As a kid, and even as a teenager, I was absolutely obsessed with vampires. I actually really wanted to become a vampire when I was 14 years old. The lure of a party all night and sleep all day lifestyle seemed pretty enticing to me and aside from having to occasionally bump someone off, the rest of the vamp lifestyle seemed pretty cool to me. I even made a little hidey spot at the top of my wardrobe where I could close the doors and shut out everyone and just chill with my thoughts in the dark stillness - hello weirdo introvert! I lined the space with pictures of The Lost Boys which met both my need to perv on handsome lads and contemplate the goings on of undead night dwellers.
Thankfully, that deep yearning to join the ranks of the bloodsuckers eventually waned over the years, however my yearning for great vampire films most definitely did not and to this day I am still constantly on the lookout for the next great vampire movie to emerge.
Dare I be so bold as to suggest that it has been years and years since anything remotely close to a decent vampire film has graced our cinemas? I know that leagues of teenagers today would fervently disagree with me on this but I think that the vampire groupies of today have a very different perspective of what a vampire even is.
Gone are the days of the long clawed, sharp toothed and grotesque, bedroom invading Nosferatu type vampires of old; today vampires are shiny in the daylight, handsome, sculpted Twilight lovelies that seem to be more concerned with winning hearts than chowing down on anyone's jugular vein. And don't get me wrong, I am certainly not adverse to sexy vampires (hello Louie from Interview with a Vampire) there is nothing bad about making vampires handsome or attractive, they really should be because they never age after all. However, the element of the 'unnatural beast' in vampires does appear to be have gone astray in recent years.
In most early depictions of vampires, they are considered to be nothing more than evil monsters. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, the vampires are viewed as a scourge on the earth, bottom feeding infestations that need to be killed and destroyed. In the British Penny Dreadful novel "Varney the Vampire" the lead vampire is literally called a monster and could be banished in a range of old school ways with sunlight, crosses, holy water, garlic, silver and the most popular and well played out form of vampiric eradication - the old stake through the heart routine.
These days vampires are no longer objects to banish and eradicate, they are objects of lust. People aren't trying to keep vampires out of the bedroom any more, in fact if anything, they are looking for ways to get them in there! Many modern day vampires can walk in the sunlight; garlic, crosses and holy water phase them about as much as a cheeky kitten and they don't even need to feed very often to sustain their youthful good looks. To be honest, if this trend to make vampires so sweet and friendly continues, they'll be carrying around fluffy bunnies and making sweet treats for potential suitors soon.
Call me old fashioned, but I still like my vampires to be erring on the side of utterly terrifying. Good looking is certainly a bonus, but not a necessity and the threat of impending doom and danger should always be present when you are dealing with vampires. The inability to walk in the sunlight is non-negotiable for me, if you're a vamp then you are a night crawler and you have no right to be getting about when the sun is up.
The garlic, religious iconography and coffins are neither here nor there for me, I can take it or leave it and it is of no real importance to me when I watch a vampire movie. However, the absolute must have when it comes to vampire films for me is the hunger, and there had better be some serious bloodlust going on! Drinking blood and killing is essential if you are making a vampire movie and any vampire film that implies differently isn't a real vampire film, there I said it!
So who has got it right then? Well, a lot of older vampire movies have certainly gotten it right and here is my list for the best vampire movies of all time should you decide that you'd like to see one: (see full reviews under the horror tab)
- Let the Right One In - 2008 (4.5 Chilli Peppers - Swedish version)
- Bram Stoker's Dracula - 1992 (4 Chilli Peppers)
- Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror - 1922 (4 Chilli Peppers)
- Interview with a Vampire - 1994 (4 Chilli Peppers)
- Only Lovers Left Alive - 2013 (4 Chilli Peppers - Art House list)
- Shadow of the Vampire - 2000 - (3.5 Chilli Peppers)
- The Lost Boys - 1987 (3.5 Chilli Peppers)
- A Girl Walks Home at Night Alone - 2014 (3.5 Chilli Peppers - International list)
- What We Do in the Shadows - 2014 (3.5 Chilli Peppers)
- Night Watch - 2004
- From Dusk 'til Dawn - 1996
- Fright Night - 1985
- Byzantium - 2012
Release Date: 2008
Rating: R 18+
Running Time: 115 mins
Based on the fantastic novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay, this Swedish coming of age story focuses on the relationship between a twelve year old boy and a vampire of youthful appearance. The film received widespread international critical acclaim and won several awards for its beautiful cinematography and its restrained approach to violent subject matter.
In Blackeberg, Stockholm in the early 1980's, we meet Oskar. A meek twelve year old boy that lives alone with his mother, suffers from terrible bullying from his classmates and secretly pretends to destroy his foes with a knife that he keeps hidden. Oskar meets Eli, a mysterious pale girl that has recently moved in next door. The two form a fast friendship, communicating by Morse Code through the walls of their apartments and sharing stories. But Eli's arrival in town has other consequences that Oskar knows nothing about. Will he still be able to accept Eli as his friend when he finds out what she really is?
This is an incredible movie, I have also read the book which I absolutely adored, but you don't need to have read the book to get a lot out of this movie. It is an extremely intelligent horror, the characters of Oskar and Eli are in complete polarity of each other in every way, almost like two sides of the same coin with their need to be loved and accepted. The child actors, Lina Leandersson and Kare Hedebrant, are just tremendous in their very demanding roles, and although this is essentially a friendship story, it has enough slow burning horror to make it truly eerie and unforgettable.
FINAL SAY: I'm twelve, I have been twelve for a long time.
4.5 Chilli Peppers