Its roots are lost at the origin of the times, with legends of necrophages and life-force devouring Spectra ravaging Europe, and whose origins can be traced back to the sirens and lamias of classical mythology. The title of the beings that sleep in coffins and feeding off the energy of the living, with more or fewer variants, acquired a semblance of authentic collective hysteria in some areas of eastern Europe during the 18th century.
But it was not until the end of that century, with the publication of a series of literary works with broad features in common, that the figure of the Vampire as we know it today was not shaped. The 1819 account of “”the vampire”” by John Polidori, “”Carmilla”” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872, and the sum of both, “”Dracula”” by Bram Stoker in 1897, configured the Vampire as a Machiavellian and seductive creature, with elements of both Supernatural and predatory Don Juan de la Noche.
From the fictitious’ Dracula ‘of silent cinema’ Nosferatu ‘ to the constant reinventions of the myth that continue to dry up our screens, The Vampire has never ceased to be present in horror cinema. ‘Dracula’ is just the tip of the iceberg: vampires, bloodsuckers, and princes of the darkness of all kinds have populated the cinema for more than a century. To remember them, we have selected the 31 most famous vampire movies, so that tomorrow you wake up with two small holes in your neck.
- Dracula (Horror of Dracula, 1958)
Despite the fact that in his day came to be considered an affront to the literary source original by their very high dose of violence and erotica, never-before-seen on-screen, what is certain is that the first Dracula of the Hammer, unlike the extraordinary ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ from 1957, which was away well from the novel of Mary Shelley, is the incarnation of the vampire of Stoker’s most reliable up to that point. Above all, thanks to the imposing presence of Christopher Lee, both a seductive monster and a magnetic gentleman.
Splendidly directed by Terence Fisher, with a staging that made every corner of the stage, every object and every gesture ooze strangeness and pure horror, ‘Dracula’ turned vampires back into monsters, leaving behind gallantry in coffins. The Hammer would signify eight direct sequels of Dracula, some as highly recommended as this first delivery. Notable among them are ‘The brides of Dracula,’ ‘Dracula, Prince of Darkness,’ ‘The satanic rites of Dracula’ or the surprisingly juicy ‘Dracula ‘ 73.’
- The brides of Dracula (The Brides of Dracula, 1960)
Although we all remember Christopher Lee as, possibly, the best Dracula of all time, it should be clear that the Hammer stuck his teeth in Vampire terror with many other subgenre movies. Some of them are as interesting as the stars of the Lee, like this one, also led by Terence Fisher, with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, but with a new taster of blood (generated, yes, by the Dracula in person): the baron Meinster.
The film overflows unpayable moments, from the deservedly mythical sequence of the mill forming a cross with the blades to all the dialogues of the Baron’s mother, going through the fetid resurrection-impressive for a 1960 film – of one of the brides. Those interested in the vampire mythology of the Hammer beyond Lee’s Dracula will do well to immerse themselves in all those inspired by Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’ (less visually sophisticated than this, but very juicy, such as ‘the Countess Dracula’ or ‘Dracula and the twins’) or the total madness of the late Hammer, such as ‘Captain Kronos, vampire hunter’ or ‘Kung Fu versus the Seven Golden Vampires’
- The Last Man on Earth, 1964
Although the original novel by Richard Matheson (here coadapting it in the script) is one of the great inspirations of George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’, it is easy to identify the post-apocalyptic creatures that have left the planet made a plot with vampires: they rest during the day, hours our protagonist takes advantage of to slaughter them-an idea that would later pillage ‘Vampires Of John Carpenter’. The rest of the time, a Vincent Price with a perfect melancholy pose, laments about his lonely situation.
The film would be reformulated in a more ambitious and box office production starring Will Smith in 2007 and would accentuate the Vampire and significant component of beings wandering the planet. But it lacks the dark and minimalist atmosphere that has ended up turning this film co-produced with Italy (that rarefied European air gives it much of its charm) into a strange rarity of vampire cinema.
- The vampires (Vampyros Lesbos, 1971)
The unclassifiable Jesus Franco turned to the myth vampire time and time again throughout his career: the rare stiffness of ‘count Dracula’ to the craze of comic of ‘Dracula against Frankenstein’, going by this exploit is) that take by assault the cinephilia rampant your responsible to subvert the codes of vampirism lesbians that had become fashionable productions late of the Hammer, while tightening the nuts of the explicitness of visual.
Franco skips the topics of vampiric cinema that do not interest him (the always great solitude Miranda is a vampire who takes the sun), makes others his own (he only drinks blood from women) and dynamite the rest, as all that concerns the Vampire Hunter. Here the castle is a chalet, and the soundtrack has no dark church organs but is built with warm and hypnotic jazz. Like all Frank, unique and particular, and yet, one of the most notorious vampire euro horror films.
- The red on the lips, 1971)
One of the film’s most unique of all was the euro horror of the seventies, at the peak of the successful formula of the Hammer of plunder ‘Carmilla’ in order to adapt the myth of vampire to the new times, as well as in his rethinking on the part of producers of Spanish, French and German at the flick of a morbid curiosity, delirium, dream, and eroticism unfettered. In this case, the Countess Bathory and her maid are called to stay in a hotel in Bruges, where the protagonist couple arrives: he wants to introduce his fiancée to his mother.
With the psychosexual potentiometers at once (or more), this French-Belgian and German co-production blends elements of Giallo and the exploitation cinema of the time. Kümel (who would soon direct his stupendous adaptation of ‘Malpertius’) configured his vampire (Delphine Seyrig) with elements of classic movie actresses like Marlene Dietrich (and the maid like Louise Brooks). He also injected certain aesthetic airs typical of the uniforms of Nazism, as with that authoritarian touch it is as Kümel saw the mythical bloodsuckers.
- Requiem for a vampire (Vierges et vampires, 1973)
Rollin, capable of unleashing furious hatred and boundless devotion, forms an indispensable piece of the sinuous and hyper erotic Euro-horror of the Seventies. Their stories, cut mostly by the same pattern of nymphs drinker of blood, more inspired by ‘Carmilla’ in ‘Dracula,’ are variations levísimas to the same idea that floats in a world in which everything is aesthetic, reeds, fog, and castles in the wasteland.
I could have brought to this list the also Fabulous ‘The Living Dead’, ‘The Castle of the vampires’, ‘the rape of the Vampire’, ‘The Naked vampire’ or ‘the dawn of the vampires’, but I get this most bizarre piece, practically mute, that advances the Tarantino himself with his story of two rugged muggers who end up knocking over a mysterious castle. Influenced more than others of his films by the nouvelle vague and the European erotic comic, ‘Requiem for a vampire’ is Rollin pure, and as such, as debatable as fascinating.
- The mystery of Salem’s Lot (1979)
All right, it’s a television miniseries, but we inserted it here for having received editing in feature-length format (in Spain, under the ridiculous title of ‘Phantasma II’) and for its extraordinary quality despite the cathodic limitations. He adapts one of Stephen King’s best novels and marked countless children of the Eighties on his Spanish television pass, to such an extent that for a generation, the image of the vampire child scratching his brother’s window is one of those that traumatize a childhood.
His mixture of transformation of the classical vampires (pulling, curiously, the iconography of the most classic of all, Nosferatu) with respect to the mythology of the genre (follow all the rules: invitation to home, stake, hunters, coffins…) produces a disturbing film with a thick atmosphere, which understands the great virtues of King’s novel and can translate them into images. A minor classic, but revisable over and over again. A lot of eye with Salem’s Lot II, the strangest and also very oppressive sequel, directed by Larry Cohen and with Sam Fuller as a relentless vampire hunter.