Herbert Sucks . . . Necks in The Fearless Vampire Killers
A recent exchange with delorita, coupled with yesterday's Halloween holiday inspired me to make a list of:
My list illustrates my usual eclectic appreciation for everything from the ridiculous to the sublime (or vice versa).
10. Dracula (1979)
Director John Badham's version, with Frank Langella as a sexed-up Drac. Badham cut his chops on TV and made a breakthrough with Saturday Night Fever. Langella is best known now for his Oscar-worthy Nixon in Frost. The sexual tension in this one is what made me add it to my list, although I wanted to slap Lawrence Olivier's scenery snapping Van Helsing. Oi vey!
Speaking of Van Helsing, he is in some ways a better known character than the Count himself. He's been played by some pretty hefty talent, including a couple guys with "Sir" in front of their names, Olivier and Anthony Hopkins. Christopher Plummer was notable in Dracula 2000. Edward Van Sloane was the first, originating the role on stage with Lugosi in 1927 and then playing the "Professor" or "Doctor" in both Dracula and Dracula's Daughter. (I was shocked to learn he was an American character actor, born in Minnesota. I was convinced he was German or Dutch.) And of course the mega-hot Hugh Jackman brought the character to blockbuster status. My all-time favorite was the Hammer Film version, played again and again by Peter Cushing, the foil to many folks' favorite Drac, Christopher Lee. (Funny, but none of Lee's countless versions of the Count make my list.)
9. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
The guilty pleasure of vampire movies. (Thanks Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.) George Clooney with that tattoo and that twitch, Selma Hyack in one of the most unforgettable dance sequences on film, and Cheech (or was it Chong?) barking out the promise of "Pussy" at the Titty Twister bar (which is a good place to avoid, just in case you're wondering). He made the 'P' word as memorable as Al Pacino's cruder 'C' word in Scarface.
8. Capt. Kronos, Vampire Hunter (1974)
He's hot, he's dedicated, he's the Indiana Jones of vampire killers. He's got GREAT HAIR. If you've never seen the legendary Caroline Munro (the Megan Fox of her day), see her in this movie. A Hammer film.
7. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola masters the art of the big bite. As the King of Counts, Gary Oldman wears a profile as memorable as the original pre-Dracula vamp Nosferatu (is that his head or his hair?) and captures the heart-breaking angst of the vampire's curse. (And lovely Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker doesn't hurt.)
6. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
My favorite classic comedy team meets three monsters, two of them the 'real guys,' Lugosi as Dracula and Lon Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot, the Wolfman. (Glenn Strange, Sam from Gunsmoke, was The Monster, because Karloff sadly turned down the part. Strange also played the part in House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein, so he was no slouch.) This is both hilarious and creepy, the best horror parody I can think of. Lugosi outdid his original Dracula, and he played off Lou Costello as perfectly as Bud Abbott did.
5. Brides of Dracula (1960)
I could watch it any day of the week, the beautiful ladies, the poignant vampire mother, the handsome, evil young vamp, and, of course, Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, heroically branding himself on the neck with the sign of the cross after he's been bitten. A Hammer classic.
4. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Gorgeous Sharon Tate, pretty Roman Polanski (who also directed), a mincing Draco Malfoy-ish vamp who has his fangs set on Roman. Great atmosphere and a truly creepy take on a Vampire Ball.
3. Interview With the Vampire (1994)
I couldn't believe how much I ended up loving Tom Cruise as Lestat (not to mention Brad as Louie and Antonio as Armand). I saw this (probably eight times) before my first visit to New Orleans, then had a tour bus driver spontaneously offer to take us past spots where the movie had been filmed. I just have to close my eyes to relive it all, the music, the costumes, the dialogue I know by heart, wonderfully directed by Neil Jordan. Who can ever forget Lestat biting that rat and squeezing its blood into the goblet like he was making his morning orange juice! (Oprah was appalled, and I was entranced.)
2. The Lost Boys (1986)
Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire.
It was more than a movie for me, it was a lifestyle. It defined one whole summer of my life, and, yes, I wore David's hairstyle without apology. The music, the memories, the hot young actors . . . I can recite the lines. Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric will never be more beautiful. (As I'm sure Joel Schumacher noticed when he directed this.)
1. Dracula (1931)
Bela Lugosia, the original, directed by the great Tod Browning. I know this one by heart, and it has some of my all-time favorite lines:
"They're crazy . . . they're all crazy. Except you and me . . . and I have me doubts about you!
David Frye's ("Rats!") Renfield rivals Lugosi's Dracula for memorable-ity. It was incredibly exciting when they added the Philip Glass score in 1998 (although some people admittedly don't like it). Edward Van Sloane returned as Van Helsing in Dracula's Daughter (on my alternate list).
In no particular order:
Dracula 2000 (2000)
Gerard Butler. Need I say more?
Salem's Lot (1979, the first version)
It still gives me chills to see that vamp guy Mike at the window ("You'll sleep with the dead, teacher!"), and I grew to love David Soul as one of my all-time favorite heroes, Ben Mears.
Queen of the Damned (2002)
Lestat the rockstar, this time played by Stuart Townsend.
Innocent Blood (1992)
John Landis mixes vampires with another of my favorite genres, mobsters. This one makes the list because of Anthony Lapaglia, but Chazz Palminteri and Robert Loggia are also notable.
Blood for Dracula (1974)
Andy Warhol's twisted version (directed by Paul Morrissey) makes the list because of another of my fetish men: a young, beautiful Joe Dallesandro. Udo Keir's anemic vampire really needs an iron shot.
Dracula's Daughter (1936)
She's so creepy and so tragic, she knocked Lon Chaney Jr.'s Son of Dracula off the list.
The Vampire Lovers (1970)
An example of what we love about Hammer Films, luscious bi-sexual women with heaving bosoms (Ingrid Pitt), lively colors and Peter Cushing. Ferdy Mayne also appears, notable as Count von Krolock in The Fearless Vampire Killers.
Why not? I love Daddy vamp and the bad boy, too. Gee, the scenery looks a little like home . . .