Bloodlust – a collection of bold and brilliant vampire movies


Bloodlust – a collection of bold and brilliant vampire movies features Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), Let the Right One In (2008), Martin (1977), Rose: A Love Story (2021), Nosferatu (1922), Near Dark (1987), Salem’s Lot (1979) and Fright Night (1985).


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 tropes of vampiric evil and abomination are 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 ancient 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, joyously lampooning the soft glow of Twilight while celebrating the work of authors such as Anne Rice. His fascination with art, physics, and nature sits centre stage in a film that dovetails biblical concepts of Eden with romance, humour, addiction, and music. The result is a unique trip through an intoxicating haze of magnetic sexuality, immortality, bloodlust and art.


Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is as close to a horror masterpiece as you can get as it explores the link between vampire mythology and the classic coming-of-age story. Alfredson’s delicately layered narrative of first love is laced with discussions on loneliness, anger and teenage anxiety. Here the vampire is a 12-year-old girl named Eli who wasn’t assigned female at birth; her life forever caught in the first throws of adolescence, transformation and change 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. 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 outcast human, and the other is an isolated and vulnerable young vampire. 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 false veil of security, slowly torn away by reality. The resulting film strips back the deepest fears of early adolescence while beautifully exploring notions of power, place, and belonging.


MARTIN (1977)

In 1977 George A Romero would bring us a unique, bold and distinctive vampire movie that vanished for many years after its release. This movie was the stunning low-budget masterpiece, Martin. From the outset, Romero dispenses with the classic tropes of the vampire movie as we meet the 19-year-old Martin on a train heading for Pennsylvania. As Martin walks the train corridors, Donald Rubinstein’s experimental jazz-inspired score emphasises his delicate looks, soft persona, and loneliness. However, this lost, lonely, and insecure boy is a vampire, but not in the classic sense; he has a reflection, his teeth are not sharp, and the religious cross plays no significance in his wellbeing. Martin’s need for nourishment comes through carefully selected victims, each drugged before feeding in an urgent and often fumbled final struggle. Here his guilt is coupled with a need to find intimacy in the arms of his victims. Martin is a serial killer and predator with his compulsion to kill rooted in sex and desire in all but name. Martin’s vampire status is ambiguous, a blessing and a curse as he struggles to define his place in society. Romero’s complex, enthralling and fascinating character study is rooted in hand-held camera work, inner-city decline and documentary-like realism, making Martin a vampire film unlike any other.


Written by Matt Stokoe and directed by Jennifer Sheridan, Rose: A Love Story owes much to Trey Edward Shult’s 2017 film It Comes at Night as it plays with themes of isolation, love, and protection through a creeping and unnerving horror. Sheridan’s slow-burn horror never mentions the word vampire, with only fleeting glimpses of the trauma Rose and Matt manage daily at their secluded home set deep in the woods of Northern England. But their peace and safety are about to be disrupted when an injured stranger arrives, and Rose and Sam find their lives suddenly scrutinised like never before. Rose: A Love Story never succumbs to the need for cheap jump scares as it slowly builds its tension. Here Stokoe and Sheridan are willing to keep the shocks, blood and terror for a terrifying and sad climax, as Rose and Matt’s love faces the horror of community persecution.


F.W. Murnau’s German Expressionist masterpiece, Nosferatu, gave birth to the vampire movie and continues to define the image of Bram Stoker’s Dracula 101 years after its release. While it may have been an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic, Stoker clearly misunderstood the impact this film would have on his creation. Released during a time of change in Germany, the economic and political instability following World War I found its way into the darkness of F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece, its shadows, haunting cinematography, and psychological exploration of fear perfectly capturing not only Stoker’s literary creation but the turbulence at the heart of German politics. The result was a landmark in cinema and a pioneer of modern horror whose influence cannot be understated. Nosferatu transcends language through its silence, captivating and enthralling us as it sends a shiver down our spine. How many modern films will we praise in the same way in 101 years?


NEAR DARK (1987)

Near Dark may not have achieved commercial success upon its release in 1987, but it has become a cult classic in the decades since it graced cinema screens. Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 vampire western would blend horror and romance with the classic road movie, creating a unique vampire film that gave birth to a whole new style of cinema. Beneath its vampiric horror, Near Dark explores themes of family, belonging, and personal identity as Caleb Colton becomes a part of a nomadic vampire clan, his past human life butting up against his new existence. Here Bigelow’s film shares much in common with classic LGBTQ+ dramas as it discusses the importance of the found family for those cast as outsiders. Much like The Lost Boys, this makes Near Dark a fascinating queer horror, despite never being labelled as such. Coupled with a score by Tangerine Dream, Bigelow’s nomadic vampire classic would inspire many films and tv shows, from First Blood to Bones and All. Like, The Lost Boys released the same year, it would reinvent the vampire and shift the classic Dracula narrative towards something more gritty, human and bold.

SALEM’S LOT (1979)

Based on Stephen King’s 1975 novel of the same name, Tobe Hooper’s 1979 mini-series would create an immersive and ominous tv experience that helped to reshape horror on the small screen. Salem’s Lot would prove that TV horror could rival cinema, as it introduced audiences to a seemingly quiet and idyllic town hiding a deadly secret. Hooper’s understated direction skillfully plays with darkness and light throughout, as the town transforms into a terrifying landscape of death and murder as the sun goes down each day. But the absolute horror comes from the floating vampiric child scraping at a closed window as mist floats around them. These scenes would fuel the nightmares of a whole generation, including me, and make Salem’s Lot a TV experience like no other. With a stunning ensemble cast led by David Soul, James Mason, and Lance Kerwin, Salem’s Lot not only scared the hell out of a whole generation but also paved the way for a bold new form of TV horror that would give birth to IT (1990), American Horror Story and more. 



Let’s get one thing out of the way before proceeding; Tom Holland’s Fright Night is a proudly queer horror comedy. While many pointed to Fright Night’s successful fusion of B-Movie horror and comedy on release, like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, few talked about its gay subtext. Charley Brewster is a self-confessed horror nut convinced that his new neighbour, Jerry Dandrige is a vampire. As Charley attempts to expose Jerry’s true identity, he seeks help from a washed-up horror movie actor, Peter Vincent, whose expertise on vampires comes solely from his roles in B-movies. Jerry and his manservant and friend dabble in antiques, like high fashion and have a relationship that hints at being more than master and servant. But to add to this, Charley is clearly quite taken with them both, to the extent that his girlfriend is quickly dumped as he spies on them. Fright Night is proudly queer from the get-go, as Charlie battles with his own feelings while attempting to ‘out’ his neighbours. Holland’s movie is a shining example of expertly crafted horror and humour and a forerunner of Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys. Its clever writing, impressive practical effects, and standout performances have made it a cult classic that continues to find new audiences over 30 years later. 


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