Netflix took a chance with Castlevania at the outset, but the gamble clearly paid off. Each season has been more popular and detailed than the previous one, crossing more lines in more spectacular fashions than the last. The fans are already waiting for more and a Season 4 has already been confirmed. While viewers speculate on future plot twists, the development of old characters, and the introduction of new ones, there are a few movies to watch to keep busy.
Castlevania is new in the sense that it’s one of the first decent shows to be adapted form a video game, but other features of the series have appeared in movies for decades. The medieval setting, the antagonists that include corrupt religious leaders, monsters, demons, and other fantasy tropes have always been box office gold. Like a Dungeons & Dragons module from Hell, audiences can’t seem to get enough sword, sex, and sorcery.
Mythology, magic, a medieval setting, a corrupt bishop, and a powerful curse could also be a perfect Castlevania plot. Ladyhawke was doing it all before Castlevania made it cool. The soundtrack, however, hasn’t aged well unless the viewer is a fan of The Alan Parson’s Project. Directed by Ricard Donner, starring some big Hollywood names and filmed in a medieval Italian city, this movie combines magic and realism enough to sway even the most cynical viewer.
9 Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Historic fiction or creative documentary? One thing is clear, Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is not meant to be taken seriously. Either way, it’s the perfect film for someone who likes the grotesque mix of gore, comedy, and fantasy that make Castlevania so great. It might be a B-movie in spirit, but it’s got the cast and budget of a Hollywood feature, even if the subject matter straddles the line between the fantastic and the ridiculous.
8 Flesh and Blood
Rutger Hauer stars again as a medieval fighter, but he’s hardly a dashing knight this time. Instead, he’s a gritty mercenary lowlife leading a band of equally scummy soldiers for hire. It’s pretty much the complete opposite of the romance that defined Ladyhawke but it’s just as good in its own way.
The movie took some admirable chances with the plot, such as the twist with the conflicted damsel in distress and a homosexual couple among the mercenary band, making it more than a medieval gore-fest. Flesh and Blood eventually became a cult classic and experienced a resurgence when fans of shows like Berserk and Game of Thrones sought it out.
7 Dracula Untold
Everyone likes more and backstory, and now that the name of Prince Vlad has a place in popular culture the audience would be interested in learning about this character’s complex history. The result is Dracula Untold, set in Eastern Europe during the time of the Turkish invasion, and a young Prince Vlad who has to resort to drastic measures to save his people. Although Vlad Tepes is based on a real person, there isn’t much in this movie based on historic fact, but it’s a vampire movie and the viewers aren’t here for realism.
6 Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
There’s some great horror anime that preceded Castlevania and these days it’s easy to find in a variety of mediums in several languages. For those fans that are on Team Alucard, here’s one of the earliest “dhampir” characters to appear on the big screen. Any of the Vampire Hunter D series is an excellent choice, and the franchise goes all the way back to 1985, but we have to give it to Bloodlust. It’s the most beautifully drawn of the series, plus it features a whole team of hunters instead of just the main character.
5 Ninja Scroll
It’s still a medieval setting, just in Japan, and instead of a vampire army, we have a fearsome immortal wizard and his eight demon minions. The main character, Jubei, could be Trevor Belmont’s long lost twin. He’s a hero made up of equal amounts of somber gravitas, fearsome fighting skills, and crass jokes.
The plot of Ninja Scroll starts with a corrupt local official and a daring robbery, then unfolds to reveal something much more serious. The movie also features a ninja, Kagero, who could give both Sypha and Alucard some serious competition when it comes to fierce determination and devastating battle prowess.
4 Shadow of the Vampire
For those interested in a more serious form of historical fiction, whether it’s about Germany in the 1920s, early filmmaking, or literary adaptations, Shadow of the Vampire is an ideal choice. The film is an example of a metadrama or a film within a film. It’s a fictional account of the making of one of the first vampire movies ever, Nosferatu. Never mind that it’s got a star-studded cast that included heavyweights like John Malkovich, William DaFoe, and Cary Elwes. It’s also beautifully shot in a way that recalls the style of the old film.
3 Bram Stoker’s Dracula
The time period is slightly different, taking us through the pomp and finery of the Victorian Era colored with the aura of sexual and mortal terror. Viewers who tuned in to Castlevania and were drawn to the character of Dracula will enjoy this. It’s the costuming, practical effects, and cinematography that make this movie so much fun to watch, all put together by the masterful touch of Francis Ford Coppola in the director’s chair. Gary Oldman crushes the character of Dracula like no other before or since, and legends of his behavior on set still haunt the movie world.
2 From Dusk Till Dawn
Vampires and gangsters, together at last. There are a lot of obvious connections here, right down to the wisecracking scoundrels and deadly villains.
Director Roberto Rodriguez gets some of his favorite actors together, like Selma Hayek and Harvey Keitel, for this bloody romp. Even fellow director Quentin Tarantino, who actually wrote the screenplay, appears in a role for a classic showdown on the highway to proverbial Hell.
Vampires versus Lycans, it’s a tale as old as time. Underworld has a lot of what Castlevania fans alike, including vampires, a fantastic, nightmarish plot, and lots of hot action scenes. Plus, it fills that nostalgia hole for the black vinyl days when The Matrix was really innovative. Although Underworld isn’t known for being critically acclaimed, it was popular enough to spawn a whole franchise that also includes short films and video games along with several feature films.
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