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This Friday marks the release of Vampire Academy, and sadly, there’s a very good chance that the film doesn’t satisfy your vampire cravings. A PG-13 rating can do that. Nothing against Vampire Academy, but it very much feels like the new train of thought regarding vampires is that they're not tragically doomed monsters, but absolutely fetch style pioneers with unlimited weaknesses. You wish you could sparkle like that, homegirl.
It only made sense that this was the perfect time to scare up something that would slake your bloodlust, which is why the 24 Hour Vampire Marathon was created. Following our blueprint, you can have a full night and day made to honor the best and weirdest of all bloodsucking adventures, from the early era of vamps onscreen to modern day. The schedule was created using the films’ specific runtimes as well as compatibility and fit within a schedule, so maybe your favorite is missing. If that’s the case, hopefully it’s been replaced by something stranger and more worth your time.
FRIGHT NIGHTWe’re gonna start at noon knowing full well that your friendly local tween who is amped up for Vampire Academy might be joining you. If that’s the case, why not subject them to a film that ultimately surprises the viewer by being terrifying. The original Fright Night follows a virginal dork who learns that the ladykiller next door might actually be killing ladies. A deeper examination reveals that the suave Chris Sarandon is indeed too good to be true – dude’s a bloodsucker! Fright Night toys with several popular horror movie tropes, but ultimately Sarandon’s debaucherous lech becomes more than just our hero’s cockblocker, but something of a beast all his own. Surprisingly, if you wanted, you could substitute in the remake and not miss a beat, since they both have identical runtimes.
BLACULAThere was no cat more swinging than William Marshall in this Blaxploitation classic. What starts out as a goofy title eventually evolves into a surprisingly atmospheric story about an African prince who refuses to contribute to the slave trade, turned by Dracula himself and buried and forgotten until modern day. Marshall’s swag-tastic wardrobe highlights that, despite the history of Dracula being an onscreen lady charmer, no one could seduce the viewer quite like Marshall’s Prince Mamuwalde. With great fashion and greater period music, Blacula is compellingly watchable.
HORROR OF DRACULAThe first and the best. Hammer Horror built a small cottage industry based on Dracula films, but it all started here. In this film, Drac is being stalked, the prey of our hero Jonathan Harker. And to see Peter Cushing match wits with Christopher Lee, in his maiden voyage as the Count, is the sort of thing you encounter in movie heaven. Those who know Lee for his late career fantasy films and metal albums will be startled to see him so young and virile, handsome underneath Dracula’s otherwise-silly cape.
NEAR DARKTaking you into the evening hours is one of the earliest films from director Kathryn Bigelow, a tale of star-crossed lovers, a human man falling in with a lady vampire and her gang of blood-guzzling outlaws. Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright are gorgeous in the lead roles, but the picture is completely stolen by the vampiric outlaws. Bill Paxton is absolutely deranged as Severen, the unkillable blood junkie, while Lance Henriksen’s disillusioned Jesse perfectly capitalizes on his seen-it-all weariness.
VAMPIRE’S KISSPrepare to enter THE CAGE. In perhaps the Cagiest of Nicolas Cage performances, Cage Cages as a literary agent who Cages so hard that he begins to Cage that, perhaps, he may be becoming a vampire. Naturally, Cage begins to wear sunglasses at night, eat cockroaches and sleep in a makeshift coffin. He also engages in manic, unpredictable behavior and Tourette’s-like outbursts, because Nicolas Cage is the patron saint of MEGA-ACTING.
BYZANTIUMAn underlooked gem from last year, this vampire thriller boasts the return to the genre from Interview With The Vampire director Neil Jordan. Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan play a couple of relatively ancient vamps on the run from a male-dominated secret sect that has chased them through the centuries. Byzantium is unstoppably sexy, but the world it creates, dominated and policed by men destined to punish women for any prurient interests, remains scarier than any jump effect in a more conventional horror effort.
LIFEFORCEIt should be around 10 PM, and the kids should be in bed. Maybe it’s time for the infamous adaptation of the novel The Space Vampires, the one you won’t admit to loving, but you absolutely do: Lifeforce! Are these creatures vampires, the ones we found on an abandoned space shuttle? Are they humans lost in space? And is naked Mathilda May, shooting vampire lasers at Steve Railsback and a non-bald Patrick Stewart, the greatest character in the history of the medium? Lifeforce is a ridiculous movie from a script that contradicts the A+ production values, but it deserves kudos for successfully marrying science fiction and horror with ease.
THE HUNGERAs we mentioned, the kids have gone to bed. It should be midnight by the time you cue up Tony Scott’s directorial debut, this erotic tone poem about an intense three way relationship between two blood-drinking lovers and the doctor who refuses to commit to the lifestyle. There may have been no trio onscreen as sexy as the flawless Catherine Deneuve, the slinky and mysterious David Bowie, and a young, ripe Susan Sarandon. If you’re watching this in a group, things might get a little heated between some of you.
GANJA AND HESSNothing can prepare you for the feeling you develop when you first see Ganja And Hess, arguably the most dynamic of the films emerging from the seventies Blaxploitation movement. The basic narrative involves a man reaching immortality by being stabbed by an ancient dagger, necessitating a life led by the consumption of blood. What follows is a peculiar story about love, lust and eternity, captured by director Bill Gunn in a borderline experimental style, one that places the viewer in the midst of a world governed by hunger.
TROUBLE EVERY DAYMoving into the early hours, Claire Denis’ blood-soaked tragedy is the perfect night-to-morning selection. The picture follows a number of sufferers of a rare blood disease, one that makes the victim feast, particularly when they are feeling amorous. Denis employs a barren storyline, allowing the gruesomely tragic, but weirdly titillating murders to take precedence, particularly from the likes of the gorgeous Beatrice Dalle. For first-timers, it will be both one of the sexiest, and one of the most nasty movies you’ve ever seen.
MARTINHeaded into sunrise with George Romero, a titan of the industry. His reputation seems to grace more conventionally horrific films, but not many people bring up Martin when discussing his legacy. In the vein of Vampire’s Kiss, this is an ugly film, one where a drifter begins drinking the blood of others in horrifically elaborate ways, believing himself he was a vampire. Despite the darkness of the film, and the pessimism of the ending, Romero’s treatment of the title character is remarkably humane and understanding.
BLADEWe’re approaching 7 AM, and clearly, you’re trying to ice-skate uphill. It’s time for the film that singlehandedly pulled Marvel out of debt, that turned Wesley Snipes into the baddest mother on this town, and depicted vampires as target fodder for our badass hero. As a Daywalker, blessed with vampire and human abilities, Snipes growls and preens his way through this action spectacular, taking on his best role with a combination of starpower and stealth peak physical movement.
SON OF DRACULAYou won’t believe THIS movie exists. Henry Nilsson and Ringo Starr collaborated both on the film and the album, and you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking that their attention level is not indicative of what’s going on here. It’s a rock musical where the new Count (Nilsson) must decide whether to rule like his father, or to try to become human to pursue his love. Filled with original songs by Nilsson and Ringo, it’s a rock lover’s dream, full stop.
NOSFERATUIt should be around 10:30, preparing you for our final film. And who better to introduce into the ‘thon at this point than the O.G. vampire himself. Nosferatu is still scary after all these years, a prime example of how, for all the bells and whistles employed by horror filmmakers, sometimes a skinny dude skulking around waiting for his next human feast is enough fuel to power your nightmares forever.