Cinema has been enamoured with the vampire myth since its inception, from the silent chills of Nosferatu to the more recent teen angst sparkle of the Twilight series. Join us as we take a look at some of the best vampire movies of all time.
What makes vampires so appealing to film-makers? Well, probably the same things that make them so appealing to the rest of us. Judging by the media, the public love anything to do with death or sex — and vampires tend to be involved in quite a bit of both.
Add in some immortality, and the philosophical troubles that brings, and you have a winning topic. We either tend to be repelled by vampires, want to be one, or want to be bitten by one.
However, not all vampires are equal and they have been portrayed as everything from suave seductors to bloody-handed savages.
Without further ado, here are our choices for the 10 best vampire movies of all time.
The best vampire movies to get your teeth into…
1Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 epic and almost-overblown adaptation has a dark and luxuriant sexuality to it.
Starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves the film sticks closely to the Bram Stoker book, and features Oldman’s count travelling ‘oceans of time’ to find Mina (Ryder) and seduce her.
Having lured Mina’s husband Jonathan Harker (Reeves) to his castle, Dracula imprisons him. He leaves the helpless Harker to be fed upon and used by his brides as he travels to London in order to find Mina.
A battle ensues between Mina’s friends and Dracula not just for her life, but for her very soul.
“We have all become god’s madmen” shouts Van Helsing, as Anthony Hopkins camps up the role.
The story ends where it began, back in Dracula’s castle. The count finally find peace and is reunited with his long lost love.
The excellent ensemble cast are perhaps outshone by Oldman and and sheer visual spectacle but this underrated movie really captures the essence of the book pretty well.
The film still holds up well and interesting used almost no modern digital effects when it was being made.
2 The Hunger
The Hunger is a 1983 horror starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon.
An erotic tale, it follows beautiful vampire Miriam Blaylock (Deneuve) who seduces mortals with the promise of them being her immortal vampire lovers.
However, her promise has a sting — as all her lovers eventually start to age. They remain immortal but their bodies become decrepit and she stores them in coffins, piled up in her attic, doomed to an eternal night in their caskets.
Her most recent lover is John (Bowie) whom she met in 18th Century France. The films starts with them picking up a couple at a nightclub in New York City, before taking them home to feed on and murder.
All is not well though as John soon begins to age and his search to stop the process leads him to seek the help of gerontologist Dr. Sarah Roberts (Sarandon). Eventually his desperate actions unravel Miriam’s power.
The film has cult status and is famous for Bauhaus’s song Bela Lugosi’s Dead, which plays over the excellent opening scene.
330 Days of Night
The story is set in Barrow, Alaska where the town is getting ready for the annual part of winter when they experience a month of darkness.
However, this year things don’t bode well when a stranger comes ashore from a large ship anchored in the bay. He sabotages the town’s communications stops them being able to leave.
As night falls a group of vicious vampires descend on the town and kill nearly everybody.
The town’s sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) investigates and soon leads a desperate group of survivors who are holed up in the attic of an empty house. This group includes Eben’s younger brother and his ex-wfie Stella (Melissa George).
The action incudes some desperate fights between the group and the vampires with Eben eventually having to take extreme measures to survive.
30 Days of Night stands out for the way it emphasizes the claustrophobia and isolation of being trapped, a bit like John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The other standout is the way the vampires look and sound. The most disturbing thing is not their needle-like teeth but rather their mis-positioned facial features.
Eyes too close together and noses a little too far up or down are just downright disturbing and stick in the mind.
They also speak in a clipped clicking language, further emphasising their lack of humanity.
Martin is a disturbing 1977 horror film written and directed by George A. Romero and starring John Amplas, Elyane Nadeau and Tom Savini.
Amplas plays Martin, a young man who drugs women and then feeds on them…considering himself to be a vampire.
“He could be the boy next door”, says the movie’s poster — but Martin is anything but the typical boy.
He moves to a small town to live with his Lithuanian uncle Tateh Cuda and his cousin Christine.
Cuda treats Martin like a mystical vampire and tries to repel him using garlic and crosses, to no avail.
Meanwhile, Martin uses his job as a butcher delivery boy to stalk lonely women. Eventually he targets some victims in Pittsburgh, drugging and raping one whilst feeding on her lover.
His psychotic behaviour continues until his uncle finally goes old-school on him.
Gory, somewhat disturbing, and satirical, Martin is not your typical vampire movie.
Blade was released in 1998 and features Wesley Snipes as the titular character who is human but also part vampire.
Directed by Stephen Norrington, the movie is roughly based on the Marvel comics of the same name.
It all starts with a pregnant woman being attacked by an unidentified animal. She later dies but her child survives.
Years later that child has become vampire hunter Blade, who helps humans but also has to suppress his own thirst for blood.
The film stands out for the slick action scenes and bold visuals. Also the outsider nature of the main character, caught between the world of humans and vampires, gives it that little something extra.
There have been two less-than-impressive sequels, Blade II and Blade: Trinity, and there are also rumors of a fourth movie.
But while the sequels leave a lot to be desired, the first Blade definitely deserves its place amongst the best vampire movies.
Byzantium was released in 2012 with Neil Jordan directing Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley and Jonny Lee Miller.
The story follows two female vampires, Clara (Arterton) and her daughter Eleanor (Ronan).
After Clara was turned into a vampire she saved her daughter’s life by having her turned into one as well.
However, this was against the vampire code and the secret society that keeps vampirism under wraps is out to get them.
The film uses flashbacks to explain how the two ended up where they are and eventually they end up at a rundown seaside resort, where Clara turns a hotel into a brothel.
From there the action focuses on their battle against the society seeking revenge, known as The Brethren.
The movie has a chilling atmosphere and although the plot slows at times, it is a worthy entry just for the unusual take — portraying two working class women as vampires rather than the usual aristocrats or bad-asses.
7From Dusk Till Dawn
From Dusk Till Dawn is a 1996 vampire movie with a dark sense of humor, which has become a cult classic.
Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez the black comedy stars George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Quentin Tarantino, Cheech Marin and Salma Hayek.
It all start with two bank robbers, played by Clooney and Tarantino, holding up a liquor store. They then run into the Fuller family who are vacationing in their RV. The brothers take them hostage and demand they smuggle them over the the border into Mexico.
Once across the border they wind up at a strip club called the Titty Twister. Despite agreeing to let the family go once they reached Mexico, one of the brothers demands the family join them for a drink.
The strip show begins with Salma Hayek putting in an eye-popping performance as Santanico Pandemonium (interestingly the name is taken from a sexploitation movie involving a nun!). Soon after, the bar staff and the strippers are revealed to be vampires and attack all the patrons.
One of the robbers is killed in the attack by Pandemonium and it is left to remaining survivors to try and hold out until dawn.
The ending reveals there is more to the the Titty Twister itself than meets the eyes.
From Dusk till Dawn could easily have been just another slick Tarantino-penned crime flick but the twist half way through and the black humor make for a movie that stands out from the crowd.
The premise has since been adapted into a television show with Rodriguez as executive producer. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is currently in its third season.
8Interview with the Vampire
Interview with the Vampire is directed by Neil Jordan and based on Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name.
The 1994 movie stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea, Christian Slater and Kirsten Dunst.
It all starts in the present day where a reporter (Slater) is interviewing Louis de Pointe du Lac (Pitt) who says he is actually a vampire.
He recounts how he was a wealthy 18th century plantation owner who was turned by another vampire called Lestat de Lioncourt (Cruise).
Louis is not comfortable with killing humans and is mocked by Lestat for surviving on rats and other animals.
In his confusion, Louis turns a young girl named Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) but she struggles with the psychological trauma of being stuck in a child’s body for centuries.
The film highlights the negative side of being an immortal with a thirst for blood, as friends and lovers die or are betrayed.
The big star casting intrudes a little bit into the film but the gothic atmosphere more than makes up for that. Interview with the Vampire belongs on any list of the best vampire movies.
9The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys stars Corey Feldman, Jami Gertz, Corey Haim, Edward Herrmann, Barnard Hughes, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland.
The 1987 horror comedy is directed by Joel Schumacher and follows a single mother as she moves with her two boys to Santa Carla, California. They move in with her eccentric father and the boys explore their new hometown.
They soon run into a beach gang led by David (Sutherland) and after an initiation the older brother realises that he is involved with a bunch of teenage vampires.
Things escalate and the younger brother enlists the help of two new comic geek friends to despatch some of the vampires, realising his brother is in danger of changing into one.
Some hilarity ensues along with some spectacular vampire deaths. You’re going to need a plumber if you waste a vampire in a bath of holy water!
The Lost Boys captures the 80s perfectly as well as mixing horror with humor and over-the-top gore.
It’s a sort of adult version of The Goonies and one of the best vampire movies of that decade.
10Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (a symphony of horror) is a 1922 German vampire movie directed by F.W. Murnau.
It stars Max Schreck as the immensley creepy Count Orlock and is easily one of the best vampire movies ever made.
The movie is based on Bram Stoker’s book, but at the time the studio could not get the rights so they changed the count’s name and used “nosferatu” instead of “vampire”.
The film was almost lost when Stoker’s heirs successfully sued for copyright infringement and all prints were ordered destroyed. Thankfully a few survived.
The story itself is similar to the book, though Orlock is more sensitive to light than Dracula.
Really the best way to understand why Nosferatu is on this list is to watch it, which you can do above.
It’s maybe not scary to modern audiences but it is haunting and beautiful, and a classic of its time.