From the earliest days of cinema, the vampire has held a place at the heart of horror movies. From romanticism to gore and comedy, our fascination with shadowy eternal beings who cannot resist a carotid artery has given rise to cinema’s greatest films. But, not all vampire movies are created equal, with some boldly taking us to new worlds. In these films, the vampire is given the freedom to expand, develop and evolve. The result of which creates new visions, fresh interpretations and rebirth. So join us as we explore five bold and brilliant vampire movies in our Bloodlust collection.
1. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Romance, art, literature, and music sit at the heart of Jim Jarmusch’s divine 2013 journey into vampire folklore. Here we have a movie where the classic prerequisites of vampiric evil and abomination are duly thrown into the gutter as Jaramush replaces them with a lighthearted yet vivid exploration of eternal life and loneliness. In Jaramush’s world, the need for blood plays on the universal themes of drug addiction. Here the quick hit of each last drop only elevates the artistic endeavours and curiosity of our vampires, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Their lives, a whirlwind of reminiscence as they debate the very foundations of the universe and the human zombies who plague its development.
Jarmusch delicately unpicks and celebrates the romanticism of the vampire. Here his movie joyously lampooned the soft glow of Twilight while celebrating the work of authors such as Anne Rice in the characters he brings to the screen. Meanwhile, his fascination with art, physics, and nature sit centre stage in a film that mixes romance, humour, addiction, and music into a seductive cocktail. The result is a unique trip through an intoxicating haze of magnetic sexuality, mortality and art.
Only Lovers Left Alive is available to stream or buy on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
2. Let the Right One In (2008)
Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is as close to a vampiric masterpiece as you can get as it explores vampire mythology and coming-of-age. It’s a delicately layered story of first love laced with discussions on loneliness, anger and teenage anxiety. The vampire at the heart of a film is a 12-year-old girl (Eli) whose life is trapped in the first throws of adolescence until she meets young Oskar (also twelve) in Stockholm’s snowy suburbs. Oskar may not be trapped in his twelve-year-old body for all eternity like Eli, but he is a prisoner of local bullies, his life held in a bubble of fear and anxiety that he dared not challenge.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In offers us a complex story of two lost souls who find a powerful sense of belonging in each other’s presence. One is a bullied, scared and friendless human, and the other is an isolated and vulnerable young vampire. However, Let the Right One In excels in its eerie, poetic portrait of teenage friendship, love, and protection. Here, Eli and Oskars’ budding relationship is held within a deceiving veil of security that is slowly replaced by reality. The resulting film strips back the deepest fears of early adolescence while beautifully exploring notions of power, place, and belonging.
Let the Right One In is available to stream or buy now on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
3. Near Dark (1987)
Before finding life as an indie hit, Kathryn Bigelow’s genre-defying screenplay was unbelievably rejected by every major studio. Her gory, freewheeling tale of nomadic vampire life would lace together three genres; the western, the horror and science fiction. The result burns with intensity and brutality. Here the isolation, lawlessness and violence of Bigelow’s dusty vision would enthral audiences in 1987 and remains one of the most unique vampire outings of the past fifty years.
Near Dark is currently unavailable to stream or buy in the United Kingdom.
4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
By the 1980s, the godfather of all vampires, ‘Dracula’ had become a cinematic joke. His rightful place at the head of the horror table, replaced by gritty, urban vampires who wore leather and rode motorcycles. But, one man was determined to bring Dracula back from the shadows of obscurity; Frances Ford Coppola. And in doing so, he created an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s original novel that was both visually stunning, faithful, and boldly different. Here, Dracula was reborn in the skilful hands of Gary Oldman, with romance, sex and gore sitting centre stage. Coppola’s final picture is not only epic in its vision but rooted in striking gothic beauty.
Bram Stokers Dracula is available to stream or buy on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
5. Martin (1977)
Mention the name George A. Romero, and it is more than likely zombies come to mind, rather than vampires. However, in 1977 Romero brought us one of the most unique, bold and distinctive vampire movies ever made with Martin. A film that has long since been consigned to the vaults of horror, rarely making a public appearance. And more the pity because this low budget handheld picture is unique and creatively complex.
Romero dispenses with the classic horror template of the vampire from the outset, as the 19-year-old Martin boards a train for Pennsylvania. Here Donald Rubinstein’s experimental jazz-inspired score emphasises his delicate looks, soft persona, and loneliness. However, this lost, lonely, and insecure boy is also a vampire, but not in the classic sense; after all, he has a reflection, his teeth are not sharp, and the religious cross plays no significance in his wellbeing. No, for Martin, his need for nourishment comes through carefully selected victims. Each one, drugged before feeding, in an urgent and often fumbled final struggle—his guilt, coupled with a need to find intimacy in the arms of his victims.
Martin is an outsider, confused teenager, and sexually ambiguous figure while also being a killer, predator and sexual offender. Here his vampire status is a blessing and a curse as he struggles to define his place in society. And when this complex, enthralling and fascinating character study dovetails with Romero’s hand-held camera, inner-city decline, and a documentary-like realism, Martin becomes a film unlike any other. Its roots, sitting in both coming of age drama, urban thriller and socially conscious horror.
Martin is currently unavailable to buy or stream in the United Kingdom.