It's said that a vampire can't really work its charms unless its invited into your home, which has been no problem lately. The creatures of the night have invaded television, film, and literature like some sort of undead plague. Sony's "Fright Night" redux is yet another vampire movie, which has once again become a prolific genre (my unscientific guesstimate wagers that it's probably been the single most prolific horror genre historically anyway). "Twilight" is obviously the big bloodsucking elephant in the room, but the likes of "Let Me In" and "Priest" have also seen wide theatrical releases.
However, horror has always thrived on the undercurrent of the mainstream, and vampires have been no different lately. They've cropped up in quite a number of independent films that have toured festival circuits before hitting store shelves with their DVD releases. Here's five that you might want to check out if you haven't had your fill of the undead.
This character driven affair ponders an age old question: "is it really worthwhile to be immortal?" That's the question Isabel (Caroline Haines) has to answer when she unwittingly becomes a vampire. So many films glamorize the vampire experience, but "Temptation" shows the ugly side of life. Hailing from England (the country that gave us Dracula), it's even got a little bit of an erotic, European style to accompany its bloodletting.
"We Are the Night" (2010)
On the other hand, this import from Germany makes it seem pretty cool to be a vampire. Following a cadre of female vampires and their newest recruit, the film is maybe the closest thing to a female equivalent of "The Lost Boys." These gals basically live a high life full of shopping sprees and street races, which is exactly what you associate with vampires, no? Of course not--but fret not, it gets down to business once Lena (Karoline Herfurth) figures out being a vampire isn't all that great after all.
Western Europe (who arguably developed the modern conception of the vampire) meets Eastern Europe (where vampires always seem to make their home) in this British/Romanian production. Its title is a fancy Russian word for "vampire," and the film gives us an alternate take on an old legend. In this case, vampires aren't crusty old guys shacked up in some castle; instead, they're undead spirits who rise from the grave because their souls can't rest. "Strigoi" is poignant, morbidly funny, and even a little clever because the entire film operates as a metaphor for a country finding its post-Communist identity. And here you thought only zombie films could (ironically enough, perhaps) have allegorical brains.
"Ninjas vs. Vampires" (2010)
A few years ago, writer/director Justin Timpane claimed he went to his local video store and decided to make a movie he couldn't find there. Anyone who's ever braved the mass of direct-to-video horror offerings knows that's a pretty tall task. Timpane eventually settled on mashing up ninjas and zombies, and the end result (believe it or not) was called "Ninjas vs. Zombies." A couple of years later, he got the band back together and had those same ninjas face off against vampires. What the film lacks in technical precision and a budget, it makes up for with unabashed enthusiasm for tossing a bunch of vampires and ninjas together at every turn.
"Stake Land" (2010)
The film that reaffirmed my faith in vampire flicks, "Stake Land" takes the undead and puts them in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. However, it's not the vamps we're interested in so much as the human element surrounding them. For example, Martin (Connor Paolo) is a teenage boy growing up in this nightmare and only has an enigmatic vampire hunter (Nick Damici) to guide him. Their relationship makes the film more "Karate Kid" than "Dracula" at times, and it's a great road film that sees our cast battle all sorts of perils (in addition to vampires, they've got to ward off cannibals). It's a shame "Stake Land" didn't get a wide theatrical release because it stands with some of the better vampire movies from the past few years.
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