Programmed by Rosalie Wakely
Teenagers flocked to theaters in 2008 to see the first film based on Stephanie Meyer's best-selling book series, Twilight. The success of the Twilight series set off a vampire craze. Parodies, pastiches, and unique creations lined bookshelves and drew massive movie-going crowds. As with much of the media enjoyed predominantly by teenage girls, the new wave of vampire media became subject to mockery. As a young girl who earnestly enjoyed vampire pop culture, this ridicule often made me feel that the vampiric malady was unique to my generation.
But it's difficult to find a period where vampire-mania hasn't been sweeping across the globe. From early horror classics to Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles to the dreaded Twilight Saga, vampires are one of the most enduring and versatile creatures of the horror genre. In fact, the vampire has been scaring filmgoers since films have existed. Even without including those appearing in adaptations and spin-offs of the seminal Dracula and its equally impactful yet less remembered contemporary, Carmilla, countless iterations of the vampire have graced the silver screen, appearing as blood-hungry masses, predatory seducers, and sympathetic heroes. This series aims to explore different iterations of the bloodsucking beasts across the 20th and early 21st centuries.
(Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932) · An early example of the power of atmosphere in horror movies, Carl Theodore Dreyer's Vampyr follows Allan Gray, a young man whose obsession with the occult leads him to the small village Courtempierre. Strange visions follow him as he explores the village, leading the audience to wonder what is real and what is an illusion. Striking visuals and an eerie soundtrack lend a hauntingly impressionistic power to this surrealist masterpiece.
runtime: 75m format: 35mm
(Mario Bava, 1960) · Largely driven by the iconic performances of Barbara Steele, who plays two opposing roles in the film, and Mario Bava's command of shadow and light on screen, this gothic horror masterpiece oozes classic vampire. 200 years after a Russian princess is executed for practicing witchcraft, she rises as a vampire to seek revenge. Upon release, the film was considered to be excessively gruesome and was banned in the UK. A heavily edited version was eventually screened in America.
runtime: 87m format: DCP
(Robert Young, 1972) · A stellar example of the gothic monster horror of Hammer Productions, Vampire Circus begins with a small 19th century village's plot to slay their Count, a vampire who has employed the local schoolteacher's wife in stealing children from the village to feed on. Fifteen years later, the village is mysteriously overcome by a plague. Best remembered for its excellent performances, including those from Adrienne Corri and Anthony Corlan, Vampire Circus is still frightening forty-seven years later.
runtime: 84m format: Digital
(George A. Romero, 1977) · Director George Romero, best known for his Dawn of the Dead series, once claimed Martin was his favorite of all his films. The eponymous protagonist is a young man who, believing himself to be a vampire, and armed with narcotics and razor blades, murders victims. Equally uncomfortable and endearing, Martin offers both modern thrills and homage to classic vampire tropes, featuring cameos from Romero himself and Tom Savini.
runtime: 95m format: Digital
(Robert Rodriguez, 1996) · Frequent collaborators Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino offer an action-packed vampire thriller. Ex-pastor Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his children find themselves abducted by criminal brothers Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Tarantino) Gecko while traveling to Mexico. The group finds itself waiting for Seth's contact at a strip club and biker bar, but all is not as it seems. Print courtesy of the American Genre Film Archive
runtime: 108m format: 35mm
(Kathryn Bigelow, 1987) · Though it failed to earn its budget during its initial theatrical release, Kathryn Bigelow's solo debut remains a cult classic. When a group of vampiric southerners roll through Caleb Colton's quiet midwestern town, he is swept up in the nomadic group after a member of the group, Mae bites him. While following the popular horror trends of the 80s, Bigelow also draws from westerns and biker movies. Without ever using the word "vampire", Near Dark's creatures are some of the most memorable of the genre. Print courtesy of the American Genre Film Archive
runtime: 94m format: 35mm
(Guillermo del Toro, 1993) · Guillermo del Toro's first film was a brooding, twisty vampire fantasy characterized by Catholic allusions, unsettling themes, and stellar performances by Federico Luppi and Tamara Shannath as Jesús Gris and his granddaughter Aurora. Gris is an elderly antique dealer who, after he begins to experiment with a mysterious watch, is transformed into a vampire. Del Toro investigates the cost of immortality, using ghostly yet striking imagery and a mystical score.
runtime: 94m format: Digital
(Tomas Alfredson, 2008) · In this beautifully crafted horror-romance, a young boy frequently targeted by bullies forms a sweet friendship and later romance with his neighbor, a vampire appearing as a girl Oskar's age. Based on a novel of the same name, the story blends romance with horror, featuring beautiful cinematography and taking on complex themes. It manages to be exceedingly frightening and exceedingly charming at once and became an instant horror classic upon its release.
runtime: 114m format: 35mm
(Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement, 2014) · Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement first created What We Do in the Shadows as a short film in 2008. Seven years later, a full-length film was screened at Sundance. The mockumentary focuses on a group of aging vampires sharing an apartment. The film reads as a love letter to the modern vampire film, gently poking fun at tropes while embracing the tradition that grew out of films like Vampyr and Nosferatu.
runtime: 86m format: DCP