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Seven Unsung Vampire Flicks

September 15th, 2011 by unkle lancifer · 21 Comments

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!


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.


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.


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.

Tags: Caution: I break for geniuses! · General Horror · Halloween · Seven Unsung

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 craigNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I too have always felt that the Bela Lugosi version of DRACULA is stale and dosn’t hold up well. Sure, it looks good playing on a tv in the background at a halloween party, but actually watching it is a whole other story. The other version is more definative. AND DOSN’T IT MAKE IT ALL THE MORE CREEPY TO KNOW THAT THERE ARE STILL ACTORS FROM THAT MOVIE STILL ALIVE TODAY?!

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I forgot to mention that in “Vampire Wars” there are a bunch of references that horror fans might enjoy. There’s a tribe of savages called “Leatherfaces” and a race of vampires known as “Voorhees’. There’s also some slithery space worms that seem sprung from “Night of the Creeps” and the big bad is played by Michael Ironside (Scanners).

  • 3 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

    First off, thanks for the linkage!

    I like vampire movies, but I admit I haven’t seen a lot of these. Recently though, I was thinking about giving Vamp another go. I remember not really liking it, but I couldn’t tell you why. I’d like to see if my feelings are different now.

    btw, have you ever seen Vampire with Richard Lynch? I just picked it up and am hoping it will be a movie I can get to for Halloween.

    Great article! I’ll have to see The Addiction. I think I used to mix it up with Nadja and thought I’d already seen it! Wow, what was I doing back then?

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Vampire (79) is another good one! I know that is one of Mickster’s favorites.

    I can understand not being too impressed with Vamp. I’m glad I checked it out again though because the 80’s nostalgia factor helps. It’s almost a rough draft for “From Dusk Till Dawn”. The storytelling fails but I do like the cast. It also has Billy Drago as an unnecessary extra villain and Gedde Watanabe from Sixteen Candles. Interestingly, there’s also a little girl vampire who is presented in much the same way as the one in “30 Days of Night”

    Nadja is always stealing The Addiction’s thunder! I think those two get mixed up a lot. I’m definitely on team Addiction.

  • 5 TristanNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Top marks for your inclusion of The Addiction! Such an intelligent & unsung movie – great cinematography and performances. Annabella really steals the show despite limited screen time. PHENOMENAL. Culminates in a blood sucking orgy, what more could you ask for? I will be checking out ‘The Thirst’ next!

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

    YES! Aunt John was just poking fun of my obsession with Sciorra but I’m not budging. She’s awesome.

  • 7 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Well, as long as we’re confessing – I don’t think the original Nosferatu is all that. Even for a silent film the acting seemed incredibly hammy and the guy playing Harker was scarier than the vampire. He has this too-wide smile that makes me think he’s going to suddenly turn cannibal and eat Mina. And stretching not once but seven times in quick succession after waking up? What a doofus!

    I like Bela as Dracula, but I prefer him in White Zombie. And now that I’ve finally seen Freaks, Dracula pales in comparison as far as Brownings’ works go.

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

    JJR, I hate big smiles too. they creep me the hell out. That’s actually the giant reason Tom Cruise skeeves me so bad. Freaks is brilliant. So sad that Browning was taken to task for his greatest achievement!

  • 9 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Also, JJR-you should try Herzog’s version of Nosferatu I think you’ll like that one!

    The soundtrack alone is incredible…

  • 10 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Perhaps it is not a great film, but I really liked the 2009 vampire comedy/rock n’ roll tribute “Suck”. It has a lot going for it – some truly funny bits, amazing cameos (The Moby cameo is great), lots of really great music and some of the best vampire makeup that I have ever seen (on what must have been a miniscule budget). Seriously, I normally think that vamps look rather stupid on film, but they looked incredibly good in “Suck”.

    The wheels come off toward the end and Malcolm McDowell is completely wasted in a superfluous role, but overall I must admit that I really liked it.

    Link to the best song – “Flesh and Bone” by Burning Brides (The frontman for the band actually portrays “Queenie”, the head vampire):

  • 11 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Oh – and Re: “Vamp”. The bit toward the beginning where Grace Jones attacks the protag’s friend completely freaked my sh*t out when I was a kid. I just watched that scene again on Youtube – not nearly as gory as I remembered…..

  • 12 Joanna BoeseNo Gravatar // Sep 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I had someone reccommend “Suck” to me, and a movie with Alice Cooper AND Dave Foley sounds like something worth checking out. 🙂

    BTW, Cheech Marin was planning to make a film about the filming of the English-language and Spanish-language “Dracula” films called “Senor Dracula” about an actor from the English-language version and the leading lady from the Spanish-language version falling in love with each other. I unfortunately don’t know if the project was cancelled or still in development hell, but it would be interesting to see.

  • 13 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Sep 16, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Okay, added a few of these to my Netflix account.

    I went through a total vampire obsession as a teen. I probably know more about vampires, how to become one, how to repel them, and how to kill them than Blade and Buffy combined. I admit I often daydream about using my knowledge to help develop and star in a movie using all my years of research on vampires – something that would be the Evil Dead of vampire movies. Ash was kind of a wimpy hero. So who says fat chicks can’t kick vampire ass?

    Except, of course, I’m a lousy writer and never could get any indie film makers I know interested. They didn’t want to do horror, they wanted to do pretentious, boring stuff.

    Also, I hate Tom Cruise. I think he is a lousy actor and a terrible person.

  • 14 EshbaalNo Gravatar // Sep 16, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Now now, Jami, there ARE some of us indie filmmakers who couldn’t give a crap less about the pretentious artsy films. I may only have made one short and not have much experience, but horror’s where it’s at. Why, currently trying to get a short film project off the ground involving some Lost Boys-esque vampires terrorizing a guy in his summer house, and writing a script about a wannabe monster hunter facing off against a town full of frog mutants.

    With that said, I am all over some of these whenever my vampire kick returns – recently also acquired the entire Subspecies series, which looks kind of interesting

  • 15 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Sep 16, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I meant the ones I personally knew once upon a time when I was a big fan of Kevin Smith. (Outgrew him after Zack & Miri Make A Porno.)

    I just want to return to the roots of vampires. None of this sparkly, it’s a disease not a curse, crap. Have them afraid of the sun, various religious symbols (I want to see a vampire who’s repelled just as easily by a Star Of David as a cross), can’t cross running water, etc. Plus bring in parts of the mythology people never heard about in movies. The various ways one might become a vampire like be the 7th son of a 7th son.

    Also alternate ways to kill them –

    Pin their tongue to the roof of their mouth using a thorn so they starve to death.

    Drive an iron spike through their skull pinning them into their coffin.

    Place a branch of wild rose on their grave so they can’t rise and again, starve to death.

    Silver blades and bullets, when blessed by a religious leader, kills vampires same as they do werewolves.

    (In fact, if you died as a werewolf, you come back as a vampire.)

    Then there’s the other ways to repel them – cow poop found in a thorn bush spread on your doors and windows will keep them away. (And those pesky Jehovah’s Witnesses too!) Throw rice or wheat at their feet and they have to stop and count them all. (Yes, I know X-Files did that with sunflower seeds. And they did the knotted rope with the shoelaces. Still….) Wolfsbane is suppose to be as effective on vampires as it is on werewolves. Surprisingly, onions too. I guess vampires just don’t like things that stink.

    So I suppose a skunk would be safe.

    And did you know that if a vampire drives a golden spike through your shadow, they have complete and total control over you?

    I want to bring that back. All while showing that a fat chick can kick vampire ass just as good if not better than a skinny chick.

    I’d also like to bring back real zombies – none of this rising from the dead crap. (Ever Easter I have to go around telling people why Jesus is more like a vampire than a zombie.) Voodoo spells, people who are alive but who’s free will been totally stolen from them. And no, I’ve never seen The Serpent And The Rainbow. I should add it to Netflix.

  • 16 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    How have I never heard of Suck???! Did I just ignore it?? Thanks for the link Chuckles! I’ll check it out!

    Eshbaal, I want to see your short film!

    JJR, I was planning on doing Seven Unsung Zombie flicks too!

  • 17 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Sep 17, 2011 at 12:50 am

    I hope White Zombie makes it because other than Evil Dead, that’s really the only zombie flick I like.

    Actually, it would be cool if you could do it in categories. Voodoo Zombies, Demon Possession Zombies, Virus Zombies, Reality TV Zombies….

  • 18 EshbaalNo Gravatar // Sep 17, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Well, Unk, I’m glad you wanna see it, but just to be sure you’re aware – it’s a 100% indie with nothing but a borrowed camcorder, a handyman’s spotlight as our only light source and no boom mic, and a bunch of friends who were willing to chip in. I think the whole thing is made for like 300$ (hey, we had to eat!).

    Other than that, it’s subtitled (as I am a dane), and a purposely simple slasher, as I mainly made it for practice. I just figured all this was fair warning.

    But in any case, here it is then – MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

  • 19 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Sep 17, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Unk – you can stream “Suck” on Netflix in HD.

    BTW – the lead is Jessica Pare, appearing as Megan on the last season of Mad men.

  • 20 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 20, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Thanks Chuckles! I’ll check it out!

    Eshbaal, I wasn’t able to get MON to play the other day (my browser is weird) but I just checked it out.
    Good work & love the music!

  • 21 EshbaalNo Gravatar // Sep 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I can’t take credit for the music, though. That was all SoundDogs dot com. Sadly, we did not have our own composer. All I did was spent hours picking just the right music and trying to make it fit.

    Glad you liked it, though! I AM rather proud of a few shots myself.

    Oh, and just because I love bringing it up – I played the killer as well. That’s me behind the mask.

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