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13

Most Disappointing Vampire Flicks

Most folks agree the first vampire movie was almost certainly F.W.Murnau’s Nosferatu in 1922 (an earlier, extremely loose adaptation of Dracula is now lost). Over nine decades of the undead on film, with more than a few genuine classics along the way.

But let us turn to something other than the greats. Not to the truly awful or unbelievably bad but rather the biggest single disappointments. We had reason for one reason or another to believe these might end up good, or at least very entertaining. And they bitterly failed in that regard!

  1. First up, The Moth Diaries, based frustratingly enough on a very good novel of the same name. The filmmakers and cast looked good, exactly the sort one might expect to do the book some justice. What did we get? The atmosphere, ambiguity and even the simple excitement of the story evaporated into…what? No idea. Who cares? Essentially, each element which made the novel stand out had gone missing.
  2. Dario Argento’s Dracula (in 3D). The man who made Suspira and many other fantastically original horror films, a true artist of the genre, in his latter years decides to tackle Bram Stoker‘s novel. A match seemingly made in…well, if not Heaven at least horror movie fans’ dreams. But what appeared from the editing room? A weird mish-mash of cool details with (deliberately?) foolishness, bizarre stuff like the Prince of Darkness turning into a giant praying mantis (I am NOT kidding) and lines like “He is evil I tell you! EEEEEVVVVIIIILLLL!” It isn’t that you cannot enjoy the flick, but at this point we were hoping for a masterpiece!
  3. Some might feel surprise at my inclusion of Let Me In to this list. Small wonder, since generally I am unstinting in my praise of the film, easily one of my favorites which I’ve defended many a time. But there’s the rub. Because LMI was an English-language adaptation of Let The Right One In, a brilliant novel and film by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Fans of the earlier film pretty clearly hoped to see a straightforward remake, recapturing all they’d loved in the first film. That was precisely what they did not get, hence major disappointment based upon expectation and (more critically) comparison. Which brings up an interesting point–disappointment does not in fact mean said disappointment is justified!
  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No, not the much beloved t.v. series, the highly problematical movie! Interestingly, the disappointment in the film grew over time. Initially we all thought it a cool premise with a lackluster execution. But then Joss Whedon got a chance to do it over again, to take what he felt could be an icon and make a t.v. series. The rest, as they say, is history. Quite simply, Whedon did his idea justice in a way the original filmmakers maybe coudn’t even imagine. More than a decade later, Universities have classes devoted to this writer and Buffy remains a still-vibrant franchise. The folks who own rights to that first script even want to reboot it! Of course fan reaction has been so negative that such a film, if made, quite simply could not qualify as a disappointment. Fans loathe the idea of it already.
  5. Lesbian Vampire Killers is a title that screams potential. Not as a great movie, but at least as a piece of delightfully cheesy cinema. Some might argue (I have) that potential still exists. Still, what we got committed the worst possible sin of any comedy. It wasn’t funny. We didn’t laugh. Reasons for this remain many–the offensively stupid characters, the juvenile but undaring level of humor, the mixed signals one gets from the look of the movie versus its sub-sophmoric jokes. “Lame” comes to mind. All we wanted with a title like that was fun. Silly fun would have been fine! Instead the constant failure to even win a smile made this flick seem to go on forever.
  6. Dark Shadows from Tim Burton. Again, a film I personally enjoyed very much. But then, I’m almost exactly the niche audience at whom the movie had been aimed.  Fan of Tim Burton. Fan of the original t.v. show. Not totally loyal to the precise look and feel of same. Most audience members didn’t seem to “get it.” The flick had far too many in-jokes that I understood, but few others did (Carolyn saying “Where’s Daddy?” for instance). And then most fans of the show are die hards. Many felt insulted the original cast (most old enough to collect social security) weren’t asked to reprise their roles. They loathed Burton’s trademark quirky humor. Hated every little change, no matter how small. Hence, the collective disappointment of this really quite major motion picture remains huge.

So these are my six. What do you think? Which ones would be on your list?

 

David MacDowell Blue blogs at Night Tinted Glasses.  He graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory and is the author of The Annotated Carmilla. and Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) as well as a theatrical adaptation of Carmilla.
Buffy the Vampire Slayerdark shadowsdraculaLesbian Vampire KillersLet Me InLet The Right One InThe Moth Diariesvampire filmsvampire movies

david • May 5, 2013


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  • Sumner Peirce

    I can only speak to Burton’s shredding of Dark Shadows. If it was aimed at you and you got all of the in-jokes, etc., then good for you. I adored the original TV series and expected an homage as the Burton-Depp pre-hype stated it would be since they were both fans of the original TV show as well. Well, indeed. It was a one-note comedy, not even a satire or parody. The extremely slim usage of the original stars, whether collecting Social Security or not, was the worst use of cameos — thick-lipped Elizabeth Collins Stoddard blocked Jonathan Frid once inside the rave room! Sad, very sad. I won’t miss Burton or Depp if this film tanked their careers.

  • My list on this subject :
    – Let me in
    – Daylight Saga (never seen a slower and less convincing movie about vampires)
    – Dark Shadows (a complete waste of good original material)
    – Les dents de la nuit (a french vampire movie with typical french movie humor : bad humor)
    – Bloodrayne 2 and 3 (maybe one 2) : full saga without scenario
    – Van Helsing : some good effects but no scenario, bad acting (Beckinsale, as always) and probably the worst Dracula ever
    – Dracula 2000 (sic)
    – Vampires 2 : horrible sequel (with Bon Jovi, sic)
    – Ultraviolet : bad adaptation of an english serie with good ideas

    • Moonlight

      All of the Bloodrayne films would be on my list! I was obsesseeeeeeeeed with the Bloodrayne video games and I expected the films to be as awesome, but they weren’t :(

      • Now you see, I think THAT makes those films a major disappointment! Not whether you liked the film or not, but whether you yourself felt disappointed with the result.

    • Must point out the film ULTRAVIOLET had zero connection whatsoever with the British t.v. series. Not simply that it didn’t resemble it at all, but there was literally no connection at any time. One has nothing to do with the other. One was not based on the other. One was never ever to have been based on the other.

  • “Let Me In” was a good Americanization of a Swedish film that didn’t really need to be Americanized, much like the U.S. version of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”.

    We should, however, Americanize (and improve) “Lesbian Vampire Killers”… >=-)

    • Honestly, I don’t even understand the “didn’t really need” argument. Really, I don’t. Makes zero sense to me. Do we need another production of RICHARD III? I’m going to see one this week, and its necessity seems to me totally useless in judging its quality. Certainly it impacts my experience of the show not in the slightest. So…I don’t know what you mean.

      • I enjoyed the US versions of those films, but there were two problems: They arrived soon enough after the originals that the Swedish films were still fresh in every viewer’s mind. And they weren’t drastically different from the Swedish films. In both cases, I recalled the superior atmosphere of the Swedish films (literally more chilling!) while watching the American versions. “Let Me In” was a bit more differentiated than “Dragon Tattoo (US)”, but Abby and Owen were apple-pie wholesome next to Eli and Oskar…

        • David MacDowell Blue

          Interesting, because I know so many folks who complain that Abby and Owen had a darker, harder, more horrific story! But frankly I seriously question whether every single person who saw the American films had also seen the Swedish ones. I’m not convinced this was true of even the simple majority. And I can certainly spot major differences between the two sets of films–given that each remained fairly faithful to the source materials, i.e. the novels.

          • These films weren’t exactly “CGI and explosions” summer blockbuster material. They appealed to audiences more likely to have seen the original Swedish films, and read the novels in the case of “Dragon Tattoo”. It is true that few people who had seen “The Ring” had seen “Ringu” beforehand (for example), but “Let The Right One In” and the Swedish “Dragon Tattoo” films had wide distribution to mainstream U.S. theater chains (they weren’t obscure “art-house” films).

  • Obviously with all the remake disappointments, it seems we -need- more of them until we can all agree it was done right. No?

    • If only someone could make “Van Helsing” make sense… >;-)

  • I loved Let Me In, but must confess that I have never seen the original version. I guess I can’t argue, huh? I have thought to watch Dark Shadows several times, but always stop myself because I just know the trailer is the best part of the film. Thanks for sharing.

    -Jimmy