Jana B., Here…
I love making lists. Grocery lists. Bucket lists. Holiday lists. Favorite movie lists. Favorite VAMPIRE movie lists. I bet that got your attention, didn’t it? This is MY list of the top 20 Vampire movies ever made. Why did I point out that it was MY list? Easy. So you read this knowing it wasn’t an Academy vote that got a movie on this list. No one paid me to promote their movie. However, I’m NOT against this, just to be clear. Why spend time putting movies in a list? Maybe it satisfies some Freudian lack of paternal affection I suffered as a child. But the real answer is, “Why wouldn’t I make a list as awesome as this?”
Before you check out the list below, here is my criteria for picking vampire films. Is it entertaining? Would I watch it again after the original mystery is gone? Did it shape my views of the genre? Did it live up to the hype? (Just to let you know now, the answer is a big, fat, resounding NO when it comes to any ‘Twilight‘ movie.) Is it important enough to make sure my kids watch it by the time they are 18?
Yes, I take my job as a parent seriously enough to know that I influence what my kids watch, learn and love. I don’t sit down with them and have a blood-fest yet, but I am going to make sure my daughter knows that ‘The Lost Boys‘ are more than just Peter Pan’s gang of forever children. I can’t let her grow up thinking ‘Twilight‘ is the definition of a vampire, even though her generation is determined to make them sparkle and everyone wants a neutered Edward, now.
20 – Shadow of the Vampire (2000) – John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Cary Elwes and Eddie Izzard star in this interesting twist on the making of the film ‘Nosferatu’. This movie asks an interesting question – What do you do when your vampire turns out to really be a vampire? Dafoe takes creepy to a whole new level of play as Max Schreck.
19 – My Best Friend Is A Vampire (1987) – Before Robert Sean Leonard was House’s best friend, I felt like I grew up with him. This was probably the first vampire movie I had ever seen. It had the right mix of fantastical and surrealistic elements and it brought humor to the horror stage in a perfect mix.
18 – Once Bitten (1985) – If The Countess had trouble finding a virgin in the 1980’s, she would most definitely become old and wrinkly if that was her task this year. As luck would have it, Jim Carrey was a late blooming dork that fit the bill. This was a campy late night horror spoof that was entertaining for what it was. No big scares lurking around any corners that you weren’t expecting, I would let my 4 year old watch this since the scares are minimal and the sex innuendo is something he wouldn’t get yet.
17 – Dracula 2000 (2000) – The second Christopher Plummer vampire movie on my list. He plays the legendary Van Helsing this time around. This is the story of what happens when you dig without knowing what you’re digging for. You might get some valuable antiques, you might dig up Dracula. Either way, Gerard Butler plays the ancient fanger. Abraham Van Helsing and his apprentice travel to New Orleans to put a stop to the bloodsucker once and for all. “I never drink…coffee.” This is a mixup of Lugosi’s famous line “I never drink…wine”, from the original Dracula.
16 – Queen of the Damned (2002) – Forget when you watch this movie this is based on several of Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat novels. Trust me, you’ll be happier if you don’t compare. Stuart Townsend pulls off an ok performance as Vampire Lestat tired of hiding in the shadows and sets to become the rock star he’s always been in his own mind. The music of Jonathan Davis and Korn provides the right backdrop to this, dare I call it a ‘romp’ into the vampire realm. With Aaliyah dying part way through and her brother finishing up on some of the production, it just adds another macabre layer to the vampire turned rock star story. In all honesty, the soundtrack was the biggest star.
15 – Vampire Hunter D (1985, 2000) – This is one all around bad-ass guy, and I love how he wields a blade! D is the host of a sentient Left Hand. A snarky, joking face that has all levels of wicked awesome magical powers on it’s own. Plus he rides a cybernetic horse. Out of the Half-bloods on this list, D is my favorite Dhampir on this list, as well. Recognize.
14 – Salem’s Lot (1979) – This is what happens when Stephen King teaches a class and assigns the reading of Dracula. What would happen if vampires came to America? This was a great mini-series that provided some great scares that stuck with you. When the holy water starts to glow, you’ve got a problem.
13 – Dracula (1958) – Creepiest Christopher Lee role. Saruman looked like an alter boy next to Lee’s Dracula. Then remember the guy can thrash at 90 years old with the best of them. Somehow that just makes him scarier and even more cool, just like Dracula.
12 – Van Helsing (2004) – Hear this one out. Dracula was over played. Badly. The Brides…shrieked vilely. But Hugh Jackman was great…looking. Kate Beckinsale was my only reason for liking this it seems. It also mainly has to do with her breasts. I can’t leave out David Wenham’s genius at the understated Carl. Oh, just give me a pass on at least one movie. I’m questioning this whole bloody list, now.
11 – Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992) – Cheerleader by day, vampire hunter by night. Joss Whedon wrote this gem that gave us the hope that our own, personal, Merrick would show up to tell us we are vital to human survival. This wins my award for Best Tragic Vampire Death Scene – That’s right, Peewee, I’m looking at you
10 – John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) – What can make a vampire story even more scary? Letting them come out during the day. That’s what the Vatican is trying to prevent by sending a group of vampire hunters led by Jack Crow (James Woods) after a crucifix, that if in vampires’ possession, can allow the night walkers to walk freely through the day. This movie was really similar to another vampire hit that came out in 1998…’Blade’.
9 – Priest (2011) – It starts out with Stephen Moyer (famous as Vampire Bill in ‘True Blood’). Then introduces Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet and Paul Bettany as the real ass kickers in this movie. I’m not usually a huge fan of dystopian set pieces, but this one has a legendary warrior Priest fighting to get his niece back before she’s changed into a vampire. Based on the graphic novel.
8 – Fright Night (2011) – Yes, the 1985 version was the original. It was in this spot until David Tennant and Colin Farrell showed their glorious selves in the most recent incarnation. If there’s one thing about me you’ll soon learn, good looking people always make the enjoyment content of any movie multiply. The cool little nods to the original were also good to see. Chris Sarandon from the original had a small cameo. Also, both vampires nibbled fruit between their blood gorges. Why? Because somewhere in Jerry’s past he’s possibly part fruit bat.
7 – Underworld (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012) – These would probably rank higher on my list if they’d come out when I was a teenager. I’m sentimental about the movies that shape my likes and dislikes. I loved the first one, especially. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ of the Vampire and Werewolf worlds. But with more death and blood. Selene is one of the kick-assiest of all kick-ass fighters. Plus, she looks awesome in body hugging leather.
6 – Blade (1998, 2002, 2004) – It’s hard to pick just one. If you put the 3 together, it’s an awesome trilogy of cinematic fair. Favorite weapon? Abigail Whistler’s UV Bat’lith. Most surprising badass? The vampire dog, Pacman. Hottest human killing machine? Hannibal King. These movies may have taken Wesley Snipes’ actual identity and become who he truly believes he is. ‘Blade’. They’re awesome movies, but I don’t want to be the one to tell Wesley Snipes that Blade might be real, but vampires are not.
5 – The Monster Squad (1987) – Written by Shane Black, who’s films I absolutely ADORE! This gave Dracula a fun, campy and entertaining glimpse at what Dracula running the world would start to look like. It takes extra co-horts to take over the world and this is where Frankenstein, Wolfman and the Mummy come into play. If you came away from this movie saying anything other than “Wolfman’s got nards!”, I don’t want to know you.
4 – From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – George Clooney, Harvey Keitel and Quentin Tarantino star in this mega-watt hit from Robert Rodriguez. Did I mention there was also a mostly naked and dancing Salma Hayek? This is one of the movies that put Rodriguez’ name on the map. He carved his niche out with big action, big guns and big blood. “The world’s my oyster, except for the fact that I just rammed a wooden stake in my brother’s heart because he turned into a vampire, even though I don’t believe in vampires. Aside from that unfortunate business, everything’s hunky-dory.” – Seth
3 – Interview With The Vampire (1994) – This is the movie that epitomizes the romantic vampire genre. Anne Rice’s novel was basically required reading when I was in Junior High/High School. I remember being excited about Tom Cruise’s impression of Lestat, then Brad Pitt as Louis. Kirsten Dunst took a turn as a terrifying little, rampaging princess that got what she wanted. This made me start thinking what it would be like to have unending nights and a cruel streak as long as could be wide. Interview held the most unsettling visuals that stick with me still. Seeing Lestat settled at the piano after hauling himself out of the swamp gives me chills. So does Moonlight Sonata, now.
2 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – This is one movie that stayed pretty close to the original novel. We get to see Dracula aging, as well, which is not the norm for movies featuring the grand Count, himself. Francis Ford Coppola let Winona Ryder pick who she wanted to work with after she brought him the script. Good choices when you look at the overall cast with the exception of Keanu Reeves. Keanu has his place in the showbiz world and it’s in The Matrix. Not as Jonathan Harker. Another great thing this movie gave us – Love Song For A Vampire by Annie Lennox.
1 – The Lost Boys (1987) – Best death by a set of antlers. The Frog Brothers. The coolest hidden vampire lair…ever. Don’t forget about the sleeper twist of who the head of the vamps really is. This was the first movie that made vampires look sexy and dangerous. Kiefer Sutherland wasn’t quite as hot without a sharp set of teeth, or a motorcycle. This left me with the lasting mingle of excitement and fear that makes an excellent vampire movie.
“Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.”
Special mention for Christopher Lee as being one of the most terrifying on-screen presences of Dracula in 5…count them 5 movies. Horror of Dracula (1958) Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969), and Scars of Dracula (1970) Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) Take what Vincent Price did for the world of horror and you have what Lee gave us for the vampire world.
Another special note. Not only do I love good horror movies. I love, LOVE really BAD horror movies. There is one gem that can jump in here as the absolute worst vampire movie I’ve ever watched. Bitten/Vampire Apocalypse (2008). The name has changed, but the horribly awful movie is still there. I know I’ve dreamed of banging Jay Mewes’ brains out before. Never thought I would see him humping a vampire within 10 feet of finding his girlfriend’s dead body…killed by said humping vamp. It’s just…wow.
– Jana B.