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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?