The scariest, bloodiest, and sometimes funniest vampire movies of all time. How many have you seen?
They want to suck your blood. Isn’t that cool?
Vampire movies are one of the most beloved horror genres. It helps that vampires are one of the most universal monsters in folklore. Practically every region on Earth has their own version of the myth, spawning legends and spook stories and films that reflect every aspect of our shared cultural revulsion – and fascination – with the undead. There are scary vampire movies, funny vampire movies, erotic vampire movies and action-packed vampire movies. And then there’s everything in between.
With the vampire movie genre, so wide and varied, it only makes sense that our list of The 15 Top Vampire Movies should reflect that variety. Our critics have different specialties and tastes (that’s why we hired them), and between them they nominated established classics, cult favorites, art house oddities and quirky comedies alike. Some films may surprise you and others may seem like no-brainers, but that doesn’t make them any less great.
15 Top Vampire Movies
- CRONOS (1993)
The first feature film of Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, Cronos, is a haunting and unusual take on the vampire trope. In it, an old antiquarian, Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi), accidentally discovers an ornate 16th century mechanism.
This “Cronos” device attaches itself to his body, restoring his youth, but also makes him crave blood. Meanwhile, a dying businessman sends out his ruthless nephew Angel (Ron Perlman) to find and retrieve the device at any cost. A silent witness to this dark story is antiquarian’s granddaughter, Aurora (Tamara Shanath).
- A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (2014)
In almost any other film, the girl from the title would be a victim. But in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, she is a vampire. Played with eerie and sinuous grace by Sheila Vand, the vampire stalks the deserted streets of the unnamed Middle-Eastern city dressed in chador, hunting and killing bad men.
She crosses ways with hard-working Arash (Arash Marandi), who tries to take care of his drug addict father Hossein (Marshall Manesh). Arash slowly succumbs to a life of crime, which just might seal his fate next time he meets the vampire.
- WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014)
Filmed as a fake documentary film, What We Do in the Shadows follows the hilariously mundane everyday life of four vampire roommates: Vladislav (Jermaine Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and Petyr (Ben Fransham).
When their would-be victim Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) gets turned into a vampire, he starts to teach them about modern life. However, he also carelessly reveals their secrets to outsiders, bringing the vampires into a conflict with a local group of werewolves.
- HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)
Christopher Lee’s Count Dracula appears in the 1958 Hammer horror film Horror of Dracula for only about ten minutes, but that’s enough for him to own the entire film.
With his deep voice and imposing appearance, his is the only Dracula to ever come close to the one played by Bela Lugosi in the 1931 version of the film. Dracula’s opponent Dr. Van Helsing is here played with steely gaze and quiet manner by the veteran actor Peter Cushing, a real-life friend of Lee’s.
- LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
Dark, sweet and deeply unsettling, Let the Right One In is a disturbing coming-of-age story following 11-year old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), whose parents recently divorced and who is regularly bullied in school.
One night he meets mysterious Eli (Lina Leandersson), who just moved in the neighborhood. But Eli is a vampire whose old servant Håkan (Per Ragnar) commits grisly murders to feed her human blood.
- A CHILD’S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL (1973)
Lots of vampire movies are about the sick and decadent lifestyles these monsters lead, but few feel as twisted as Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural. Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith stars as a 13-year-old girl who runs away from her southern, Bible-thumping caretaker and into the arms of a seductive, utterly unwholesome female vampire named Lemora.
Richard Blackburn’s film plays like a naive children’s theatrical production, making all the sleazy, uncomfortable subtext come across like an accidental confession of a sinful heart. This is the polar opposite of wholesome, and it’s only rated PG.
- BYZANTIUM (2012)
Generally, vampire movies focus on the upper crust society, which only adds to the seductive appeal of their clans. Neil Jordan made one film (Interview with the Vampire) that focused on such aristocratic creatures. Byzantium is Jordan’s portrait, at the turn of the 20th century, of two lower-class vampires (Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton). They’ve existed for two centuries amongst the Irish underclass, which — under the thumb of Britain, is doubly underclass.
They are also women, and consequently, they’ve been second class citizens for two centuries, unable to even own property. When they arrive in a new town — to escape suspicions from a beheading — they assist in turning a once thriving hotel into a brothel. But the town itself appears to be a shell of itself. Two vampires in a ghost town, Jordan’s film is at its best when showing the subtler shifts in society over time. Such as Ronan’s speech sounding of a different era, or perhaps of a different social class, to her classmates.
- ROCKULA (1990)
There aren’t very many vampire musicals in the world, but Rockula is the best. Dean Cameron stars as a 400-year-old vampire virgin whose true love gets reincarnated repeatedly, but always dies before he can seal the deal. This time she’s a flashy pop star, forcing our hero to start a band of his own, performing vampire-themed rock and rap songs.
- THIRST (2009)
Wow, writer/director Park Chan-wook’s take on vampires is an intense, slow burn masterpiece. A priest (Sang Kang-ho) becomes a vampire through a blood transfusion, and tries to maintain his religious faith while fighting his new instincts and, well, thirst. Park explores the priest’s temptations and indulgences through sequences of atmosphere unfolding in long takes.
Even the vampire scenes trust the audience to know vampire mythology and understand what is unfolding on screen, so it doesn’t need to be over-explained. The climax is a subtle battle between good self-sacrifice and evil self-indulgence that seems to never end as it drags on back and forth, back and forth. By the time it reaches the inevitable conclusion, it is a cathartic relief.
- DAYBREAKERS (2009)
The sophomore film from The Spierig Brothers takes the fundamental idea of vampirism to its logical extreme. If vampires were real, and could live forever, who wouldn’t want to be a vampire?
But after everyone on Earth converts, human blood becomes scarce, and a scientist played by Ethan Hawke is humanity’s (vampirity’s?) last hope to find an alternative food supply before everyone starves to death. It’s a rather obvious allegory for our real-life oil problems, but it’s still an effective one.
- KISS OF THE DAMNED (2012)
What if a shallow, hipster douchebag screenwriter had the opportunity to become a vampire? You think he’d take it? Of course he would. Xan Cassavetes’ new film playfully displays all the nudity and sexuality usually associated with vampires, but places them into an elite social society that most struggling douchebags would love to be a part of.
Our boring hero (Milo Ventimiglia) is deliberately kinda of bored by his vampire powers (if you’re bored, then you’re boring); for him, it’s just a thing that happened. To keep things spicy, the preternaturally attractive Roxane Mesquida plays the film’s vulpine villainess.
- SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000)
F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu hangs over all of horror cinema like a fetid bat, so it’s natural we should have a film about its making. Look for it down this list. Nosferatu’s vampire actor, Max Schreck, was so convincing as a diseased creature of the night that director E.
Elias Merhige logically posited that he was indeed a real vampire only posing as a human actor. As Schreck, Willem Dafoe gives one of his best and most ghoulish performances. Shadow of the Vampire is a comment on horror, yes, but also the mad extremes to which an artist will go to get the right shot. No horror fan can do without Nosferatu, and no cinephile can ignore Shadow of the Vampire.