Friday Favourites: painfully cool vampire films
By Fleur Clarke
In Season 3, Episode 13 of The Greatest Show of All Time Xander Harris voices a time old lament: ‘It’s just that it’s buggin’ me, this ‘cool’ thing. I mean, what is it? How do you get it? Who doesn’t have it? And who decides who doesn’t have it? What is the essence of cool?’. Well Xander, your best friend is in love with one and you’re on a show about them. It’s vampires.
They only hang out at night, they wear a lot of leather and they have great interior design skills. Vampires are the essence of cool. And here are the coolest vampire films of them all.
The Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)
I never got the Tom Hiddleston thing, until he lounged around playing depressing music and sucking blood popsicles in Only Lovers Left Alive. This film is 15% Detroit ruin porn, 35% throbbing guitar music and 50% Tilda Swinton looking awesome sunglasses. It knows its cool, and I’m totally okay with that.
Les Vampires (1915)
Louis Feuillade’s pioneering silent serial weighs in at a pretty hefty eight hours, so watching this proves you not only have a keen interest in the history of cinema – but you also have great stamina. Les Vampires follows a journalist who is trying to uncover the truth about a secret society of anarchist vampires who call themselves Les Vampires and run the criminal underworld. Leading lady Irma Vep is the original femme fatale, and my eyeliner muse.
Dracula: Pages From A Virgin’s Diary (2002)
I have my suspicions about ballet, but I enjoyed this cinematic adaptation of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Dracula nonetheless. It oozes sex and dread – not tootoos. It’s a hypnotising fevered take on Bram Stoker’s old tale, which fixes a few things: namely, playing up the desires of the female characters and the xenophobic undertones of its source text. Plus, it’s in black and white. Colour is so déclassé.
Interview With The Vampire (1994)
This film is so cool, it even manages to make Tom Cruise not look completely ridiculous. Or at least slightly ridiculous, but in a great way. For example, when he dances with the rotting corpse of a plague victim. Or when he breaks the neck of two white toy poodles. Or when he decants a rat into a wine glass. Totally cool.
A Catholic priests’s life takes an unholy turn when he selflessly takes part in a vaccine project, and accidentally receives infected blood. As is usually the way with these things, carnal cravings ensue and he gradually acquaints himself with the Seven Deadly Sins. One of which is Tae-ju, a downtrodden housewife who wants to escape her tedious life. They embark on a tempestuous, frequently hilarious, romance. For the connoisseur who doesn’t just like vampire films, they like Korean vampire romantic comedies.
Let The Right One In (2009)
The Swedish version, obviously. It has the move heartwarming massacre ever, and it’s my second favourite vampire film featuring a white poodle.
What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
The vampires in this film aren’t cool, but they’ll make you feel cool. You’ll laugh at the amusing references to Nosferatu. You’ll nod sagely when they hypnotise their victims Lost Boys–style. And you’ll cheer on as they mock the Twilight films.
Stake Land (2011)
I tend to prefer films where vampires stay alive and hang around lovingly caressing blood-filled wineglasses and lamenting the passage of time. So a film in which two guys trek through a post-apocalyptic wasteland killing zombie-like vampires isn’t exactly my usual jam. Who cares about unattractive vampires? Where is the velvet? Will there be an arousing bite scene?
And yet I really enjoyed Stakeland. Imagine Cormac McCarthy deciding to chuck a few vampires into The Road, just to spice things up. That’s how good it is.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
Definitely the best Iranian Vampire Western ever made. In fact, the only Iranian Vampire Western ever made. And, originality, is the soul of cool.
Near Dark (1987)
The vampires in this film are decidedly not cool, in fact, they’re mainly burning. Charring, even. But they do so while wearing leather jackets, in desert heat. Any adherent to the dark side knows how hard it is to maintain ones aesthetic in summer – so respect, where respect is due.
Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979)
Our First Man of Chaos and Misery, Werner Herzog, ventures into Transylvia. What does he find there? Why, chaos and misery, of course. Daubed in white makeup, Klaus Klinski plays the ultimate loner, casting his mournful gaze into the heart of darkness. Slightly hammy, incredibly melancholic and completely hypnotising.