Though they have waxed and waned in popularity over the decades, most horror fans are passionate about their vampires. Be it DRACULA, THE LOST BOYS, or LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, vampires have taken on many forms to repeatedly revive themselves in the world of horror cinema. Check out these five obscure and underrated vampire films to learn about some lesser known blood suckers in horror history!
Plot: In rural Serbia, a young man falls in love with a landowner’s daughter. In order to prove his bravery, he spends a night in an old mill which is frequented by a vampire. The young man survives, but the vampire escapes causing a group of townsmen to attempt to hunt down the bloodthirsty creature.
LEPTIRICA is a 1973 Yugoslavian made-for-TV movie. Based on the story AFTER NINTY YEARS written in 1880 by Milovan Glisic, the movie revolves around a legendary Serbian vampire, Sava Savanovic.
Translated into English, LEPTIRICA means “butterfly”. At first glance, it may be hard to see the links between the sweet, innocent looking butterfly and a horrific beast of the night. But, they both undergo stark transformations. Plus, butterflies sneak-up silently and do tend to suck fluid from their victims, even if they are just flowers. I mean, if you think about it, butterflies are downright evil. There is also a subplot about how butterflies carry the souls of the dead.
LEPTIRICA is one of only a few Yugoslavian/Serbian horror films. Though Serbia recently saw small success in horror films like A SERBIAN FILM and THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG, the narrative horror movie is not historically common to the region. LEPTIRICA mixes horror and comedy in a rather seamless manner as a group of mostly drunken townsfolk attempt to hunt down a vampire that has been plaguing their village. The film is not only filled with some excellent shock moments, but it also is a great example of how comedic timing can surpass any language barriers.
This film sadly never made it stateside, not even as a video release. Most copies that US fans have are bootlegged with poor resolution and limited subtitling. But you can likely find the full version on the Internet somewhere.
TRANSYLVANIA TWIST (1989)
Plot: A blonde, buxom aspiring singer learns her father has died, and she must journey to Transylvania to execute his estate. She takes along Dexter Ward who is searching for a mysterious book.
The 80s were filled with horror parodies, some amazing and some downright awful. Then there is TRANSYLVANIA TWIST which is surprisingly funny, but never really received a great reception or even a welcome acceptance amongst horror fans. Produced by Roger Corman and directed by the legendary “T and A” king Jim Wynorski, the film sports some great production value and a seemingly decent budget. It really feels like the duo planned for this MGM film to be a massive theatrical horror release, but it never quite congealed. Still- TRANSYLVANIA TWIST is hilarious, and it parodies all the great horror hits of the time!
Plot: Written/directed by the legendary George Romero with special effects by Tom Savini, young Martin is convinced he is a vampire. He uses fake plastic fangs, a scalpel, and sedatives to dispense of his victims, drinking their blood to fulfill his vampiric lust. But his family is convinced he is just plain insane and evil.
To diehard Romero fans, MARTIN is old hat. But to newer horror brethren or those that may not have ventured into Romero’s back catalog, MARTIN is still an unknown gem. Supposedly, MARTIN is Romero’s favorite of all his films, and it’s easy to see why. The film is incredibly small and quiet, but touches on some giant social issues including religious beliefs, class and economical environments, and definition of “evil” versus inborn nature.
The Insatiable (2006)
Plot: Sean Patrick Flannery is a lonely office schlub who happens upon a beautiful female vampire in the midst of an attack. He becomes obsessed her, eventually trapping the creature and keeping her in a cage in his apartment building basement. While he falls deeply in love with her, he is unsure is she loves him back or is just planning to eat him once released from the cage.
A small indie horror, this one received a very quiet release. But it is a neat twist on the classic vampire mythos and effectively explores the seductive nature of vampirism and falling in love with that which we cannot have.
THE REFLECTING SKIN (1990)
Plot: In rural Idaho, a young boy’s childhood is overrun with tragedy including suicides, a local serial killer, and a belief that the next-door neighbor is a vampire.
This film is bleak as hell. Set in 1950’s Idaho, the movie focuses around a young boy and his dysfunctional family, all framed in the shadow of a serial killer roaming the countryside. Somehow the film is able to mix together so many horrific and grotesque concepts that I lost count halfway through the film. Included in the lot are vampirism, pedophiles, insanity, a roving band of child killers, graphic suicide, and added to this mix- our main character spends a chunk of the movie talking to a maggot-covered baby corpse. Yet, what makes this movie even more disturbing is that it is all takes place in the bright sunny fields of Idaho peppered with wind-burned buildings. THE REFELCTING SKIN leaves behind the normal dark, shadowy confines of most horror films and swaps them for idyllic fields. A young Viggo Mortenson makes an appearance as the older brother.
Tune in tomorrow for five MORE underrated and obscure vampire films!