Before TWILIGHT: the history of the vampire at BAM

While the vampires of today are cute enough for gaggles of teenage girls (and many full-grown women too, I’ve heard) to hang posters of on their bedroom walls, the original vampires were actually meant to instill fear. Hence the long, sharp nails, the carnivorous teeth, the goblin-like ears and the dead white face of Nosferatu, the guy who started it all in F.W. Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece of German expressionism, NOSFERATU, A SYMPHONY OF HORROR.

Since then, the vampire myth has been among the most popular subjects in cinema history. So popular, in fact, that BAM is screening a different vampire film almost every day until the end of September without exhausting the genre. The range is truly spectacular – from the campy I-vahnt-to-suck-your-blood Dracula, to “Dracula’s soul brother” BLACULA to Klaus Kinski’s downright frightening take on the classic Nosferatu in Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake of the same name. Crowd favorites like John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES and Bram Stoker’s DRACULA get equal billing alongside the the 1960s sci-fi PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES and cult fave Claire Denis’ TROUBLE EVERY YEAR starring Vincent Gallo.

A post-coital Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in THE HUNGER

The lesser known 1967 Roman Polanski “Baroque horror-comedy” THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, starring Sharon Tate and Polanski himself, brings black humor to the genre, but probably the most unexpected vampire film is THE HUNGER, which Tony Scott directed three years before TOP GUN. With Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon, THE HUNGER includes the 80s Bauhaus hit “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and “the most famous lesbian vampire scene ever” in one movie! “Slick, flashy and sexy, here is a film that, for once, is appropriately served by fast cuts, overlapping dialogue, flashy camera work, wildly fashionable clothes and decor so elegant that only mythical creatures could sit around in it.”