Vampire Films

I am not a huge movie buff – for reasons I’ve never quite understood it takes a lot of effort for me to sit and concentrate on a film. Conversely, hand me a Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy novel and I will sit for hours reading and even taking notes. I can’t explain why novels work for me in a way that films often don’t. However I recently saw three films I did enjoy and found riveting for various reasons. Upon reflection I realise that they all have a central vampire theme. I find vampire folklore and mythology fascinating. Discovering Anne Rice as a teenager in the 1990s was a revelation. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was one of the first really long books I read as an adolescent that instilled in me a love for 19th Century European classic literature.

These recent films that I really did enjoy and that have kept me thinking are:

1. Only Lovers Left Alive

An excellent soundtrack and the incredible Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are vampire lovers reunited with each other. It’s really fascinating to see how they cope with the continuation of their lives and relationships through the centuries, and the delight they take in human ideas and music and culture.

2. What We Do in the Shadows

A documentary about a group of vampire housemates living in New Zealand. I found it absolutely hilarious (and morbid!). Actors include Jemaine Clement and Rhys Darby from the Flight of the Conchords tv series. I think it deserved a lot more coverage than it received – to see it I had to go hunt it down at a tiny independent cinema just outside of Melbourne. I highly recommend it.

3. Dracula Untold

I really enjoyed this film. It was like if a number of the Dracula and vampire stories I’ve read over the years were mashed together and turned into a live action comic book. For me it had some elements that were reminiscent of Stoker’s Dracula, of course, but also Twelve by Jasper Kent, Vlad: The Last Confession by C. C. Humphries, and even some of the ancient Egyptian demonic elements of the origin of the Anne Rice vampires which I think were detailed in The Vampire Lestat (it’s been far too long since I read that wonderful novel).

In Dracula Untold Prince Vlad is performed by the same actor who is Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit films. It explores the origins of the vampire Dracula, a heroic leader whose love for his people will do anything it takes to save his family and his country from the invading armies.

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