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There’s a distinct possibility that as you’re reading this you’re already thinking, “Oh, I hate vampire movies!” That’s probably because, after zombie movies, no sub-genre of horror movie has ever generated so many horrible, pointless films. And yet when handled correctly, the vampire remains the most effective and yes, scary monster out there. Here are ten movies that will make you believe a man can suck blood. I’ve intentionally stayed away from movies about Count Dracula (a sub-sub-genre all its own), and for you Twilight fans, well, sorry kids. Shouldn’t you be updating your Facebook page right now? For the rest of us, these are the ten greatest vampire movies:
10. The Lost Boys (1987)
There are some of movies that aren’t great, but because of some redeeming feature, they transcend notions of quality and taste. The Lost Boys has some good bits, like the Frog Brothers, or Kiefer Sutherland having too much fun with his role, or the bridge scene, or its amazing soundtrack, but nothing really stands out as superb. Yet people love the movie. They really do. Why? Because it has heart. Because always, always, it remains entertaining, which puts it above 99.999% of all movies ever made.
9. 30 Days of Night (2007)
It’s full of plot holes, wooden performances, and the ending is silly. It’s also seriously kickass. Some truly creepy vampires invade the town of Barrow, Alaska, above the Arctic circle where the sun won’t rise for another thirty days. They proceed to lay the town to waste in one long, achingly elegant and nasty overhead tracking shot. Then we spend the rest of the movie watching them get killed off in glorious, grisly ways. Pure cinematic gold.
8. Lifeforce (1985)
A cult classic from director Tobe Hooper and not just because the wardrobe department completely forgot about star Mathilda May. A space shuttle mission to Halley’s Comet finds an alien spacecraft co-designed by H. R. Giger and Charles Addams. Inside are three space vampires in suspended animation… suffice to say, they don’t remain suspended for long. Of course, they have to be naked the whole time — except when they’re possessing the body of Patrick Stewart. Totally incoherent, totally unforgettable.
7. (Tie) The House that Dripped Blood (1970)/The Vampire Lovers (1970)/Countess Dracula (1971)
Take your pick of these three. They’re on this list for one reason
alone, which is that some genius casting director understood that
Ingrid Pitt was the sexiest female vampire ever. You must watch one of
these movies just to see her in the role that would define her career.
The best part? She seems to be OK with that. In one of these three there’s even some tasteless frontal nudity, but I won’t tell you which.
6. Daughters of Darkness (1971)
and vampires are apparently like chocolate and peanut butter. No,
scratch that. Chocolate plus peanut butter always equals good, whereas
a lesbian vampire movie comes with no guarantees. Here’s the exception:
Daughters of Darkness. It has some silly moments, but the core
of the movie is Delphine Seyrig, playing the role of alluring lesbian
vampire like she actually means it. She seduces everyone she meets,
including the audience, in one of the most sublime performances in
5. Interview With the Vampire (1994)
the movie with the foppish, all-too-pretty and completely unscary
vampires that started it all. But give it a chance. Brad Pitt is
brooding and pretentious, but he’s supposed to be. Tom Cruise is crazy,
but in that fun kind of crazy he used to be, not the weird messianic
crazy he is now. Kirsten Dunst, then twelve-years-old, is Claudia, the
little girl vampire who will never, ever get to grow up. One of the
most lavish, beautifully appointed vampire movies of recent memory.
4. Martin (1977)
Romero does vampires — what could be more simple or more perfect?
Martin is a young man who is actually a vicious vampire. Or so he tells
everyone. Romero never quite lets you decide one way or another. Martin
doesn’t have fangs; he drugs women in their homes, then draws out their
blood with a hypodermic needle. All he really wants in life is a little
love and understanding. He certainly isn’t getting it from his
3. Near Dark (1987)
cowboys? Getting into fights in bars and sucking the blood of long haul
truckers? This is the original badass vampire movie, which takes every
convention of the genre and spits chewing tobacco on it. It’s also a
near flawless action flick. Ignore the romantic subplot around Adrian
Pasdar, and watch as Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton steal this show as
amoral good ol’ boy vampires just looking to cut loose and get
themselves a drink.
2. The Hunger (1983)
a reason this is your goth cousin’s favorite movie of, like, all
eternity. Take David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve as an ultra-hip
club-trawling vampire couple. Then add Susan Sarandon as a bi-curious
scientist. Finish with a credits sequence which is also a perfect video
for the best vampire song of all time (don’t try to deny it), “Bela
Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus. For haunting spectral imagery, wonderfully
disaffected performances and sheer starpower, this movie cannot be
1. Let the Right One In (2008)
hype is justified. A time will come when this movie is considered not
just a classic vampire film, but a classic film, period. The tale of
Oskar, a Swedish boy driven to violence by school bullies and Eli, the
immortally twelve-year-old vampire who becomes his only friend, is
savage, stark, bloody, gory, twisted, and — at the same time –
tender, sweet and sob-inducing. It’s the simplest, purest, most
fundamentally wonderful vampire movie ever made. Really.
What’s your favorite vampire movie? Click here to rank or make a suggestion below.
David Wellington is a horror author whose vampire novels include 13 Bullets, 99 Coffins, and Vampire Zero. He lives in New York City with his wife Elisabeth and dog Mary, named after the author of Frankenstein.