Friday, November 9, 2012

Favorite Vampiers in Honor of Bram

Yesterday was Bram Stoker's 165 Birthday, so in honor of him, I posted my 5 favorite vampire books and 5 favorite vampire films. I'm repeating the lists here, with a little detail.

Five Favorite Vampire Books

1) "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson - Not just favorite vampire or horror book, but simply one of my favorite novels. It's been made into three films, one with Vincent Price, one with Charleton Heston and one with Will Smith, all with different titles and none a fraction as good as the book. The tale of the last man on earth in a world of vampires. Fantastic, earned twist ending, appropriate for a writer who created some of the best "Twilight Zones".

2) "Dracula" by Bram Stoker - Holds up quite well, with a modern blend of first and third person perspective. The Count is not the suave gentlemen from the Lugosi version, but rather a vile creation. A surprisingly Christan novel.

3) "Anno Dracula" by Kim Newman - Van Helsing failed and Dracula and his minions rule England, if not in the legal sense. But even that will be taken care of when the Count marries the Queen... One of the great conceits of this book is that it is not just populated by the 19th Century creations of Stoker, but also characters from the worlds of Conan Doyle, Stevenson, Kipling and other writers of Stoker's time and ours.

4) "Salem's Lot" by Stephen King - Written by King when editors still kept him on track and his work was fresh.

5) "How to Care for Your Monster" by Norman Bridwell - Before he wrote about Clifford the Big Red Dog, Bridwell wrote this how to book for kids who prefer mummies, werewolves and, yes, vampires to dogs and cats.

Five Favorite Vampire Movies

IMHO, there isn't a masterpiece of a vampire film. Even those that are "classics" like the 1931 "Dracula" or 1932's "Vampyr" are kind of slow. Both versions of "Nosferatu" have their moments, but I decided to go with the films I found the most fun.

1) "The Lost Boys" - Part of the fun of this film for me is seeing Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Atlantis, my favorite comic book store in the world. It's campy, but has trills and laughs.

2) "Fright Night" (original) - I really love Roddy McDowell as a Creature Feature type host, who helps a teen fight the dreaded creatures of the night.

3) "Near Dark" - I found this film quite frightening when I first saw it, but it wasn't quite the same when I tried to re-watch it recently. Still, Kathryn Bigalow ("The Hurt Locker") made a film that was different from any other.

4) "Dracula" (1979) - This version with Frank Langela as the Count and Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing is my favorite. (I couldn't even make it through the Coppola version.)

5) "House of Dark Shadows" - Probably would be awful if I watched it again, but I have great memories of going with my brothers and sisters to see this at the theater and watching it at Comstock Junior High.

Honorable Mention: "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein", "Nosferatu" (both versions), "Shadow of the Vampire"

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