dracula. Liked Angel/Buffy. And Billy the Kid v Dracula!


  • Comment number 27.

    I have to admit I've never particularly enjoyed anything vampire-related that I've ever seen, including, sorry to say, Cronos or Let The Right One In. Those two are probably the best ones I've seen but I still found them to be not as interesting as people made out. I don't know exactly why this is, but I think it may be something to do with the limited range of what one can add to the typical vampire story, and the number of stock scenes that seem to be obligatory in any vampire story. One such example is the scene in which a character who has recently been made a vampire first discovers that they're drawn to drinking blood - usually discovered through licking their own. Funnily enough this scene occurs in both Cronos and Let The Right One In, and both times in a bathroom.

  • Comment number 28.

    Gross Mark! Hope we get points for having already seen your two recommendations (Thanks for pointing them out in previous media). Can I suggest that non Whedonites go out and invest in the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's very much dated now, but that's sort of cool, because you're watching something from 10 years ago, that pre-empted this post-post-modern fascination with the living impaired. Also, it's still snappy enough to entertain, but with a few retro Gothic setpieces for the Dracula fans.

    Don't bother with the Kristy Swanson film though. It's a crapweasel.

  • Comment number 29.

    Im sorry but twilight is NOT about abstinence, it is about one thing and one thing ONLY: Money. The novels... perhaps (if your really stubborn). It infuriates me when people try to review Twilight in any way other than to see it as the consumerist pile of garbage it is! I am studying sociology at the moment and dying to drag this subject into my work, as i think you (and others) may be glamorizing this a little. It may well be linked into sex if you really push it, but it is all about the money in this case. Vampires are 'in' at the moment, they are a little bubble in the sea of pop culture that will most probably soon rise to the surface and vanish.
    Thirst has been a film i've been looking forward to far beyond this craze started, i don't even know how long that damn film has taken to produce, but its a while. Let the Right One In can only be seen as a coincidence in timing, as it certainly isn't a fluke, and True Blood follows the same materialistic principals of Twilight and even more so with its further mutated sequel.
    This is an issue that is seriously getting on my nerves to say the least.
    Also i do very much appreciate Cronos as a film with a purpose, but past its brilliant ideas and wonderful take on the vampire mythology, i simply couldn't enjoy it. It didn't bore me or offend me, i just couldn't push myself into enjoying it even a bit. Maybe i should watch it again sometime, it may well be one of those films i just have to watch twice...

  • Comment number 30.

    'let the right one in' is one of my fav films
    2004 tv version of 'salems lot' is worth checking out and more faithful to the book

    loving 'true blood' on dvd at the moment

    i know he's not made a decent film for years but i really enjoyed john carpenter's 'vampires'

  • Comment number 31.

    I think some people are just drawn to the supernatural, as a lot of it is beyond human understanding such as ghosts(i.e. Most Haunted), demons etc. It's this attraction to something gothic, scary and sometimes beautiful.

    I'd like to see a film where someone uses the much hackneyed idea of spirits - both angels and demons - being among us and does something creative and unique with it.

    Maybe the so-called 'last days' where demons are seen to influence certain people(through common media) and the angels are trying their best to fight back until the Antichrist comes and things get tougher for the angels getting people to reject the Antichrist...

    OK, the book of Revelation, regardless of whether you believe it or not is pretty interesting and surely Hollywood could do something great with that? And no, not the rubbish-y looking Legion coming out next year. Why Bettany, why? You're so much better than that!

    Back to Vampires, I'm looking forward to seeing Daybreakers. I still think so much could be done with the genre, for example, in terms of politics side - maybe making the bloodsuckers actual members of the BNP that have more sinister reasons for getting non-whites out the country, perhaps?

    Oh, don't forget Being Human which uses the concept of all three supernatural beings living under one roof pretty well.

  • Comment number 32.

    I still havn't seen Let the Right one In, but the fact thatanAmerican director is already to set to remake it makes me want to vommit in my pants!

    On the subject of vampires and sex, take a look at this trailer for new vampire film "Daybreakers." Seem to be more about conserving our natural resources (in this case blood) than sex... what does the good Dr think? Sam Niel? Willam DeFoe It's got to be worth a watch!

  • Comment number 33.

    Vampires are dead. So are zombies. Bring back the werewolves.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am also a huge fan of Buffy, which, its true had a very similar story arc to twilight, however i found the doomed buffy, angel love story to be the dullest aspect of the show. The campy, creature feature side of buffy was much more entertaining.

    On the topic of Vampires and sex; I can honestly say I'm becoming increasingly bored with the constant rehashing of the same old formula and am a great admirer of the Guillermo Del Torro for trying to take vampires in a new direction. Let the Right One In is definately the best vampire film I have seen however I am also fond of 30 days of night. For all the film's faults (of which there are many),I found the representation of vampires as bestial, feral hunters, as opposed to pasty faced cassanovas, to be incredibly refreshing. This is a siege film with more in common with assault on precinct 13 than romeo and juliett. I should add that anyone who has only seen the film should seek out the original graphic novel for a tighter, more thrilling experience. Also the original novel, I Am Legend was without doubt a vampire story about isolation and the realisation that you are completely detatched from the world around you. All of these were aspects that will smith portrayed brilliantly in the film adaptation, even if the vampires were lost in translation.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am also a huge fan of Buffy, which, its true had a very similar story arc to twilight, however i found the doomed buffy, angel love story to be the dullest aspect of the show. The campy, creature feature side of buffy was much more entertaining.

    On the topic of Vampires and sex; I can honestly say I'm becoming increasingly bored with the constant rehashing of the same old formula and am a great admirer of Guillermo Del Torro for trying to take vampires in a new direction. Let the Right One In is definately the best vampire film I have seen however I am also fond of 30 days of night. For all the film's faults (of which there are many),I found the representation of vampires as bestial, feral hunters, as opposed to pasty faced cassanovas, to be incredibly refreshing. This is a siege film with more in common with assault on precinct 13 than romeo and juliett. I should add that anyone who has only seen the film should seek out the original graphic novel for a tighter, more thrilling experience. Also the original novel, I Am Legend was without doubt a vampire story about isolation and the realisation that you are completely detatched from the world around you. All of these were aspects that will smith portrayed brilliantly in the film adaptation, even if the vampires were lost in translation.

  • Comment number 36.

    Glad to see psychfursfan83 mention the '79 version of Salem's Lot - admittedly it's a TV mini-series rather than a proper movie, but I still think in Mr Barlow it's got one of the all-time best vampires, a properly nasty piece of work who really can't be mistaken for a teen heart-throb. And it's got James Mason being creepy too.

  • Comment number 37.

    During the Q&A after the recent UK premiere of Thirst Park Chan-Wook was asked if he was tapping into the recent trend of vampire movies. He said that Thirst took almost three years to come to fruition, and that he had no idea what the scene would be like when it was released. I don't think that Thirst can be grouped with these other films, it isn't coloured by other vampire movies, Park Chan-Wook has simply used vampirism as a device to ask the question 'Are moral people simply weak?'. After having met Park Chan-Wook and spoken to him about films it seems to me that he's truly what other people try to be, a unique thinker and a true Auteur. He's simply different, not strange or pretentious, different people produce great art.

    Mark is perfectly right about Let the Right One In, which is not only bereft of any sexual themes but, actively rebukes them with the scene in which Oska attempts to see Eli naked and we discover that she has been harmed in some way before she became a vampire, she is sex-less.

    These two films are excellent in my opinion, they belong to that special group of films which are modest enough not to outright answer the questions they raise. Everybody who watches them will form their own conclusion, and answering these questions for yourself can tell you about yourself.

    Who said you can't learn anything at the cinema?

  • Comment number 38.

    You mention True Blood and I think, although that programme does choose to embrace the vampirism-as-sex idea in a major way it also chooses to look at the idea of vampire as outcast concept, in this case alluding to vampires and their treatment by the American Christian Right as a metaphor for homosexuality. I think the concept of the "innocent" vampire shunned by society is one of the reasons why vampirism and in particular Twilight is so popular with "moody" teenagers looking for someone to share their pain at not fitting in.

  • Comment number 39.

    Mario Bava's La maschera del demonio (1960) was a big influence on the horror / vampire genre but seems to have disappeared of the radar as Dario Argento has increasingly taken most of the plaudits for Italian horror. The film was so gruesome for its time it was banned for 8 years in the UK.

    Oh yes, and sex- yes, Fangs - no!

  • Comment number 40.

    I will definitely watch Cronos & Let the right one in as soon as I can. The best vampire film that I have seen recently is 30 Days of Night, which I found nicely visceral, stylish and interesting, with a great premise - highly recommended!

  • Comment number 41.

    I really love George Romero's Martin, mainly because you are never sure whether it is an actual vampire movie.

    It's not a movie, but one of the best episodes of The X-Files is a Rashomon comedy take on the vampire genre with a town of redneck vampires.

    And I completely agree on Cronos and Let The Right One In.

  • Comment number 42.

    i am enthusiastic about vampires, i have read (and watched) Bram Stokers Dracula, and watched as many vampirism movies as i can. i also know quite a lot on the origins of the vampire mythology in Romania and all their fabled weaknesses. i agree with you Mark, that vampire movies are nearly all sexual, and thats why i enjoyed (and bear with me here) Blade 2. it's a rare movie that agrees with my theory that the reason vampires are, and continue to be, popular is that vampires reflect our darkest desires and urges. Del Toro shows the human qualities in vampires at their strongest alongside their amoral pursit of blood.

    Cronos is also a fantastic film and you're quite right, it does appear to be about ageing, addiction and death

    i have'nt yet seen Let The Right One In but it's a film i will most likely buy as soon as i see it

    30 Days Of Night was good, but with the emphasis on isolation and desperation, it felt more like a zombie flick to me.

  • Comment number 43.

    nboonin #15. Spot on with your interpretation of LTROI; that's how I read it too. (If you haven't seen LTROI, probably best you go away now until you've seen it; you'll enjoy it more the less you know in advance.)

    Eli's love may be genuine (her close-up gaze near the end suggests it is) but she also is immortal and needs protecting - and needs 'food'. Love has been described as a 'Folie a deux', a madness shared by two people; the actions and final sacrifice of her 'father' earlier in the film hint at Oskar's future. Perhaps all love affairs involve some exploitation and sacrifice, not just theirs.

    I've seen Cronos, have to admit I can't remember much about it, but will see it again. Its a del Toro after all.

    I didn't include Buffy above as it was a TV series, but yes it was a clever, sassy, sexy series. John Carpenter’s Vampires was fun. Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers is really imaginative.

    What I'm now very bored with are the leather-n-latex Underworld/Blade type of take on the vampire genre.

  • Comment number 44.

    Twilight was bad, Kermode. You were off the mark when you recommended that one last year.

    I love Werner Herzog's remake of Nosferatu with Klaus Kinski that someone else mentioned. I'm not much for the whole new vampire craze (Twilight, True Blood, Buffy). I would love for an old-school vampire movie again. Back to the gothic castles and the Bela Lugosi-type vampires and so forth.

    Let the Right On In was great though.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hello from Hamm, Germany.
    I haven't seen it for some 10 years or so but Abel Ferrara's THE ADDICTION with Lili Taylor and shot in black and white was quite an interesting way to portrait or to not portrait the idea of a modern day vampire.
    I also very much appreciated Tony Scott's THE HUNGER but more on its aesthetic rendering. The make-up work on David Bowie which was credited as make-up illusions was quite astounding.

  • Comment number 46.

    Dear Dr K,

    I totally agree that vampire movies are about sex. Dracula was clearly a book about the depraved sexual underworld of respectible Victorian society, and this sexual reading has over time moved from subtext to the main emphasis of the genre.

    Apart from the two movies you mention (also among my favourites), I would add Herzog's version of Nosferatu (which treats vampirism as more like a plague that Orlok is cursed to spread, and which permenantly leaves him utterly alone), Near Dark (which is very sexy, but strips aside all the Gothic trappings, these are working class vampires, no swanning around country estates in dinner jackets) and 30 days of night (where the vampires are just brutal and animalistic, not sexualised at all).

  • Comment number 47.

    I loved Cronos when I watched it, but took a different view of it. It certainly is about ageing, death, and immortality, but the fact that it's a mechanical device in the film that grants immortality (even though there's an insect inside it), made me think that there is a commentary there on our relationship with, and growing dependence on, technology.

  • Comment number 48.

    I've never been a massive fan of vampire movies generally; Blade 2 wasn't bad (better than the first and third ones) and John Carpenter's Vampires was fun. Near Dark's great, and some of the Hammer ones are okay. And Fright Night deserves a mention as well. Twilight wasn't terrible - but it's probably only great if you're a 14-year-old girl. As a 45-year-old bloke I saw it on DVD and, well, it's alright. Too long, too wet, but I didn't hate it.

    The worst vampire flick ever is probably Old Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, with the mighty Bela Lugosi reduced to playing second fiddle to a spectacularly rubbish music-hall drag act. It is genuinely painful, both physically and mentally, to watch.

  • Comment number 49.

    Uh, oh I forgot to mention that later bit in Ken Russell's quite outrageous LISZTOMANIA where Roger Daltrey as Liszt gets his creativity literally sucked out by Richard Wagner who Russell portrays as the transylvanian count. Later on there's also a quirky genre moment when Liszt walks through the jewish village in search of the counts castle and the soul of his daughter Cosima.
    I also try to see Polanski's vampire spoof THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS aka DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES on every New Year's Eve. Even if it makes of the sub-genre of vampire movies it does take great care in creating this world with it's gourgeous cinematography and it's great music score.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm not sure if it's the best or greatest vampire film per say but Vampire's Kiss with Nicolas Cage features what I'd consider one of the most entertaining and insane performances I've ever seen. He's gone to the rubbish side of things but that's a performance to behold.

  • Comment number 51.

    Vampires, bah, nonsense. When was the last time a vampire movie actually scared you? Except "Let the Right One In", awesome movie with lots of dread. Best vampire film in ages, I concur.
    But consider Twilight, Buffy, or Underworld. they killed the fear of a the vampire. The vampire becomes a cheesy easily killed nuisance, not a cannibalistic undead unstoppable abomination.
    Now zombies. Easy to produce. Really creepy. And heaps more fun (even when they're crap).

  • Comment number 52.

    Hi Dr K

    Although I agree with you about the "sex" argument, I think the success of Buffy has also been responsible for the latest glut of vampire films/tv series from the US; sadly these have dumbed down the threat of the vampire. Of the "modern day" style vampire movies I do like The Lost Boys and Salem's Lot (the David Soul version). I do like the more traditional Dracula story, from the likes of Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman and Frank Langella.

    But one of my favourite films of all time is The Fearless Vampire Killers. I know it won't be considered Polanski's best film but I think the sexy humour is very well written and acted.

  • Comment number 53.

    Obviously Vampirism is about sex, but it is also about money
    Like you've pointed out Dr. K., the last time Vampire films were this big was in the early 90s, there were so many of them

    Hollywoods tends to make these films during recessions because of low productions costs and it deals with sex, which obviously sells

    I admire Let the Right One In and Cronos more than I like them.

    Sleepwalkers is a film worth watching, while not exactly dealing with vampires, it does have vampiric elements. It kind of becomes predictable in the second half and loses its way, but it is an extremely well acted film, great soundtrack, decently written and directed and quite atmospheric at times. And it also has cameos by horror legends such as John Landis, Joe Dante, Stephen King and Clive Barker.

    Ferrara's The Addiction is a film i rate highly

    and Coppola's Dracula could have been a masterpiece were it not for Keanu Reeves. No other actor has ruined such a potential masterpiece as much as Keanue Reeves. It is so frustrating

    what other actors have ruined potentially excellent films with their acting? I would have to include Di Caprio in Gangs of New York. For me he just ruined the film. I know the film would probably not have been made were it not for him, but he should never have been cast. A travesty

  • Comment number 54.

    @ dudefozz, 25.

    No no no, for the best animated film on vampires the winner HAS to be Blood: The Last Vampire (the Japanese original not the recent remake). A stunning, stunning film and not a hint of neck-biting in sight. I found Vampire Hunter D to be intensely boring and it just played up to every vampire stereotype you could think of.

  • Comment number 55.

    Although the recent film adaptation was a big disappointment for me, my favourite vampire novel is Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend". Whilst the vampires in it may be less like your stereotypical horrors (and slightly closer to zombies, I guess), they still have that unnerving and restless characteristic about them. Plus, the novel really exemplifies the idea of one man attempting to fight against them. In that sense, it merges post-apocalyptia and vampires together.

  • Comment number 56.

    I've got to admit I'm a sucker for Vampire films...

    'Let the Right One In' - Brilliant film

    'Cronos' - Not GdT's finest in my opinion

    Off to see 'Thirst' on Friday can't wait, Vampires done by the crazy Koreans.

    All time favorite 'The Hunger' from the opening strains of 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' to 'The Flower Duet' Catherine Deneuve's seduction of Susan Sarandon and following hot scene, which even I as a gay man found arousing. Yes, its about sex, lust, desire, beauty and other fickle delights, but thats why its so delicious.

    Nightwatch and Daywatch are both stunning to watch.

    The one I really cannot stand is 'Van Helsing' - Bag a la pants par excellence...

  • Comment number 57.

    I think your all foretting that people interupt films differently.
    i love my real proper vampire films, but i also love the twilight saga, i read all the books befor seeing the film, and it was the books that got me hooked, and for me it was all about the mystery and how it was different to other vampire stories. i liked the fact that they could go out in sunlight but it would still be noticiable to mere humans and the fact that they live amongst us, i like these types of books i also like the vampire diaries and vampire hunters. i dont think it is the sex that appeals it is the fact that its something so unusual and something that takes you from your normal everyday life, its mysterious and unlikley but fascinating and intriguing.

    i think you need to remeber that every story is different and has a diffeent meaning to everyone, we are all unique and all think differently.

  • Comment number 58.

    A vampire film without sex is like chips without ketchup, yes their still chips but where's the ketchup?

    Chronos may be a good film, but a mechanical vampire!?! It's a wind up. I mean really! Where is the sex?

    It's all about the neck, after the head and the human body the human neck is the most important part of anatomy.

    Wouldn't we all like to be softly given the kiss of imortality? I know I would.

    The end of Lost Boys is quite frankly cinema gold and prooves, given the chance, we'd all like to live amongst the undead.

  • Comment number 59.

    I collect vampire (or should that be vampyre) movies, but my favourite has to be Near Dark directed by Kathryn Bigelow, it just has that grubby feel about it, not clean and slick like most vampires seem to have to be in movies these days.

    And for a laugh the Lost Boys does it for me (lost count how many times I've watched that movie).

  • Comment number 60.

    Let the Right One In, Twilight and True Blood aswell as the Anita Blake novels which are about to be turned into a TV series all have a central character being an 'outsider'. Someone who doesn't feel they fit in anywhere. I think this is something everyone can relate to.

  • Comment number 61.

    The fact that vampire movies are essentially about sex still doesn't explain why the genre is so popular currently. This throw back from the 50's may have stated the obvious but he hasn't really answered the question he set out to answer. According to Freud everything is about sex so in his eyes this blog is a cop out and I'd agree. The sociological analysis is more accurate in explaining the current fade with what is a resurgence in the wider fantasy genre.

  • Comment number 62.

    I don't really like vampire movies. One that I did enjoy however was Let the Right One In. It left an imprint on me with the issues that it raised, especially that of the man that took care of Eli. That was disturbing. It didn't rely on jumps and cheap thrills either, instead building a creepy and unique atmosphere over the which is more effective in immersing a viewer into the film. I have noticed that foreign( non english) movies have tended to have a better sense of this in recent years.

    Another thing is that horror movies from Britain and America seem to be geared more towards teenagers these days, this move no doubt influenced by the spate of teenage slasher movies from the 90s and early 00s. The vast majority of popular horror films from the past decade have had very young casts. What you end up with is stuff like Twilight, which is nothing more than a teenage exploitation movie.

  • Comment number 63.

    Actually Vampire movies as part of the horror genre are like other genre's particularily Westerns and Sci-fi/fantesy throughout film and tv as a way of commenting about various aspects of our society and possibly the film makers/tv makers own world-view. You can create a world or society that does not have to relate to the real world or historical events, unless you particularily want it too. Westerns in the 50s were commenting on issues such as Macarthism, Star Trek had a particular world view too. The more scarier movies are those that relate it more to the real world and now, the more detached it is the less scariy it can be.

    Also I can recommend Being Human as good Drama/comedy, it's just good tv. And I think you'll find Kermode recommends movies based on it's target audience, i.e. twilight is aimed a young audience and it is entertaining therefore it is a decent movie.

  • Comment number 64.

    Surely vampires are kind of like zombies in as much as they can stand for pretty much anything you want them to. The destruction of the environment: sucking the life out of the planet. The economic depression: sucking the life out of the economy. Vacuous people: sucking the life out of culture. Obviously, its all about sex too, but it could also be about other concerns that occupy our subconscious.

  • Comment number 65.

    Whether documented on film or in fiction, Vampires have always been about sex and the loss of innocence; the act of biting, involving one individual penetrating another with a set of large, white canines, has incredibly sexual overtones, especially when perceived in conjunction with imagery and themes predominant within the Gothic tradition. That said, whilst sexuality was restricted during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, hence the rise of Gothic fiction with its transgressions of social norms and natural boundaries, in our world today sex is everywhere, so it is not enough to blame the rise of Vampire movies on the sexual nature of their content, for that would not explain why vampires specifically are being documented, rather than merely teenage girls and boys. It is most likely the case that a lot of vampire movies are being made at present, because vampires, and witchcraft in general -particularly in fiction - is in vogue, and consequently generating a lot of money at present. As with everything, it most likely comes down to dollars.

  • Comment number 66.

    We just miss Buffy. We need lots of films and series to compensate for its loss. :-)

  • Comment number 67.

    I haven't seen Twlight because it seems like a chick flick with fangs but I’ll be open minded about it when the times comes for me to watch it.

    I love the whole vampire thing, so would like to list a few stand out films/TV/Book:
    Near Dark,
    Interview With the Vampire (film and book)
    Let the right one (its looks like the US are going to remake!! the idiots)
    The Vampire Lestat (Ann Rice book really really good book)
    Bram stokers Dracula (Film and book)
    Vampire the Masquerade bloodlines (PC Game)

  • Comment number 68.

    Rebel Without A Cause - there's a vampire movie, only one without blood. Charismatic outsider, with a peer group of almost-as-charismatic friends and hangers-on, despised by and pursued by authority, tortured and yet privy to something deep and primal.

  • Comment number 69.

    The Fearless Vampire Killers! Yes, of course, how could I have forgotten that one. Brilliant spoof, beautifully shot.

    I actually have a soft spot for all those old Hammer iterations of the Dracula/Vampire movie - yes, even The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. They're silly, but fun.

    But in all honesty, I've lost a lot of interest in vampire films, the cliches have kind of worn thin. When it comes to "monster movies", I think there's more "life" in the zombie/werewolf movies, and I find the symbolism of those films more interesting than vampires and sex, or the vomit-inducing crap of the emo crowd. It just seems to me that the idea behind a lot of vampire films is to remind us of the dangers of sex, or the immortality of physical pleasure - it's a blunt instrument to beat us up with. Zombie & werewolf films are rarely used to punish us, but more to educate us about politics, social issues and the pains of growing up.

    Of course, sometimes a rotting corpse groaning "Send more paramedics" is exactly what it appears to be....

  • Comment number 70.

    I can't believe that Near Dark is missed off the list. I recently returned to this film on Blue-Ray, having not seen it since I was a teenager near it's release. This film truely stands the test of time visually. The story is more indepth than I remember, with some of the relationships between the Vampire gang more subtle than I originally picked up. Ok, some of the set pieces aren't tremendous by todays standards and are a little sign posted, but the sheer nastyness and pointlessness of the Vampire existence is an antidote to the glamorous Vampires of recent times. In addition to this, the Father figure was perfect.

    Don't usually post, so appologies the content isn't as Movie literate as some of the others.

  • Comment number 71.

    No-one's mentioned Moonlight: the vampire as tortured soul? I like that series. For me, it has to be the traditional movies, starting with Nosferatu - by far the scariest vampire - and those mentioned by 1967Ross. I can see I need to view Let the Right One In and Near Dark though...

  • Comment number 72.

    Dr Kermode how can you suggest that Let The Right One In is a vampire film NOT about sex (I really don't care what the director says).

    The scene where the boy cuts his hand with the blade and offers it to the girl is clearly an offer for more than just friendship.

    Also, remember the scene where she's changing in the next room and he sneaks a peak at her naked. The camera clearly shows that he's looking at her genitalia.

    All the best vampire films are about sex because of the obvious symbolism. Vampires tap into the fear of first time sex. They personify the fear of sex in the way sharks personify fear of water.

    I think Blade minimizes the sexual tones the most so that it's more like a zombie film (fear of communism) where he has to simply wipe out the entire species before they convert everyone and of course before he succumbs to his own urges.

    Let The Right One In is brilliant in showing adolescent sexual urges (which do exist) even though it isn't the central topic of the film it certainly is implied in their relationship.

    The whole act of biting the neck and sucking blood is a sexually charged act of violence and it works well in that sense.

  • Comment number 73.

    Interesting link with the depression and current financial situation. Perhaps the vampires are more about seeking a meaning in life that is a contrast to that which normally surfaces in everyday life. A darker meaning to life than that which normally exists. Drinking blood is very deep magic, used in a positive way by the Christian church at Communion each Sunday but running back to the use of blood to bring life through sacrifice in many primitive cultures.
    For me it is about people looking for meaning in another direction.
    Materialism sucks, security in money is a myth.
    Escape to the dark as the light has been found wanting.
    Or perhaps it just seems that way?

  • Comment number 74.

    For those arguing that Let the Right One In is sexually charged, I implore you to read John Ajvide Lindqvist's book. Personally, the film is my favourite of the year so far, but the novel clarifies the relationship between Oskar and Eli, as the screen cannot.

    Oskar is attracted to Eli not in a sexual way, but as he sees himself in her - an outsider with the understanding that he does not belong where life has put him. Before he offers Eli his bleeding hand, as part of a pact, he turns her down when she climbs, naked, into his bed. He is not looking for sex, only someone to hang out with. When he suggests they "go steady" he is not looking for a change in their relationship, and the moments when they kiss are not the slightest bit erotic. Oskar constantly tells Eli that she is "gross", yet he is fascinated by her, as she is different to anyone he has ever met. Their friendship is about acceptance for Eli, and empowerment for Oskar.

    As for the moment in the movie when the camera focuses briefly on Eli's 'genitals', the reason, as explained in the book, is about as far removed from sexual as can be.

    Finally, I know it's on a limited release, but I can highly recommend Thirst for another new(ish) take on the vampire genre.

  • Comment number 75.

    Firstly, I totally agree with Dr. K that "Cronos" is a staggeringly good film that completely hooked me on Guillermo Del Toro forever. OK, it has shortcomings, but at least 90% of them are down to its being a very low-budget movie indeed, and anyway the main point of it isn't affected by the lack of money. As one very perceptive critic (I forget which) commented at the time it came out, it was the first serious vampire movie to portray vampirism as neither sexy nor evil, but simply a predicament. It's also - and this, I think, is a point which everybody misses - one of the very few vampire films to make it absolutely plain that becoming a vampire isn't something that any sane person would aspire to, even if the alternative was death. This, Dr. K, is a very important factor in the equation which I think you've missed. Today's vampire movies aren't about sex and/or lack of it; they're about: "Hey, wouldn't it be cool to have, like, superpowers to be really strong and invulnerable and turn into bats and wolves and stuff plus you get to live forever? OK, there are downsides, but even Superman has to avoid Kryptonite and certain types of sunlight and so on. All in all, a Faustian bargain well worth making - no?"

    NO!!! As Bram Stoker made absolutely plain, only a raving madman like Renfield could possibly see anything positive in such a condition. Furthermore, it is obvious in the book that, while literally heroic efforts can and should be made to save Lucy and Mina from succumbing to vampirism, once they've turned, there is no hope of a cure. Why? Because they're dead. The soul is gone, and all that remains are the base instincts. Dracula himself is the only fully-fledged vampire in the book (out of a grand total of five) not to appear mentally retarded. Why? Because he was such an evil person in life that the departure of his soul doesn't significantly diminish him. This, presumably, is how he got to be a vampire in the first place, vampirism being a "gift" granted by the Devil to such rare people. Stoker didn't bother to spell any of this out because he regarded it as self-evident; the notion of idiot goths aspiring, or even claiming to be vampires because it was "cool" would have been utterly beyond his comprehension. Oh, and incidentally, Anne Rice gets the sex thing completely wrong. Stoker's Count is perfectly capable of having normal sex - indeed, perhaps more capable than most people! After all, he has three "wives". What could this trio of half-witted feral vampire women possibly be for other than to serve as concubines? Obviously Stoker couldn't say that straight out, times being what they were; but he does the next best thing. He goes to great lengths to hammer it home that when Count Dracula has a guest, he himself has to fulfill all the functions of the servants you'd expect him to have. So that's not what those three gorgeous women do...

    But anyway. What we have nowadays is Vampire Lite. The big thing that everybody has mislaid is the sense of Evil (and that capital E is not a typo). Guillermo Del Toro does that rare thing of subtracting the Evil from the equation and then saying, OK, so what's left? Except of course when he's prostituting himself to Hollywood to make drivel like "Blade 2". I think even a diehard fan like Dr. K would agree that his career is a totally predictable alternation between making the movies he really wants to make, and falling back on worthless Hollywood shite to finance the next "Pan's Labyrinth" or whatever. And you know what? Given what he consistently does every time he's accumulated enough money to do it, I wouldn't even call that selling out, let alone blame him for it.

    But. The Blade franchise and all that other rubbish have emasculated everybody's favourite monster. The Buffy farrago implies that what's ultimately wrong with the Universe can be sorted out by one teenage girl in good physical shape who has a sensible attitude to Relationship Issues, and the baddies are fools who hardly require the application of "Mister Pointy" - a custard pie would have done the job. Would I risk lawsuits if I suggested that Buffy was the lovechild of Hannah Montana and Scooby Doo? Probably only if I posted pictures of how she came about. What we need are vampires who are just plain Evil. And get Satan back into the picture - how else do dead guys resurrect themselves as superpowered serial killers? Abraham Van Helsing, whatever his flaws, is supposed to be the good guy who defends humanity from something with no redeeming features whatsoever!

    Seriously: suggesting that being a vampire is basically a good idea with a few disadvantages is a lot like claiming that being a Nazi is in some ways not so good, but if you sort of turn a blind eye whenever anybody looks suspiciously Jewish, you can have all the fun of conquering Europe while wearing what even Hitler's most serious detractors have to admit was the most stylish uniform ever. And it's black! How cool is that, huh?

    I rest my case.

  • Comment number 76.

    Only one comment suggesting the excellent channel 4's UltraViolet. What a mini-series! Skip any american remakes of it. It's pure british brilliance and played with ambiguity to the point where everyone and no one could have been the bad guys. It was far more like a cold war movie than a vampire thing in many ways if you think about it.

    More british(and classic low budget) brilliance (imo ofc) is the hilarious Razor Blade Smile. I would love to say more but I might inadvertantly drop spoilers trying to so I won't. Some very nice twists in it and one lovely scene in particular taking the piss out of a certain subculture.

  • Comment number 77.

    I've never seen the mystique or attraction of parasitic, heamovoric anumated corpses. The idea of being a werewolf, or other shapeshifter (not the Medieval hysteria variety of werewwolf, nor the hollywood kind -virtually invented by Kurt Siodmak for 'the wolfman'-) but more akin to neolithic animal cults, or the shapeshifting of bronze age druids, now there lies power, to combine the physical traits of an animal with man's intelligence.

  • Comment number 78.

    Very convincing, Doc. Did you even use the ketchup? Perhaps some poor passer-by?

    Well I didn't think that Twilight was about abstinence except the abstinence of the family of vampires from taking human victims. I think the mother talked to the daughter about taking "precautions" and the scene in the bedroom where the girl and and her vampire boyfriend are both partially clothed could have been post-coital but I was drifting in and out of sleep so I may have missed something.

    Having the vampires enjoy Italian cooking - including, presumably, plenty of garlic - and a scene in a room full of mirrors where the vampires reflections were clearly visible seemed like the filmmaker/author were going out of their way throw out vampire lore as we know it from literature and the movies.

    If vampire films are about sex then they seem pretty redundant since we have plenty of films about sex without resorting to creepy old men in capes. I enjoyed LTROI immensely. The hand cutting scene didnt make me think of sex any more than when it occurs in Tom Sawyer, rather it created a tension of wanting to see how Eli would react to the sight of Oscar's blood. I thought the scene where Oskar glimpses Eli's genitals was to show that their relationship did not and
    could not have a sexual component.

    I think vampires are boring (because their behavior is always the same) but not as boring as zombies who have no thought processes whatsoever. Werewolves are much more interesting because they cross between two states and may or may not be aware of their dual lifestyles.

    The only other vampire film that I enjoyed (apart from LTROI) was "From Dusk Till Dawn" which I benefited from knowing nothing about it beforehand so the sudden shift from crime drama to a completely different genre worked for me. The first part of FDTD seemed to be much more about sex than the vampire part. But if I ever had the pleasure of meeting Cheech Marin for dinner or drinks, I would make sure I did not let him pick the venue.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm embarressed to say that I have never seen "Låt den rätte komma in" or "Cronos", and being a rather large Del Toro fan it grieves me to say that I can't find the latter on dvd anywhere.
    I've never liked vampire movies and I can't quite explain why. Maybe, it's because it feels more like a cop-out; to simply avoid the sun for a few months, squirt ketchup in your mouth, and expect the audience to go "ooo scary!".
    However, it seems to me that when "Vampirism" actually makes an effort (to the point where it almost becomes another genre), it actually works. Two examples of this are:

    Blade 2 and From Dusk till Dawn

    What these two films have in common is that they actualy make an effort to thrust Vampirism into more than just "the fangs and the blood". We all know that Del Toro uses intricate makeup, prostetic, mechanical, and digital effects to create a high standard of visionary entertainment. Blade 2 is no exception, and the same is true for "From Dusk till Dawn". When these people become vampires they ACTUALLY change. They don't just open their mouths and hiss.
    Not only that, but the films contain more than just fake blood, but squishy bodyparts, intricate gory death scenes, and entertaining action.

    What bores me about movies like "Twilight" and "Interview with a Vampire" (though "Interview..." is an exceedingly much better film, mind you) is that so much is made of the emotional aspect of vampires. What they should do is entertain me and scare me directly.
    Personally I'm looking a bit forward to "Daybreakers", hope this one doesn't disappoint me.

    Why can't vampires more like zombies?

  • Comment number 80.

    I for one am tired of all these dour teenage vampire offerings. Yawn.

    Guilty pleasures - Love at First Bite - with the original disco track in the nightclub scene. I know it's corny and rather cheaply made, but it's a great send-up of the whole Dracula bandwagon.

  • Comment number 81.

    Traditionally, Vampire stories represented the fears manifested in society. Such fears, particularly in Bram Stoker's Dracula, raised the issue of xenophobia and England's fear of being "contaminated" with foreign blood (and soil if you remember that Dracula needs soil from him native land). Dracula can also been seen to address the fear of the proliferation of the railways in the late 1800s, blemishing England's pure countryside.
    As long as there are fears in society, then there will always be vampire stories. In the case of films such as Twilight, however, these fears appear a little more superficial than the loss of national identity or innocence. Perhaps modern vampire tales could be responding to our fears over the economic state of the world, if only as a way to displace our fears by giving us a different focus which is outside our reality.
    The vampire myth has become one of the most known icons of the 21st century and in a way it has become comforting to have such a familiar subject in modern film and television. This is reinforced by having "nice, fuzzy" vampires like in Twilight, as opposed to predatory vampires in more traditional stories.
    Although someone has pointed out the "emo" movement being a strong influence in the return of vampire films, it must be noted that fans of the tradtional vampire tale are also interested, if only to see how vampires have evolved both emotionally and physically through literature and film. This evolution can give us valuable clues about how our society has evolved, including our desire for horror, comfort or a familiar threat.
    So in conclusion, I believe there are many factors as to why people of all ages and backgrounds can't resist vampires. The vampire myth is not limited to those who wear black eyeliner, black blothing and listen to gothic music. Vampires have been around for a lot longer than they have.

  • Comment number 82.

    Yeah, I have a bit of a soft spot for The Lost Boys. Vampires with 80's mullets - what could go wrong?

  • Comment number 83.

    Ok, this may not be the best vampire film but it does still bring back fond memories Captain Kronos vampire hunter one of the better Hammer films from the seventies.

    Captain Kronos vampire hunter contrasts completely with the worst vampire film I have ever seen Which is Van Helsing which rates close to being the worst film I have ever seen.

    Another film I have fond memories of is Vamp which again I am sure is not the best vampire film but is good light fun. I am sure if I saw Vamp or captain kronos vampire hunter now days I would probably hate the film, but I watched them when life was more simple and I didn't really care about terrible special effects nearly as much as I do today.

  • Comment number 84.

    Saw your comments on the Culture Show that current "Btitish" Halloween "traditions" are an import from USA via Hollywood. In fact USA Halloween traditions are probably originally an export from certain parts of Britain. In most of Scotland it has long been traditional for kids to go "guizing" on Halloween - to dress up and go around the neighbouring houses collecting sweets or money (maybe do an act - song or joke or something). However in other parts of Scotland (e.g. parts of Shetland) it is customary that Halloween is a "licensed" night for mischief (the trick of trick-or-treat)when e.g. "Kalecasters" may hurtle a muddy cabbage plant (uprooted from your garden) in the front door, or worse. I recall some famous/infamous "tricks" - amazing what ingenious devilry (never that malicious)a bunch of teenager can devise.
    So - if current Halloween practices come from American imports it is because the traditions exported there have been forgotten in large parts of Britain. This is true of a number of other traditions that you are only aware of if you come from somewhere where in Britain they survive or recently died out - so when you visit the USA you are aware of and surprised by familiar practices that seem slightly old fashioned or quaint.

  • Comment number 85.

    In explanation of why Vampire films are in vogue once again, i think one important thing was missed. Being the never ending zombie Phase Cinema has been going through beginning with Wright's Shaun of the dead and Snyder's remake of Dawn of the dead. The logical next step in the Hollywood money making mentality is more of the same followed by variations, hence vampires, and then any other monster that have worked previously see next years The Wolfman.

    On vampires though My Personal favorites Include
    Near Dark.
    The addiction (which incidentally is more about drug addiction than sex.Still quite sexual though)

  • Comment number 86.

    Mark, I have a few dvd questions that could you please answer it....

    do you buy imported region 1 dvds for films not out over yet so you can see them before they are released in the theatres?

    do you ever buy special editions of films you love that over here have a poor dvd for? example Silent Running

    do you buy Criterions?

  • Comment number 87.

    why has no-one mentioned 'dracula A.D. 1972.. ruddy genius.

  • Comment number 88.

    The "vampires" in The Strain are definitely NOT sexy, although they kind of blur the line between vampire and zombie, (a bit like in I Am Legend, the book).

    Anyway, I have been inspired to register just so that I can name-drop my personal favourite new vampire production - BBC Three's own: BEING HUMAN!!!

  • Comment number 89.

    Dear Doc,

    I do believe that's one of the greatest shocks I've ever had! This could truly be your Colin.

    For me, The Lost Boys remains the archetypical vampire film.

  • Comment number 90.

    I can't help enjoying 'From Dusk Till Dawm', but I'm rather uncomfortable with how profoundly misogynistic it is...

  • Comment number 91.

    The only vampires that have ever scared me are the ones from Tobe Hooper's adaptation of King's 'Salem's Lot'. Quite simply because they are represented as supernatural demons and nothing else; they're not stroppy adolescents, they're not automatically profficient in martial arts once they've been 'deaded', and they exhibit only a minimal amount of their previously human characteristics.

    They are properly terrifying because of this simplicity; floating, wraith-like demons devoid of any tedious or cliched self-consciousness. Existential vampires are so dull, and not in the least bit scary. It's nothing to do with sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. It's something far more primal, but not in the '30 Days of Night' animalistic sense. And because that 'something' is so nameless there's more mystique, and more terror.

    Hooper's version is far better than the recent one with Rob Lowe which, despite claiming to be more 'faithful', discarded the delicious rustic/gothic atmosphere of King's book. Hooper captured it perfectly.

    The scene in which little Ralphie Glick is floating and scratching at his brother's window still chills me to this day. Never has any other scene depicted the sheer, mesmerising fear of what a vampire essentially really is. Something that's too unnatural for words.

  • Comment number 92.


    While Vampires once again seem to be in vogue I'd argue that they're ever an present theme in Movies, TV and books. In the same way there have always Super Hero movies but X-men and Spiderman triggered a boom in their production.

    I think you'd be hard pressed to find a year in the last twenty there hasn't been at least one vampire movie on general release and one TV show on air containing vampires.

    Some of the appeal of vampires in (teen) fiction is not only sex. A parallel can also be drawn between a thirst for blood and the first experiences with alcohol and other intoxicating substances which are forbidden and taboo.

    Also as teenagers have not yet really grasped a sense of their own mortality I suspect the concept of the never aging immortal speaks to them.

    Any thoughts?

  • Comment number 93.

    Dr. Kermode,

    Generally I agree with most of your reviews, but I really didn't enjoy 'Let the right one in'. I think perhaps I was expecting too much. I found it difficult to empathise with any of the characters, although I found the bully's older brother rather entertaining. I found it lacked atmosphere, a lot of which is due to the way it was shot (overly clean, and the blue filter got old, very quickly), and the incredibly bland soundtrack (which sounds as though it was performed on a budget digital keyboard workstation).

    On the other hand my favourite vampire film is probably Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of 'Nosferatu'. It is beautifully shot, and features some intense performances from Klaus Kinsky and Bruno Ganz, although Isabelle Adjani is admittedly weak. Popol Vuh provide an excellent, unsettling score, which is reinforced with some Wagner and Georgian Chant.

    Looseslacksmcguire, Dublin

  • Comment number 94.

    If anyone is still reading may I suggest a recent favourite of mine, Lemora: Child Of The Supenatural. A cheap US PG rated vampire movie from the early 70's that is drooling with atmosphere and repression. Why has no one mentioned Jean Rollin, or were we all trying to avoid the sex? Perhaps a little slow for some but true gothic that rubbish like Blade can't touch. Oh and Valerie and Her Week of Wonders to make your head hurt, and Blood For Dracula, with Udo Kier as THE most pathetic, vulnerable count ever.

  • Comment number 95.

    @HandOfStone - thanks for that, really interesting to hear how the film compares to the novel. I've not read the novel but absolutely love the film. I didn't see anything particularly sexual in the film, as well as all the other themes mentioned here, it seems like a cautionary tale to me. Could it be that the author is warning us about who we get involved with? Eli is compelling to Oskar but aren't we being shown Oskar's eventual fate will be when we see Eli's relationship with her first assistant? I'm probably reading too much into it? :)

  • Comment number 96.

    I personally think vampires are a bit rubbish a lot of the time. I loved Cronos, I've yet to see Let The Right One In. 30 Days of Night was good fun. Saw Twilight the other day, which was just a moody extended episode of The OC. True Blood doesn't appeal to me at all. They're not up to the Buffy standard.

    I think werewolves are much more entertaining - see An American Werewolf in London, Teen Wolf...we know it works with comedy well. And The Wolfman is out soon, but I'm not sure how that'll turn out. We'll have to wait and see...

  • Comment number 97.

    I live in the Netherlands so I can watch a couple of foreign tv channels including the most important ones from Belgium, England (BBC 1 and 2) and Germany. I normally don't watch movies on the German channels because they don't use the original language. A couple of years ago late at night I did however watch a English vampire film in German because I simply could not stop watching it. It was called House of Dark Shadows (1970) and is supposedly connected to a television series which I know nothing about. What I liked about the film was the eerie atmosphere and a couple of really disturbing scenes. Besides "Let the right one in" I don't think I've ever seen a more creepy vampire film.

  • Comment number 98.

    My own favourite 2 vampire films are both the Murnau and Herzog versions of Nosferatu. The Murnau version, which ironically establishes many vampire film conventions, isn't really about sex. It isn't really about religion, and it isn't really about science, though all 3 feature in it. What it really is about is quite simply death, with the vampire being death itself personified. In the Herzog version the vampire is humanised quite a bit (who knew Kinski could be so subtle?) and yes, sex creeps in, but it comes accross as more a desire for ANY sort of human interaction- to me the most touching part of the film is the early scene with Dracula playing the part of dutiful host, serving wine, making conversation and trying to be quite charming- WHILE ALL THE TIME RESEMBLING A WALKING TALKING CORPSE!

  • Comment number 99.

    I thought the ketchup trick at the end was really funny. Van Helsing is underrated as a vampire flick.

  • Comment number 100.

    I caught the second half of Vampirella on the Sci-Fi Channel a while back - not Roger Daltrey's finest hour, but strangely enjoyable in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way


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