For four polarising films The Twilight Saga ruled the box office and made sexy vampires a growing financial concern for movie studios. Based on Stephanie Meyer’s novels, Twilight is The story of teenage monster magnet Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her torrid romance with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) as well as the super-charged puppy love coming from the direction of Jacob the werewolf (Taylor Lautner) formed a love triangle for the ages and helped set the trend for adapting Young Adult fiction into multi-million dollar franchises. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the original film here are 10 movies like Twilight to sink your teeth into.
1. Near Dark
With her recent directorial efforts revolving around the darker side of American identity comes as a surprise to discovering that Kathryn Bigelow’s debut feature was this insanely good vampire road movie. Near Dark is the story of a young farm boy named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) and his romance with a country girl named Mae (Jenny Wright). Sounds sweet, right? The only problem is that Mae’s family is a pack of murderous vampires led by Lance Henriksen. With the popularity of vampire movies at the time of Near Dark’s release (the most enduring of these being Fright Night and The Lost Boys) the film was lost in the mix but has become a cult hit in the years since. It’s no surprise as Near Dark is too good a film to be missed thanks to a brilliant soundtrack from Tangerine Dream and a breakthrough performance from the late Bill Paxton as the wildest of the vampires.
Making a movie about being in love with a literal monster is easy if that monster is a vampire played by a young British heartthrob. When that monster is a zombie, even if he’s played by a British heartthrob, the job is much harder. This didn’t stop the makers of Warm Bodies from trying and they just managed to pull it off. The idea of a zombie falling in love doesn’t make a lot of sense since they are supposed to be brain-dead monsters, so Warm Bodies R (Nicholas Hoult) is given a little help as the story makes him slightly remember what it’s like to be alive. This feeling grows stronger when he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer) as R’s humanity and sense of right and wrong slowly comes back to him. Not everything works in Warm Bodies, but the choice to go down a more comedic road proved to be the right one.
3. The Hunger Games
Out of all of the films on this list The Hunger Games has the least in common with movies like Twilight from a story and genre perspective, but without the popularity of Bella and Edward’s romance there may not have been a Hunger Games franchise at all. The story of Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, shares some similarities with Twilight: mainly the love triangle, but it proved that the Young adult genre of literature could produce varied stories from many different genres that could be adapted into hugely successfully franchises. The Hunger Games franchise built itself up from humble beginnings to become one of the most popular science fiction stories in all of cinema, and when the embers of the YA adaptation trend burn out for good, The Hunger Games will be seen as an epic tale of one girl’s fight against the system.
4. The Host
Stephanie Meyer will always be famous for writing the Twilight Saga, but the success of the series adaptations meant that Hollywood came calling to her once again for a guaranteed money maker. In came director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, In Time) who adapted Meyer’s science fiction romance The Host. Saoirse Ronan stars as Melanie, a young woman whose body is taken over by an alien parasite known as Wanderer, so begins the battle for control of Melanie’s body. The Host is full of interesting ideas, and mines thematic depths that Twilight only hinted at, but box office magic was in short supply as the film failed to impress critics and audience members, many feeling that some aspects of the film, especially the love triangle, where too similar to Twilight. One of the films high profile defenders was legendary film critic Roger Ebert in one of his final published reviews.
All movies like Twilight have a little Dracula DNA in them. Literature and cinema’s most popular vampire has cast a long shadow on stories that feature his kind. This makes recommending Dracula a tricky task as there are so many different versions of the character to choose from. You could try the classic Bela Lugosi version, the camp horror of Christopher Lee’s Hammer films, but for this list it’s hard to argue with Francis Ford Coppola’s insane adaptation of Bram Stoker’s seminal horror novel. Starring Gary Oldman as the titular Count, Coppola’s film is equal parts brilliant and absolute rubbish and it varies from scene to scene. The cast is uniformly unpredictable: Keanu Reeve’s puts in a career-worst performance as Jonathan Harker, but Oldman is great, as is Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. Unlike Twilight, and the Stoker’s novel, Coppola’s Dracula is pure sex, for better (the good guys are made more interesting) and the bad (everyone wants to bed Winona Ryder’s Mena). It has to be seen to be believed.
6. Let the Right One In
From burning desire to pulverising cold. Released in the same year as Twilight, Let the Right One In is arguably the best vampire film of the 21st century. Set in the oppressive winter of 1982 Sweden, the film follows a 12-year-old outcast named Oskar and his relationship with new neighbour Eli. Eli looks like a girl of about Oskar’s age, but she is actually a decades old vampire that has never aged out of her childish body. The film, directed by Tomas Alfredson and adapted by the excellent novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is an intimate film that plays the progression of Oskar and Eli’s relationship perfectly. Even so it’s still a horror film and Let the Right One In boasts some truly chilling moments, most of which involve Eli’s paedophilic Håkan. While the film spawned a solid American remake, it’s the original that packs the biggest punch.
7. Interview with the Vampire
Based on Anne Rice’s seminal horror novel, Interview with the Vampire is one of the greatest cinematic stories about the children of the night. From its first publication, Rice’s novel was hailed officially as the 2nd best vampire novel of all time, so an adaptation had to be surpass some huge expectations. Luckily, the right man was hired for the job: Irish director Neil Jordan. From Rice’s script Jordan created a gothic marvel of a movie with gorgeous period detail and lots of blood. For the novel’s iconic characters, the casting had to be perfect and it was. Tom Cruise has never bettered his performance as the Lestat, Kirsten Dunst wowed critics and audiences as the vampire child Claudia, and Brad Pitt was unfairly maligned as the film’s titular vampire, Louis. For those who love the film, and Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, will be happy to know that Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller is working on a new TV adaptation.
8. The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys is the kind of vampire movie that could only come out of the 80s. Directed by Joel Schumacher, long before he ruined his reputation directing Batman and Robin, The Lost Boys was a breath of fresh air for vampire movies. Much like the introduction of Spike would achieve over a decade later in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys destroyed the idea of the old-fashioned vampire. Dracula would need a leather jacket and better hair to be in this movie. The Lost Boys stars Jason Patric and Corey Haim as brothers that get on the wrong side of some vicious vampires led by Kiefer Sutherland. The Lost Boys showed just how fun it is to be a vampire, especially when you’re a teenager. You get to stay up as late as you want, break all of the rules, and die young while staying pretty.
9. Only Lovers Left Alive
Indie director Jim Jarmusch puts his own distinctive spin on the vampire movie. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton star as the vampire couple Adam and Eve (oh, I get it) as their immortal existence is disrupted by the arrival of Eve’s little sister Ava, played by Hiddleston’s Crimson Peak co-star Mia Wasikowska. Like most of the director’s films, Only Lovers Left Alive has little in the way of plot, but he does have fun with the fact that his vampires are secretly responsible for some of the world’s greatest pieces of art. Hiddleston’s Adam spends his time reclusively making music, and John Hurt plays the vampire version of Christopher Marlowe, only this version wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays rather than influenced them. It might seem like a hard sell, but Twilight fans will love the chemistry between Swinton (who is the film’s MVP) and Hiddleston (in his best non-Marvel performance).
10. The Shape of Water
Hey everybody, it’s 2018 and it looks like vampires are out and fish men are in. Guillermo Del Toro’s award-winning film will certainly go down in history as the weirdest Best Picture Winner of all time. Del Toro is an expert at making us see the humanity in monsters, the deep sadness at the news that he won’t get to finish the Hellboy trilogy makes that clear, but The Shape of Water breaks new ground, even for him. The film stars Sally Hawkins as mute cleaner Elisa Esposito as she forms an increasingly romantic relationship with an Amphibian man that has been captured by the US government. The key to The Shape of Water’s success is that through this creature, Del Toro highlights the humanity of the people like Elisa and her friends who are on the outer edges of the kind of society that rewards people like the villainous Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon).