1979 was the year of the vampire!
If you were to recall movies and TV thirty years ago, you might remember that Dracula and other vampires had become quite popular in pop culture entertainment.
“Love at First Bite” (April 1979) – George Hamilton played the legendary Count who comes to New York City to sweep sexy model Susan Saint James off of her feet. This was, of course, a silly comedy, but it set the stage in our minds for more of the “Prince of Darkness” to come in the following months.
“Dracula” (July 1979) – This was director John Badham’s (“Saturday Night Fever”) second film based on the hit play of the ‘70s, which also starred Frank Langella as the Count. I’m probably in the minority when I say that this has always been my favorite film version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale. Maybe it’s Langella’s good looks and sexiness (and this is coming from a heterosexual male!), maybe it the class, charm and grace he brings to the character (no disrespect intended toward Bela Legosi), or maybe it’s the rich color and score by John Williams that adds more depth to the story. Who knows. This version just seemed to always work better for me.
“Nosferatu the Vampyre” (October 1979) – director Werner Herzog paid great tribute to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent classic “Nosferatu”. This was the second collaboration between the director and actor Klaus Kinski as the Count. Herzog actually produced two version of this film, with one of them to include more English dubbing to appeal more to western audiences.
“Vampire” (October 1979) – This was a TV movie-of-the-week for the ABC Sunday Night Movie. Actor Richard Lynch played the blood-thirsty vampire who preys upon San Francisco. Jason Miller (“The Exorcist”) starred as the one who dared to stand against him. I have a vague memory of seeing bits and pieces of this movie. I can’t say, though, how it was received by critics and audiences. I do know that I have never seen it re-broadcasted or released on VHS or DVD.
“Salem’s Lot” (November 1979) – This was a CBS-TV mini-series, and quite frankly, the scariest TV version of any Stephen King story ever written. Actor Reggie Nalder’s version of the lead vampire was highly inspired by Max Schreck’s vampire in “Nosferatu” (1922). This film attracted a large viewing audience and received very positive reactions from critics. It was directed by Tobe Hooper (“Poltergeist”).
Well, whether you remember or enjoyed all of these films or not, one can definitely say that the vampire was hot, alive, and kicking in the year 1979!