A hundred years ago this month, the seminal film, Nosferatu, was released in Berlin. To celebrate this event, here are a selection of films for you to feast on.
What is it about vampires that still fascinate us? Why do they still have the power to enthrall and draw us into their world?
10) Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Alluding to the legend of the infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have murdered virgins to bathe in their blood, this film features a honeymoon couple staying in a deserted Belgian hotel. A mysterious Countess and her adoring assistant check-in and start to infiltrate themselves into the lives of this unassuming couple. The Dietrich-like Delphine Seyrig as the Countess, dominates the film, exuding sensuality and danger, and the film is a strange and beautiful slow burner.
9) The Lost Boys (1987)
An iconic 80’s film, set in the town of Santa Carla, home of a group of leather-clad vampires called The Lost Boys. The original script was intended to be a reimagining of the story of Peter Pan, with vampires. But it was seen too much like a remake of The Goonies, a recent hit film, so it was re-written for an older target audience, with much darker themes. This film made vampires sexy and was a huge box office hit.
8) Salem’s Lot (1979)
Originally broadcast as a mini-series, the film stars David Soul, as Ben Mears, an author who has gone to Salem’s Lot, to write about Marston House, a foreboding gothic mansion, now owned by the mysterious Mr. Straker, played by James Mason
The film shows the dark underbelly of this close-knit community, as it slowly becomes apparent that vampires are infiltrating the town. There are some great jump-scare moments, and sound is used to great effect, as in the case of fingernails scraping on glass, a genuinely spine-chilling moment.
7) Blade (1998)
Wesley Snipes poses a striking presence as the leather-clad Blade. Possessing superhuman abilities, Blade’s mission is to fight a race of vampires, who have infiltrated all sections of society, and are now planning to take over the world. This is the first film in the Blade franchise. And although this might not be the most authentic vampire film, it is certainly one of the most action-packed, Worth watching just for the memorable vampire nightclub scene, at the start of the film.
6) Dracula (1958)
The first Dracula film in technicolor, it is also Christopher Lee’s first outing as Dracula. Lee, with his pose and charisma, brought a new element to the role of Dracula. This film also paired him with Peter Cushing, as his nemesis, Dr. Van Helsying.
With its lead’s dark brooding animal magnetism and the underlying themes of female sexuality, it captures the tug between repression and desire. It’s no wonder it was such a hit in the buttoned-up Britain of the late 1950s.
5) Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
This adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic tale, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, has Gary Oldman playing the part of Dracula; a sumptuous, cinematic creation, with some amazing costumes. This Dracula has a unique look and style all of his own, a world away from the classic version of the character. He is a tortured soul, and the evil is somewhat underplayed in favour of a more sympathetic perspective. But in saying that, there are still some great moments when he shows his true colours.
4) What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Filmed as a mockumentary, it features a couple of vampires sharing a flat. It deals with everyday problems such as; paying the rent, household chores, and who’s going to clean up the blood and human remains after a night of feasting; the usual stuff. The cameras follow the bickering vampires all over Wellington, showing their confrontations with the local werewolf gang, and trying to get invited into nightclubs. It’s a refreshing and updated take on the vampire genre.
3) Dracula (1931)
Directed by Tod Browning, it stars Bela Lugosi, as Dracula. With his jet-black hair, accent, and gaze, Lugosi Dracula became the definitive look for Dracula for many years. It is probably no coincidence that it was released on Valentine’s Day 1931, as Lugosi’s Dracula, adds a powerful attractive charisma to the character. It also makes good use of light and shade to dial up the sense of eeriness and mystery.
2) Let The Right One In (2008)
Oskar, lonely and isolated, is being mercilessly bullied by his classmates. His meeting with his new neighbour, a strange pale barefoot girl, is the start of an intense relationship. The combination of aggression and passivity in the character of Eli played by the mesmerising Lina Leandersson gives the film a feeling of uncertainty. It’s a romantic horror story, beautifully made, that has a sense of sadness and alienation permeating throughout, giving the whole film a dream-like quality.
1) Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror
Even after a hundred years, this silent film still has the power to chill. Mainly due to the nightmarish vision of Count Orlok, played with great effect by Max Schreck. The rodent-like quality of the Count, with his snaking talons and pointed ears, is a far cry from subsequent versions of ‘The Prince of Darkness’. This iconic German Expressionist film makes amazing use of shadows to heighten the fear of foreboding and to emphasize the bleakness of the landscape.