1979 was the year of the vampire!

posted by efriedmann on August 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm

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!

Comments (12)

efriedmann
efriedmann on August 26, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen…an article you can really sink your teeth into (ha, ha, ha!)!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I enjoyed the Frank Langella version also. Of course, seeing it at the Ziegfeld in NYC couldn’t hurt. I also saw Langella in that role on Broadway, and he was amazing. Some of the best audience reactions I’ve ever experienced at a live theater production was during that performance of “Dracula”.

My favorite line from “Love at First Bite”: as the Count is being thrown out of his castle, he turns to his evictors and says, “Without me, this place will be as exciting as … Bucharest. On a Monday night.”

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on August 26, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Sure was! That was the year I got married! :–)

01261967
01261967 on August 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm

You’ve omitted Michael Nouri’s potrayal of the Count in NBC’s “Cliffhangers”, another 1979 debut!

MovieMatty
MovieMatty on August 26, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Hey LMHG, good list (and point). However there is one vampire film you seem to left out: the excellent Australian film “Thirst”. Not to be confused with the current Korean import of the same name, this low-budget thriller focused on a young woman who is forced into a cult of blood drinkers upon learning of her connection to Elizabeth Bathory. Although it featured primarily Australian actors, the film also starred British actor David Hemmings and American Henry Silva in an attempt to lure international audiences. It was released 29 September, 1979.

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on August 26, 2009 at 11:45 pm

This must have been back in the glory days of the vampire, before Twilight ruined everything.

raysson
raysson on September 2, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Wasn’t Vincent Price and Christopher Lee did a vampire flick back in 1979? I do recall seeing it when it played as a double feature at a local drive-in theatre.
1979 was the year I was in junior high school when the manager of this theatre didn’t even care if he let 13 and 14 year-olds into seeing an “R” rated film.

raysson
raysson on September 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm

1979 was also the year of the alien…..

Who remembers a science fiction/horror flick called “The Dark”? Produced by Dick Clark and starred Cathy Lee Crosby and Casey Kasem?

anthonyroach654
anthonyroach654 on October 7, 2009 at 11:18 am

I agree with raysson… It was the year of the vampire before any copy cat vampire story arise.

ben cummings

dcincome1
dcincome1 on November 26, 2009 at 10:38 am

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chiropracticmarketing
chiropracticmarketing on September 25, 2010 at 7:42 am

I was in a primary school in Liverpool called St Johns which was chosen to appear in a Play for Today called “Vampires”. It was filmed in 1978, and screened in 1979 on BBC1. It was in the days before video recorders, so don’t have a copy. I’d love to have a copy and wonder if anyone could help. It would be good fun to see, and I’d like to arrange a reunion with some old school friends to view it together. Personally for me it would be very special as my twin who died a couple of years ago of cancer was also in the play, and it would be really lovely to see the play and his children might like to see it , which would be nice too (if not a little emotional). I think we’d get some great laughs at the clothes and hairstyles etc. Thanks for looking…. D

chiropractic marketing

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