Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking Back: 2010 in VAMPIRES!

First were Zombies, next it's Vampires! This is the first of my "Looking Back at 2010" posts, in which I plan to have a look at what I watched this year and see what was great (and not so great...). This is based on the list of films I watched in 2010, not necessarily (or at all!) on those released in 2010.

My 2010 count of Vampire flicks clocked in at some 27 different films, although the vast majority were Hammer films. Last year was the first time I really got to grips with Hammer Horror films and I certainly watched a lot of their Vampire outings! I'm a massive fan of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, so any of the films with them in leading roles were certainly winners. Dracula (1958), Dracula, Prince of Darkness and Taste The Blood of Dracula were particular favourites from the Dracula cycle, with an honorable mention due to Dracula AD 1972 for being so completely mad. Scars of Dracula was a pretty thin addition to the series and The Satanic Rights of Dracula was nice enough but decidedly underwhelming.

Amongst Hammer's non-Dracula vampires there are some gems and some... well... not-so-gem-like films. At the crap end of the range were Lust for a Vampire and the Vampire Circus, whilst others such as The Brides of Dracula (yeah... it might say Dracula, but it's not) and Kiss of the Vampire, both of which were fab. As for Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, a Hammer-Shaw Brothers collaboration.... I have no idea what to say. It was certainly different but I think the basic premise looked a lot better on paper than it did on screen. This was certainly not a demonstration of how best to mix the gothic and the oriental!

Much more skilled at relocating the Vampire to the Far East was Chan-Wook Park, whose staggeringly wonderful film, Thirst, is surely a must for anyone who likes Vampires. Or Korean films. Or cinema. Chan-Wook Park seems a little cursed by the fact that everyone who's seen his films seems to just want him to make Oldboy again. And again. And again. Thirst isn't Oldboy. But it is brilliant. And you should watch it.

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Similarly unmissable, although in a VERY different manner was the sublime Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl. I hardly need to say very much about this. If the title entices you and/or you've seen (and liked) any of the Machine Girl, Tokyo Gore Police etc then this is definitely one for you. If not... well it might be better if you gave it a wide berth. This is definitely one for the bonkers, genre-horror fans.

Back in Western cinema, Let The Right One In and Dusk Till Dawn both entertained me this year, but everyone knows about them so I shan't really bother banging on about them too much. Instead, I'll come to the Vampire films that I watched shortly after the stars/directors died this year. Both Lesley Nielsen and Jean Rollins were (very different) losses for cinema this year and to commemorate I watched (amongst other, non-Vampire films) Nielsen's Dracula, Dead and Loving It which was entertainingly mad and then Jean Rollin's Requiem For A Vampire and The Nude Vampire, both of which were slow, poetic films with symbolist tendencies.

And that pretty much brings me to the end! There were a couple more, the oddball Blood and Doughnuts, the brooding English Vampyres and - possibly my favourite film, possibly to be reviewed shortly - the Spanish masterpiece Arrebato, but we'll save them for later...

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