By all standards, “Twilight” is a phenomenon.
With best-selling books, merchandise flying off the shelves and now a new film that appears to have “hit” written all over it, why is “Twilight” causing such a stir?
Perhaps it can be traced back to one of the main reasons the original Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” was such a hit — the undying love story (literally).
So many modern vampire stories focus on the creepy bloodsucking aspect that they often forget the romantic yearning behind the original tale. After all, Dracula was willing to denounce his god, commit suicide and doom himself to an eternity of suffering, all because of lost love.
“Twilight” fans are in love with, even obsessed with, the character of Edward Cullen, because he embodies that same undying pining that the original Dracula possessed.
With that in mind, where will “Twilight” rank among the best and worst vampire flicks of all time? Access Hollywood breaks down some of our all-time hits and misses of the vampire genre.
Best of the Best:
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” -- From the guy who brought us legendary films like “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now,” came the definitive version of the classic tale. Francis Ford Coppola and his team pulled out all the stops with a lavish production, from Academy Award-winning makeup to striking sets and costumes. Gary Oldman gave a moving performance as the tortured Count Dracula and Anthony Hopkins chews up the screen as the brilliant-yet-loony vampire hunter Van Helsing. If only there was a way to digitally replace the miscast Keanu Reeves with an actor who possessed more gravitas, it would be the perfect cast!
“Blade II” -- By far the most stylish and thrilling of the three “Blade” films, “Blade II” had a smarter script than most vampire fare (after all, it was written by David S. Goyer who recently helped reinvent the “Batman” franchise with Christopher Nolan) and it kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Plus, it boasted one of the most disturbing and painful ways for vampires to devour their victims yet! Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this film remains a great example of why he was tapped to direct the upcoming highly anticipated “Hobbit” films.
“30 Days of Night” -- Based on the stunning graphic novel of the same name, this underrated creepfest deserved it’s hard-earned second life on DVD. Set in an inspired desolate Alaskan location where permanent darkness has just set in for a month, it featured the most bloodthirsty, relentless vampires ever put to film. It did for vampire films what “30 Days Later” did for zombie films — after seeing this movie, all those other packs of vampires just seem downright wimpy.
“Nosferatu” – When it comes to creepy, “Nosferatu” may just beat them all. The original 1922 film may be too dated for modern audiences with its German expressionism and slow pace, but it was ahead of its time using jump cuts and all kinds of creative style to set a lasting eerie tone. And that creepy bald-headed, long-fingernailed Count Orlok resonated in the consciousness far longer than most modern day monsters – especially with that one ingenious shot of his shadow creeping up the stairs toward the heroine. Best use of a creepy shadow ever!
Worst of the Worst: (although there are sooooo many from which to choose):
“Dracula 3000” – It seems every horror franchise ends up in space eventually (even Jason Voorhees and the nasty little Leprachaun made their way into the stratosphere), so it was just a matter of time before the Count found his way onwards & upwards. But at least “Jason X” and “Leprachaun 4” were campy fun. Instead, in “Dracula 3000” fans were subjected to a thoroughly unconvincing Dracula who looked more like the gangly manager at the local grocery store than the Prince of Darkness. And it’s never a good sign when the best performance is from a rapper, let alone Coolio. This film even goes as far as having Dracula duck when someone tries to swing a stake at him. Come on — Dracula doesn’t duck!
“Vampires: Los Muertos” – This was the straight-to-DVD sequel to John Carpenter’s “Vampires.” That’s right, the sequel that nobody asked for. If anyone thought James Woods was trying too hard to be a tough guy in the first one, check out soft rocker Jon Bon Jovi attempting to pull off a scowl in the sequel. And you knew you were in trouble when one of the vampire hunters is a contestant from “Dancing With the Stars” (thanks Cristian de la Fuente), and the son from the old sitcom “Family Matters” played the supposed toughest dude in the movie. Yes, the guy who used to hang out with Urkel!
“Near Dark” – This film appeared to be one of those cult classics with so much buzz, eventually moviegoers were duped into watching it – only to spend the duration of the film waiting for any semblance of a quality film. Gratuitous gore didn’t equal a good vampire movie (that’s why they make zombie movies!) and it didn’t make up for a meandering plot (or complete lack thereof) with hammy, unconvincing performances.
The list of horrifically awful vampire films goes on and on (with such titles like “Vampire Dentist,” “Vampires on Bikini Beach” and “Vampire in Vegas”), so the question becomes — will “Twilight” rank among the top vampire movies or fall (un)dead at the box office?
That will be decided when “Twilight” hits theaters November 21.