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Wednesday, April 12, 2023

6 Under-Appreciated Vampire Movies to Watch Before You See ‘Renfield’

He may have been preceded by characters like Lord Ruthven and Carmilla, but Dracula is still the quintessential vampire, with Bram Stoker’s iconic novel boasting over two hundred cinematic adaptations and inspiring most modern vampire media. That being said, vampire movies have long worked their way out from beneath the shadow of Stoker’s gothic opus, offering up insanely varied stories about our favorite blood-sucking beasts.

And with Chris McKay’s upcoming Renfield proving that there are still fresh spins to be had on the Dracula formula, we’ve decided to come up with a list celebrating six of the most under-appreciated vampire movies out there. After all, there’s nothing like discovering a hidden gem within a sea of similar genre flicks.

To be featured on this list, a movie needs to be specifically about vampires (that means no other supernatural creatures like werewolves) and has to approach the mythology from a unique perspective. We’ll also be focusing on lesser-known vampire movies, so no popular choices like Let the Right One In and What We Do in the Shadows.

With that out of the way, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorite offbeat vampire flicks if you think we missed a particularly entertaining one.

Now, onto the list…

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6. Daybreakers (2009)

Directed by the Spierig Brothers, Daybreakers wasn’t exactly a flop when it first came out, but I find it fascinating that this star-studded allegory for humanity’s misuse of natural resources is so often forgotten when discussing memorable vampire flicks. Starring Ethan Hawke as a vampiric hematologist in a dystopic society run by immortal monsters, the movie explores what might happen when our vampiric rulers start to run out of blood.

Featuring excellent performances by Hawke, Willem Dafoe and even Sam Neil, what really makes Daybreakers stand out is its dedication to futuristic worldbuilding and atmosphere, with the film being chock-full of clever details like fully sun-proofed cars and homeless vampires that act like Nosferatu going through withdrawal.

It’s certainly not the best movie on this list, but I honestly think that more people should give this oddity a watch.

5. Vampire Hunter D (1985)

A straight-to-video animation adapting a light novel series about a half-breed monster-slayer in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Toyoo Ashida’s Vampire Hunter D is one of the few western-released animated projects that helped to spark the anime boom in the west. Featuring gory action and plenty of two-dimensional scares, it’s no wonder that this strange flick convinced a whole generation that Japanese animation could also entertain adults.

While most fans insist that Vampire Hunter D’s theatrical sequel from 2000 is the superior film (especially since it benefits from a larger budget), I’d argue that it’s worth tracking both of these down for a complete experience.

4. Afflicted (2013)

Following an American tourist who becomes infected with a mysterious illness while travelling across Europe with his best friend, Afflicted’s place on this list is already a bit of a spoiler, as Derek Lee and Clif Prowse’s found footage gem takes its sweet time to reveal the exact nature of the main character’s odd condition.

That being said, the movie contains one of the most unique takes on vampirism in modern media, all captured through the lens of a confused young man hoping to record what he thinks are his last days on earth. It takes a while for things to get truly scary, as the initial symptoms make our protagonist think that he’s developing super-powers, but I’d recommend this one for any fan of unconventional vampire flicks and Found Footage road-movies.

3. Thirst (2009)

Park Chan-wook may be best remembered for his iconic Oldboy, but my personal favorite of his moody repertoire is the romantic horror flick Thirst, which follows Song Kang-ho as a Catholic priest who unwittingly becomes a vampire and falls in love with his friend’s wife. Inspired by Émile Zola’s scandalous 19th century novel Thérèse Raquin, the film proceeds to explore exactly how far our passions can take us in a surprisingly poignant (not to mention bloody) experience.

While the film’s excessive bloodshed and erotic elements might scare off some vampire fanatics, Chan-wook’s unique addition to the vampire mythos remains one of the genre’s most human offerings, giving Kang-ho the chance to shine as a man torn between faith, love and friendship in exceedingly absurd situations.

2. Habit (1997)

If you want to revamp a classic monster for modern audiences without losing the emotional edge that made these stories effective in the first place, Larry Fessenden is the filmmaker for you. While he’s already updated Frankenstein into a contemporary tragedy in Depraved and is currently working on his own take on The Wolfman, the filmmaker’s first foray into mythological bloodshed came in the form of the 1997 indie flick Habit.

Telling the story of a New Yorker who becomes ill after getting involved with a mysterious woman, the film is half arthouse mood piece and half romantic monster movie. While things never get truly terrifying (unless you count the existential dread of being a psychologically unstable artist in Manhattan), this strange little character study will likely stick with you long after the end credits roll.

1. Martin (1977)

From The Crazies to Bruiser, George Romero’s career goes far beyond his fame as the creator of the modern zombie movie. In fact, one of his best but least discussed features is the incredibly provocative vampire film Martin. Following a disturbed young man who becomes convinced that he’s a vampire, the film is a more down-to-earth depiction of what a killer who thrives on blood might look like, forgoing the gothic excess of the genre’s usual offerings.

While fans of the movie praise it for its complex main character and social satire, it’s also remembered for finding its way onto the United Kingdom’s Video Nasty list, which might have something to do Tom Savini’s excellent behind-the-scenes contributions to the flick.

The post 6 Under-Appreciated Vampire Movies to Watch Before You See ‘Renfield’ appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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