By Cory Phare
From Dracula to Nosferatu to Edward Cullen, our obsession with vampires spans centuries and archetypes.
So, what is it about these bloodsuckers that makes them so compelling to us mortal day-dwellers?
“Part of the attraction of vampires is the age-old promise of eternal life, and blood has been associated with life as far back as Leviticus,” said James Aubrey, Ph.D., professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Vampires also appeal to the common wish for more power over one's environment, including over other humans.”
Aubrey isn’t just another fan – he’s an expert currently teaching a section of the University’s popular Vampire Films course. Here are his picks for six vampire flicks that are sure to leave you dead – and loving it.
Let the Right One In (2008)
This is the story of two lonely 12-year-old kids in Stockholm learning to love each other. One is being bullied at school, and the other is a child vampire, with the classic line "I've been 12 for a long time.” Oskar is infatuated with everliving Eli, but this is more than a schoolhouse melodrama with no parents in sight – the mood is as dark as Sweden’s long winter nights. If the plot feels familiar, it’s because this flick was remade in the U.S. as “Let Me In,” but the original Swedish version is more creepily, sneakily engaging.
"This medieval saga follows a vampire mother-daughter duo on the run from a male-only vampire society seeking to rid the world of these upstart females. Although set in a seedy town on the English Channel, the vampires originate from Ireland (coincidentally, on that same rocky island where Luke Skywalker was found in The Last Jedi). Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan are terrific as the ruthlessly protective mother and her sensitive daughter, the latter of whom becomes romantically interested in a local boy between mercy killings."
Director Guillermo del Toro's first film is set in Mexico City where an aging billionaire’s search for eternal life leads him to a magical device, dubbed Cronos, that grants his wish – but also gives him a lust for blood. As in del Toro's “Pan's Labyrinth,” an important character in the movie is a brave 10-year-old girl whose grandfather first discovers Cronos inside an antique statue in his shop.
Near Dark (1987)
A nomadic family of vampires travels around in a sun-proofed RV, "the Winnebago from Hell," as director Kathryn Bigelow has called it. They are extremely violent and don't adjust easily to a new family member, abducted by their daughter from a farm in Oklahoma. The movie has been called a "vampire western" but it's too beautifully lighted and filmed to fit readily into either genre. This was Bigelow's first movie as solo director before going on to become the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker.”
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014)
This Spike Lee Joint focuses initially on Dr. Hess Green, a wealthy African-American man who collects ancient artifacts, including a mysterious ceremonial knife. He develops a thirst for blood after his valet stabs him with the knife – and then shoots himself. When valet's wife, named Ganja, comes looking for her husband, she and Green fall in love, and he turns her to a vampire as well. Problems arise when Ganja finds herself attracted to a would-be victim they have invited to – and for – dinner. Lee’s film, set in Brooklyn and Martha’s Vineyard and scored by Bruce Hornsby, is a remake of Ganja and Hess, a 1970s indie flick that drew raves at the Cannes Film Festival.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
This mockumentary by the creators of Flight of the Conchords follows four vampires from different historical periods, each with different quirks, all sharing an apartment in New Zealand. A flat meeting devolves into hilarious arguments over housekeeping chores, including who will do the bloody dishes that have been piling up. For the 18th-century vampire-dandy, getting ready for a night out at the club is a particular challenge when he can't see his reflection in a mirror. Then there’s the local gang of werewolves – problems, problems.
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