It’s hard to narrow down the best, but these 10 German movies from the past 35 years, including “Das Boot” and “Run Lola Run,” have all earned an entry in “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.”
The world of film is changing. For one thing, there’s not much actual film anymore. The future is digital; more and more, it’s streaming on our computers, too. Every week in FYIVOD, we survey the landscape online movies to bring you a snapshot of what’s available. This week, the stakes get a whole lot higher as we take in some vampire movies.
All right, here’s what you need. A cross. Some holy water. A couple of pieces of silver couldn’t hurt, although it might not help in all cases. Ooh, and a good supply of lumber, and if you can get it pre-sharpened, all the better. You can’t be too careful preparing for this week’s FYIVOD because it’s all about the dark world of vampire movies. From some of the earliest days of the silent era to the latest VOD premieres, vampires have fascinated audiences and filmmakers alike. There are literally dozens of movies about vampires and their bloodsucking buddies, but here are five options you can watch online right now that go straight for the jugular.
Tonight I was at a screening that proved how F.W. Murnau’s 1922 Dracula film, NOSFERATU, stands the test of time. You can watch it online via YouTube, but if you can this Halloween weekend, get yourself to a screening with live music. The extra oomph a live organ provides transforms the film from a historical, over-the-top expression-fest to a truly terrifying event. Don’t believe me? My seven-year-old kid could barely sit through the first ten minutes he was so utterly terrified.
So once you add a score – and a really good one at that – it’s easy to look beyond the elements that seem dated now, namely the acting. Acting styles have changed so radically in the past eighty years that we can barely recognize what now seems like camera-mugging as the same craft. But beyond that, not much else seems dated. In fact, the shot construction and framing feel very sophisticated. When Ellen (Greta Schroder), our sweetheart of a protagonist, is discovered sleepwalking just as the dreaded vampire is attacking his first victim miles away, we see her eerily tip toe through the frame far in the distance, the shot size diminishing her presence but emphasizing her fleeting, gorgeously scary physicality as she inches along a high terrace wall…
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.
There are a lot of top ten lists for “scariest movie of all time,” but from box office hits to oddball cult classics, there are some movies that turn up again and again. You’ll notice a few favorites are missing, namely HALLOWEEN (1978), which has great 70s kitsch value and hands down more naked boobs than any movie on this list, but as a movie, it’s really not all the frightening, right? And no, I didn’t forget THE EXORCIST (1973) either, but buckets of green puke are more gross than scary. You’ll notice, too, that there aren’t a lot of new scary movies, and that’s not because I don’t like them, but I think we should let them stand the test of time a bit before we start putting them on all-time lists.
10. WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967)
This oft-forgotten gem stars Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman terrorized by Alan Arkin and his gang of thugs who think she has a doll full of heroin. Bet you never thought a refrigerator light would save your life.
9. NOSFERATU (1922)
Greatest vampire movie of all time? Michael Myers stole all Nosferatu’s best moves in HALLOWEEN (the white face, the lurking) but the original is still the bone-chilling best.