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Talking pictures: 'Twilight' release calls to mind favorite vampire flicks

Buffy (Kristy Swanson) and Lothos (Rutger Hauer) in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Buffy (Kristy Swanson) and Lothos (Rutger Hauer) in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Ron Phillips, Twentieth Century Fox

I'm a vampire fan and an avid reader, but I really don't think LDS author Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel "Twilight" was written for me.

And it's pretty obvious the movie version of the horror/romance wasn't made for me, either.

However, I didn't hate it. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by some of its dry humor. The direction on the action scenes lacks creativity and vitality, though. (Catherine Hardwicke maker of "The Nativity Story" probably wasn't the best choice of "Twilight" director.)

But before some of you fly off the handle, I would like to give you an idea of what some of my favorite vampire movies are. I have left the 1931 version of "Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi, and the classic "Nosferatu" (1922) off this list, simply because they're "givens":

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (PG-13, 1992).

The subsequent television series was better by far. But the movie did had some very droll vampires, played by Rutger Hauer, David Arquette and a scene-stealing Paul Reubens.

"Dracula" (R, 1979).

Director John Badham ("WarGames") and star Frank Langella (who plays the title character) teamed for this overlooked but more romanticized version of the Bram Stoker book.

"Fright Night" (R, 1985).

The goofy sense of humor makes this cheekier horror movie work — that and actors Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall (who plays the main villain and a television star, respectively).

"Horror of Dracula" (made before ratings, 1958).

The first and best of the British Hammer Film features boasts Christopher Lee as the title character and Peter Cushing as his nemesis, Van Helsing.

"The Last Man on Earth" (made before ratings, 1964).

The original version of the Richard Matheson tale — also the source for "I Am Legend" — influenced zombie movies, especially 1968's "Night of the Living Dead." But its post-apocalyptic creatures were definitely vampiric. And it's still creepy.

"Love at First Bite" (PG, 1979).

The normally sun-tanned George Hamilton as a vampire? They did try to make him pasty for this fun spoof, and he does a very good Bela Lugosi impression.

"Martin" (R, 1977).

Speaking of "Night of the Living Dead," its director, George Romero, also made this overlooked horror-thriller that equates vampirism with addiction.

"The Night Stalker" (not rated, 1972).

While the television show it generated was hit-and-miss, the original TV film was terrific. Darren McGavin starred as a cynical newspaper reporter who investigates a series of killings. By a vampire living in Las Vegas, of all places!