Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ten years of TMtV: Guest Blog: Bite of the Vampire

It’s my great pleasure to welcome Paul Wakefield (AKA Everlost) to TMtV as part of the 10 year celebrations. Paul and I met in a wonderfully convoluted way – which is a story probably best told over a pint – but it partly involved the blog. Paul is one of the group of my friends who all attend the Bram Stoker International Film Festival together. He runs the Vampire Web and the Blood and Shadows vampire writing forum. Today he will take us through his thoughts on the vampire bite, including a top ten of examples.

It's the part of the film that has vampire fans reaching for the remote... to rewind and watch again, or to forward past the disappointment... the moment where a film can inspire dreams and nightmares, can earn a place on everyone's DVD shelf or fall flat on its face and be consigned to the pile of 3-for-a-dollar films in a charity shop sale. It's the moment in a vampire film that so many directors make a complete mess of and leave us gnashing our collective fangs... it is the bite scene!

To help celebrate ten years of this monstrous blog, I've attempted to put together a top ten list of bite scenes from film and video. No easy task, as there are thousands of films out there, and most have at least a couple of scenes where the vampire has their way with their prey... thankfully YouTube has a large chunk of them to help, and better still we can grab those scenes to share here!

So... I know this might not be what everyone is looking for in a bite scene, and feel free to shoot this list to pieces in the comments... but this is what I am looking for in a bite scene.

First, and most importantly... don't pan off camera, and try to redeem the lack of effort with a feeble little scream. A good vampire bite scene needs to see the fangs going into the neck, or at least see some mouth to neck contact.

Secondly, another pet hate of mine are the scenes where the vampire gives their victim a little nip on the neck and within a second or two the vampire's prey has fallen over dead. There are so many of these! I am looking for the mortal to have time to struggle, to surrender, to feel all those things that a vampire bite is doing to them both mentally and physically.

Thirdly, and also very importantly... many directors forget what the vampire bite is about for the vampire. It's for them to feed, to seduce and overwhelm their prey with the effect of their bite. It isn't to see how much blood they can spill down their front, or, as in point two above, to make their prey fall over dead without actually drinking any blood. And none of this biting and the vampire shaking their head back and forth, ripping the neck to shreds. Fangs should make a bite mark, not a foot long gouge on a throat!

Fourth, and this is what turns the ordinary bite scene into the best ones... vampire bite scenes are always enhanced if we can see what is happening to the victim when the fangs sink in. Pain, pleasure... seeing the victim being overwhelmed by the bite to the point where they want to scream but cannot, being rendered helpless with the sensations the bite is giving. The very best vampire bite scenes show us what is going on in the eyes and mind of victim while the vampire is feeding, from the moment the fangs pierce flesh to the moment life begins to fade.

So... with that being said, here is my top ten bite scene list. I hope you agree with at least a couple of them!

At number 10, last of the chosen scenes, but far from least, I am going to stray into the realm of music videos. Fans of ZZ Top will know they did a vampire video to the song Breakaway, starring Fairuza Balk as a raven haired vampire who successfully has her way with a very lucky fellow towards the end of the video. Great bite, great reactions from the victim and some of the best bite-on-neck action from any vampire bite scene out there.

Ninth on my list is from Dario Argento's Dracula 2012. Tons wrong with the film, but as a bite scene this one really works. We see our prey pounced upon, neck exposed and bite delivered... and then we get a really nice feeding scene where we see exactly what the bite is doing to his prey. The YouTube video clips the scene a little bit, but you get most of it.

Eighth choice... I couldn't leave this one out after being reminded by a good friend about it; it is one of my favourite vampire films after all... Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Not on my list for Dracula's bite so much as what follows, I cannot think of a better put together scene of a mortal being turned into a vampire. Passion, emotion, romance, blood... it has it all.

Seventh choice is from a film called Vampires: The Turning with Stephanie Chao having her way with the neck of the film's hero. The YouTube clip doesn't quite do the scene justice, but it’s enough for you to get the idea. We get to see the fangs sink in, the effect of the bite, the vampire feeding... everything a great bite scene needs.

Sixth on the list, and I am dipping into television, with the leather-clad Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess being vamped by Gabrielle. Slightly spoiled by a lack of bite marks and bloodied fangs at the end of the bite, nonetheless it shows everyone's favourite warrior princess being bitten and turned into a vampire. It would, of course, have been a much better series if it had continued with Xena as a vampire. Xena: Vampire Princess has a ring to it!

Fifth sees Nicolas Cage on the receiving end of Jennifer Beale's fangs in Vampires Kiss. If you like to see the vampire's prey struggling in their arms, this is one for you. Struggle as he might, his will is soon overcome by the vampire feeding on him.

Fourth is an obscure one. In this scene our Dracula has his victim thoroughly helpless as soon as he enters the room, and when the bite is delivered the victim can do nothing but lay there in shock and horror as the vampire feeds. Great demonstration of the power of the vampire being too much for a mortal to resist, even through the pain and terror of the vampire feeding. Having consulted with Taliesin, we believe this film to be Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein, with Dracula played by Howard Vernon.

Third on my list is from the same film as number four and it is a bite scene done wonderfully well. Ignoring the obvious appeal of the Crap Bat, our victim tries to scream when bitten but cannot, as the effects of the vampire's bite take effect. The expression of horror on the victim's face slowly fades as she is drained, and our vampire triumphs. Hurray!

At number 2 it is Caroline Munro and Christopher Lee in Dracula AD 1972. Very nearly my number one choice. Perfect in her transformation from terrified woman to one consumed by lust and pleasure after the vampire's bite, Caroline Munro shows us how it’s done. Bravo, Caroline... scream queens of today take note! (Caroline Munro is still very much a Scream Queen today – Ed.) Skip to 36:15 minutes in (though for some reason the embed doesn't show the time properly, so on this page we're talking around the 11 or 12 second mark - Ed.) as I'm afraid this one, as a bite scene, seems to have disappeared from YouTube.

Dracula AD 1972 by Alice-Bauer

And so, the number one bite scene. From John Carpenter’s Vampire$, it’s been said by a few people to be ridiculously over the top, but what the hell, it works for me. Just for the wonderful "acting" from Sheryl Lee when Valek sinks his fangs into her thigh, they earn my top spot as #1 Vampire Bite scene. I am assuming she was acting. If you are looking for the vampire's bite to completely overwhelm the lucky victim with ecstasy, this is for you.


Holly said...

Good stuff, Paul! A great way to start the day. Now I want to binge watch vampire movies, looking to see which bite scenes would make my top 10 list! Unfortunately, the Xena video was blocked due to copyright issues.

Zahir Blue said...

An excellent list! Kudos!

Everlost said...

Thanks Holly... re the Xena video, just search youtube for Xena vampire bite and I am sure it will come up, the video is widely available.

Thanks Zahir!

Any arguments over the number 1? Thought long and hard over it... :)

Zahir Blue said...

I'm not gonna argue over positions on lists. I just approve of the list, even if my own might (I emphasize "might") be a little different.

Ernest said...

By the listed criteria, good old Count Yorga vs. Erica should be No. 1.

Everlost said...

Good shout Ernest, if I had seen that one it would have been in. Top 5 at least.

jeff Kennedy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Taliesin_ttlg said...

Jeff, you will notice that I have deleted your comment. I don't generally like to censor but your comment was not about the media vampire but a claim that vampires are real and you can make them. No they aren't and no you can't.

Similar posts will not be posted but reported as spam - but you are more than welcome to leave comments about the vampire in movies and books (but not use such comments to make ridiculous claims)

20/4/17 10:41 AM