Monday, October 30, 2006

The Vampire Blog-a-Thon

"They Want To Suck Your Blood!" ~ A Vampire Blog-a-Thon
Scroll down for bloody good reads @
53 other vamping blogs
(click here if you to view blog-a-thon by specific film / subject)


I am a big wuss. It's true. The tiniest thing can frighten me. So I have no idea why I love vampires so much. Nor do I have an earthly clue why I had originally intended to write about Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark (1987)...

For that underseen horror film, Bigelow enlisted the cast of her then-husband James Cameron's Aliens (1986) to play a wandering group of bloodsuckers: Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein and Bill Paxton are the alien soldier/prey gone western vampire/predator. In Near Dark's most famous sequence they enter a roadhouse and massacre the patrons. It's been a good twelve years since I've seen the film but I've never been able to shake Paxton's demonic "finger lickin' gooood" glee from my memory. Just typing this makes me long for vampires on the more romantic side of the undead fence. Since the most romantic thing about Near Dark is a marriage that shares actors, I'm opting out of a repeat viewing for now. A wuss and a softie.

So when it comes to my preferences in fictional monsters, I'll admit that I'm something of a beauty fascist. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite TV series of all time, but it has one recurrent motif that makes me die a little inside. Each time vampires in the Whedon-verse reveal themselves, their pretty faces morph into hideous mugs --a little too Klingon / Lost Boys for my taste. If you're going to sink your teeth into my neck, please look pretty while doing so. Don't scrunch up your face.

Since the vampire's "blood is life" myth haunts metaphor rich neighborhoods like Sex and Death, it's no surprise that it's so flexible a fictional genre. It changes with the times. Recent years have downplayed the seductiveness and amped up the savagery of the creatures of the night. When you stop to consider vampiric activity in the Blade and Underworld series or in 80s films like The Lost Boys and Near Dark the violence has become so foregrounded that the erudite romantic vampire is now a dinosaur.

Francis Ford Coppola's divisive batty Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) did try to resurrect the old-school vampire, but I'd say the operatic romance within it is the one thing that most assuredly did not work. In the form of delicious Winona Ryder (just ignore her tone-deaf line readings), this Mina Harker could certainly drive a man to drink...her blood. But in the form of Gary Oldman, this Dracula would have a hard time inspiring recriprocal lust. If you want to ressurect the fanged hypnotic ladies man, he shouldn't have a weak chin. A great actor Oldman may well be. A great romantic leading man he simply is not.

But if we can't have the swooning albeit incongruous romanticism of bloodthirsty killers, can we at least have eroticism? Occasionally we can, yes. The legendary sapphic makeout between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger (yes, please) and Keanu Reeves's druggy romp with three nubial vamp brides (and how) in Bram Stoker's Dracula are two famous examples. But here are two more cinematic moments worth obsessing on. They're both chilling and sexually charged and, therefore, perfectly vampiric.

Nosferatu (1979)
Is any vampire uglier than Nosferatu? In Werner Herzog's expert adaptation of the silent classic, the disgusting, decayed Nosferatu leaning over the prone form of young and beautiful Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) is a forceful study in contrast. Their lone similarity is their mutually pale skin which, come to think of it, is a perfect statement itself: isn't Lucy already doomed, the moment she concocts her self-sacrifice?

Aside from a moody, well-judged cutaway to bats flying in slow motion, Herzog's camera doesn't ever look away -- for minutes on end -- from the blunt sexuality of Nosferatu's bloodlust. The creature is mesmerized by both the blood and the body. With sickeningly slow care he caresses her with his beastly clawed hands. This excruciating scene maximizes the feeling of violation, playing on the audiences fear of their own sexual vulnerability. Lucy, knowing the sun will soon rise and rid the town of this undead monster, pulls him closer as soon at a crucial moment. His violating lust will be his undoing. Her sexual martyrdom is on the disturbing level of Breaking the Waves.

Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Is any vampire prettier than Brad Pitt? This film adaptation of Anne Rice's bestseller gets a considerable boost from Pitt's potent auto-eroticism, which hit its peak with this film and Legends of the Fall (the combo of which sent him into the stratosphere). My favorite moment in the whole of the sumptuous but uneven Interview is when Louis (Pitt) is first bitten by Lestat (Tom Cruise).

Once Cruise has buried his face in Pitt's neck, turning the moviegoing audience green with envy, the movie stars lift off into the air. For a blissful moment or two each time I watch this Neil Jordan film, I believe that the director will make a convention-defying choice and leave the camera resting on the glory of Pitt's face in ecstacy, his eyes fluttering. (As it turns out, it's quite orgasmic to be bitten by a vampire. But maybe everything is sexually heightened when you look like Brad Pitt?) Sadly, Jordan succumbs to the mediocrity of traditional back and forth editing, cutting to Tom Cruise's less attractive and now bloody-toothed face. Gross.

But this is the way of all things vampire: the repellent and hypnotic in tandem.


Update: you'd like to view the blog-a-thon by film & subject click here

The Bloodsucking Blogs
Flickhead has capsules on five favored vampire flicks
Gallery of the Absurd imagines Interview with the Antoinette
House of Sternberg posts original short fiction The Starving
Certifiably Creative offers up Theater Des Vampires
No More Marriages on Pittsburgh as the star of Innocent Blood
Eddie on Film views Fright Night as the top 80s vampire flick
Forward to Yesterday gets political w/ Guy Maddin's Dracula
Silly Hats Only on George Romero's Martin
As Little As Possible loves Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Modern Fabulousity pays tribute to Klaus Kinski as Nosferatu
Low Resolution stays up late From Dusk Till Dawn
Stale Popcorn sings a love song for (sexy) vampires
goatdog on the dwindling House of Dracula at Universal
Cinemathematics on vampire imagery in Shadow of a Doubt
Burbanked Blame the screenwriter: blood sucking edition

...And Still More Undead
Richard Gibson goes contemporary: Martin and The Addiction
When I Look Deep... pits Drácula against Dracula
Pfangirl on a "bloody awesome trio" of lady bloodsuckers
QTA loves the ladies. And so do the ladies in Vampyros Lesbos
Cinema Fromage 'yeah baby, Dracula in 70s London'
zoom-in requests a DVD fix of The Addiction
Stinky Lulu loves Ketty Lester in Blacula
Way of Words on women: from victims to vampire slayers
Music is My Boyfriend offers tunes for the blog-a-thon
Pen15 Club
"When Hilary Duff attacks"
My New Plaid Pants finds Paxton ‘finger lickin’ good’ in Near Dark
Nicks Flick Picks on Coppola's Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Being Boring on the homo-cautionary Interview…
Culture Snob resurrects and old look at Nosferatu
The Horror Blog 'fesses up to some anti-vampire prejudice

The Vampires Are Everywhere!
Tuwa's Shanty on Martin & Nosferatu
Catherine Cantieri the giant sucking sound of 1992's Dracula
The Boob Tubers asks the eternal question: Spike or Angel?
novaslim says a "vuck you" to Grace Jones in Vamp
European Films on Frostbite, a Swedish horror comedy
popbytes recommends Christopher Lee in Hammer's Dracula series
Glitterati points out the most unbelievably cast vampire…ever
100 Films the monster mashup: Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
Peter Nellhaus on Brides of Dracula
Bright Lights After Dark 'Browning and the Slow Club' (Dracula)
Tim Lucas declares his half dozen favorite vampire flicks
Film Vituperatum Ninjas and Vampires --uncanny similarities!
Film of The Year 'That's Why The Lady is a Vamp'
All About My Movies Angelina Jolie IS a Vampire
Critic After Dark two vampire movies from The Philippines
Agence Eureka a vampire gallery
Cinevistaramascope finds Herzog's Nosferatu superior to Murnau's
Auteur Lust obsesses on Persona: 'The Vampire's In Us'
Bitter Cinema a treasure trove of YouTube vampire trailers
Cutting Room remembers his first time...w/ Bram Stokers Dracula
Watts With Words 'Suck Me' on homoerotic vampires
Jurgen Fauth's Muckworld a 60 second tribute to Kinski as Nosferatu

Happy Halloween! Pray for Sunrise

UPDATE: If you liked this blog-a-thon check out the two others the film experience has hosted on Michelle Pfeiffer (April 2006) and Action Heroines (June 2007)

Tags: blogging, dracula, vampire, Nosferatu, vampires, horror, film, movies, blogs, Halloween, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise

36 comments:

adam k. said...

Whoa, you gave Carrie a solid "A"? I first saw it a few years ago and really liked it, but an "A"? Wow. Had you never seen it before?

I'm still not sure I understand whether it was supposed to be a comedy or not. Dark comedy? Horror/comedy? Horror? Farce? In any case, it was pretty hilarious. My friends and I COULD NOT get over the "dirty pillows" line.

"I can see your dirty pillows..."

SOOOOOO funny.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I saw Carrie at the cinema when first released. I can tell you at that time that it was fairly horrifying. The pathos that the main character creates through her vulnerability and self destructive path workes well toward creating that horror..

Brian De Palma was and is such an uneven director. I think Carrie reflects this unevenness. DePalma hit his heights with Blow Out. I think he hit his low with Scarface.

Carrie lies somewhere in between.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Carrie is another movie I saw that I felt wasn't exactly as good now as it would have been back then. It was still pretty decent though, but the pig scene really made me feel ill.

VAMPIRES!

Squish said...

Can't wait till one O'Clock!!

Add me to your roster of the undead!

Emma said...

Done mine. :D

JA said...

Had you really never seen Carrie before? I'm flabbergasted. And jealous. Oh to see it for the first time again... instead of, possibly by now, the 50th. LOVE.

StinkyLulu said...

Jeez - yes - Carrie for the first time?!? How can that happen?

I'm on the 50th myself.

And like the best horror, it's frickin' funny (when it's not scaring the peepers out of you)>

NATHANIEL R said...

um, this was not my first time.

But i've decided to list whatever I'm watching on that screening sidebar.

Griffin said...

Is it too late to get in on the vampire-blogging love? My inner slag took the morning off and I composed a little somethin' somethin'.

NATHANIEL R said...

i'll include you.

Tuwa said...

I posted mine already. Sorry, I didn't know there was a set time for it.

I'm looking forward to the readings.

nOva said...

I agree about Brad. The bite scene in Interview along with his scenes with Antonio Banderas are uncomfortably sensual. Like someone barely whispering in your ear. This movie is such a tease!

NATHANIEL R said...

thems a LOT of vampires. READ AWAY -check out all these links.

possibly more to follow if there are vampire stragglers.

JA said...

Wow, I'm glad you only touched on Near Dark, Nat, otherwise I would've felt the cad writing about the same thing as my host! That's, like, bad manners. ;-)

NATHANIEL R said...

i'm glad you wrote about it! I love Near Dark ... just wasn't in the mood for it.

neodv8 said...

Thanks Nathanial for hosting all this!
The other posts are great!
You have soo much work on this!
Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but that may be the sexiest photo I've ever seen of Brad Pitt.

NATHANIEL R said...

there are now 49 posts listed.

if you don't see all 49 refresh the screen.

pfangirl said...

I'm so looking forward to reading these when I'm procrastinating today at work ;)

Bob said...

I want to commend you for owning up to your wussiness, for I too can be a complete wuss, especially regarding gore.

If it makes you feel any better, I've actually have never gotten around to seeing "Carrie" -- as a youth I was a bigger wuss than you. (Now, I think I fear more the whole teen humiliation thing. Never my idea of a good time.)

Also, though I haven't seen it since it's release, I agree that "Interview" is kind of underrated, which makes sense because Neil Jordan is an underrated director. On the other hand, I hated...I mean really hated...Brad Pitt's performance. Though, perhaps the whole straight-guy thing blinded me to his genius and beauty.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Brad Pitt is an ugly vampire if you ask me, which I mentioned in my entry (strangely, also about sexy vampires, but with a different angle).

That's a damn lot of stuff about vampires, and I can't possibly read them all now.

richardwatts said...

I have finally added my own blog-a-thon post, looking briefly at the subject of homoeroticism in vampire cinema. Thanks for the opportunity - it's made me want to watch both Fright Night and The Lost Boys again!

Noel Vera said...

No one thought of writing about Dreyer's Vampyr? It's only my favorite vampire film of all time. I'd loved to have written about it, only after my blog post I'm sucked dry.

rob said...

I second the mention of Dreyer's Vampyr, for me, one of the most meditative and hypnotic films ever made. My absolute favorite, though, is Herzog's Nosferatu. Coppola's Dracula is incredibly sumptuous as well.

NATHANIEL R said...

Noel,

there is a post on Vampyr it's just not labelled as such for room (the post from Forward to Yesterday (on Guy Maddin's Dracula) goes to Vampyr as well)

enjoy

muckster said...

I have a sixty second video contribution, featuring Kinski.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a great film, but the Badham 1979 "Dracula" did have a young Frank Langella as the lead. Oh, that man was fine! Left my windows open at night for weeks hoping for a bite from him! (I'm not completely stupid. I was on the floor story of the building.)

David Mercier said...

Oldman might well have a weak chin, but Mina didn't have much of a choice in Coppola's film. She clearly wanted to get as far away as she could from Keanu Reeves and his useless British accent. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense for her to spend eternity with someone who can actually act ;)

NATHANIEL R said...

anonymous --i've heard this about Langella but it's hard to imagine, knowing him primarily from Broadway and that stinky Madonna flick in 1993

david --funny. talent does win out over beauty if you're talking all eternity ;)

NATHANIEL R said...

i've noticed when you reedit a post that a lot of time your server won't realize it when you come back to it.

for any repeat visitors please "refresh" your page.

the blog-a-thon ended with 53 participants (54 if you count moi) and if you want a more manageable way to look at the posts click by film and subject matter)

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, I think you were onto something in your comments on Herzog's Nosferatu when you pointed out the similarities between the beauty of Adjani's Lucy and the beast of Kinski's vampire, only I would take it further. In that first shot of Lucy where she wakes up screaming, you really notice not only the deathly-pale skin, but that dark straight hair, the blood-red mouth and those hands--between the long fingers and the long nails, they really do look like claws. She resembles nothing so much as a harpy. In this respect, I think you're wrong about what you see as the violation aspect of the um, sucking off scene--the image that comes to mind for me is not violation, but some kind of maternal interraction: It resembles nothing so much as a child suckling at its mother's breast. This is not violation, because Lucy has deliberately chosen to allow it to take place. Nosferatu is really at her mercy. The fact that he needs her blood gives her tremendous power. And of course, he does die at her hands for this reason, even if she dies with him. Fascinating stuff. For this reason I probably prefer Herzog's version to the original.

--Liana

Slyer said...

You get freaked out but you still like my race...? Interesting....

Anonymous said...

Nice Post.

That was well said. Always appreciate your indepth views. Keep up the great work!

John

Anonymous said...

Hi


G'night

dr akula said...

Hey, where is everyone? Carrie rocks - all that blood! I guess things have moved on since the time Stephen King actually wrote the book, and things that used to be scary just aren't any more. Progress ... < sigh >

Janna said...

Well I also love to watched Vampire Movies and other Horror Film. I don't know why, but I enjoy watching it.