Thor’s TOP 16 Vampire Movies

Thor's TOP 16 Vampire MoviesWith the recent release of New Moon, the latest installment in Summit’s Box-Office behemoth the Twilight Series (or Saga, or whatever they’re calling it), vampires seem to be on everyone’s mind nowadays; be it for the tweens’ phenomenal adoration of them or the fan boy disdain of what they represent.  One thing is for sure; the pale sulky vampires are here to stay until weekend openings say otherwise.  My personal opinion on the series is basically zero.  I’m not a big fan of the concept, but then again, I don’t fit the target audience so can’t hate for not connecting with it. 

Regardless of my feelings towards Twilight, it did encourage me to reflect on the several types of fanged peeps that have graced the cinemas over the decades, from the emo high schoolers of present, to the Kung-Fu Ninja’s of Vampire Hunter D, even further back to the rat-like Count Orlock in Nosferatu.  It made me realize just how many awesome Vampires flicks there were, although they have the most diverse and tinkered with mythologies out of all the classic Horror Icons.  With such a wide variety of choices, I decided it would be a blast to jot them down in a ‘TOP’ list for the site.

I had to delete some titles (Vampry, Lifeforce, Capitan Kronos), for although they were great flicks, they didn’t completely meet the vampire criteria and I excluded other fan favorites (Fright Night, Underworld) because I thought they sucked, sorry!  Please feel free to disagree or add your favorites below in the comments…


16. Dracula (1931)/ Horror of Dracula (1958)

Dracula 1931Horror of DraculaIt’s a tie!  That’s correct, two of the most famous ‘classical’ takes on Bram Stoker’s novel are in my personal opinion; equal.  Why?  Well, both are remarkably similar adaptations that share the same amount of flaws, neither working worse or better than the other.  The fact they still remain as equally important to this day is all thanks to the timeless performances of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula.

In 1931’s Dracula, Lugosi brought to the role an exotic sex appeal that has remained synonymous with the part since; his presence is captivatingly charismatic with his stare hypnotic and his accent seductively foreign.  Lugosi successfully commanded the screen whenever he was on it and it’s little surprise he shot to success overnight after its release.

On the other hand, Christopher Lee in the 1958 Hammer remake was a man of few words. Tall, dark and handsome, he was an appealing force of nature that was seductively primitive; his face filled with emphatic melancholy could change a split second later to viciously fierce.

But then asides from the main performances, what remains?  Both of the film’s plots stand as flat and tame as each other’s (for nowadays at least), though the Hammer version does have the upper hand with the superior supporting cast (Peter Cushing, Michael Gough) and production design beating the classic appeal of the Lugosi version by a slight margin.  The film directors; Tod Browning and Terence Fisher (respectably) were both solid genre filmmakers yet with these films played it safe, sticking close to the text and letting the gothic sets and main actors carry it.  Ironically, both would achieve their biggest commercial successes with these adaptations, although in my opinion, they would deliver far more interesting and artistically challenging films later in their careers (Freaks, Devil Rides Out).  Overall, the movies are recommended as landmark ‘Vampire’ classics that no doubt deserve a spot on the list, but aside from the titular performances and nostalgic appeal, they’re hardly as appealing as some would make you believe.


15. 30 Days of Night (2007)

30 Days of NightThis adaptation of Steve Niles grim comic book resonates as one of the freshest take on vampires in decades.  Bringing them back to the essentials, they are played as vicious, nihilistic eating machines.  Their eyes black, their teeth jagged, this flick was able to make them frightening once again and Danny Huston performance as their ‘ring leader’ is harrowing.  Asides from that, there’s some decent fun to be had from its gripping high-concept premise (Vampires attack an isolated Alaskan town when the sky black-outs for a month), to a handful of memorable sequences (decapitation!) and Director David Slades slick visual style.  It results in one of the better vampire flicks in a good while, worth checking out on a dark night.


14. Innocent Blood (1992)

Innocent BloodDirector John Landis focused his talent for comedy, scares and all round general chaos at the Vampires sub-genre with this underrated 90’s gem.  Anne Parillaud plays the sympathetic vamp that only eats ‘bad people’; mainly Italian Mobsters.  This leads to complications when she fails to finish her last victim off and the entire underworld goes batsh#t.  There’s solid support from Anthony LaPagia as an undercover cop.  But Robert Loggia steals all the scenes and one-liners as the resurrected mob boss with a low patience threshold.  The movie lacks serious scares, but makes up for it with a penchant for spot-on black humor and creative bloodletting.  Innocent Blood is an unfairly overlooked flick that makes for an enjoyable double-bill with Landis’ classic An American Werewolf in London.


13. John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998)

John Carpenter's VampiresI’m a sucker for Carpenter.  Even his crappy movies (Ghosts of Mars) have a place in my heart, but fortunately this movie stands as one of his decent later efforts.  Pitting bad#ss vampire hunter James Woods against vicious ‘Master’ Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffin) across the dusty setting of the Tex-Mex dessert, the film echoes cowboy mythos more then classic gothic but that’s part of the fun and it makes for a fast, gory ride hampered only by an anti-climatic ending (Carpenter ran out of money).  Regardless, it’s always easy to overlook a film’s flaws when the pace is this relentless and a smoking hot Sheryl Lee plays an infected, barely clothed hooker.  It’s good genre entertainment.


12. Blade (1998)

BladeI pondered if this one should make the list because although Blade has vampires galore, it’s more about slaying them then…well letting them do their thing.  But in the end, this flick too awesome to resist.  Admittedly I enjoyed Blade 2 more (only by a little), but its plot did veer off into ‘fantasy land’ whilst this one at least attempts to ground the vampire mythology; depicting them as an underground Mafia-like organization that wear Armani and are sinisterly well organized.  The film might not be as pimp as it was in the pre-Matrix days, but it still packs a wallop of a good time with Snipes at his peak, some good R-rated kung-fu action and a worthy villain (Stephen Dorff).  Viewed best back-to-back with its sequel (although by all means avoid the third like the plague), this was the antidote to all the vampires getting interviewed with Snipes kicking their #sses and taking no names.


11. Lost Boys (1987)

The Lost BoysWho could grow up in the 80’s and not think The Lost Boys was the bomb?  The movie took the clever route of appealing to teen audiences and marketing Vamps as sexy, renegade youths that dressed like extras from a  ‘Duran, Duran’ clip.  The young audiences ate it up (sounds familiar?); luckily the resulting film lives up to the hype and is a good deal of nostalgic fun.  The transition of turning into a vamp is played symbolically as adolescent ‘growing pains,’ but director Joel Schumacher avoids a meditation on the mythology and prefers to deliver a slick, funny and sexy 90 minutes.  Solid leads Jason Patric and Jack Bauer, sorry…I mean Kiefer Sutherland, are the conflicting vampire teens while the ‘Two Corey’s’ (before they discovered cocaine) are awesome as comic book nerds turned novice heroes.  It’s dated since its hay-day but Lost Boys still stands as one of the most fun vampire flicks around… “Cryyy Little Sister!!”


10. Nosferatu (1922)

NosferatuThe first (although illegal) adaptation of the Dracula storyline depicted the character unforgettably in the form of actor Max Schreck’s Count Orlok; an ominous, rat-faced presence that still haunts to this day.  Its unfortunate then, that as classic and innovating as the film remains, when the monster is off-screen it tends to falter; the hammy performances are an annoyance and Bram Stokers story has been adapted much better since.  It seems a harsh criticism on a 1920’s silent movie, but it’s not a flaw shared by other classics of that era, a handful of them (Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Metropolis) still managing to pack a punch today.  That aside, the film carries a strange sort of beauty; the sets and visuals represent ‘German Expressionism’ at its peak, whilst the films legacy has powerfully lived on; inspiring great performances from Klaus Kinski in the 1979 remake and William Dafoe in the bizarre Shadow of the Vampire. If you want to know your Vampires this is vital stuff.


9. Near Dark (1987)

Near DarkIt’s always been a question of debate between Horror fans, which is better The Lost Boys or Near Dark?  In 1987, when both films were released simultaneously, Lost Boys easily outshone the latter as it claimed the Box-Office, letting this worthy entry drift into obscurity.  Though, over the years, Near Dark ’s cult following and critical respect has easily out shined Boys.  As you can tell from my ranking I feel Lost Boys was fun, but Near Dark is the better film.  It tackles similar themes in a more mature manner and plays a unique spin on the sub-genre; depicting the rag tag band of vampires as on-the-run outlaws in the west.  The group is made up of half the cast of Aliens (Bill Paxton, Lance Henrikson, Jeanette Goldstein), with all of them in top form, never has being ‘bad’ seemed so appealingly good.  With that being said, I’ve always found it a shame how new recruit (and protagonist) Adrian Passar takes the moral high ground at the conclusion instead of continuing his adventures with them and there lies the major flaw; its all wrapped up all too neatly.  Still you’ll be hard pressed to find a film that explores the sub-genre in a more unique, elegant and brutal manner.  The Bar Massacre scene has become something of a classic and Bill Paxton is the bomb.  So pop this one in, and to quote the man himself, “Fasten your f#cking seatbelts!”


8. Martin (1977)

Martin‘Zombie King’ George Romero turned his attention to vampires in his usual subversive manner with this bizarre effort.  Our main character Martin (John Amplas) is an introverted and confused teenager who finds comfort in sedating young women and drinking their blood.  The question remains; is he a vampire or just sick in the head?  His ‘old testament’ relative (Lincoln Maazel) thinks the former and their mutual hatred for one another leads to the films devastating conclusion.

Martin makes for a unique piece of work; its tone drifting between reality and fantasy, twisting the mythology at interesting angles while being anchored by a haunting central performance from Amplas (what happened to this guy?).  What we have here is a little seen gem, not as effective as Romero’s Dead movies, but just as special in its own way.


7. Cronos (1993)

CronosGuillermo Del Toro made an impressive debut with this dark fairytale spin on vampire lore.  An old antique storeowner (Fredrico Luppi) gets bitten by a mysterious scarab-like artifact, soon after, he begins to take on traits familiar to vampires, yet he refuses to turn to the dark side until a sickly tycoon threatens his family, forcing him to embrace his new found ‘gift’ and protect those he loves.

You can always count on Del Toro to find the sweet and whimsical in a pitch-black premise, deciding to focus on the gentle relationship between Luppi and his young granddaughter and how his transformation benefits them instead of turning him into a monster.  The horror elements are played up with Del Toro’s usual love and fascination for the supernatural, taking the stance of delicate fantasy instead of typical scare fest.  He also proves he had a strong eye for visuals and designs, even this early in his career.  Although it doesn’t stand as the best out of his Spanish language films (Pan’s Labyrinth, Devil’s Backbone) or play well as a traditional ‘vampire’ yarn, Cronos is an appealing and unique spin on a familiar plot that is pure pleasure to watch unfold as well as stunning to look at.  Oh yeah, and its also got Ron Perlman in it, which always makes anything better in my book.


6. Brides of Dracula (1960)

Brides of DraculaNo Vampire list would be complete without an entry from Hammer’s Dracula series and this is already the second installment I’ve included on the list.  Six out of nine installments had Christopher Lee’s looming presence captivating in his iconic role even when the films got considerable silly in the 70’s (Satanic Rites of Dracula had the Count living it up in swinging 70’s London!).  Ironically, my pick for favorite is a rare entry that doesn’t feature Lee and although I admit it misses him, it still ends up being the most enjoyable installment out the franchise.  Peter Cushing reprises his role as Van Helsing in his usual classy manner and the film features the characters most effective moment as he desperately performs DIY surgery on his vampire wound to prevent himself from turning (hint: it involves a hot poker!)  Besides that, the film represents Hammer at its peak; lavish sets, solid cast, sexy women baring cleavage and a showstopper of a finale as Cushing battle Baron Meinster (David Peel) in a burning barn.  If you’re only going to see one Hammer Dracula flick make sure it’s this one!


5. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

From Dusk Till DawnQuentin Tarantino (as writer) and Robert Rodriguez (as director) collaborated for the first time on this wacky hybrid of a Crime/Horror flick by way of Brain Dead.  Their proposition of smashing genres together results in one of the most entertaining entries in the sub-genre, as fast-talking criminals the Gecko Brothers (George Clooney and Tarantino) collide with the hungry vampires residents at the all-night bar ‘The Titty Twister’.  The duo’s take on vamps is refreshingly twisted; the creatures coming across like a combo of energized cannibals with Evil Dead‘ s Deadites, than the usual snobby euro trash.  Add to that Tarantino’s gift for sharp dialogue, amusingly creative gore and a game cast varying from the A-list (Clooney, Harvey Keitel) to regular Grindhouse Icons (Fred Williamson, Tom Savini).  It may not be the most sophisticated effort, but name me one that’s more fun?  It’s a bloody good time from beginning to end.


4. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

The Fearless Vampire KillersBack in the 60’s when Hammer Horror flicks where all the rage, Roman Polanski directed this sweet-natured spoof of the studio’s output, ironically it resulted in one of the better ‘vampire’ flicks of that decade.  Polanski takes the central role as one half of a bumbling duo (with Jack MacGowran) of novice vampire killers in the snowy, isolated setting of Transylvania.  When a local girl (Sharon Tate) goes missing, fingers point to the residential Vampires as responsible and the hunters reluctantly set off to rescue her and slay them some undead!  What carries out is an enjoyable romp that pokes fun at the genre without being condescending, and despite the light-hearted tone manages to excel with its horror aspects; the film is genuinely frightening, boosting a handful of tense scenes as well as an effective cast of vampires.  Conclusively, it never fails to impress when a film drifts flawlessly between suspense, slapstick and scares, but Polanski pulls it off.  The film also marked the end of his most joyful period as a director; soon after this film his personal life took a dark turn and understandably so did the tone of his films.


3. Interview With The Vampire (1994)

Interview With The VampireAdapted from Anne Rice’s successful novel, this movie charged itself with the unique task of tackling the Vampire mythology from…well, the vampires point of view, as our undead protagonist Louis (Brad Pitt) shares decades worth of stories with a tape recorder and an increasingly jumpy interviewer (Christian Slater).  Pitt solidly carries the film, but is upstaged by cast against type Tom Cruise as his egotistical mentor and Kristin Dunst as a 12-year-old vampire condemned to be forever young.  Dunst displayed a maturity and gift for acting that has strangely alludes her as the years pass.  Reaction to the film has also always confused me as it polarized audiences back in ‘94; horror fans felt it was too sulky and pondering to satisfy and mainstream audiences felt it too dark and vicious to connect.  I guess I fell in the middle ground and still feel it’s a highly underrated flick with a refreshing take on the mythos.  It makes for a dark, involving journey through a vampires life time, firmly held together by Neil Jordan’s capable skills as director and his eye for creating haunting yet beautiful images (the ashen corpses of sun burnt vampires come to mind), he’s also clever enough to occasional lighten the tone with a sharp streak of black humor.  Understandably, the film is charged with humanizing these horror icons and I can’t disagree, but in terms of Vampire films, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that has approached the sub-genre with the same amount of class, depth and care as this one.  Don’t be so quick to dismiss it as ‘faggy’; you’re just robbing yourself.


2. Let the Right One In (2008)

Let the Right One InLast year’s realtivly budgeted Swedish vampire film snuck up and stole many a reviewers heart, but not just as finest Horror film of the year, but as the finest film…in general!  And there lies its strength; it’s a heart-warming ‘coming-of-age’ drama disguised as a horror flick although it successfully works as both.  The lonely and troubled kid Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) finds friendship as the mysterious Eli (Lena Leandersson) moves in next door.  As they grow closer its revealed she’s a vampire with a need for blood, but will Oskar help her survive by providing victims or will he cower from the girl he’s beginning to fall for?

As mentioned before, the film excels in prioritizing the human drama in name of cheap scares usually expected.  The two young leads are completely believable, helping ground the film as the supernatural elements are introduced and though the film’s plot turns are as bleak as the icy cold setting, the story remains sweet and hopeful, creating a surprisingly uplifting experience.  As a horror fan it’s always a pleasure when the genre is treated with as much maturity and respect as here.  Make sure you watch it before Hollywood bastardizes it with their upcoming remake!


1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker's DraculaMost will argue with my top choice here, but personally Francis Ford Coppola’s OTT take on Stoker’s novel is the definitive and most complete version made yet.  The film stands above other adaptations by finally pushing the sexual and violent nature of the story while cleverly choosing to play it as a tragic love story between Dracula (Gary Oldman) and Mina (Winona Ryder) instead of letting the boring everyman Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) take the lead as most adaptations have resorted to.  On top of that, the cast is almost uniformly impressive; Oldman takes a role that’s been famously cemented belonging to others for more than three decades and completely makes it his own, managing to succeed were others failed and capturing all diverse aspects of the character; part mysterious seducer, part vicious monster, part tragic figure.  Ably joined by Anthony Hopkins, with his amusingly blunt take on Van Helsing and Ryder as his long lost love.  Add to that that the film is beautifully crafted with every frame filled with minute care and detail, expert make-up and creature effects and stunning cinematography.  Regardless of the lowbrow quality of the genre this film, at times, it borders on becoming a respectable piece of art.

While admittedly the film does have its flaws (Keanu Reeves wooden plank of a performance), and many have criticized its wacky style and story elements (werewolf sex!), but in terms of ‘Dracula’ adaptations it excels in being romantic, scary, sexy and beautiful.  With that said, I don’t think I need anything more from a Vampire film to consider it the best out of the rest.  So there you have it!


 Thor's TOP 16 Vampire Movies





9 Responses to “Thor’s TOP 16 Vampire Movies”

  1. Adam

    Awesome list! I was getting worried Let the Right One In was going to be left off as I read on.

    I’ve been wanting to see Cronos for the longest time, as del Toro is one of my favorite directors.

  2. Brian White


    Your articles only continue to get better! Like Adam’s last few stories…I could never argue with you guys. You are both experts in your fields. I am going to call you Dr. Horror. I learned a lot from the brief synopsis you provied above for each movie on your list.

    I can’t help feeling shocked there was no love for Underworld 🙂 But happy to see Let The Right One In ranking so high on your list!!!

    Now because of you I had to go into Wal-Mart here while traveling through Vegas and I had to buy Bram Stoker’s Dracula on Blu-ray. I figured since you recommend it so highly perhaps I should give it a second chance.

    Thanks Thor!

  3. Edzy

    great article ma, very much enjoyed what you had to say and how you back up your opinions you def turned some of my previous views about vamp flick, i didn’t even think about 30 days of night, completely forgot about it but you made me realise it for sure belongs on the list. Im not a vamp movie pro but blade, dusk, and interview had to be on it for me so glad you put it up there. Whats next the top best crap movies of all times, like they were so bad but so good you had to keep on watching and keep on laughing hehe

  4. Edzy

    ma =man haha

  5. anni dore

    Thanks for including,”Let the Right One In”.

    It’s such a brilliant reflection upon the pathos of being…Other.

    Keep writin’ and we’ll keep readin’


  6. Bubba

    i know from back in the days that english literature was your thing, so didn’t expect anything less from you. nice article. i hope this is the first of many good ones to come, goodluck buddy 🙂



  7. Gregg

    This was a very informative piece that held my attention throughout. Well done! I have to ask though, where is Underworld??

  8. Vee

    I held my breath until I read that you’d included Lost Boys! Having been a tween in those days, it was the rebellious, heart throb film of my era, none the less pretty good.
    I can never tire of Bram Stokers Dracula, just brilliant.
    Enjoyed your article and looking forward to picking up some of your recommended!

  9. Brian White

    Darn you…now I feel the need to pick up Interview With The Vampire on Blu-ray too! 🙂