Home Entertainment 13 Vampire Movies With Bite

13 Vampire Movies With Bite

by Jennifer Mattern

Vampires may be a hot trend right now because of the Twilight films and the True Blood series, but do the latest incarnations of vampire characters hold up to those of the past? Vampires have transformed from grotesque to romantic characters (and back) over the years. These 13 vampire movies with bite will take you through some of my favorites, which really run the gamut.

13. Dracula, Dead and Loving It

I don’t normally like “stupid” comedies. I don’t often like parody films either. But somehow Mel Brooks always seems to win me over, and his Dracula, Dead and Loving It is no exception. Leslie Nielsen stars as the Count himself, offering up just the right mix of comedy and charm. Brooks co-stars as Van Helsing, determined to slay Dracula. It takes a lot to leave me in stitches, and this duo does it. If scary movies aren’t quite your thing, but you’d still like to check out a vampire movie, Dracula, Dead and Loving It is perfect for you.

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Leslie Nielsen as Dracula - Credit: Autumnnn (via Flickr)

Leslie Nielsen as Dracula - Credit: Autumnnn (via Flickr)

 

12. Queen of the Damned

Queen of the Damned is one of those vampire movies people seem to either love or hate. I fall into the “love it” camp. That’s partly because Queen of the Damned is based on Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series, which I grew up reading. More importantly though, the movie is just stunning visually. A lot of vampire films have more of a “gritty” feel to them, but this one is rich and that really helps to suck me into the fictional world of the story.

On top of that, Queen of the Damned is one of the best vampire movies (to me) because it has a strong female focus. Too many vampire movies focus on the character of Dracula where women are more vulnerable and treated predominantly as objects of lust. This movie turns the tables (to a degree), making Stuart Townsend’s Lestat (probably Anne Rice’s best-loved character) more of the sex object in this film. Overall, it’s just an interesting take on vampire stories. Because of that, it deserves a place on this list.

It’s also interesting to note that Aaliyah (playing the title character) died after the film’s completion, but before it was released. The film was dedicated to her memory.

Queen of the Damned movie poster - Credit: Warner Bros.

Queen of the Damned movie poster - Credit: Warner Bros.

Stuart Townsend and Aaliyah - Credit: Warner Bros.

Stuart Townsend and Aaliyah - Credit: Warner Bros.

Stuart Townsend as Lestat - Credit: Warner Bros.

Stuart Townsend as Lestat - Credit: Warner Bros.

 

11. The Fearless Vampire Killers

I was turned onto The Fearless Vampire Killers by an old friend. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but Roman Polanski’s 1967 vampire flick charmed me enough to make me recommend it. This is another good vampire movie for people who don’t really like horror films — more humorous than anything else. The settings were beautiful, but it was the way they used color in this film that makes it stand out in my mind still. I believe it was Polanski’s first color film, so that makes its brilliance even more surprising. The only way to describe it is “art.” Funny. Blood-sucking. Art.

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Screenshot of Sharon Tate in The Fearless Vampire Killers

Screenshot of Sharon Tate in The Fearless Vampire Killers

10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

I honestly can’t say that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my favorites, but it’s still a must-see for any vampire movie lover. Don’t get me wrong. This is another visually rich film, and normally I’d love that. But the casting killed this vampire movie for me. Keanu Reeves is usually bad enough.

I could have stomached that though. It was Winona Ryder that cinched it. She’s the kind of actress who can be very good or very bad depending on the role. Unfortunately I’d consider most of her acting very bad, and her performance in this film is no exception. I don’t think she has a moment on-screen where she isn’t completely over-acting. Casting her seems a bit too stereotyped, as though they just defaulted to her as a woman to cast in a darker film.

Next time we have a Dracula film come out, how about a little originality — at least in the casting?

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Screenshot from Bram Stoker's Dracula

Screenshot from Bram Stoker's Dracula

9. Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary

Guy Maddin’s Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary is unlike other vampire movies. First, it’s a modern-day silent film. It’s also a ballet. I love vampire movies. I love black and white films (I’ve often said I’d love to see someone put together a truly decent old-style film as a throwback to Hollywood’s heyday). I can’t say I’m a fan of ballet though.

Still, I love this. I don’t know if it’s the simple fact that Pages From a Virgin’s Diary is different than other vampire movies or if this was another case of me finding a film visually exciting, but I really do love this. Hats off to Guy Maddin for giving us something unique in the vampire movie genre, even if just in form.

If you enjoy older silent horror films like Nosferatu or The Phantom of the Opera, give this movie a chance. And if not, consider it your loss (and go enjoy another vampire film more suited to your tastes – you can’t really have enough of them!).

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary - Credit: Zeitgeist Films

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary - Credit: Zeitgeist Films

Scene from Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary - Credit: Zeitgeist Films

Scene from Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary - Credit: Zeitgeist Films

Another Scene from Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary - Credit: Zeitgeist Films

Another Scene from Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary - Credit: Zeitgeist Films

8. Dracula (1931)

No one personifies the character of Dracula in our minds quite like Bela Lugosi in this 1931 Dracula film. When you think of Dracula, what do you see? Forget about previously grotesque representations of vampires like Max Schreck’s Count Orlok in Nosferatu. You probably picture the well put-together, charming gentlemanly figure who just happens to have a thirst for blood.

While that version of Dracula we’ve come to know and love plays up the romantic elements more common (and perhaps over-exaggerated) in some of today’s vampires, I also find that Lugosi makes the character more terrifying.

Everyone can understand being afraid of a hideous monster. But showing that sometimes the monster is concealed in a “pretty” package does a better job of hitting home (similar to how serial killers can seem like such ordinary and also charming men). And it’s the idea that danger can lurk anywhere (and in anyone) that really sets vampire stories apart in the world of monster myths. There’s a certain level of truth to it. Don’t miss this classic.

Dracula (1931) - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Dracula (1931) - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Dracula (1931) - Credit: Ed Fitzgerald (via Wikipedia)

Dracula (1931) - Credit: Ed Fitzgerald (via Wikipedia)

7. Nosferatu

Nosferatu has an interesting story behind it. This grandfather of all vampire films was based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But it was never authorized to be made. F.W. Murnau instead thinly veiled his adaptation by changing character names, settings, and other minor details while still ripping heavily from the plot.

Stoker’s widow tried to have the film destroyed due to the violations of copyright, but fortunately for us it still exists. Actually, several versions exist (different cuts and different scores). You can find full versions available online these days because the movie is in the public domain now in the US.

If you’re not into old black and white films, you may not love this. If you don’t enjoy silent films, you may have an even harder time getting into it. Then again, if any silent film is going to keep your attention, it’s probably Nosferatu — the familiar story and haunting imagery are enough to make it a must-see (at least once).

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Max Schreck Credit: bartholome (via Wikipedia)

Max Schreck Credit: bartholome (via Wikipedia)

Scene from Nosferatu - Credit: DreamGuy (via Wikipedia)

Scene from Nosferatu - Credit: DreamGuy (via Wikipedia)

6. Night Watch

Let me start of by saying Night Watch is a fantastic film! The only reason it doesn’t rank higher on my list is that I feel really hard-pressed to even call this a “vampire movie.” Yes, there are vampires. But that’s not the central focus of the film. It’s a film focused more on the balance of good and evil, where those on each “side” are literally responsible for keeping each other in check. It’s an interesting concept.

I’m a big fan of foreign films. Night Watch is a Russian film (you can watch it dubbed in English, but I highly recommend seeing it in its original format — or watch it both ways). I may not have ever come across this film if it weren’t for my old work with musicians. Through my work I came into contact with a Russian band. They were involved in some way on the soundtrack of Night Watch. This was before it was released in the US. One of the band members had just found out that it was picked up for US distribution, and let me know about it. The moment it was available, I had to see it. It was awesome (not a word I like to use, but you get the idea).

If you enjoy Night Watch, you might want to check out the sequel Day Watch as well. I know a few people who prefer the latter, but personally I’m a bigger fan of the first.

Night Watch (Nochoi Dozor) - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Night Watch (Nochoi Dozor) - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Screenshot of a Scene from Night Watch

Screenshot of a Scene from Night Watch

5. Near Dark

Vampires and cowboys — could it be true? That’s what you’ll get in this odd (yet intriguing) vampire movie. It’s one part western and two parts horror flick (and not surprisingly, this vampire western comes to us from the 80s). And the vampires’ favorite mode of transportation? Why their RV of course!

It’s really not as corny as it sounds. Okay. Maybe it is. But it’s a great movie nonetheless. What’s great about Near Dark is the fact that we lose the glorification a bit, and go back to vampires as monsters. Sure, they look just like you and me (nothing like Schrek’s portrayal in Nosferatu), but it’s their actions — their ruthlessness — that make these vampires hard core. This is another of those vampire movies that was recommended to me by a friend. Again I didn’t think I’d enjoy it, but I was pleasantly surprised. And now I’m recommending it to you.

Credit: J.D. (via Wikipedia)

Credit: J.D. (via Wikipedia)

Screenshot of a Scene from Near Dark

Screenshot of a Scene from Near Dark

4. The Lost Boys

Another 80s vampire movie, The Lost Boys has traditionally been one of people’s favorites. It’s no wonder. It has something for everyone. Kiefer Sutherland epitomized the “cool” aspect of being a member of the undead, and girls had the Coreys (Feldman and Heim for those who don’t know).

The Lost Boys isn’t necessarily a great movie by any technical standards, but it’s a whole lot of fun. It has the perfect mix of horror and comedy.

The Lost Boys - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

The Lost Boys - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Screenshot of a Scene from The Lost Boys

Screenshot of a Scene from The Lost Boys

Another Screenshot of a Scene from The Lost Boys

Another Screenshot of a Scene from The Lost Boys

3. Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is another foreign vampire film, and the most recent vampire movie on this list. It’s a Swedish film. Like Night Watch you can watch it dubbed in English if you really want to. However, I found the English voice actors to be absolutely awful for this one, and recommend the original. Reading subtitles won’t kill you.

This movie injects a sense of reality into vampire myths — you almost feel like it could be true. There’s no sex or violence solely for the sake of sex or violence here. The gore really is necessary to the story (the way I feel horror films should always be made). And there’s always something about great child actors in horror movies. They add a whole different dimension to the creepy factor that adult actors just can’t touch. Overall, this is an amazing film, and one no fan of vampire movies should miss.

Credit: latdenrattekommain.se

Credit: latdenrattekommain.se

Credit: WetWebWork (via Flickr)

Credit: WetWebWork (via Flickr)

2. Fright Night

I know I said earlier that I don’t usually like “stupid” comedies (where it feels forced, as if they’re trying too hard). But the vampire movie sub-genre is clearly an exception. Here’s yet another comedy / horror film, this time starring Christopher Sarandon as our leading vamp. This is one of very few movies (of any genre) that I can watch over and over again, and still be amused. If you’ve ever wondered what could happen if a vampire moved in next door, you won’t finish this film disappointed. And if not, well, it’s still good fun.

Fright Night - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Fright Night - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Screenshot of a Scene from Fright Night

Screenshot of a Scene from Fright Night

Screenshot of Christopher Sarandon in a Scene From Fright Night

Screenshot of Christopher Sarandon in a Scene From Fright Night

1. Interview With the Vampire

I know some vampire movie fans wouldn’t rank Interview With the Vampire anywhere near #1 in their own top picks, but I have to give it credit for a lot of reasons.

First, it’s based on Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles book series (like Queen of the Damned), which I’ve loved for as long as I can remember.

Second, this is another one of those visually intense films that I can’t help but get sucked into.

Third, there’s plenty of eye candy for the female viewers (about time). I’m not a big fan of Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in that sense, but Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas (a much younger Banderas have you) more than make up for it. It’s interesting to see the differences in sex appeal in vampire movies more targeted towards women (not the movies as a whole, but the male characters) as opposed to the female sex objects in more male-oriented vampire flicks (read: usually cheap and trashy). Just saying.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, this film seemed to bring out the best in actors that I normally don’t enjoy watching (namely Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Kirsten Dunst). In fact, I still hold that this is Dunst’s best role to date. I actually buy Cruise’s intensity in the role of Lestat. And I really believe the emotional struggles of Louis as played by Pitt. I can’t help it. As much as I don’t like them, I love them in this film.

So while many people may not feel Interview with the Vampire is necessarily worthy of a top pick, I do. And today that call is mine to make. But I invite you to leave a comment and share your own favorite vampire movie (and be sure to tell us why you love it)!

Interview with the Vampire - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Interview with the Vampire - Credit: CoverBrowser.com

Screenshot from Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot from Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot from Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot from Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot of Tom Cruise as Lestat

Screenshot of Tom Cruise as Lestat

Screenshot of Brad Pitt as Louis

Screenshot of Brad Pitt as Louis

Screenshot of Antonio Banderas in Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot of Antonio Banderas in Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot of Christian Slater in Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot of Christian Slater in Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot of Kirsten Dunst in Interview With the Vampire

Screenshot of Kirsten Dunst in Interview With the Vampire

Disclaimer: All images, photos, screenshots, trailers, clips, and other material used in this article are believed to be covered by fair use rights under U.S. copyright law, being used for the purpose of identification in the context of reviews or critiques.

Related Posts

25 comments

Brian Combs August 17, 2009 - 8:57 pm

How about “From Dusk Till Dawn” or “Innocent Blood”? Neither are great, but certainly good enough to make the list.

Reply
Jennifer Mattern August 17, 2009 - 9:07 pm

I’m not a fan of From Dusk Till Dawn, so with the 13 movie limit I chose it didn’t have a chance (there are still several others I’d rank above it like Shadow of the Vampire, Martin, Bordello of Blood, Van Helsing, Underworld, Blade, Salem’s Lot, etc.). There are a lot of decent vampire movies.

I’m not familiar with Innocent Blood though. I’ll have to check that out.

Reply
Gigi August 18, 2009 - 2:28 am

Yes, I was wondering if/where Salem’s Lot fell on your list. Truly one of the only films that has ever *truly* kept me awake after watching.

Reply
Jennifer Mattern August 18, 2009 - 3:04 am

Don’t get me wrong. Salem’s Lot is a good movie – just not one I’d consider in the top 13. But that’s why these things are subjective. No one’s top list (of any type of movie) will likely be the same as someone else’s. For me, Salem’s Lot loses points because I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen King’s books for many years, and I tend to find the film adaptations lacking in comparison to the novels.

Reply
dirjournal.com: 13 VAMPIRE MOVIES WITH BITE | Open Society Book Club Discussions and Reviews August 18, 2009 - 4:13 am

[…] See images and clips here […]

Reply
Mon Desiderio August 18, 2009 - 11:36 am

I consider all but one of these movies great vampire movies that bites.. Guess, what it is!

Interview with the vampire rocks, vampire comedies doesn’t please me that much…

Reply
r c rudolph August 18, 2009 - 3:00 pm

Everyone is entitled to their own tastes, but to overlook “Horror of Dracula” with Christopher Lee as the Count and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing is a sacrilege.
I grew up with the image of Lugosi as Dracula imprinted in my mind. When I saw Lee’s radically different portrayal, I was initially put off – after all, where was the thick Romanian accent? But by the end of the film, Lee had BECOME Dracula in my mind – a inhumanly powerful and imposing figure whose sophisticated manners can vanish in an flash of anger, transforming him into a bloodthirsty killer. He was matched by Cushing, who, unlike others who have played the part, presents Van Helsing as a not only a brilliant expert in vampire lore, but a man who is swift to take action to thwart his nemesis. The climactic fight scene between the vampire hunter and the immensely more powerful vampire remains a classic. The movie, which is actually much closer to the book than any that have followed, actually brought the horror movie out of the dark ages, with its lavishly decorated sets and use of vibrant color – all done on a tight budget. The movie spawned about a half-dozen sequels with Lee, all of which have their moments, but none of which lived up to the impact or quality of the first. (Interestingly, the final vehicle features Dracula concealing his true identity as the director of an international conglomerate, while attempting to develop a plague that will wipe out mankind. Of course without man to prey upon, the immortal vampire must himself become extinct – making his plot an apocalyptic death wish.)

Reply
Jennifer Mattern August 18, 2009 - 3:37 pm

RC – It certainly sounds like you have your favorite, and that’s the beauty of people being able to have their own individual tastes. While not one of my personal picks, I hope other readers will check out Lee’s performance on your recommendation.

Reply
r c rudolph August 18, 2009 - 8:19 pm

Your list got me thinking.
I should have mentioned that Lee attempted to resurrect the undying count in another film which was to have been more faithful to Bram Stoker’s original intent. The film was titled “Count Dracula” and was directed by Jess Franco, with Herbert Lom starring as Van Helsing. It is an interesting effort, but poor production values in parts and a seemingly rushed conclusion make it less than satisfying. The beauty of Lee’s portrayal in “Horror of Dracula” is his utter demonic coldness. Although a striking figure who easily seduces his female victims, this is no tortured romantic, he is a true monster, who pursues his own needs without concern to those he preys upon.
I believe the shift from monster to haunted victim of his own condition can be traced to the Dan Curtis TV production of the story, starring Jack Palance, which introduced a romantic back story to the tale long before Coppola. (Frank Langella did a masterful job of transforming Dracula into a tragic romantic in his Broadway stage performance, but it was lost when it was translated to film.)
One more thing: there is a little known vampire film which is one of the most interesting I recall seeing. In it, the centuries-old vampire is captured, and put under restraints at a modern medical facility while government-sponsored physicians try to discover the secret of his ability to heal from mortal wounds and live many lifetimes. The vampire in this film is educated an introspective although adhering to a philosophy in which he must accept his need to kill as part of his fundamental nature. The film, “Demon Under Glass,” is well worth seeking out.

Reply
Seda ?rengü Özmen August 25, 2009 - 10:57 am

Thank you your sharing, nice list. But the list is deficient for me: “From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Blade”, “Van Helsing”… and most importantly Tony Scott’s movie “The Hunger” (1983) with David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.

Reply
Seda Irengü Özmen August 25, 2009 - 11:04 am

Thank you for your the top 13.. nice list and valuable works. But the list is deficient for me: “From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Blade”, “Van Helsing”… and most importantly Tony Scott’s movie “The Hunger” (1983) with David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.

Reply
ana B. September 24, 2009 - 10:50 pm

Nice choices, I would likely pick that as my number one and most of those as top 10 as well! I am looking for a movie about a vampire who came to an artist’s showing and asked her about a semi-nude in textured acrylic…she said “I paint from my dream, it is me being swallowed by the darkness of the earth, the minerals…he gave her some bark with red dots to burn and inhale (chasing the dragon style) to enhance her art and she goes into her dreams in black and white dressed like a wood nymph and gets taken more and more by the creature..then her friends get it…it goes all crazy. Do you know the movie? Thx ana B.

Reply
Jennifer Mattern September 25, 2009 - 6:14 pm

Ana – I can’t think of any movie like that. Can you tell us anything else about it that might help us figure it out for you? For example, do you know any of the actors, remember any other plot points, etc.?

Reply
Snypathug June 8, 2010 - 10:06 pm

Queen of the Damned, really?? How about Shadow of the Vampire?

Reply
Jennifer Mattern June 10, 2010 - 10:55 pm

Try reading the comments above yours and you’ll see I already mentioned it. That’s the beauty of a subjective ranking. My opinion doesn’t have to be the same as yours. And yours doesn’t have to be the same as mine.

Reply
xavier October 26, 2010 - 11:41 pm

How about that old Black and White and (God forbid) silent Vampyre. Or the daft and wonderfully camp Vampire Circus or Vampire lovers.

Reply
Meg January 26, 2011 - 1:45 am

Winona Ryder is a goddess… she is amazing in EVERY role she has ever played. End of story.

Reply
Garet March 12, 2011 - 12:58 pm

Where’s Salem’s Lot? Where’s Salem’s Lot? WHERE’S SALEM’S LOT?!?!?

Reply
Teresa May 9, 2011 - 12:38 am

What a great list. It includes the Vamp, the vampire comedy, the classic horror movie and the blood & gore vampire movie.

I must say you have a varied, yet excellent taste.

Kudos

Reply
Lorraine Hilgendorf August 10, 2011 - 6:45 pm

I am looking for an old black and white western vampire movie. I saw it in the 60s ,mabe 65 0r 7. I would like to know the name and who was in it. I think it was on a show called Shock Theater or something like that .Could you let me know if you know what movie this is…………. Thank you ………..

Reply
DClan December 22, 2012 - 9:24 am

Universal-Internation – 1959 ” Curse of the Undead ” , directed by Ed Dein and starring Michael Pate

Reply
kayache September 25, 2011 - 9:10 pm

great list a few i havent seen am looking but cant seem to find the links interview with the vampire is defo my #1 vamp film too have seen it countless times and i hate the starring actors but in this they are great 🙂

Reply
Ana K February 23, 2012 - 9:01 pm

I completly love you list, couldn’t done it better myself. I would add more great movies only if there would be more places. 😀

Reply
florisa January 9, 2013 - 12:45 pm

is let the right one in the original of let me in? with Chloe Grace Moretz(sp?)

Reply
Mark April 7, 2019 - 9:32 am

It’s a world of vampire where life get easier,We have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich, You will assured long life and prosperity, You shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness, Stronger and also very fast, You will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk, This is an opportunity to have the human vampire virus to perform in a good posture. If you are interested contact us on Vampirelord7878gmail.com

Reply

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're okay with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More