Fangs For The Memories

vampire_fangs_by_fredthelifeguard-d3fkp6b maxresdefault

Suggested Audio Jukebox


[1] Sada Vidoo “Love Is A Battlefield”

[2] Grace Jones “Seduction Surrender Longing Fix”

[3] Gerard McMann “Cry Little Sister”

[4] Brad Fiedel “Come To Me”

[5] Bauhaus “Bela Legosi’s Dead”

[6] Soft Cell “Martin”

[7] Gary Numan “I Die You Die”

[8] Falco “Rock Me Amadeus (Instrumental)”



Never trust a man in a turtle-neck sweater. You want to know why you should never trust a man in a turtle-neck sweater? It’s because he is likely little more than a date rapist. Moving swiftly on and on an arguably less dubious note, I’ve always been mysteriously drawn to vampires. Werewolves are okay but they lack a certain something in my opinion and have none of the grace and poise of their nightcrawling associates. I recently attempted to figure out what exactly it is about vampires that makes my jugular veins bulge so and this is about the best I could come up with. I believe it would have something to do with they are such thoughtful lovers. Granted, their sexual appetite may be somewhat insatiable and liaisons invariably lead more towards the dangerous side, but at least they have the decency of throwing a dash of romance into the mix before sinking in those incisors. Let’s study the facts shall we?


A zombie doesn’t dedicate the time to caressing your inner thigh before chowing down on your frontal lobe and, as for werewolves, well when was the last time you heard one whistling the melody of a Luther Vandross ballad? Vampires, on the other hand, are nothing if not considerate lovers and they understand the cardinal rule – death is far more becoming when it arrives deep in the throes of passion. Women cannot help but be magnetized by their come hither eyes and offer up their necks willingly just to feel that one pinch of eternal delight. Furthermore, they remain attentive right up to the incision and, while they may extract a few pints of blood for the purpose of their own survival, it’s not like your blood supply won’t replenish in 24 hours anyhoots and they’re always mindful of making the transaction two-way. How does eternal life grab you? It’s certainly something to mull over right?


Agreed, there may be a few downsides to living forever, and watching your children’s children turn to dust must be a sour lozenge to ingurgitate. But think of the excitement of unwrapping your brand new iPhone 66 and watching vinyl make its umpteenth rousing comeback. It sure as shit beats being Yoda. While he may have reached the ripe old age of 900 before heading off to join Obi-Wan Kenobi in the great Tatooine Tittie Bar in the sky, he resembled a septic testicle and had to listen to Luke Skywalker blather on about how hot his sister was every other Thursday when even sex-craved Ewoks wouldn’t offer him a second look. Traditionally vampires never age so there is plenty of opportunity for reinvention and the only stipulation is that they must feast on the blood of virgins at regular intervals or else get a gastric band fitted. In the history of no-brainers, this one is right up there with flossing your teeth thoroughly after going down on Teen Wolf’s mom. Above all else, they’re just plain awesome.


Thus I have decided to dedicate this piece to all the nightcrawlers, bloodsuckers and throat manglers amongst us and take an affectionate glance back at some of the personal highlights from my own filmic development. There shall be no rhyme or reason or chronological order; in true Keeper form I shall shoot from the hip and see where that leads us. I also feel obliged to point out that, as a child of the seventies, I will focus mainly on output of a more contemporary variety and let the great Count Dracula catch up on a well deserved power nap on this occasion. That means you too Count Orlok and heaven knows you could do with some beauty sleep. Poor old Nosferatu, second only to Rocky Dennis in lack of willing sexual suitors and even Rocky managed to bone a blind chick without the need for Rohypnol. Rest well my unfortunate friend and may I suggest a quick manicure before attempting to find that elusive rectal G-spot?


Okay so let’s get down to beeswax and there seems no better place to commence our pilgrimage than with potentially my all-time favorite vampire flick, Richard Wenk’s marvellous Vamp. Now before you all start tossing rotten vegetables my way and calling the men in white coats to come and chaperone me back to the nuthouse, I don’t remember saying best and the two are worlds apart believe me. It goes without saying that Wenk’s film isn’t exactly considered the crème de la crème of this particular genre and I distinctly recall it being punted swiftly in the direction of the bargain bins after a somewhat less than hospitable receipt by the critics. That said, I’m all about scratching the underdog’s balls, and will now elucidate why I hold an intimate candle for this rather delightful horror comedy oddity.


Two words – Grace Jones. As a boy I was introduced to this fascinating and perplexing creature through way of her LP Island Life. It was around the time that Gary Numan and Japan were leading the New Romantic charge and artists were starting to spread their creative wings and embrace their inner-macabre a little more freely so her timing really couldn’t have been more spot-on. You see, Ms. Jones was positively spring-loaded with bizarro and her outer shell was merely an extension of this wonderful weirdness. Her music may actually be the most compos mentis thing about this wild-eyed black panther, although she did enjoy a limited run-out with mainstream cinema, most notably as Mayday in A View To A Kill and Strangé in Boomerang, where she actually appeared to play herself to the tee.


As the former she displayed her cat-like prowess exquisitely and 007 couldn’t help but to be mildly seduced by her unusual charms. Indeed, I died a little inside when she straddled that wayward mine cart to her explosive end, while Bond rued his missed opportunity to taste her dark essence. If you ask me, he dodged a bullet there as I can envisage poor Roger Moore being flung around like a sodden sack of feces by this sexual cheetah and she likely would have devoured him the very moment his toes curled. Yet there was undeniably something vaguely arousing about her and I believe it would have something to do with her unwavering confidence and blasé attitude to being labelled as crazy as a meerkat on crystal meth. Who better then to play a hot to trot ghoul? Kudos to Wenk for the inspired casting.


As Katrina she effortlessly oozed sensuality, twisting and turning before us and mesmerizing all as she performed her tantalizing tribal dance astride a throne that looked suspiciously like it had been snaffled from Tutankhamun’s grotto. Let’s not get things contorted, Grace isn’t what you would call my personal cup of tea and I find her far more freakish than enticing if truth be known. However, while some way from “girl next door” material, she excelled as a vampiric stripper queen, causing our special purpose to throb inexplicably, and even managing to distract our attention from bubblegum beauty DeDee Pfeiffer for a couple of minutes. Indeed, hapless AJ came a distinct cropper after being tantalized by her act and finding himself between her thighs in the ultimate love-pinch.


Sex with Katrina was all going swimmingly until he glanced down and spotted her ropy pedicure. I’m the first to suck on a toe or ten (okay eight as the battered sidecars serve no real purpose) but talons you can open a bottle of Rolling Rock with just doesn’t fit that particular demographic I’m afraid. Vamp may be largely regarded as the runt of the eighties litter but it’s more fun than a fistful of fuzzy felt and drenched in bright neon coloration, lending it an inimitable style pretty much all of its own. Is it in the same league as Near Dark or The Lost Boys? Don’t be preposterous, it’s frivolous fluff and at least 50% of the pleasure I glean from watching it over and over is of the guiltiest variety. However, in my own personal head space it twists round the throne, just like unquenchable queen of the damned Katrina.


While The Lost Boys is fresh in my memory banks, it would be frightfully uncivil of me not to donate a stanza or two to its worthy cause. More often than not, Joel Schumacher’s contemporary classic occupies the numero uno slot on fanboy top tens and gets a hell of a lot right in truth. The soundtrack was so utterly evocative of the period that I’m even going to break out the word “amazeballs” in celebration, the pace was pitch-perfect, tone just about copybook also, and there was more than a whiff of iconic about the whole polished package. I could stare in awe at the divine goddess that is Jami Gertz until my eyes crossed over or my knee started trembling uncontrollably, whatever came first, while Keifer Sutherland has seldom given a better account of himself than here as the dangerously delicious David. Fret not Keifer as I will return to you momentarily but, as a self-confessed whore for eighties teen fodder, I cannot allow a solitary second more to pass without tossing a quick love rasher to the Coreys.


By the time 1987 washed over us, this playful pair were pretty much in their prime – Haim with his pin-up looks and dimpled cheeks that mothers desired to pinch and any girl under the age of seventeen thrust between their thighs and Feldman with that splendidly sardonic wit of his and impish features that still haven’t aged three decades on. Things were going great guns for the Coreys and The Lost Boys is one colossal commemoration of why we took these two tearaways to our hearts in the first place. Personally I still believe their fruits were at their most ripened for Greg Beeman’s wondrous License To Drive a year later but, as aforementioned, there’s succulent prime rib and then there’s tasty burger and rarely the twain shall meet. As Sam Emerson and Edgar Frog, their presence was incalculable and I even considered changing my name to Corey just to hang out with them in their trailer for the ten minutes it would take for security to arrive and taser my ass.


Anyhoots, thank you Keifer for your patience and get ready to feel all self-important as you’re about to get your melons masticated and I’ve even applied a dash of lip gloss for the occasion. Let’s be frank shall we? Donald’s boy stole the whole jar of cookies here and struck an irresistible balance between searing hot and icy cold, encouraging many a gusset gush in the process. He led his boys just like dear old dad would’ve, making a pretty strong case for joining this particular clique and leading from the front with true majesty. Eternal life, the ability to aviate, cool as fuck image, what’s not to love right? If you’re fumbling about in the dark for symbolic eighties vampires, then I would suggest pinning the tail in this particular donkey as it’s pretty much as good as it gets. Indeed, The Lost Boys is to horror aficionados what Dirty Dancing is to any girl still in possession of an intact hymen, only with the ass whooping Cry Little Sister in place of “that fucking song”. However, for all its unquestionable eminence, Schumacher’s film does face some fairly stiff opposition for the overall eighties crown.


Just like Playstation owners argued the toss over who was the best between Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon (madcap marsupial trumps dainty dragon hands down in my book in case you were wondering), horror buffs grappled over the aforementioned and Kathyrn Bigelow’s Near Dark and still do to this very day. It’s a tough call for sure but, when you consider my perpetual boner for James Cameron’s Aliens, it should come as little surprise to learn that Bigelow’s film just about edges it for Keeper. You would be forgiven for mistaking the cast as the V.I.P. list for the Aliens wrap party as a trio of the very finest came to play and all three were plutonium. Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein – that’s Bishop, Hudson, and Vasquez to the grunts – need I really say any more? Furthermore, it was literally dripping with atmosphere and did something truly fresh with vampire lore, never frittering its runtime pointing out the obvious.


Let’s not forget Tom Holland’s Fright Night either as, while not quite on par with the big two, it was still something of a raucous rollercoaster of relish. Nosey neighbor Charley Brewster must have been cursing his wretched luck after charismatic curiosity Jerry Dandridge moved in next-door and took a rather ominous shine to him but that’s what you get for sticking your schnoz into other folk’s personal affairs sonny and you had it coming if you ask me. Should you have not been so inquisitive, then perhaps Peter Vincent’s ratings wouldn’t have plummeted and he wouldn’t be huffing crack in dark alleys now, whilst chasing down sewer rats to suck some much-needed protein out of. But you just had to pry didn’t you Charley? To be fair, it was both hoot and holler watching you squirm uncomfortably and Jerry was kind of the balls.


Guess who else was the balls? Peter Loew that’s who and this one may not be quite as familiar with all but the diehards. Robert Bierman’s Vampire’s Kiss emerged from the slag heap that was 1989 and hardly a bugger offered it so much as a cursory glance. My hands are in their upright positions here as I only recently watched this delightful blackened nugget of glee for the first time myself and feel more shame than Cosby for snubbing it for a full twenty-five stretch. Vamp may be my personal favorite, but this runs it surprisingly close, and may well have edged it had I bothered to provide it the view it deserved in time context. Hopeless eccentric Nicolas Cage has been required to stomach rather a lot of flack on account of his ludicrous overacting but I’ll take him however the hell I can get him and his histrionics have rarely been more custom-made to a character as they were here.


After a one night stand with a mysterious stranger, literary agent Loew is convinced he is turning into a vampire and steadily the screws start to slacken. While this is decidedly unwelcome news to Peter, it’s desperately distressing for his secretary Alva as he takes out every last one of his frustrations by debasing her at every available opportunity. This leads to numerous priceless exchanges but nothing will have prepared us for the moment when he takes his obsession to the next level. After purchasing a set of cut-price plastic vampire teeth, he delves further into character by gollopping down a pigeon, assuming the rigid posture of Nosferatu, and generally acting like an absolute wing nut. I shit you not, there are few sights I have experienced in my lifetime as riotous as this disillusioned meatbag on the prowl and the last thirty minutes of Vampire’s Kiss was largely spent grasping for precious oxygen.


However, it’s more than just a rib-tickler as Bierman’s film is actually more about one man’s gradual decline into outright madness and, despite his abhorrent treatment of poor Alva and increasingly erratic behavior, we cannot help but feel for the guy. I would urge you to track this down at any cost but have decided to implore you instead as it really is something of a diamond in the rough and offers a unique take on vampires unlike any other. As for those fantastic faux fangs, well I instantly yearned for my own set and, for a mere $3.95 a pop, they seem like one helluva shrewd investment. Not altogether convinced about tucking into pigeons but, the next time one sees fit to dump on me in public, I may well change my tune.


Meanwhile, the late Tony Scott hit the ground running in 1983 with his ultra-chic debut The Hunger. This one works more on implication than anything else and is a vampire movie in the very loosest sense. Featuring memorable turns from Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon and a rather racy lesbian love scene between the two women, it was the late great David Bowie who donated the most intriguing performance. At two-hundred-years old, John Blaylock had been afforded plentiful time to brush up on his cello skills. Alas, John negated to read the small print when accepting his eternal youth and, while dying wasn’t an issue, it was a little disheartening when he suddenly began ageing at a vastly accelerated rate and decomposing before our very eyes. Scott’s film was stylish in the extreme and hand-crafted for the MTV generation. While far from perfect and a little too artsy for some tastes, should you be looking for a candidate for a double-bill with Paul Schrader’s Cat People, then The Hunger would fill that gap hand in glove.


There were other bats in my belfry during the eighties and Jimmy Huston’s My Best Friend Is a Vampire, Howard Storm’s Once Bitten, and Boris Szulzinger’s Mama Dracula all possessed a certain level of charm although none of them took themselves particularly seriously. However, Jerry Ciccoritti’s Graveyard Shift (not to be confused with Ralph S. Singleton’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel by the same title) was undoubtedly the best of the rest and a far better movie than it was ever given credit for. Also known as Central Park Drifter, it told the story of a terminally ill TV executive who, after a fling with a particularly “bitey” NY cabbie, finds herself gradually turning, much to her green-eyed husband’s annoyance. Stylish and atmospheric, Ciccoritti’s obscurity is well worth seeking out once all other options have been exhausted.


That seems to be the eighties sewn up but I’m still feeling a little juice in the tank here so have decided to turn the clocks back to the decade previous and cherry pick a few humdingers from the epoch. Where better a place to start then than George A. Romero’s exquisite Martin from 1977, a film he still regards as his own personal darling. A twenty-seven-year-old John Amplas played the titular character, a timid young man who swore blind he was actually an Old World vampire. Like Peter Loew, he also possessed his own pair of plastic gnashers, but siphoned blood from his victims in a far less traditional manner, while attempting to stay one step ahead of his grand-uncle, Cuda, whose room and board came at a distinct price.


Amplas was extraordinarily good as the deeply troubled lead and his performance effortlessly ranks amongst the very finest of the entire decade in my opinion. There was a feline quality about Martin that made him a fascinating subject to observe; fiercely independent on one hand, he was also more than willing to be petted, albeit on his terms only and arched his spine the very moment it appeared he was in immortal jeopardy. Whether or not he was who he claimed to be was left purposely hazy and this only added to the film’s unassuming charm. Indeed, Romero’s unsung masterpiece may well be the best vampire film I have ever had the pleasure of exposing my jugular to and, once watched, will likely remain in both your thoughts and soul forever.


I couldn’t possibly not make mention of Tobe Hooper’s two-part miniseries from 1979 based on Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot as it pretty single-handedly catered for my nightmares as an infant, thanks to one horrifying scene in particular and no prizes for guessing what that might be. Now you only need ask Mrs. Kobritz about the perils of investigating the dubious fog outside your patio but young Danny Glick could have no excuses as his visitor was far less ambiguous. To be fair, when it’s your own flesh and blood scratching on the window, you’d be mistaken for seeing no harm or foul in offering them respite from the chill. That said, it was evident that Ralphie wasn’t a well boy, the washed out features and glowing peepers gave that one away in no time. The words “piss off bro or I’m telling dad” wouldn’t have gone amiss here but, regardless of the pretty conclusive warning signs, brotherhood is brotherhood after all, thus Danny couldn’t help but free up that latch.


Speaking of telltale signs, how does this one grab you? Floating inside and hovering with intent in one’s personal space should provide the inkling you’re craving but, by this point, it was way too late for the hapless child and also for the audience not to be left more than vaguely anxious. I was eighteen-years-old before it felt as though my skin began to fit and I blame that shit on Hooper (and lest we not forget King) for scaring me out of it reasonably decisively. Salem’s Lot wasn’t perfect but it was never anything less than damn good, and took numerous other cues to accelerate our pulses. I’m just grateful for double glazing and, should it be a muggy night in my boudoir, then I’ll stick to the free-standing fan if I may as I have three older sisters and they happen to possess rather long finger nails.


There were numerous other notable bloodsuckers mincing around those seventies shadows and even the long dormant Count Orlok popped his wishy-washy head up once more courtesy of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre in 1979, this time with the great Klaus Kinski on gurning duties. Meanwhile, Brian Clemens’ Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter was a stirling addition to the already expansive Hammer Films catalogue and Frenchman Jean Rollin continued to dabble with The Thrill of the Vampires in 1970 and Requiem for a Vampire year later. But one particular landmark movie which is often overlooked is William Crain’s Blacula and this kickstarted a trend for blaxploitation-flavored horror all on its lonesome. While opinions were split initially, it went on to become one of the highest grossing films of 1972, prompting Bob Kelljan to get in on the act the following year for its sequel Scream Blacula Scream.


I fear we may not have sufficient moon light remaining to drudge through the insipid nineties and hang out with Eddie Murphy and Kristy Swanson but feel obliged to offer a nod of remembrance to the likes of Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos, and John Landis’ Innocent Blood which, along with the more obvious crowd-pleasers of the period, made something of a mockery of claims that the decade was entirely without merit, at least from a vampire perspective. Furthermore, since some smart Aleck decided to dig up old Nosferatu, it would seem harsh not to afford him a little further time to stretch those lanky legs of his. E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of The Vampire arrived at the turn of the century and with a distinctly 1920s flavor. This rather delectable slice of metafiction paired John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe to glorious effect, supplying a fictionalised account of the making of the original Nosferatu and seasoning it lashings of blackest humor.


I struggled to retain composure every time Max Schreck took to the screen although, while part of me just wished to give him a nice tight squeeze and plant one on his big grey bald dome, the other more logical part reminded me to keep my distance. However, it seems fitting that I dedicate a little closing ode to my dear fiend Orlok before heading back to the bridge to meet up with David and the boys. All I need is my lute and I’m a little unsettled by the fact that I left it over by my unlatched bedroom window. I swear blind that dense mist cloud wasn’t there a minute ago y’know. And that faint scratching isn’t exactly calming my shot nerves any either. Should I play any bum notes, then please bear with me, as it’s tough hitting C-minor once that fourth pint is siphoned.


rockmelove_cover nosferatu-456x700


He was a prowler, a lurker,
a tiny bit wrong ‘un
and at a primary glance
you could mistake him for Gollum


It was Slovakia, a castle,
a real fixer upper
he skipped breakfast and lunch
for he preferred to rock supper


He was an odd little man
not quite debonaire
and a long way from exalted
because he had no hair


Chasing tail to no avail
but he knew better than argue
as one bite later they’d be begging
Come on rock me Nosferatu


Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu,
Oh oh oh Nosferatu!
Come on rock me Nosferatu


Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu,
Oh oh oh Nosferatu!
Come on rock me Nosferatu


He may have looked the part
and qualified as a ghoul
but by every account
he was a bit of a tool


If you saw him in the street
you’d likely kick his grey ass
but in a poorly lit alley
it would be wiser to pass


If looks alone could kill
then he’d be bang to rights
as he looks ropy in shadows
and even more naff in lights


If you still require convincing
of your imminent death
then let him lean in close
and get a load of that breath


Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu,
Oh oh oh Nosferatu!
Come on rock me Nosferatu


Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu, Nosferatu!
Nosferatu Nosferatu,
Oh oh oh Nosferatu!
Come on rock me Nosferatu





Click here to read Eighties In Horror: 1980-1984





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