Monday, 2 April 2012

Three Vampire Movies That Won't Admit It

After just finishing Cronos I realized that I had seen a couple of unconventional and very unique vampire movies recently. I decided that, I would see if I could compile a list of the more unique, re-inventions of the typical vampire movie, things that verged on minor obscurity and a none of them even mention the word vampire. The three I could think of were Cronos, The Wisdom of Crocodiles and Near Dark.


Cronos was one I watched just the other night, and was directed and written by Guillermo del Toro, who has a habit of creating some interesting worlds. What makes Cronos different from the average vampire story? Well first off, I don't think it used the word vampire, although most of the characteristic of the creature are there, drinking blood, immortality, burnt by sunlight. It is however the cause of vampirism that is most unique in Cronos. Vampirism is transferred through the device from which the movie is named. The Cronos was built centuries ago by an alchemist, and is the secret to eternal life.  Jesus Gris, an old man running an antique shop discovers the device, and without knowing it, triggers the device, which leaches onto him, and begins his transformation. Soon he is confronted by a man who has been seeking the Cronos for decades, on a quest for immortality. Cronos allows us to follow his story, as we discover more and more about the Cronos and its effects.

Cronos was Guillermo del Toro's first film, released in 1993, the movie is mostly in Spanish. The only other notable name is Ron Perlman, who regardless of his distinctive voice, is an obscure actor. It is most likely because of it being Guillermo del Toro's first movie and that it is in Spanish that Cronos somehow failed to be noticed. However, The Criterion Collection, dedicated to finding great films from around the world, had picked this up. I watched their version, and if you intend to check Cronos out, try and get a copy from The Criterion Collection, who will have lovingly enhanced the video and audio, as well as include a number of great goodies.

The Wisdom of Crocodiles (Immortality)

I stumbled upon this movie just after watching Gattaca, which also starred Jude Law. After that I had trouble tracking it down due its two names. The Wisdom of Crocodiles and Immortality. The later speaks directly to the fact this is in fact a vampire movie while the former titles is ambiguous. The whole movie is in fact a mystery, with a very slow story that gives you a strange picture of Steven Grlscz (Jude Law), as a vampirelike creature. While the movie of course never actually states that Steven is a vampire, we learn that he is an immortal being who feeds on the blood of the women he seduces. Sounds pretty standard, until you begin to learn how he is feeding on emotions, and for some reason produces crystals when he feeds.

While The Wisdom of Crocodiles is by no means a must see movie it does offer a very unique tale in the standard story of vampires. It was released in 1998 and somehow disappeared, seemingly never mentioned amongst those movies commonly identified in the vampire genre. The movie does have a foreign feel
to it, although it was filmed in the UK, I think that is probably the
 director, Po-Chih Leong's touch.

Near Dark

Near Dark, is once again a vampire movie that does not use the word vampire. However, any fan of the vampire genre will happily point you towards Near Dark a great vampire movie from 1987. That year is significant because it also featured the release of The Lost Boys, which featured a similar story and is a little more famous, overshadowing Near Dark. However what makes Near Dark unique apart from it's lack of mentioning one of the most recognizable monsters, is that it is in fact a western.

Near Dark was originally written as a western movie, complete with cowboys, outlaws on the run, saloon gunfights and even horses. However due to the lack of interest in the western genre at the time Kathryn Bigelow got creative and mixed in the horror genre in the form of vampires. What results is ironically a great film in both genres. Near Dark, gives us all the fun of the on the run outlaws in a western, while giving us the horror, blood, and cruelty one would expect in a vampire movie.

So if you're a fan of the vampire genre, and are a little disappointed with the current state of genre (I'm looking at you Twilight), and think you've seen all there is, look again. While you've probably come across Near Dark, the other two are a little more obscure, but I urge you to check them out. Near Dark is a must for any horror fan, with Cronos still within the genre. The Wisdom of Crocodiles will by no means slake your thirst for blood, but it is still an interesting take on things.

Also if your looking for some more mainstream or newer vampire flicks that give you hope for the genre check out Stake Land, Daybreakers and possibly The Caretaker when it comes out. At that I will leave you with this image from Cronos, since I won't get to use the screenshots elsewhere.

This was one of my favourite scenes.


  1. Wisdom of Crocodiles Immortality, is a brilliant film. I think it's one of Jude Law's best. I've always classed that film as a psy-vamp more then anything, even though you do see him drinking the blood in a few scenes.
    Like you said, because of his feeding off emotions, and his strange desire to be accepted at all costs.
    It's the manipulation factor, the stalkerishness of him that lends so wonderfully to the vampire myth.

    Haven't heard of the Caretaker. You might have just given me a new vampire movie to hunt down.

    1. Yes, Jude Law does give a really great performance.

      Not sure if The Caretaker is out yet. What is your favourite vampire movie?