Top Twelve Vampire Movies

Being a long time fan of the humble vampire film, I’ve been itching to do a ‘best of’ vamp list for a while now. After noticing so many bizarre additions like Underworld, John Carpenter’s Vampires and 30 Days Of Night in other people’s lists, I figured it was time for my 2 cents worth.

So get Lugosi on the flatscreen, crank up some Deathspell Omega and check out the below. And as always, let me know what your favourites are!

‘The blood is the life!’

12.  Fright Night (1985)

Directed by:  Tom Holland

‘There are no such things as vampires, fruitcake!’:  When two mysterious men move next door to a horror obsessed teenage boy, he becomes convinced that they are vampires. But the only help he can turn to is Peter Vincent, the washed-up presenter of a late night horror show. And Peter doesn’t even believe in vampires… Fright Night certainly has problems, but is worth watching purely for the fantastic vampire make-up employed, which I’ll admit to finding scary as hell.

11.  Near Dark (1987)

Directed by:  Kathryn Bigelow

‘You’re not gonna look so good… with your face ripped off’:  It’s a shame that Lance Henriksen has been relegated to straight-to-DVD dross these days, as his portrayal of vampire leader Jesse Hooker is pretty damn enjoyable. Along with Aliens compadres Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein, Henriksen leads a ragged group of vamps on a killing spree in America’s south. Classic ‘80’s vampire fare.

10.  Thirst (2009)

Directed by:  Chan-wook Park

‘Now, I thirst after all sinful pleasures’:  Having blown away audiences with his Vengeance Trilogy, Chan-wook Park has a spin at the vampire mythos and to good effect. A priest becomes afflicted with the undead curse, prompting a physical and spiritual struggle as God’s emissary attempts to resist his uncontrollable thirst. It’s dark stuff, but not without Park’s special brand of humour. Highlight’s Korea’s current cinema talent.

9.  From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)

Directed by:  Robert Rodriguez

‘I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard’:  Where would we be without Tarantino and Rodriguez? In a boring-ass world, that’s where. FDTD is a riotous, gut-strewn affair, as two fugitives rain hell on a nest of the undead. It’s slick, funny and highly entertaining; a shame the same can’t be said for the sequels.

8.  Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979)

Directed by:  Werner Herzog

‘The absence of love is the most abject pain’:  One of Herzog’s most striking creations, this version of the famous film is a great retelling. Klaus Kinski delivers an admirable performance as the legendary vampire, made all the more powerful by some excellent directing.

7.  The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

Directed by:  Roman Polanski

‘Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire!’:  Horror-comedies are generally hit-or-miss, but Polanski is right on the money with this one. Combining slapstick with downright absurdity against a beautiful and lavish backdrop, TFVK offers a unique vampire experience that should not be missed.

6.  Let The Right One In (2008)

Directed by:  Tomas Alfredson

‘I’m twelve. But I’ve been twelve for a long time’:  This Swedish gem is a truly a tale of poetic beauty, as a young boy befriends a child vampire with bloody consequences. Resurrecting a genre I previously thought dead, LTROI deserves all the critical acclaim it has garnered and more.

5.  Shadow Of The Vampire (2000)

Directed by:  E. Elias Merhige

‘If it’s not in frame, it doesn’t exist’:  John Malkovich plays F.W. Murnau as he attempts to film what will become the legendary Nosferatu. However, the cast aren’t convinced Max Schreck is an actor at all… A high concept piece that is executed perfectly, from Willem Dafoe’s seamless performance as Schreck/Nosferatu to the mad obsession Malkovich gives Murnau. Features one of my favourite end sequences of all time.

4.  Interview With The Vampire (1994)

Directed by:  Neil Jordan

‘I’m going to give you the choice I never had’:  Anne Rice’s book adaptation breaks away from the traditional gothic mould, showing us the vampire spanning centuries of human existence, with a distinctly flamboyant flourish. An interesting take that works surprisingly well, with clear visual indulgence and characters that epitomise the vamp’s hedonistic tendencies. Great stuff.

3.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Directed by:  Francis Ford Coppola

‘We’ve all become God’s madmen, all of us’:  Despite Keanu Reeves’ atrocious performance, this is my favourite modern vampire film, as it faithfully recreates the classic vampire story with all the visual grandeur and gothic influence I could want. Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins embody their respective characters perfectly, taking the vampire genre back to its roots.

2.  Dracula (1931)

Directed by:  Tod Browning

‘I am Dracula. I bid you welcome’:  This early American attempt at the vampire mythos ticks all the boxes and then some, with Bela Lugosi giving arguably the best performance of his career (a role that was originally intended for Lon Chaney). A cornerstone of the horror genre, Dracula has retained a dark magic still present after all these years.

1.  Nosferatu (1922)

Directed by:  F.W. Murnau

‘Blood! Your precious blood!’:  A predictable choice really, but not crediting the grandfather of vampire films with the number 1 spot is like saying Venom didn’t spawn black metal. Almost 90 years on and this film still manages to chill, horrify and transport you into the dark realm of the vampire. A masterpiece of German Expressionism.

List written and compiled by @filmfellahenry
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About filmfellahenry
Film reviewer, script writer and occasional painter. Fan of Lumet, Aronofsky and Kubrick, with a good measure of early John Carpenter thrown in. Particularly like post-apocalyptic sci-fi, horror and fantasy film genres.

7 Responses to Top Twelve Vampire Movies

  1. No John Carpenters Vampires??? Knob.


  2. Henry, no Lost Boys? What’s up with that?!

    • I knew you’d pick up on that one! Don’t get me wrong, I like Lost Boys, grew up with it etc. But personally, I consider the above twelve better vampire movies.

      I’d be intrigued to see your top twelve, I’m sure there would be quite a few differences!

  3. Vampires says:

    Great list, but I’m shocked none of the Blade movies made it. The 1st Blade was vampire gold if you ask me.

    • Funny enough, I watched the 1st Blade again recently and still thoroughly enjoyed it. However, as with Lost boys, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Martin etc, I personally feel that the movies listed above are better films. That said, Blade would certainly make a top 20.

      Thanks for reading and your feedback!

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