On the whole, I’m not a fan of vampire movies or shows. In fact, one of the quickest ways to lose my interest is to either involve zombies or vampires. Ever since the 1980s, Hollywood has been drowning us in vampires-as-Eurotrash; those who wear designer brands, live in palatial museum-houses, and present immortality as the ultimate in glamour. When Twilight hit its craze, people hyperbolically accused it of killing the vampire genre, but the truth is, it was dead long before that.
On occasion, though, there is a vampire movie that speaks to me. These are movies that attempt to explore a different side of vampirism, namely that of the nature of immortality. I really enjoy the movies which seek to portray immortality not as something glamorous and chic, but rather as something dark and lonely. Typically, these characters stretch beyond that of glampires and into something darker and more sinister.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Ana Lily Amirpour’s stylish black and white venture, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, is one of my favorite vampire tales of recent time. Sheila Vand plays the titular Girl with such alien separation and disinterest, she manages to come off as the coolest girl in the room, while also imparting such loneliness and hopelessness. As the stalking predator of the aptly named Bad City, she manages to balance both being a monster that feeds off others, with becoming an avenging angel, of sorts, for the less fortunate denizens of the city.
At its heart, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a romance between Girl and Hossein, one of the few “good” people left in Bad City. The stark narrative manages to play off the classic vampire-loves-human trope, while turning it on its ear ever so slightly. By the end of the story, it’s not clear if Hossein has pieced together Girl’s nature — he definitely recognizes she is, at the very least, a murderer — but he’s willing to drive off with her, regardless. Both characters are drawn together by their mutual loneliness, but the ending is shockingly ambiguous as to whether or not they will make it past their drive out of the city.
Let the Right One In
Another foreign vampire film, Let the Right One In (not to be mistaken with the horrendous American remake, Let Me In) presents the darker side of the young, child vampire. Eli appears to be a young girl, living with her older caretaker, and moves into a complex with the perpetually bullied Oskar. While she first attempts to kill Oskar for food, his naiveté and humanity stays her hand, and the two develop a friendship.
So much of Let the Right One In presents Eli as both predator and, ultimately, victim of her own immortality. As a perpetual child, she is beholden upon an older person to do much of her “job” for her; even she seems to find murder distasteful. Despite being very manipulative and ruthless, there is still an innocence and torment to her.
Ultimately, the story is about a lonely child finding a kindred spirit in a lonely immortal child, though no matter how touching, and sweet — in a blood-soaked, rampaging manner — their story is, there is a depressingly inevitable turn to it, as we feel this is a song and dance Eli may have done many times before.
This is one of those weird movies to consider a vampire classic. It stars most of the cast of Aliens, and isn’t necessarily a great movie. The plot is a little loose, and it ends tied up with a weird bow. But the story of the vampires, and their actions themselves are very unique in the genre. This is, again, vampires presented as scavenging, scrounging beasts, with little-to-no connection to humanity, jumping from one murder spree to the next.
In many respects, Near Dark is the opposite of a glampire story. These are vampires as genuine monsters; they’re sociopathic, they’re reckless, and they enjoy it. Kathryn Bigelow takes vampirism and immortality to its inevitable conclusion, suggesting that stories about creatures which need to feed on humans to survive should not be painted as romantic or even charming. Despite the fact that two of the characters are deeply in love, and the family takes care of itself, they pay little heed to the rest of the world.
OK, after railing against glampires, it may seem weird to include the movie that popularized the whole mod/glam vampire genre. Aside from the fact that The Hunger stars David Bowie, who is incapable of not being glamorous, The Hunger always stood out by presenting glampires with a much darker edge lurking underneath.
First, you have Catherine Deneuve who, throughout the course of the movie, is hinted at being one of, if not the first vampire. Despite having survived centuries as an undead creature, she is continually needing a companion. The thought of being alone is, apparently, the worst fate she can imagine. That’s all well and good, but the real horror presented within is not the vampire herself, but her companions.
Generally, vampire movies explore the price of vampirism as simply being that of an undead creature that eats others and cannot walk in the sun anymore. The Hunger takes this a step further and suggests that the true price is a few hundred years of fabulously wealthy and glamorous life, followed by an endless stretch of imprisoned hell. The end climax of the movie may feel a little cheesy and dated, now, but if you really stop to think about it, The Hunger might be one of the darkest monkey’s-paw endings.
The Lost Boys
When I was a kid, this was the literal coolest movie ever. I mean, without question. I mean, look at that gif! Questions about the safe use of Aquanet aside, there was nothing as cool as a bunch of vampires quasi-terrorizing a small town. The title was a reference to the Lost Boys of Peter Pan, which is a theme that carries throughout the movie; these are vampires who look at their immortality as a gift, enabling them to forever live a carefree life.
There is also a dark humor that runs throughout the movie. It is implied, on a few occasions, that the Coreys might not be the only people who know there are vampires in their town, but they’re the only ones who really care. The last line, delivered very tongue-in-cheek, wraps up the entire sentiment that yes, there are vampires, and isn’t that just so boring? Also, this movie is a perfect ’80s time capsule.
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