Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ten Worst Vampire Films

Okay, this was hard. Because the competition is pretty damn stiff! But here is my list of the very worst vampire films whose sheer lack of any quality to which I can personally bear witness (that was probably too convoluted, but grammatically correct).

Son of Dracula (with Ringo Starr)
almost sounds like it could be fun. Imagine that "Abbott and Costello" horror movie but with 1960s sensibilities. Get Peter Sellars as Van Helsing, some sex kittens like Ursula Andress or Yvonne Craig to play victims or vampiresses, sounds like some potential coolness in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. But, no. This was a wretched mishmash of cheese (and not good cheese), pretentious fantasy, wooden acting and pseudo-hip philosophy on top of plot hole big enough to sail a cruise-ship through.

Old Dracula
wasn't originally called that. The title was supposed to be "Vampira" but then Mel Brooks had that big hit with Gene Wilder, and the rest is history. David Niven as the Count in modern day Transylvania, renting out his castle to tourists (in this case a Playboy shoot) and testing everyone's blood for the right type to bring his beloved Countess back to life. But when he finds the right one, he gives her a transfusion that includes blood from a black model and the Countess wakes up as Theresa Graves. Believe me, this is even worse than it sounds.

Saturday the 14th
is yet another cautionary tale about mixing horror with comedy. It can be done. It has been done. But even a good cast cannot compensate for piss-poor script and really terrible direction. Generally, comedy about horror probably only works best if you go all zany a la Monty Python, or if you treat it as you would any good comedy -- by bringing out the humor of a situation and/or set of characters, not stapling lame jokes everywhere there seems room.

Lesbian Vampire Killers
deserves this much credit. It is very beautifully photographed. Really. The cinematographers deserve kudos. Pretty much everyone else involved should be borderline ashamed. No greater sin a comedy can commit that to fail to deliver laughs, or at least smiles. I would also point out an inherent problem in the whole idea -- namely, that some slobs going around killing beautiful lesbian vampires is a difficult thing to make funny to anyone not already at least a little drunk. A movie about some lesbians who by profession or circumstance have to go fight the undead just seems like an inherently funnier (or more interesting) idea. Hence the hazards of a certain titles.

Dracula 3000
may be not only the single worst film on this list, but one of the very worst movies ever made. It seems to yearn for the creative input of Ed Wood or Uwe Boel. Yeah, that bad. Yet the premise is actually kinda cool. An abandoned space ship named the Demeter is found in the far future, carrying a strange cargo of boxes. The crew has vanished. And those who find the seemingly empty vessel include people named Van Helsing, Mina, Lucy, Seward, etc. But -- it is all in the execution. And between the terrible acting, the wooden dialogue, incoherent plot, wet cardboard characters (more flimsy than the usual cardboard character), and a totally pathetic vision of the King Vampire himself -- what you get is drek.

Van Helsing makes me want to apologize to my brother, who quite liked it. To be fair, what he liked about this film is actually fun -- the harpy-like re-imagining of Dracula's brides. And the cast is excellent by any standard. Yet like all Steven Sommers films (or at least all I've seen) the thing hinges on an idiot plot. Quite simply, the only reason this story works is if you assume that every single person in it, on screen or off, has an IQ of around 45. Every single thing is a setup for a lame joke or not-terribly-coherent action sequence. Potentially a good movie, but I'm convinced it only sold as many tickets as it did was because Kate Beckinsale and Hugh Jackman are both very talented and very personally attractive.

A Polish Vampire in Burbank
seems unfair to add to the list, simply because with a title like that what could one possibly expect? Well, something better than this steaming pile of celluloid waste. Even among films that look like their budget was below five figures, this achieved new lows. Bathroom humor was the least of it. Again, the idea of a nerdish vampire trying to find his place and/or true love has potential. But this thing is like seeing a truly disastrous and stupid train wreck in slow motion, so lacking is it in anything resembling quality. All it needs is some bad musical numbers and just a tiny bit more racism to be among the worst motion pictures ever made.

Guess What Happened to Count Dracula
is a movie you can really only get as part of a double feature with another piece of schlock called "Dracula The Dirty Old Man" from Something Weird Video. That is something of a clue right there. Like many a Dracula riff before now, it has the Lord of the Vampires stalking a sweet young thing to make her his bride. Okay. So far, so good. But Dracula looks like the worst kind of Halloween costume (really, he looks like a Scooby Doo villain come to life) coupled with an atrocious Bela Lugosi impression. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the highlight of the flick. It only gets worse from there. No, I'm not kidding.

Vampire Hookers
is painful to watch. Not only because it is so pathetically formulaic, terrible, badly-acting, cheesy, racist, sexist, stoopid (note the spelling, it conveys a nuance) and gross. It is all those things, but when you see a fine actor like John Carradine sinking to these depths it makes one sad. This is such total junk, about a pair of US sailors lured inot the clutches of some undead bimbos and their farty Philipino manservant. Ick, on so many levels. It is actually worse than it sounds.

Mamma Dracula
is about a pair of twins who are vampires and fall in love with the same girl, and are kinda/sorta dominated by their mother. Or grandmother. I think. It is kinda hard to tell. The whole thing is pretty incoherent, in a particularly European way. Anyway, if I were going to play a member of the Dracula family and base my characterization on a famous character from American cinema -- as the twin male leads of this film seem to be doing -- methinks Harpo Marx would be pretty low on list of choices. One of my many disagreements with the makers of this film, along with what constitutes "funny" or "interesting" or even "touching."


Taliesin_ttlg said...

There are some stinkers there but some are better than othes out there - I know it was a difficult list to compile, so it is not a criticism and just my personal take.

For me, the very worst... Geek Maggot Bingo, a film so bad I couldn't actually sit through it and I have sat through every film you've listed, some multiple times.

Zahir Blue said...

Well, of course if I haven't actually seen a movie, then it won't be on my list. Heh heh.