Friday, October 25, 2013

The Best Vampire Movies Since 2000

If there is a positive fallout from the advent of Twilight, it's that vampires have been in vogue since the first book of the series hit the best-seller list. Bloodsuckers have invaded screens big and small, dragging werewolves and other classic monsters with them. Having been a fan of vampire flicks since I was a little boy, I can't help but to be a tiny bit thankful.

However, if you've been here all month you might have noticed that I haven't reviewed many vampire flicks this October. Starving for blood, so to speak, I've re-watched a number of them and even sat through the steaming pile I reviewed a few days ago: Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned. Ugh. After all this I asked myself "why not make a vampire list?" Hmmm...the greatest vampire movies of all-time? Maybe next time. Let's narrow our focus a bit. Since the hated Twilight franchise, at least indirectly, helped bring about this exercise, let's keep it close to its own era as possible. While we're at it, let's title it like some sort of definitive list even though it's not. Besides, I'm sure you'll let me know what I've missed. Anyhoo, in my very humble opinion, these are...

The Best Vampire Movies Since 2000

10. Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Okay, I know this is not what you were expecting, but the simple fact is I like this movie more than the dozens of other vampire flicks I left out. That's more of a sad commentary on the genre than anything else. Still, it's fun and well-done. It is all about a dad going overboard to protect his daughter. Dad just happens to be Count Dracula.

9. 30 Days of Night (2007)
The beauty of this movie is its simplicity. In an Alaskan industrial town, it is about to be dark for an extended period of time. As the sun sets, a group of vampires comes into town looking for a feast. That's it. No romantic notions here about a creature who's diet consists solely of human blood. These are simply aggressive and nasty predators. It's perhaps the most willing to be just a horror flick of any movie on this list.

8. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
In the future, vampire hunting has become a very lucrative occupation. The best hunter out there is D. His big advantage is that he's half-vampire. When a young woman is abducted by a vampire, her father hires D to bring her home safely, or kill her humanely if she's already become one herself. The catch is he's also hired a crew of hunters, so our hero has some competition out there. It's an interesting movie that takes the vampire in some new, and often, strange directions. Don't let the fact that it's animated fool you. It's a dark tale and not made for the little ones. If you don't like anime, steer clear.

7. Daybreakers (2010)
This one is more of a thinking man's entry into the canon of vampire movies. Most of the world's population has already turned into bloodsuckers. Unsurprisingly, they are running out of human blood which is a big problem. The remaining humans form a resistance and might possibly have a cure. There are also the disgusting little creatures vampires devolve into if/when they start feeding on vampire blood. The movie was not especially well-received, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. The plot plays out nicely and despite what I said about this being a thinking man's flick, things get pretty nasty.

6. I Am Legend (2007)
We've already established that Richard Matheson's most famous tale is only loosely followed in this adaptation (click here). What we also established is that most of the liberties taken with the story are for the better. Will Smith gives a surprisingly vulnerable performance and ably conveys a man who knows great loss, but thinks he can fix things. By things, I mean the plague that has turned seemingly everyone else in the world into vampires. These vamps are closer to zombies and have been almost universally panned for being rendered by shoddy cgi. Honestly, I've seen worse. Besides, the movie around them functions pretty well.

5. Underworld (2003)
Vampires and werewolves, here referred to as Lycans, have been waging war for centuries and things are coming to a head. We get in on the story as the one special human is found who can survive being bitten by both monstrous species and could be a formidable weapon. This one plays out as if both creatures were thrown into The Matrix. It is pretty easily the most stylish and least horror movie on the list. Some might say all that style merely masks the lack of substance. I'm cool with that. It works for me. Granted, the franchise spawned from this flick is largely rubbish, but I'm rather fond of this one.

4. Blade II (2002)
Marvel Comics' half-human, half-vampire hero Blade has dedicated his life to destroying vampires. They are out to get him, too. However, at least for one night, both parties have to put aside their differences and work together because there is something out there worse than either of them: The Reapers. Director Guillermo del Toro crafts a movie that functions as part horror flick and part superhero adventure and bittersweet love story. This is by far my favorite movie in the franchise and one of my favorite comic book flicks of all-time.

3. Let Me In (2010)
Here we have the American remake of a Swedish vampire flick. Like its predecessor, it's a wonderful tale of a troubled young boy in love with a girl who happens to be a vampire. We deal extensively with bullying, absentee parenting, puppy love, even pedophilia. Having it set in the 80s also gives some of us old farts a good deal of nostalgia. Yes, I sing along when Culture Club's "Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me" plays. What of it? Anyhoo, all of these things are handled well. Also well done are the performances of our youthful leads and the sheer exhaustion expressed by Richard Jenkins. And of course, in true American fashion, it is more visually gruesome than the original.

2. Let the Right One In (2008)
Okay, maybe it's a cop-out to have both the original and the remake on the same list. But this movie is soooooooo good. True, the remake offers more in the way of blood and guts. On the other hand this one is more subtle. It doesn't show us as much to our eyes, but the more implicit narrative makes this one a bit creepier. Along with all the themes of the American flick, this one includes homosexuality and emasculation in both the literal and figurative sense. Therefore, it's even braver than the remake, too.

1. Thirst (2009)
Vampire movies that mix horror and romance are nothing new. See most of the movies on this list. Still, there's never been one quite like this. While volunteering for a medical experiment in hopes of helping find a cure for the Emanuel virus, a priest contracts the fatal disease himself. Luckily for him, a blood transfusion saves his life. The drawback is that it transforms him into a vampire. Oops. To make things even more complicated, he falls in love with a married woman. As the undead must do to the ones they love, he turns her. She then becomes what might be the scariest vampire in any movie on this list. Korean director Chan-wook Park gives us a beautiful looking movie, despite the gore (or because of it) with a terrifically bittersweet ending.


  1. I have not seen Let Me In but I loved Let the Right One In. First I have heard about Thirst thanks for the heads up.

    1. No problem. I hope you get to check it out soon.