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Creature Features: 8 Vampire Movies to Watch This Halloween
All sorts of things go bump in the night. Ghosts, ghouls, werewolves, witches — creatures that haunt our nightmares and ignite our imaginations. Then, there are vampires. These denizens of the dark hold a special place in human history; our ancestors were genuinely afraid to travel when the sun was down, lest vampires bleed them dry. Entire communities feared bats and wolves, believing them to be bloodsuckers in disguise. Vampire hunting became a legitimate profession in 18th century Europe. We really can’t overstate how much these monsters have messed with our minds over the years.
Maybe that’s why vampires have experienced so much success on the big screen. Vampires have frightened and excited audiences for decades — changing with the times and reflecting some of our darkest desires. As much as we dread these creatures of the night, there’s a small part of us that’s utterly fascinated with them.
Spooky season is in full swing this year, and many of us will participate in the festivities at home. Looking for a way to liven up the night? Here are eight iconic vampire movies to watch this Halloween.
Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (or Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens in German) is a staple of the horror genre. This German Expressionist masterpiece was helmed by director F. W. Murnau and stars Max Schreck as the infamous Count Orlok.
Special effects and robust film sets weren’t exactly a thing in the early 20th century. Murnau instead relied on mind-bending camera angles, striking shadows and innovative set design to scare audiences. This film’s impact on the history of cinema can’t be exaggerated — many horror film franchises likely wouldn’t exist if Nosferatu hadn’t crept onto the scene and paved the way.
Nosferatu’s popularity spread across Europe like wildfire. It didn’t take long for American filmmakers to catch wind of F.W. Murnau’s success either. But here’s the thing: Nosferatu was essentially an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula — one that Murnau filmed without permission. Stoker’s wife successfully sued Murnau and Nosferatu was pulled from theaters. Enter Universal Pictures, which paid approximately $40,000 for the rights to adapt Dracula . Garrett Fort penned the script while Tod Browning took the director’s chair. Bela Lugosi was cast as the titular prince of darkness, and the rest is cinematic history.
Dracula is a genuinely terrifying landmark film. When many people think of Count Dracula, they think about Lugosi’s chilling performance. Universal’s adaptation takes plenty of inspiration from Nosferatu . However, Dracula is not a silent film; characters deliver their lines either with palpable dread or devilish delight. “Talkies” had only recently hit theaters in the early 1900s. Dracula helped legitimize sound films and reshape the movie industry.
Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958)
Similar to sound films, Technicolor movies were also relative rarities in the early 20th century. Films were primarily shot on black and white stock, and filmgoers were accustomed to greyscale pictures. The opposite was true by the 1950s, which is when The Horror of Dracula hit the scene. Hammer Films spared no expense when it adapted Bram Stoker’s timeless tale; special effects and ornate gothic sets were specifically created for this film. The Horror of Dracula is also a much more visceral visual experience due to being shot in color.
We’d be remiss not to praise Christopher Lee’s performance as Count Dracula; he aimed to play the character as a “heroic, erotic and romantic” figure — one that was just as mystifying as he was terrifying. Lee’s good friend Peter Cushing starred as Doctor Van Helsing, further elevating the film. And The Horror of Dracula revealed something truly harrowing about vampires: they were dark reflections of human nature.
The United States’ counterculture movement gathered momentum in the 1960s and persisted well into the 1970s. People vocalized dissatisfaction with the government, civil rights initiatives swept the nation and artists used their platforms to critique the powers that be. The Blaxploitation films of the 1970s echoed these sentiments, challenging decades-old stereotypes that were (and still are) imposed on the Black community. Blacula is precisely what its name implies; an adaptation of Stoker’s tale made primarily for Black people by Black people.
The late William Marshall portrays Prince Mamuwalde, a Nigerian man who asked the original Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to intervene during the transatlantic slave trade. For his trouble, Prince Mamuwalde was transformed into Blacula, sealed in a coffin and transported to America. Indeed, Count Blacula is a tragic anti-villain; he was stripped of his identity, taken from his homeland and left to fend for himself in a hostile environment. Allegorical, innovative and genuinely frightening, Blacula is worth a watch — and post-screening analysis.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Drugs, sex, rock n’ roll and excess are hallmarks of the 1980s — hallmarks that naturally found their way into ’80s cinema. The Lost Boys epitomizes this trend; “It’s fun to be a vampire” is the film’s tagline, and that sentiment is more than reinforced throughout its runtime. Vampires are ageless, powerful, beautiful beings who live by their own rules and party like rockstars in The Lost Boys. That’s the scariest part about this film — how enticing vampirism can seem on the surface.
The Lost Boys can also be viewed as a metacommentary of the 1980s. Vampirism is an analogy for the excess and hedonism of the decade. Just like it seemed “fun to be a vampire,” it also seemed fun to be a hard-partying rockstar. Spellbinding performances by a committed cast, strong directing by Joel Schumacher and a compelling script helped The Lost Boys break new ground. Vampires weren’t just creepy anymore. They were also undeniably cool.
You can’t talk about cool vampire movies without giving Blade its due. The 1990s were an incredibly experimental time for the film industry; spec scripts were being produced by the dozens and comic book adaptations were becoming much more prevalent. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan created Blade in 1973 for Marvel Comics. At last, in 1998, Wesley Snipes would bring the Daywalker to life on the big screen. Directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer, Blade redefined what superhero movies and vampire films could be. Action, horror, pathos and even a bit of comedy are seamlessly woven into this film.
Though Blade was initially overlooked when it premiered, the film has since been recognized for setting several precedents. It’s one of the first Black superhero movies to achieve widespread critical and commercial success, grossing $131.2 million off of a $45 million budget. Blade also paved the way for many of the superhero films that have become commonplace today; it’s not a stretch to suggest that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, the Underworld franchise and even the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t exist if Blade hadn’t resonated with audiences. Lastly, this film proved that vampires could transcend genres; Blade is more of an action film than a horror flick, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hate it or love it, Twilight’s impact on cinema is undeniable. This adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s 2005 novel was an international phenomenon in its heyday. It focused solely on the romantic aspects of vampirism — living forever, being young forever and loving forever. If reading that sentence was painful for you, imagine how excruciating it was to write.
Personal feelings aside, Twilight is an iconic film in its own right. It spawned four sequels, launched numerous careers and kept vampires at the forefront of our collective imagination from 2008 to 2012. Even Burger King got in on the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debacle. Twilight ultimately proved that there was still a thriving, thirsting market for vampire films in the 21st century.
Blood Red Sky (2021)
We end with Blood Red Sky, a British-German Netflix film that’s equal parts graphic, terrifying and heart-wrenching. The film follows Nadja and her son Elias as they try to survive aboard a hijacked airplane. Discussing this film in detail without spoiling it is virtually impossible, but we can say this: Blood Red Sky focuses on the toll that vampirism would exact on a person’s family, community and mental state. Scenes unfold at an intentionally deliberate pace. Minor characters and extras are treated with a degree of respect that we don’t often see.
In many ways, Blood Red Sky is the culmination of the vampire films that precede it; there are genuine scares here, alongside meta-commentary, dazzling action scenes and genuine pathos. Blood Red Sky proves that vampire films can make viewers cry — not out of fear, but out of true remorse.
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The mayor of a nameless town gathers a mob to confront a hermit living in a "haunted house." When the mob arrives however, the man has a few tricks up his sleeve to convince them that he's n... Read all The mayor of a nameless town gathers a mob to confront a hermit living in a "haunted house." When the mob arrives however, the man has a few tricks up his sleeve to convince them that he's not all that bad. The mayor of a nameless town gathers a mob to confront a hermit living in a "haunted house." When the mob arrives however, the man has a few tricks up his sleeve to convince them that he's not all that bad.
- Stan Winston
- Mick Garris
- Stephen King
- Michael Jackson
- Amy Smallman
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- Trivia Holds the Guinness World Record as the longest music video.
Maestro : Did I scare you?
- Alternate versions The first screening of the movie featured only the "2Bad" song, from the 1995's "HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I" album. But since the marketing campaign had already started for Jackson's next album "Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix" they added "Is It Scary" and "Ghosts", both from the new album, which was released in January 1997.
- Connections Edited into Michael Jackson: Ghosts (Short Version) (1997)
- Soundtracks 2 Bad Written by Michael Jackson Music Composed by Bruce Swedien , Rene Moore (as Rene) and Dallas Austin Produced by Michael Jackson for MJJ Productions, Inc., Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis for Flytime [sic] Productions, Inc. Mijac Music (BMI), admin. by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) / Bruce Swedien Music, Inc. (ASCAP) / Rene Moore Music (ASCAP) / EMI April Music Inc. (ASCAP) / DARP Music (ASCAP) All Rights Reserved. Used by permission. Special version from the Epic release "HIStory - Past, Present and Future - Book I"
User reviews 52
- Apr 1, 2002
- July 10, 1997 (United States)
- United States
- British Film Institute
- Cannes Film Festival
- Michael Jackson's Ghosts
- Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
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- Runtime 39 minutes
- Black and White
- Dolby Digital
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Remembering Michael Jackson's 'Ghosts', the forgotten terrifying movie follow-up to 'Thriller'
31 October 2022, 15:57
By Tom Eames
Michael Jackson always had a fascination with horror and Halloween, and followed up his iconic 'Thriller' music video with a fantastic mini-film to promote his latest track, 'Ghosts', in 1996.
Michael Jackson didn't just make music videos for his new releases, he crafted full-length short films, full of dance routines and glamour, often telling a story in the process.
In 1996, he brought out 'Ghosts', a mini-film to promote the song of the same name and other tracks from his albums HIStory and the upcoming Blood on the Dancefloor.
- The Story of… ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson
The 10 greatest and scariest Halloween songs of all time, ranked
But it hasn't quite had the legacy as some of his other iconic music videos, perhaps the victim of making so many other incredible clips.
Thankfully, Michael Jackon's official YouTube page has released the film in full in time for Halloween 2020. But what is it all about and how was it made?
What was Michael Jackson's Ghosts and when was it released?
Michael Jackson - Ghost (Official Video) 2021 Full Version
Ghosts was a short film starring Michael Jackson, and written by horror icon Stephen King alongside Mick Garris, and directed by Stan Winston.
It was filmed and first aired in 1996 alongside selected showings of the film Thinner .
It was then released on home video a year later around the world on LaserDisc, VHS and Video CD.
- When Michael Jackson revealed his rare deep speaking and singing voice
Ghosts tells the story of a man with supernatural powers who is being forced out of a small town by its local mayor.
According to Garris, Ghosts was "the most expensive music video ever made" at around $15 million, all paid for by Jackson himself.
Which Michael Jackson songs appear in Ghosts?
Michael Jackson - Ghosts (Official Video - Shortened Version)
Ghosts includes several dance routines performed by Michael Jackson, set to the songs: '2 Bad', 'Is It Scary' and 'Ghosts'.
These songs were taken from Jackson's albums HIStory (1995) and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix (1997).
What is the plot of Michael Jacksons Ghosts?
The mayor (played by Jackson using prosthetics) of Normal Valley leads an angry mob to the mansion of the 'maestro' (Jackson), who has been entertaining local children with magic tricks and ghost stories.
The children tell their parents that the Maestro has done nothing wrong, but the mayor wants to banish him as a "freak".
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The maestro then challenges the mayor to a 'scaring contest': the first to become scared must leave the house.
The maestro performs magic tricks and dance routines with his ghostly group, and then possesses the mayor, forcing him to dance too.
After the performance, the maestro agrees to leave and fades to dust. However, he returns as a huge demon.
Terrified, the mayor jumps through a window. The remaining families agree that they all had fun, and allow the maestro to stay after all.
The film intended to send a message about the importance of tolerance and acceptance, reminding people how wrong it can be to judge and fear others just because they are "different".
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Film / Michael Jackson's Ghosts
Michael Jackson's Ghosts is a 1997 Short Film (at 39+ minutes, the third-longest music video to date according to the Guinness Book of World Records note the current contender is the 177-day-long music video for "Level of Concern" by Twenty One Pilots ) directed by Stan Winston , produced by Michael Jackson , Stan Winston and David Nicksay. Mick Garris's screenplay is based on a story hashed out by Jackson and Stephen King (loosely based according to King).
This film contains examples of:
- Maestro = Michael Jackson
- The Mayor and the other adults = Adults who find his Real Life behavior suspect; commonly interpreted as a direct Take That! in the Mayor's case. As the Wikipedia article puts it, he is "a comically arrogant, plump [and white] man who bears more than a passing resemblance to Thomas Sneddon", the Santa Barbara district attorney who tried to prosecute Jackson on child molestation charges in 1993-94, and actually would over 2003-05 when another accuser came forward with similar claims.
- The secret meetings with children = Jackson's Intergenerational Friendships with prepubescent kids, as well as his charity work on the whole.
- The angry mob assembling when one of the boys makes the mistake of revealing the secret meet-ups with Maestro = Jackson being accused of molestation by Jordan Chandler. Note that the boy in the film is chewed out by his older brother for spilling the beans, but their mother insists "He did the right thing."
- Berserk Button : Maestro would probably have gone a bit softer on the pranking if the Mayor hadn't kept referring to Maestro as a freak and similar terms. After we see the rage that the Mayor produces, Maestro keeps an almost perpetual Death Glare on the Mayor, though still has mostly Tranquil Fury until he breaks out the songs.
- Black-and-White Morality : Mayor = bad, Maestro = good.
- Body Horror : First, the Mayor is subjected to an Orifice Invasion , then is forced to perform against his will, and then is transformed into a hideous "ghoul" version of himself.
- Book Ends : Maestro is introduced by pulling a prank on the town residents. At the end of the film, a group of kids pull a similar trick on the Maestro.
- The Cameo : Mos Def is part of the angry mob that wants to run Maestro out of town.
- Concept Video : With some of the most talky of Talky Bookends yet!
- Crucified Hero Shot : After the ghosts dance on the ceiling, they float back down to the floor in this pose as "heavenly" music plays.
- Dark Is Not Evil : Maestro.
- The Dead Can Dance : The Maestro's minions.
- Deliberately Monochrome : The opening few minutes (until the mob enters the ballroom) are in black and white.
- Dem Bones : Maestro pulls off his own skin and strips to being a skeleton, whereupon he dances.
- Disney Death : Maestro fakes his death to throw off the Mayor in the climax.
- Disney Villain Death : Seeing that the Maestro isn't dead and has reassumed his Superghoul form to boot sends the Mayor fleeing through a window. A transcript of the film (which, sadly, has since evaporated along with Geocities) even calls this a "presumably very messy Disney Villain Death". No one seems to care either way in-story.
- Dope Slap : In the early going, a running bit has a little boy's older brother smack him this way for revealing stuff about the mysterious Maestro that he was supposed to keep secret. Their mother then does the same to the older brother, usually with the comment "Don't hit your brother!" After the third go-round of this , the mother is smacked by an unseen force, implied to be the Maestro's doing.
- Evil Sounds Deep : Michael uses his actual, deep-register voice when playing as the mayor, making Ghosts the only known recording that showcases him using that voice at length.
- Fat Bastard : The Mayor.
- Fat Suit : Jackson plays the Mayor in one of these.
- Gothic Horror : Contains enough tropes to actually be considered this.
- Impact Silhouette : The Mayor leaves this in the wake of his Super Window Jump .
- Literally Shattered Lives : Maestro smashes himself into the floor as if he were made of stone when the Mayor says he still wants him to go, crumbling into dust. This turns out to be a Disney Death trick, however.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold : Maestro, though the heart of gold is an Informed Attribute .
- Moonwalk Dance : Michael transforms himself into a skeleton and dances the moonwalk.
- Nightmare Face : Maestro pulls his face in grotesque appearances and transforms into a skeleton.
- Orifice Invasion : The Maestro possesses the Mayor by turning into a liquid form and pouring himself down the victim's throat.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality : Though leading an angry mob is an overreaction, it's not hard to sympathize with the Mayor for being concerned that a strange person who otherwise doesn't interact with anybody in town is not only meeting with kids but telling them to keep their meetings a secret , and to see Maestro's behavior as unnecessarily cruel. That the deck is clearly stacked in Maestro's favor — the Mayor is just a lot of talk, with no evidence that he could back it up with action (given how reluctant the mob is) — doesn't help.
- Ravens and Crows : A crow watches the approaching mob and later startles them in the ballroom before turning out to be a shapeshifted form of Maestro.
- Rule of Three : See Dope Slap above.
- Serkis Folk : The dancing skeleton sequence is one of the earlier uses of this technique.
- Superpowered Evil Side : Maestro's "Superghoul" form, who subjects the Mayor to the aforementioned Body Horror torture.
- Super Window Jump : The Mayor exits the story this way, out of fear.
- Torches and Pitchforks : Played straight.
- Uncle Tomfoolery : Mos Def 's character — think Richard Pryor in his "scared" mode.
Michael jackson's ghosts.
The mysterious "Maestro" (Jackson) has secretly been telling ghost stories and performing magic tricks for the young boys of nearby Normal Valley, but when one of the boys tells the adults of the town about it, they form a Torches and Pitchforks mob led by their Mayor (Jackson again) to run the "freaky" stranger out of town. Maestro responds by trapping them in his Haunted House with him and unleashing a parade of ghouls and dance numbers.
Example of: Our Ghosts Are Different
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Michael Jackson Ghosts [ Full Length Remastered]
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Michael Jackson's Ghosts
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Michael Jackson's Ghosts is a 1996 short film, directed by Stan Winston and starring Michael Jackson . It was made to promote the song of the same name from the Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix album.
- 3.1 Michael Jackson songs
- 7 References
An angry mob approaches a scary looking mansion, in hopes of driving out the stranger on the inside. Seems that a child told of this man and that he tells ghost stories to scare them. This gets the whole town in a uproar including Mayor Winston . So they form the mob to scare him away. Once the reach the gate they decide they want to go back, but the mayor denies and continues to go in. The proceed into the mansion, there they enter a large and dark room, where there's furniture covered in cobwebs and a gigantic fireplace.
Once they all enter they see a dark and shadow like figure gliding across the room and into a dark corner. The mayor slowly goes to check and see what it was. Then the face of a skeleton startles them as the figure slowly steps out. The skeleton face turns out to be a mask worn by the Maestro . He is delighted that he has startled them and they seemed to have enjoyed it. All except the mayor who is very angry. The mayor tries to force him to leave the town, the maestro takes his threats as a joke. Until the mayor calls him a freak, the maestro then feels insulted and angered. So he challenges the mayor to a scare-off. The Maestro goofs around by making silly faces as he tries to scare them, everyone is giggling at the actions but the mayor isn't impressed. Then the mayor calls him a freak once more, and then the Maestro grabs his own face and pulls his skin, then he pulls his jaws all the way down to his torso, then finally his takes his skin off his head revealing his skull with the eyeballs still inside. The mob is horrified and tries to run out, then the maestro breaks the skull with his fists and he traps them.
Filled with rage he conjures Ghosts from the pawn of his hands, lighting flashes, thunder roars as ghost fly here and there, once everything goes quiet, the maestro and his ghost break into a dance number. Once the conclude the dance number, the maestro rips off his clothes and skin revealing his skeleton. And then does some more dancing while the ghosts cheer him on. Once he finishes he looks at the mayor and brings the mayor closer to the ghost, the next scene the maestro is on top of the fireplace as he commands the ghost to frighten the mayor, the citizens are horrified and so is the mayor, but he doesn't show it. One after another the mayor does not break. The maestro has had enough, he jumps off the fireplace with a spin and once he lands back on the ground the maestro is now a 7 foot tall Ghoul with hellish red eyes and he stares down the horrified mayor and asks him, "Are you scared yet?"
With that said the ghoul masetro possess the mayor. The mayor feels weird as he starts to move in ways he has never done before. Then once the music plays, he breaks into a dance. The mayor has had enough and used all his strength to scream "STOP". The ghost suddenly disappear and the mayor is left facing the mob, then something inside him begins to move around. Suddenly the hand of the maestro burst out his stomach holding a mirror towards the mayor. the mayor takes the mirror and looks at himself as he begins the transform into this fat ghoulish monster. The maestro speaks through the voice of the mayor which makes it seem like his is calling himself a freak. The maestro then transports out the mayor and he is back to normal. Once the mayor gets himself together he is face to face with the maestro.
The maestro walks back into the center of the room, and takes a bow. The mayor is furious and demands that he leaves now. The maestro gives up and decays on the ground and disappears. Just as the mayor feels as though he had won, The Maestro ghouls face appears through the doors and completely petrifies the mayor as he runs through the room and runs out the window. the mob turns and standing there is the maestro. The mob is amazed at the performance then a dark shadow figure glides behind the maestro without him knowing, the mob hints him to look behind him, the maestro gets scared and turns out it was the little boys, they were the only ones who managed to scare him. Then another boy gets all there attention and grabs his face and startles them all and the story ends outside the mansion with everyone screaming in fear.
- Directed by: Stan Winston
- Produced by: Michael Jackson, Stan Winston, David Nicksay
- Written by: Michael Jackson, Stephen King
- Music by: Michael Jackson, Nicholas Pike
- Distributed by: Kingdom Entertainment
- Date Released: December 12, 1996
- Running Time: 39:31
- Country: Untied States
- Language: English
- Budget: $15 million
Michael Jackson songs [ ]
- Is It Scary
(composed by Nicholas Pike) 
- Ceiling Dance (alternatively titled Dance On The Ceiling ) 
- Angels Descend (alternatively titled Descending Angels ) 
- Calling To Ashes
- Ashes To Ashes
- The Cowardly Major
- is This Scary
- Michael Jackson as Maestro, Mayor, Super Ghoul, Mayor Ghoul
- Amy Smallman
- Edwina Moore
- Kendall Cunningham
- Loren Randolph
- Heather Ehlers
- Michael Balderrama
- Troy Burgess
- Nichole Panternburg
- John Gregory
- Travis Payne
- Michael Gregory
Gallery [ ]
- The track "Angels Descend" was later re-used in the outro for " Thriller " during the This Is It rehearsals. 
References [ ]
- ↑ https://youtu.be/uAr9pzSak70
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 https://repertoire.bmi.com/Search/Search?Main_Search_Text=Michael%20Jackson&Sub_Search_Text=Michael%20Joe%20Jackson&Main_Search=Performer&Sub_Search=Writer%2FComposer&Search_Type=all&View_Count=20&Page_Number=3
- ↑ https://youtu.be/Mpoa5kOsUqM
- 1 Bigi Jackson
- 2 List of unreleased songs
- 3 Palestine, Don't Cry