In honor of David Bowie’s passing earlier this year, here is a vampire film viewing suggestion… 10 vampire films leading up to The Hunger as the finale.
Have your own little screening series with this vampire list with The Hunger as it’s finale. Whether you invite your friends over on Friday nights for a few weeks to watch these in pairs, fit in some late night viewing before bed, or marathon them all in a weekend, this thematically and stylistically chosen list will lead up to the odd and beloved vampire movie starring David Bowie.
1 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Where else to start than with this romantic and dramatic cinematic realization of the best-known vampire story? Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola centers around two true love stories: Jonathan and Mina’s engagement and Dracula and Mina’s time-spanning connection. With costume design by Eiko Ishioka, it is a visually stunning inspiration. Most memorably Gary Oldman with creepy man buns and long fingernails, the beautifully gothic garden seduction scene, and Lucy’s burial ensemble.
2 – Interview with the Vampire
In May 2016, rumors and reports emerged that Anne Rice’s novel will be remade, but the original film version of the story will always be a classic. This movie is filled with vampire love stories, there’s maker Lestat and fledgling Louis, Louis and his parental love of child vampire Claudia, Louis and his fascination with old world vampire Armand, and an open ended vampire rendezvous at the end. With a cast consisting of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, and Christian Slater the characters are as mesmerizing as the film’s New Orleans setting.
3 – Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
This is the second anime based on Hideyuki Kikuchi’s novel series. 1985’s Vampire Hunter D is highly recommended but 2000’s Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust amps up the melodrama. Bloodlust takes place thousands of years in the future and blends gothic, futuristic, and steampunk styling. D is a wonderfully brooding dhampir, half vampire half human, who hunts vampires and is constantly ridiculed by a parasite in his hand. He gets caught up in a human vampire love story. Truly memorable is the epically romantic scene of the vampire lord aflame slowly struggling through sunlight from a stagecoach to save his lover on an expansive bridge.
4 – Near Dark
Near Dark is sometimes overshadowed by another 1987 vampire movie about a gang of vampires and while The Lost Boys is great vampire film, Near Dark is not to be forgotten. Near Dark is literally darker than The Lost Boys, the film is a string of low light scenes making it somber and eerie. Near Dark deals with the vampire condition in a rather real way but the standout killing spree bar scene, captivating characters that somehow are simultaneously wonderful vampire personas and realistic believable vampires, and the moody dark mid-west United States setting bring just the right amount of vampire charm.
5 – Night Watch
Night Watch is based on the Russian novel by Sergei Lukyanenko of the same name. The film pulls you into a fantasy world where an epic battle between the Light and the Dark Others in underway. The Dark Others are mostly vampires but the main character Anton, a Light Other, drinks blood to enhance the seer abilities he uses to police the Dark Others as part of the Night Watch. The lines between the light and the dark, the good and the bad, are blurred. Are the Light Others really the good ones? Are the Dark really the bad ones? This intriguing theme builds up to the movies final moments, it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger but one that enhances the story and the whole rest of the film. Though Night Watch can stand on its own, the story continues in Day Watch and a series of books.
6 – Byzantium
Byzantium is a newer vampire movie, released in 2012, by Interview with the Vampire director Neil Jordan. This film is full of the elements you want from a vampire movie: a gothic tone, drama, grit, beautiful characters, conflicted love stories, hunters, blood, and a mysterious vampire order. It truly delivers everything you could want while never becoming cheesy or bad. The fact that it so perfectly satisfies could be seen as a flaw but the film is truly well done, interesting, and unique, and by the end, the perfectly pleasing ending has you on board and not wanting to change a thing.
7 – Breaking Dawn: Part 1
Yes, there is a Twilight movie on this list. The fourth of five movies in The Twilight Saga movie series can stand on its own and appeal to Twilight haters for its truly bizarre subject matter. Edward and Bella finally get married and the wedding is surprisingly well styled. Fashion designer Carolina Herrera’s wedding dress for Bella is worth a mention, subtly gothic in its demure romantic elegance. Then the movie gets progressively more and more bizarre. There’s the conflicted honeymoon teetering between lust and Bella’s fragile mortality. A parasitic pregnancy as Bella’s vampire child grows alarmingly fast, she becomes more and more hollow, and it’s eventually realized the unborn vampire needs blood. This leads to unnerving scenes of Bella drinking blood through a straw and eventually a brutal birth scene focusing on Bella’s face, making the unseen seem even worse.
8 – Thirst
Thirst is a vampire film from the extraordinary director of Old Boy, Chan-wook Park. A priest becomes a vampire after a failed medical experiment and struggles to maintain his humanity as he descends down a dark path of sin. A disturbing romance, stunning visuals, lots of artfully done blood, and hints of humor, this film deals with the vampire condition superbly.
9 – Only Lovers Left Alive
Director Jim Jarmusch creates a stunning vampire love story that spans the ages. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton portray the ultimate vampires, aloof, stylish, immersed in art and culture. This film is filled with beautiful visuals, there is so much here to love and it is the perfect lead into The Hunger.
10 – The Hunger
David Bowie stars in this beloved 1983 vampire film from director Tony Scott. Of course of note is the opening performance of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus. But it is safe to say the tone, strange sensuality, and styling of The Hunger influenced countless vampire movies to come after it.