Tag Archives: Let the Right One In

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Horror Films: VAMPIRES!

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Vampire movies. There are a lot of them in the world. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes bad. Sometimes they’re scary, sometimes sparkly. There’s a vampire out there to suit pretty much any taste, but all of them have a certain magnetism, a charm that pulls in bystanders and binds them to these creatures of the night. Heads up: there will likely be more than one post on vampires, since there is a large pool to draw from. But to get us started, here are four films that, while not very frightening, put a fresh, interesting spin on an age-old mythological figure. (Not to mention a sympathetic one too.)

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Ana Lily Armirpour, 2014

The story: Arash works hard to take care of his heroin-addicted father, but can’t stop a drug dealing pimp from taking his beloved car when his father fails to make a payment. In his attempt to get the car back, Arash meets a mysterious girl who, after she deals with the pimp with her own brand of justice, befriends him. Bonding through music, Arash finds he doesn’t care about the terrible things she’s done, and they leave together in the night.

Why you should watch it: A subtle, meandering story with high-contrast, gorgeous visuals, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is absolutely the film you should head for if you’re interested in a total departure from the endless stream of Dracula rehashes. Exploring an imaginary Iranian underworld (filmed in southern California, strangely enough) with her skateboard and striped shirt, the Girl is the true star. Endearing without ending up quirkily saccharine, her angel of death vibes are very intriguing. You’ll like her.

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Daughters of Darkness

Harry Kümel, 1971

The story: Recently married Stefan and Valérie are on their honeymoon, and arrive at a grand hotel in Ostend, Belgium on their way across the channel. They’re supposed to catch a ferry to meet Stefan’s family in England, but he seems strangely reticent to make that introduction. The only other guest at the off-season hotel is the Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, who becomes obsessed with the newlyweds, particularly Valérie. Between the countess’s advances, Stefan’s secrets, and a spate of murdered young women in nearby Bruges, it’s clear not everyone will be leaving this hotel alive.

Why you should watch it: This is a film that punishes domestic violence with death by vampires. So already it’s got that going for it. Glamorously homoerotic and gorgeous in an almost giallo film type way, Daughters of Darkness takes the legendary (but very real) serial killer Countess Báthory and turns her into a monster you both can’t look away from, and want to avoid at all costs.

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Let the Right One In

Tomas Alfredson, 2008

The story: Bullied twelve year-old Oskar lives in Blackeberg with his mother in the 1980s. He quickly befriends Eli, a small girl who moves in next door with Håkan, an older man, despite both of them warning him against it. Eli and Oskar grow closer while Håkan begins killing people to harvest their blood, and it becomes clear that Eli isn’t the girl she seems to be.

Why you should watch it: Titled Låt den rätte komma in in Swedish (unlike the 2010 American version), the film plays with the idea of childhood, innocence, predation, and violence in fascinating ways. The wintry setting of suburban Stockholm only serves to highlight the Oskar’s isolation before meeting Eli, and the two together protect each other from a world that is hostile in more ways than one.

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Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch, 2013

The story: Half a world apart, Adam and Eve, ancient vampires who have been married for centuries, wake as the sun sets. They both go in search of blood, Adam to a blood bank, and Eve to a supplier introduced by her friend Christopher Marlowe (yes, that Christopher Marlowe). A withdrawn and suicidal Adam has procured a revolver and wooden bullet and, sensing that something is wrong, Eve travels from Tangier to meet him. They spend time together in Detroit until increased interest in their activities forces them to travel back to Morocco, where bad news awaits them.

Why you should watch it: If you’ve ever thought to yourself “man, if I lived forever I would amass so much amazing crap,” this movie is for you. Between Eve’s books and Adam’s musical instruments, not to mention Tangier’s warmth, Detroit’s industrial starkness, and the wonderful soundtrack that brings it all together, there’s a delicious opulence to this film. It’s all existential meditations on depression, immortality, and love, saved from pretentiousness by a script that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the collective acting chops of Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, John Hurt, and Mia Wasikowska.

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Special Snowflakes: 5 Great Winter-Themed Movie Characters

Sally

Sally, The Nightmare Before Christmas

Rag doll Sally has it rough. She’s an indentured servant, is desperately in love with the king of Halloween, and keeps—literally—falling apart at the seams. But despite all her tough breaks, Sally remains a lone voice of reason throughout the film, the only person in Halloween Town who sees how terrible the whole let’s-do-Christmas-this-year notion really is. Ever resourceful, Sally has an arsenal of tools to help her escape her evil scientist creator, and, in an attempt to rescue Sandy Claws Santa Claus, faces down the Oogie Boogie Man solo. She never gives up, and in the end gets the recognition (not to mention freedom and love) she so deserves.

Hermey

Hermey, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

All Hermey wants to do is open up a dental practice, is that too much to ask? Apparently so in the North Pole, where career options outside of toymaker seem pretty thin on the ground for those of the Elvish persuasion. Undeterred, Hermey runs away, joins forces with some fellow outcasts, sings some greats songs, defeats the abominable snow monster, gives unwanted toys a loving home, and saves Christmas. All in a day’s work for the Elf who won the Santa’s Werkshop Best Hair Award five years running.

Cindy

Cindy Lou Who, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How can you not love that widdle face!? Cindy Lou Who, the smallest Who in Whoville, wants nothing more than to love Christmas in peace. She’s the only person who challenges the Grinch while he’s in full destroy-all-that-is-good-in-the-world mode, and it’s her love of the holiday, combined with that of the other Whos, that ends up melting the Grinch’s prickly exterior. She even shares her Roast Beast with the dog, because she is goodness incarnate.

Lucy

Lucy Pevensie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

It takes a big person to stick by your siblings when they don’t believe you (and, in the case of that dirtbag Edmund, outright antagonize you), but though Lucy is small in stature, she is definitely mighty. The first to wander through the wardrobe into the land of Narnia, Lucy befriends satyrs, beavers, God-lions, and Father Christmas before defeating the White Witch (another wonderful character who, who knows, might make it into the BAMFiles one of these days), becoming queen, and ushering in a Golden Age that will last for her entire reign. All hail Queen Lucy the Valiant!

Eli

Eli, Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

Not your typical vampire, pint-sized Eli moves to a frozen Stockholm neighbourhood with her adult protector, quickly befriending a lonely, bullied boy despite her better judgement. A natural predator, Eli doesn’t want to hurt those close to her, but has come to terms with her need to kill. She inspires devotion, not just from her father figure who sacrifices everything for her safety, but also from Oskar, the boy whom Eli saves in a final bloody showdown. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking friendship that Eli is determined to protect, even going against her own instincts to do so.

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