The Horror Honeys: Vampire Films That Don’t Suck!

Vampire Films That Don’t Suck!

A Supernatural Honey List by Suzanne

Anyone who knows anything about vampire folklore knows that vampires are not the beautiful, romantic, sexy beings some executives in Hollywood would like us to believe (I’m looking at you, True Blood). Vampires are, well, dead and dead things are rotten. Sure, drinking blood keeps them physically animated, but the smell of death doesn’t go away. Would you really want to have sex with that? Please don’t tell me if the answer is yes. Also, vampires are predators. They kill things. They don’t want to sit across from you and discuss music and literature.

Vampires are a staple in the horror genre, but let’s face it, the market is over-saturated with “new spins” on the classic tale. There are a few less than mainstream films that always end up on best of lists like, Let the Right One In, Near Dark, and The Hunger. These are films that take vampire lore to a different level. Sadly, mainstream horror gives us poorly executed films based on poorly written books, like the Twilight series. 

What I’m bringing you this week are a few films which may not be familiar to someone new to the genre, or just not a huge fan of vampires. These films, all done by well-known directors, leave the romance and the fairy tales in the dust. This is hardcore. 

Martin (1976)

George Romero may be best known for practically creating the zombie genre, but he’s also made his contribution to the vampire genre. John Amplas stars as Martin, who believes he is an 84 year old vampire. He moves to Pittsburgh to live with his elderly cousin, who shares Martin’s belief and vows to destroy him. Martin fulfills his bloodlust and sexual desires, but is he really a vampire or just a seriously disturbed young man with social anxiety? That question is never really answered. Low budget and super 70s, with special effects by Tom Savini, Martin is a truly unique entry driven by performances and location, rather than overt sexuality and gore.

Rabid (1977) 

When it comes to films by David Cronenberg, you expect things to get a little weird and Rabid fits that bill. After a serious motorcycle accident, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) undergoes radical plastic surgery. After waking from a lengthy coma, Rose discovers she has a need for human blood. In true Cronenberg fashion, Rose is no ordinary vampire. She has essentially become a human mosquito, obtaining blood through a proboscis in her armpit. In her wake she creates a plague that ravages Canada. Rabid is Cronenberg’s second feature film and, while not one of his best, he manages to combine sci-fi and horror into an interesting take on the vampire genre.

Cronos (1993)

I was already a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro by the time I finally got around to watching his first feature film. Cronos (Chronos) in Greek mythology represents the destructive ravages of time. In del Toro’s tale, an antiques dealer, Jesus Gris, discovers a device hidden in an old statue. Unbeknownst to him, the device, created by an alchemist, gives eternal life to the owner. Gris inadvertently activates it and soon begins to look younger and crave blood. There are others who know about the device and will stop at nothing to get it from Gris. Cronos is what you would expect visually and technically from del Toro. It is a completely original take on vampires and is also the first time the director would work with Ron Perlman.

Habit (1997)

Serious fans of independent film are familiar with Larry Fessenden. Here he writes, directs and stars in one of the grittiest modern vampire films I’ve ever seen. After the death of his father and recent break up with his girlfriend, Sam (Fessenden), finds solace in a bottle and in a mysterious woman named Anna. Anna leads Sam down a path of sexual obsession and addiction. Against the backdrop of NYC, Habit is less a direct vampire film than an interpretation of depression and loneliness, and the lengths some people will go to to make a personal connection. 

Thirst (2009) 

Chan-wook Park has brought us some of the best in Asian horror and revenge films. A priest, Sang-hyun, volunteers for an experimental vaccine. He is given a transfusion of vampire blood, infecting him. Not only does he crave human blood, he is immersed in a world of sexual pleasure. He struggles to fight the urges he has repressed for so long and maintain his humanity. This is a bit of a departure from the revenge aspect present in most of Park’s films, but is no less visually stunning. 

All of these films bring something unique to the table and while they may not appeal to mainstream audiences, do yourself a favor and watch them at least once. You’ll thank me for it. I swear.

Have you seen any of these lesser-known gems?
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