'Dracula Untold' is hitting theaters this weekend*, and truth be, uh, told, it doesn't look that great. But it could be worse -- a whole lot worse. Cinema has a rich history with blood-suckers, and thanks to the over-saturation in the genre, it's quite rare to see a great vampire film. For every good one, there's at least 10 not-so-good vampire flicks. Honestly, it was hard to choose just 10 because there are some real stinkers out there. As a disclaimer, we kept 'Twilight' out of this because it was just a little too obvious. We all know it's awful, we don't need to beat a dead sparkle-horse.
*Does Dracula's story really need to be told again? Yeah, dude, we get it.
Made to capitalize on the success of 'Interview with the Vampire,' this sequel is nothing like that movie at all. It looks like it could pretty much be a Lifetime movie event for October, with the exception that it stars Aaliyah (RIP). In it, Lestat joins a rock band and becomes even more of an annoying narcissist and egomaniac, and yet this woman who studies vampires falls in love with him anyway. As with its predecessor, the studio resisted working with book author Anne Rice, and the end result looks like something made for the Hot Topic crowd. It's tacky and you don't have to look too closely at it to realize it wasn't put together very well. And that music! A soundtrack for using your fishnet shirt as a scouring pad to scrub the faux vampire makeup off of your face before your parents get home.
It's Eddie Murphy! As a vampire! In Brooklyn! What's not to like? Directed by Wes Craven and intended to be a horror comedy, the film was a big fat mess. Were we supposed to be laughing? Murphy plays a Caribbean vampire (though he's hardly doing an accent) in a fish out of water story that's way more convoluted than necessary. As is tradition, he also plays an Italian mobster (again, not doing an accent), and an alcoholic preacher. At least Craven went on to give us the 'Scream' franchise. At least there's that.
While 'Blade' and 'Blade II' are good, fun films, 'Blade: Trinity' really took a nosedive in quality. Written and directed by David S. Goyer, who wrote the first two films, 'Trinity' just feels like a movie made in 1997 ... but it was released in 2004. It doesn't have the grotesque whimsicality and design of Guillermo del Toro's sequel, or the timely attitude and freshness of the first film. The third entry feels like a retread, and it's the film responsible for first trying to make an action hero out of Ryan Reynolds, which we're still trying to do -- it's not working. The only thing 'Blade: Trinity' has going for it that's legitimately enjoyable is Parker Posey. You just can't hate on Parker Posey.
This movie is a double whammy: not only is it a terrible vampire movie, but it's a terrible videogame movie. Has there ever been a good videogame movie? Probably not. At any rate, this movie is two times the misery for the price of one bad movie, and it somehow managed to spawn two sequels. The effects and cinematography are about on par with the 'Mortal Kombat' movie, which came out 10 years prior. And look at this cast: Kristanna Loken (lady Terminator!), Michael Madsen, Billy Zane, SIR Ben Kingsley, and Meat Loaf. Friggin' Meat Loaf is in this movie. How bad is this? Even Michael Madsen called it "an abomination."
Back in the year 2000, before Gerard Butler was really a thing, he played Dracula in this totally terrible horror film produced by Wes Craven. The film follows a group of thieves who break into a vault owned by the descendent of the Van Helsing, only to discover that what's inside is a really old and dangerous and weird -- but kind of sexy -- vampire, and he's pretty darn hungry. 'Dracula 2000' is yet another generic product of its time period: a boring, horribly written and designed excuse to use a familiar character to attract young audiences. What's supposed to be slick and stylish just reads as bland and recycled. Oh hey, not much has changed. But Gerard Butler definitely has more of a career these days -- well, sort of.
'30 Days of Night: Dark Days'
While '30 Days of Night' is, arguably, a solid horror thriller/graphic novel adaptation, its sequel is, arguable, utter garbage. The film follows survivor Stella (now played by 'Lost' star Kiele Sanchez), who has spent a while traveling around and trying to convince people that, no, seriously, vampires totally do exist. She joins up with some vampire hunters and a mopey, remorseful vampire to kill the vampire queen in this flick that's little better than a SyFy movie because at least it has a slightly better budget. But its B-level cast and senseless nudity and sex scenes do little to help its cause.
It might be a little harsh to put a film this recent on the list, but yes, 'Dark Shadows' is just that bad. It's about time someone sat Johnny Depp and Tim Burton down and talked to them about getting a divorce because their relationship has become toxic. Based on the classic TV soap, Burton's film fails to capture the fun and campiness of its predecessor; instead, it's just downright miserable to endure Depp in yet another over-the-top performance under yet another layer of makeup and costuming, which he insists on calling "acting." Oh, and it has something to do with him being a vampire.
Woof. Hugh Jackman starred in this film, using the buzzword "reimagining" to take the character of Van Helsing and turn him into a legendary monster hunter. Dracula is actually the assistant to Dr. Frankenstein in this version, helping to tie everyone together. Yeah, okay. Even on paper this never sounded like a great idea, and in motion it was even worse. The film looks like a reject from the 'Underworld' franchise, complete with Kate Beckinsale, and gives Van Helsing lots of fancy gadgets to fight his monsters, including Dracula and his brides. The last thing we need is more of these classic monsters on 'roids.
Speaking of 'Underworld'! The 'Underworld' movies are like watching a series of music videos from the late '90s, only no one told them to put actual music in them or when to shut them off. While vampires vs. werewolves seems like a cool concept, it's better suited to slashfic on the internet, or, um 'Twilight,' which we promised not to discuss because it's so obviously bad. 'Underworld' is like a soap opera for gothic kids: it's convoluted, there's forbidden love, senseless fighting, people are chewing scenery and calling it "acting," and there's plenty of poor hair and wardrobe choices to go around.
'Dracula: Dead and Loving It'
What a disappointment. Mel Brooks and Leslie Nielsen making a spoof of vampire films? This should have been delightful. And yet, for lack of a better phrase, 'Dracula: Dead and Loving It' kind of sucked. If you were a kid in the '90s, chances were this movie was pretty hilarious. But revisiting it now, it's hard to see how or why. Nielsen and Brooks were both kings of spoof comedy in their heyday and it made sense to combine the power of the two into one film, but the end result was unfortunately pretty, ahem, toothless.