Hollywood producers have been making vampire films since the silent era. In fact, there are so many vampire flicks out there that the legend of Dracula is its own genre. Some of the films are well worth going out of your way to see. Others deserve a place on the cutting room floor.
If you are a novice in the vampire arena, you have a lot to learn about blood-sucking and the undead. Below is the top 10 vampire movies more than capable of introducing you to this rather thoroughly explored topic. And while you’re figuring out which vampire films to see, check out the great selection of vampire t-shirts from FiveDollarTeeShirts. After all, you can’t watch a good vampire flick without a tee to go along with it.
10. Fright Night (1985)
The original Fright Night doesn’t make a whole lot of top 10 lists because the film isn’t all that scary. Yet that is what makes it perfect for the blood-sucking novice. There is just enough tension to keep you on the edge of your seat but not so much as to send you running from the room. As an added bonus, you get to learn some of the basics of the vampire legend, including the fact that vampires can’t enter your home unless you invite them.
For the record, Fright Night launched the careers of William Ragsdale and Amanda Bearse while signaling the end of the line for Roddy McDowell. Chris Sarandon’s performance as the evil vampire was excellent.
9. Ganja & Hess (1973)
Plenty of critics felt that Ganja & Hess was nothing but a black exploitation film with very little merit as a horror flick. But viewers disagreed. In fact, Ganja & Hess enjoys a Rotten Tomatoes rank of 86%. The film tells the story of a college professor who just happens to be a vampire as well. In addition to telling the vampire story in a very different way, the film is a delight to jazz fans thanks to its enthralling score.
8.The Hunger (1983)
Tony Scott’s The Hunger purposely played up the more erotic parts of the vampire legend. It also explored a topic that was taboo in its day: lesbianism. But what really made The Hunger a great film was David Bowie’s performance. He played the lover of a female vampire who has decided she’s had enough of him. Bowie seems just crazy enough to make you think he could be a blood sucker in real life.
7. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
If there is any way to make the vampire legend funny, What We Do in the Shadows manages to pull it off. The film chronicles four vampires who just happen to be roommates as well. This sorry band of undead friends tries desperately to fit into the modern world but ultimately realizes they can never be like everyone else. And by the way, the film is presented as a documentary. That makes it even funnier.
6. Let the Right One In (2008)
The vampire legend takes a very strange twist in Let the Right One In, a 2008 film from Swedish director Thomas Alfredson. What makes this film so strange is that it focuses on children. The main characters are a 12-year-old boy and his female vampire friend. From start to finish it is an eerily poetic film that sometimes pushes the envelope in terms of what makes us comfortable with adolescent characters.
5. Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Throughout the 1950s and 60s it seemed impossible to create a horror flick with an art-house feel. Previous entries in the vampire genre were either too terrifying to be artsy or too bland to qualify as actual horror films. Daughters of Darkness changed that. Hailing from Belgium, the film adorns the vampire legend with a bit of class and culture.
4. Cronos (1994)
Mexico’s Guillermo del Toro broke onto the filmmaking scene with his 1994 adaptation of the vampire legend. Cronos is an exceptionally violent film that tells the story of an elderly man who ends up being transformed into a vampire in a most unusual way. Can he and his granddaughter reverse the curse, or is he destined to be undead forever?
3. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
This 1996 film starring George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino is a cross between crime caper and vampire legend. The level of terror in From Dusk Till Dawn ratchets up the minute you realize the film’s two main characters are not in the presence of just one vampire, but an entire bar full of them. Our two protagonists, as vile as they might be, find themselves in a desperate fight for survival as they wait for the sun to rise.
2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Author Bram Stoker wrote the original Count Dracula story in the 1800s. A lot of filmmakers have attempted to adapt his work with little success. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film got as close as anyone to the original, but critics still panned it as being overblown. Agree or not, there is one unique aspect to this film rarely seen in Hollywood: Coppola filmed on a sound stage with no visual effects. Knowing this makes Gary Oldman’s performance so much more impressive.
1. Nosferatu (1922)
Just about every list of top vampire movies has F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu as number one. It is hard to argue that ranking. Nosferatu started it all. Not only that, it was made during the silent era. Star Max Schreck didn’t have the benefit of dialogue to help him carry the story; he also had no special effects. He had to scare the pants off viewers with his facial expressions and movements. His portrayal of Count Orlock continues to be a standard that other actors seek to achieve.
And there you have the top 10 vampire films for blood-sucking novices. If you can bring yourself to watch all of them, you should have a thorough understanding of the vampire legend by the time you’re through. You might even have a few nightmares to go along with your newfound knowledge.
Please accept a sincere apology if your favorite vampire film didn’t make the list. Unfortunately, there are hundreds to choose from. At least take comfort in the fact that yours was actually made. Whenever you get in the mood for a bit of undead fun, you can always stream it or turn on the DVD player.