The vampire genre has been so overdone and beaten to a bloody pulp (no pun intended) that a mere utterance of the fanged creatures prompts groans and eye-rolls. However, the latest movie from indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch looks to reverse that trend with one of the smartest, most original takes on the nightwalkers yet.
"Only Lovers Left Alive," which plays at the New York Film Festival this week, stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as trendy, designer-wearing vampires. Hiddleston's Adam is a famous underground rock musician living in Detroit, while his centuries-long lover Eve (Swinton) lives in her home in Tangier. After years of separation she decides to visit him, only for her bratty younger sister (Mia Wasikowska) to show up and cause problems.
What makes Jarmusch's film truly unique is that his characters aren't simply blood-lusting nobodies, but significant figures of human history. We learn that Adam was good friends with Mary Shelley and Lord Byron and spent a summer with them -- the same summer Shelley conceived of her famous novel "Frankenstein." Jarmusch makes another clever jab at literary history with John Hurt's vampire character Christopher Marlowe (so that explains the famous Elizabethan poet's mysterious death).
Jarmusch's "Only Lovers" is unique for tossing the gorey vamp drama for a sophisticated look at the fascinating, restricted, and sometimes depressing lives led by immortal blood-suckers. What truly makes the film so smart is that it never once mentions the word "vampire." However, it would be wrong to dismiss other noteworthy movies about the creatures. From classic vampire tales to fanged-children stories, below are the five smartest vampire movies to ever hit the big screen.