UNK SEZ: Here’s a list of seven vampire flicks that I believe are underrated. You will not see great movies like NEAR DARK, THE HUNGER, VAMPIRE’S KISS or NOSFERATU here because I think people generally know those flicks are good. Beware because even though they are numbered, I put little or no thought toward their order!
7. VAMPIRE WARS : BATTLE FOR THE UNIVERSE (aka BLOODSUCKERS) 2005
You may have stumbled across this one on the SYFY Channel, thought it looked lame and skipped past it and, if so, you really missed out. This is great, goopy, gory escapist entertainment sporting highly likable (and easy on the peepers) characters that I only wish I got to see more of. It’s sorta the illegitimate child of BUFFY and FIREFLY coated in an almost FLASH GORDON-esque corny, cartoon candy shell. The first thing I thought after viewing it was, “This should be a series!” And how sad to find out that it actually is a pilot for a show that never got picked up. Ouch. That hurts considering the bonanza of crap SYFY chose to support instead. VAMPIRE WARS comes courtesy of MATTHEW HASTINGS who is responsible for the equally underrated DECOYS (2004), so maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked that I enjoy it as I do.
6. THE NIGHT FLIER (1997)
Of course this movie fell through the cracks, it’s based on a short story from some obscure writer named STEPHEN KING! Two tabloid journalists are tracking down a serial killer who uses a private plane to stalk his prey. Matters turn for the worse when the suspect is discovered to be a vampire with a pilot license. The always good MIGUEL FERRER gets a chance to tear things up in a rare lead role and director MARK PAVIA provides more than a few moments of true eeriness that are bound to stay with you. My only question is why we’ve never seen another picture directed by PAVIA. I hope he has a good excuse.
5. THE THIRST (1979)
Here is yet another example of great Australian cinema. THE THIRST is a remarkably original vampire movie both in its tone and with its progressive vision. Make sure you catch this one on DVD in widescreen and read our more extensive review HERE.
4. I, DESIRE (1982)
This one is probably going to be difficult to track down, but if you are a fan of eighties horror and are looking for a good DAVID NAUGHTON-starring companion piece for AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, it’s worth the effort. If you’re a BRAD DOURIF fan, and you should be, then get on it quick. Check out our full review HERE and our pal AMANDA BY NIGHT‘s thoughts over at MADE FOR TV MAYHEM HERE.
3. VAMP (1986)
To be honest, VAMP is not such a good movie, the story is all over the place, some of the jokes leave a bitter, douche-y aftertaste and the scares are few and far between. Be that as it may, it’s a fluffy-fluorescent, neon noir knock out if you crave flawed eighties flicks. Moreover, the exceptionally charismatic cast makes it all worthwhile. GRACE JONES is oddly mesmerizing as a far too mute vampire goddess, CHRIS MAKEPEACE is a perfect clean-behind-the-ears everyman, DEDEE PFIEFFER is bug-in-a-rug adorable, and ROBERT (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2) RUSLER, as always, rules. (If someone could explain to me how RUSLER didn’t become a giant star in the ’80s while a traffic cone with teeth named TOM CRUISE did, I will bake them a cake.) Sure, VAMP is rarely successful at its clear intention of capturing the spirit of the previous year’s FRIGHT NIGHT, but as far as presenting characters we care about, it fares far better than that film’s recent remake does. Not a total success, but nostalgically entertaining nonetheless.
2. DRACULA (Spanish version 1931)
When it comes to classic UNIVERSAL-style horror, I’m enraptured by the FRANKENSTEIN series, severely dig THE WOLFMAN and quite shamefully feel unsatisfied and unmoved towards TOD BROWNING’s 1931 take on DRACULA. Aren’t I awful? You see, for me, BELA LUGOSI may be sufficiently creepy and weird and all, but when it comes to romantic magnetism, his pockets produce moths. The Spanish version of DRACULA, which was filmed at the same time and utilized the same sets as the better known classic, mows the lawn in spots that BROWNING’s version missed. It’s got a far sexier vibe, more vibrant violence and frankly shows, rather than meekly cuts away from, good old-fashioned bug chomping. It’s almost the exact same undead tale but the difference is, it pulsates with more gritty unapologetic life.
1. THE ADDICTION (1995)
One of these days I’ll write about this movie more in depth, but for now I’ll just say I love it. It’s one of my favorite vampire movies, favorite LILI TAYLOR movies and favorite ABEL FERRARA flicks too. I find it much more effective than the similarly black and white NADJA and much more involving than the similarly shoestring-budgeted and New York set THE HABIT (both of which came out around the same time.) Besides TAYLOR, the cast also includes ANNABELLA SCIORRA, EDIE FALCO and CHRISTOPHER WALKEN. I don’t think critics understood this one too much, chalking it up as a pretentious drug allegory when really it tackles much larger issues like humanity’s natural penchant towards causing cruelty and the contagious nature of evil. It’s as gloomy as a Ladder Day Saints commercial and yet its soundtrack features CYPRESS HILL and if that doesn’t tell you how singularly awesome it is, then I don’t know what will. This is yet another movie that never found its way to DVD but if you look around hard enough (namely HERE) you should be able to find it.