Ricardo from U.N.L.O.A.D.E.D gives us five overlooked and underrated vampire films.
Pixelated imagery (shot with a toy pixel vision camera of all things) along with slick B&W cinematography pulled me right in. This David Lynch produced flick mixes art film with horror and a nice dash of humor to boot. Nadja (Elina Lowensohn) and her man slave arrive in New York City to claim the remains of their father, Dracula, who was taken out by Dr. Van Helsing played perfectly by Peter Fonda. A young couple, Lucy (Galaxy Craze) and Jim (Martin Donovan) are pulled into Nadja's web of seduction which complicates matters as Jim is the Nephew of Van Helsing. Enter Nadja's brother Edgar, who has no love for Nadja and things get even more dicey. The film is an allegory about family dysfunction and while disjointed in parts, the style and unique approach to the genre won me over. Some may find this gem pretentious but I just saw director Michael Almereyda trying to be unique in his delivery. I also wanted to get my hands on that toy pixel vision camera but never found one. Guess I could always try eBay.
Nice little film by Larry Fessendem who wrote, starred and directed this one. This film also takes place in New York City where Sam (Fessenden) plays a down on his luck guy that drinks a little too much and seems to be headed down the road to nowhere. He's shabby but has his heart in the right place. Things start going wrong when he meets an mysterious woman named Anna (Meredith Snaider) who doesn't fit the plastic definition of movie siren but delivers a performance that oozes with sex appeal. They have wild, savage lovemaking sessions that involve some blood drinking. She'll only see him after the sun goes down, she mysteriously vanishes and suddenly appears in Sam's dreams. Hmm..... somethings awry with this young lady. Sam becomes isolated from his friends but Anna starts making some inroads with them as well during a countryside retreat. There's a feeling of realism that this film is able to hold and capture quite well. Matters of loneliness, addiction ad depression seem to be well represented here. I was hoping to see more of Meredith Snaider in other films but this is her only one. I read somewhere that she's a social worker. Too bad in a way, she had something and so does Fessendon with this one.
3. Vampyros Lesbos
Lesbian vampires, what more could a movie fan want? This wonderful 70's cult gem by Jess Franco has so much vampiric sex and tripped out music that it reminded me of a spaghetti western on crack with vamps instead of cowboys and sex instead of gunfights. The plot involves the stunning Countess Carody (Soledad Miranda) that has an appetite for female blood. Running around alleys and biting women is not her style. She's got an island where she lures women to wine and dine them and then, suck them dry. The story focuses on Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Stromberg) falling into the Countess's trap and later tries to escape the living hell that follows. But that's not really the point either. See this for the sheer outrageousness of it all. The camera work, the music, the camp factor. It must be seen to fully comprehend.
4. Graveyard Shift aka Central Park Drifter
I'm not referring to the Stephen King adaptation circa 1990. This blood sucking film came out in 1987. While Vampyros Lesbos cashed in on 70's camp, this one made the most of 80's gloss. The story isn't the best there is but has promise. NYC Taxi driver Steven Tsepes (Silvio Oliviero) uses his graveyard shift credentials to pick up women in despair with the desire to die. Once he's pinpointed the right candidate, he feeds on them in the back seat of the cab, thus turning them into vampires. He falls for one of his converts, Michelle (Helen Papas), and her jealous ex-husband tries to take them both out. In the meantime, his other female converts have begun to go on a rampage around the Big Apple and the body count starts going through the roof. With a script that's in need of a few rewrites, the film still wins me over. The visuals are rich in color and lighting, the sex scenes are hot and ridiculous, and the mood and atmosphere seem to hold for it's time on the screen.
OK this isn't really a vampire film which may lead you to think I'm cheating but I don't think I am. I'll explain. The film is about Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pierce) who is transferred to an outpost in the middle of nowhere just after the Mexican-American War. The top brass feel he was less than brave in defeating the enemy hence the demotion of sorts. The outpost is filled with an eclectic group of soldiers and 2 Indians that help around the place. It's not until a hysterical fellow by the name of Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle) stops by and tells the story about how he and a party became stranded that the horror begins to unfold. He had to consume the other members of the party to survive. Boyd and the others stationed at the outpost must investigate the site where Colqhoun was to see if they're any survivors. There is cannibalism, yes, but the lust seems to be more blood based with the flesh being more of a by product. The elements of hunger, addiction, desire, over consumption and destruction that are rich in vampire lore are here as well. The film tries to draw a parallel with these themes by doing a little blurb on the concept of manifest destiny. A very interesting take on the history of how the USA came to be, but it's not fully explored. No matter, this film is so overlooked that it's a crime. If your a vampire film fan, looking for a well made film written with intelligence, this one will do very well.
So there's my 5. Sure there's lots of vampire flicks out there but these didn't seem to get a fair shake. We've all seen "Interview" with Pitt and Cruise, "Blade" with Snipes, and a few episodes of "Buffy" here and there but these still stick in my mind after all this time. And while I took a shot at writing my own vampire flick which I didn't like.
Buy them at amazon.com: Nadja | Habit | Vampyros Lesbos | Graveyard Shift | Ravenous
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Read more from Ricardo at U.N.L.O.A.D.E.D and follow him on twitter @unloadedone