The vampire movie genre is probably as old as cinema itself and continues to grow in popularity every year. With Nicolas Cage’s Renfield finding success in 2023, it seems like a good time to look back at the best and most popular vampire movies.
People have been intrigued by the supernatural for as long as they can remember. Werewolves, vampires, the undead and ghouls have made up most films, TV series, books, and fan fiction. So naturally, developing an original concept involving these ghoulish night stalkers has been quite difficult. And that’s not to say there are not some great takes on overused tropes and narratives. A good example of this is the fascination people have with vampires and how their immortality is utilized within the romance genre. There have been different tellings of vampiric lifestyles, but the most popular is usually a love story between a mortal and a vampire. And within the last few decades, there has been an influx of movies involving vampires. Some have romanticized these creatures, while others villainize them. And if you were ever curious about which vampire flicks are worth checking out, this list is perfect for you.
This list will rank some of the most popular vampire movies released in the last few decades, from best to worst. The ranking will heavily depend on the reviews of the films from critics and audiences alike. The list will kick off with the better films and gradually get into the more questionable works. And even though the films on the ‘worst’ end of the list could have titles that are recognizable even to people who have never seen the film, it is important to remember that the film can still be bad objectively. And yes, that even includes cult classic films. And as a small disclaimer before beginning, many of these movies will fall into the horror genre since it involves vampires. Therefore, be warned that quite a few are horror films or contain horror elements (jumps scares, gore, mature themes, etc.).
1. Let the Right One In (2008)
This is probably one of the best vampire movies of all time, as it details what life would look like if you were to gain immortality as a child. Set in Sweden, this Tomas Alfredson film follows the life of Oskar, a 12-year-old boy who is severely bullied. However, he befriends the daughter of his new neighbour, Eli, and they form a very close bond. Simultaneously, there is a string of disappearances occurring within the area, and soon enough, Eli reveals her connection to them. The film has an American remake and has a tv series currently in development. The film is praised for its unique take on the vampire genre and is based on a novel of the same name. Although it strays a bit from the source material, it is still an excellent film.
2. Cronos (1993)
This is Guillermo del Toro’s first feature film and received critical acclaim for its original plot, amazing acting, and mythology. It is a Mexican horror film that follows Jesus Gris (played by Federico Luppi) as he discovers a centuries-old scarab. The scarab grants him eternal life and youth, but it comes with a price. He now has an insatiable thirst for blood and is being pursued by enemies for the scarab. However, with a newfound taste for immortality and blood, Jesus refuses to give up the scarab even if it means endangering his only family. This is definitely one of the best vampire movies of all time.
3. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, Jim Jarmusch’s comedy-drama is a must-see for vampire lovers. The film follows the life of a depressed vampire-musician named Adam, watching society hit rock bottom. Finally, he is reunited with his centuries-old romantic partner, Eve, who attempts to save him from his depressive episode. However, things become increasingly difficult for the two vampires when Eve’s younger sister, Ava, shows up, proving to be uncontrollable. This is a very artistic and airy film with a unique atmosphere and take on the vampire genre, hence its high ranking on this list of best vampire movies.
4. What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) has undoubtedly earned its place as one of the greatest vampire films ever created, thanks to its fresh and uproarious approach to the genre. Directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, this mockumentary-style movie presents a comedic and innovative perspective on the daily lives of vampires cohabiting in contemporary society. The film excels in its flawless comedic timing, clever dialogue, and remarkable performances by the ensemble cast, including the brilliant portrayals by Waititi and Clement themselves. By seamlessly blending humour with genuine moments of empathy, What We Do in the Shadows distinguishes itself, allowing audiences to form a heartfelt connection with these supernatural characters on a profoundly human level.
4. The Transfiguration (2016)
This is another interesting look at the vampire genre set in Brooklyn, New York. The film focuses on Milo (played by Eric Ruffin) in his fascination with vampire lore and mythology. He is an alienated outcast who meets Sophie (played by Chloe Levine), a girl who is equally obsessed with vampirism as he is. They form a relationship bordering on being unhealthy as they blur the lines between fantasy and reality. The film was praised for exploring dangerous obsessions and how easily they can become problematic, especially in younger people. The film was also praised for its brilliant atmosphere and amazing performances.
Starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves, this is another vampiric masterpiece worth watching. This cult classic is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 gothic horror film that follows Vlad Dracula (played by Oldman) as he attempts to avenge the death of his love, Elisabeta. He soon meets Mina. Things take an unexpected turn when he begins to believe that Mina is the reincarnation of Elisabeta. This is one of the films that cemented the vampire trope within Western culture and was praised for its adaptation of the novel. It has inspired many more works in films, series, and books. The film also stars Anthony Hopkins, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, Tom Waits, Monica Bellucci, and Sadie Frost.
6. The Lost Boys (1987)
This black comedy horror film directed by Joel Schumaker is another cult classic that changed the vampire genre forever. The film was praised for its brilliant production design and iconic soundtrack. Furthermore, the film was inspired by another popular classic, The Goonies (1985). The film follows Lucy, the mother of two sons, Michael and Sam, as they move to California. Within the small town they now reside is where the two boys discover that vampires are, in fact, real. They get pulled into the world of bikers, vampires, and vampire hunters when the angsty older brother, Michael, falls for Star, the girl of the leader of a biker gang named David (who turns out to be a vampire).
7. The Addiction (1995)
The Addiction is widely regarded as a standout vampire film, owing to its distinct and intellectually stimulating take on the genre. Helmed by Abel Ferrara, the movie ventures beyond the customary depiction of vampires as simple bloodsuckers, delving into profound philosophical and existential subjects. The central character, Kathleen, masterfully portrayed by Lili Taylor, assumes the role of a metaphorical embodiment of substance dependence, skillfully probing the alluring and sinister aspects of the vampire mythos.
The film’s official synopsis reads: “A New York philosophy grad student turns into a vampire after getting bitten by one and then tries to come to terms with her new lifestyle and frequent craving for human blood.”
7. Fright Night (2011)
This horror comedy is a remake of the 1985 classic. Starring Colin Farrell as a sadistic vampire, the film follows Charley (played by Anton Yelchin), who has grown suspicious of his neighbour, Jerry. There has been a string of strange disappearances in the area, and Charley suspects Jerry is behind them. Not only that, but he also believes that Jerry is a vampire. As to be expected, nobody believes him, and the only person willing to help him get rid of Jerry is a self-proclaimed vampire slayer named Peter. The film has a sequel that follows a similar plot and is praised for its amazing performances, specifically Farrell as Jerry. Furthermore, the humour was also praised as critics claimed it to be smart and actually funny.
The film’s cast — which also included David Tennant, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Dave Franco — ensured that this vampire flick became a hit.
8. Daybreakers (2009)
Have you ever wondered what it would look like if a virus turned most of the population into vampires instead of zombies? Well, this film is the one you are looking for. Although it could be considered a mid-tier film in terms of production, the premise is actually quite interesting. Starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, the film is set in a world ten years after a plague has turned everyone into vampires. The world is sent into chaos when there is a blood shortage, and it is up to Edward (played by Hawke) to develop a blood substitute. Things take a turn when he discovers two human beings on the run that claim they have a cue for the virus. Although the film is a refreshing take on the genre, it still received average rating scores from fans and critics alike.
With a similar rating to the previous entry on this list, this film can be considered mediocre at best. However, it is a low-budget movie that managed to entertain audiences with its creativity and humour, hence its placement on this list. It follows Bob, an aspiring actor who has to accept the fact that he won’t be able to begin a successful acting career. As he struggles to come to terms with his newfound reality, things turn around when he is bitten by a female vampire named Susan. He soon discovers that she is the daughter of an obsessive vampire hunter.
10. Byzantium (2013)
This is an underrated horror film (which, if this was a horror list, would see the film ranked higher) that takes an interesting look at the traditional vampire mythology. It tells a compelling story and sees beautiful cinematography as it creeps along in its pacing. The film follows two fugitive women, Elenor and Clara, who seek refuge in a small seaside town to hide from a group looking for them. It turns out that the two women are vampires, and the group hunting them are also kindred creatures. They must work hard to maintain their secret without making anyone suspicious of them. The film saw its director, Neil Jordan, win Best Director for a Film award at the IFTA Awards in 2014.
11. Vamp U (2011)
This film received decent reviews as it was entertaining enough that the plot did not fall apart. Furthermore, the comedy aspect of the film was on point, allowing for the more questionable parts to be overlooked. The plot follows the story of an impotent vampire, Wayne, who develops an inability to grow his teeth when he harms the love of his life, Mary. He decides to teach history at a college and ends up meeting Chris, a student who looks exactly like Mary, with whom he ends up having an affair. He turns her, leading to the eruption of pure chaos on campus grounds as Chris turns numerous girls. It is still worth a watch if you want to see a bunch of college girls wreaking havoc.
12. Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
Surprised that this film is ranked so low on this list? Well, you will be even more surprised to find that this cult classic only has a 64% score on Rotten Tomatoes despite its popularity. Starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Kirsten Dunst in the film’s leading roles, the narrative is based on the book of the same name by Anne Rice. The film takes the form of an interview in which Louis (played by Pitt) details his time with Lestat (Cruise), who had turned him and their ten-year-old daughter Claudia (Dunst) into vampires. The story begins in 1791 and is detailed by a modern-day San Francisco reporter. The film received a rating this low due to the removal of some of the book’s content and the casting choices. However, there was a sequel to the film and a more recent series remake that stuck to the source material more closely.
Released in 1998, Blade continues to stand as a timeless masterpiece, ranking among the most exceptional vampire movies ever crafted. Directed by Stephen Norrington and featuring Wesley Snipes in the enigmatic and lethal lead role, this film seamlessly intertwines elements of horror, action, and fantasy, captivating audiences worldwide.
What distinguishes Blade is its distinctive combination of visually stunning aesthetics, gripping storytelling, and flawless performances. Snipes’ portrayal of the half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter is truly iconic, emanating charisma and intensity in every scene. Enhancing the film’s allure is its dark and atmospheric cinematography, submerging viewers into a gritty and perilous world.
The truth is Blade is one of the best vampire movies of all time.
13. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Yet another entry that will probably shock you for being so low down on this list, but this cult classic received a 63% Rotten Tomatoes (and yes, Fright Night has a considerably higher score). The film follows the Gecko brothers as they are trying to escape the FBI and Texas police after they indulge in a crime spree all through the Southwest. First, they take a family hostage so they can escape into Mexico, but instead end up in a life-or-death battle against bloodthirsty vampires. The story was written by Quentin Tarantino and starred Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Tarantino himself, and Salma Hayek. The Robert Rodriguez horror movie received this mixed rating due to the inconsistent narrative within the runtime.
14. 30 Days of Night (2007)
This is another good horror story based on the comic book and mini-series of the same name. But that may not be the case when it comes to being a good vampire movie. The film is set in an Alaskan town that annually experiences thirty days of night. In this particular year, as the town descends into darkness for the next month, a group of hungry vampires decides to attack. One couple decides to take it upon themselves to protect the townsfolk from these monsters. Unfortunately, while the movie does an excellent job of creating horror for its audiences with the claustrophobic atmosphere and well-executed antagonist, the film falls flat in terms of vampiric representation. The creatures lack consistency and seem to play into the classic trap of inconsistency within the laws and abilities these creatures should abide by.
15. Twilight (2008)
Based on the novel series of the same name by Stephanie Meyer, this film started one of the biggest vampire-werewolf wars of the 2010s. If you aren’t familiar with this film, or at least the life-altering question of “Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?” this is worth a watch solely for pop culture. While the film saw an eruption in popularity with millions of fans worldwide, it brought in over $3 billion at the box office for all the films in total. And even though the film saw some great effects and casting, the film fell flat in terms of plot and acting. Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattison as Edward Cullen brought performances comparable to an empty cardboard box, with the actors regretting their decision to star in the films even now, over a decade later. The film follows the story of Bella, who has just moved to Forks, as she falls in love with the mysterious Edward Cullen at her high school. Unfortunately, she soon discovers he is a vampire and gets dragged into a world of danger, werewolves, and bloodlust. And even though this movie surprisingly isn’t the worst entry on this list, it still begs whether Stephanie Meyer is okay with the romanticized toxicity she introduced into the world.
16. From The Dark (2014)
This is a low-budget horror film that is set in Ireland. And while, again, it would do exceptionally well as a horror film, it falls flat where vampires are concerned. The film follows a couple as they embark on a trip through the Irish countryside. They soon discover that they are in danger as a nocturnal creature begins hunting them at night. The film does not have the most logical plot and has many post-production mistakes. For example, a crew member can be seen holding a boom microphone in one of the scenes where the female lead, Sarah, is opening her car’s door. This is early into the film, and the team must have missed the reflection error upon editing.
17. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Before the popular tv series in 1997, a film was released with the same name. This comedy horror film follows Buffy Summers, who discovers that she is from a long line of vampire hunters. She is the most popular girl in school and a cheerleader who is definitely not cut out for this role. But she is thrust right into this world when assigned the task of eradicating a nest of vampires in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the film is heavily criticized for its bad directing and terrible plot.
18. Dark Shadows (2012)
Directed by Tim Burton and starring the likes of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Eva Green, it may be a surprise that the film made it into the top five of this list as one of the worst vampire movies to date. This is a dark fantasy film based on the gothic soap opera of the same name; it, unfortunately, received criticism for its underdeveloped characters and plot. However, the humour is the film’s saving grace as it follows Barnabas, who breaks the heart of a witch named Angelique through his playboy nature. She curses him with vampirism and then buries him alive for two centuries. He manages to escape and seeks revenge on the woman who imprisoned him.
19. Underworld (2003)
Starring Kate Beckinsale as the main vampire Selene, this action-packed film has a huge fanbase despite its 31% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film makes for an entertaining watch as it follows Selene, orphaned due to a werewolf attack. She lends her skills to a vampire clan where she works as a trained assassin and is set to save Michael from a pack of werewolves who are after him. Naturally, as it is unnatural to have a strong female lead otherwise, she falls in love with him, Michael, and goes against her clan when he is turned into a werewolf. And although there is an interesting underlying story with the underground war between vampires and werewolves, the main storyline (at least for the first film) falls flat.
20. Dracula Untold (2014)
Vampires in a historical fiction film sound great upon first hearing the premise. And while this movie is probably still better than Twilight, it, unfortunately, landed here due to the lack of character development. The film’s creators had the main characters remain true to their stereotypical roles a little too much. The film follows the Transylvanian prince, Vlad the Impaler, as he tries to do whatever it takes to save his family and kingdom from the Turkish invaders. He becomes a vampire and saves his kingdom but at what cost? This film sees Luke Evans as Count Dracula and has an interesting narrative compared to some other entries on this list. It is worth the watch if you are looking for entertainment, but if a compelling story is what you want, then the first half of this list will better serve you.
21. Queen of the Damned (2002)
This is a sequel to Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) as it follows Lestat as he wakes from his slumber and….well, becomes a rock star. The film is loosely based on the third novel in the series of the same name by Anne Rice and has Stuart Townsend as Lestat and Aaliyah as Akasha, the vampire queen raised by Lestat’s music and ultimately wants to make him her new king. Overall, the film received negative reviews because it was described as ‘goofy’. Furthermore, the film was criticized for its excessive fan service and the terrible execution of accents by the cast.
22. Morbius (2022)
One of the most recent films on this list and probably one of the most-well done entries here; surprisingly, this movie claimed the title of worst vampire film. The film saw a good cast with Jared Leto, Matt Smith, and Adria Arjona in the leading roles and was also an entry film for the MCU of Michael Morbius from Marvel Comics. However, the film is ultimately considered a flop because it is described as generic in where Marvel movies are concerned. The film is also set in the same timeline as Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) and is said to be backpacking the success of its predecessor. The film follows the story of Morbius, a scientist who attempts to cure his rare genetic disease through experimentation with a specific breed of bat. Unfortunately, he conducts a risky experiment on himself and turns into a vampire-like creature. While he is healed from his sickness, the action has some gruesome consequences. Despite its harsh reception, the film is entertaining, but it earned its spot on this list as a terrible vampire movie.
Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) is a mesmerizing film that effortlessly merges various genres, including vampire horror, Western, and Iranian cinema. Through its stylish use of black-and-white cinematography and the captivating performance of Sheila Vand as the enigmatic vampire lead, the movie delivers an unforgettable and distinct cinematic journey.
Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983) is a visually striking and alluring vampire film that delves into the timeless themes of everlasting love and insatiable desire. With its captivating cinematography and an exceptional ensemble cast featuring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon, the movie stands as a captivating and thought-provoking addition to the realm of vampire movies.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987) is a gritty and unconventional vampire film that subverts traditional genre tropes with its dark and atmospheric storytelling. With its intense performances, particularly by Adrian Pasdar and Bill Paxton, the movie presents a haunting and memorable exploration of a vampire family’s violent and enthralling existence.
In 1973, Bill Gunn unleashed Ganja & Hess upon audiences, a vampire film that defied norms and stimulated contemplation. Through its examination of substance dependence, spirituality, and Black identity, the movie shattered conventional narratives. With its immersive direction and standout performances from Duane Jones and Marlene Clark, the film presented a distinctive and profoundly introspective approach to the vampire genre.
Released in 2007, I Am Legend captivates audiences with its gripping tale set in a post-apocalyptic world. Will Smith delivers an exceptional performance as the last survivor in a desolate world plagued by infected creatures. Through its intense action sequences and exploration of themes such as isolation, loss, and the indomitable human spirit, the film offers a suspenseful and thought-provoking cinematic experience.
The year 1958 witnessed the emergence of Hammer’s Dracula as an undisputed titan among vampire films, captivating and ensnaring audiences with its enduring narrative centred around the infamous bloodsucking count. Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Dracula stands as a legendary embodiment, plunging viewers into a realm of gothic horror and gripping suspense, leaving an indelible imprint upon the vampire genre.
Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys (1987) firmly establishes itself as one of the all-time best vampire movies, captivating viewers with its perfect mix of horror, humour, and ’80s nostalgia. Boasting an exceptional cast, stylish direction, and a fresh perspective on vampire mythology, this film has cemented its status as a cherished and timeless classic in the genre. It stars Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, and Alex Winter.
In 1989, Vampire’s Kiss emerged as a distinct and idiosyncratic vampire film, fueled by Nicolas Cage’s remarkable and unconventional portrayal of a man spiralling into insanity. Combining elements of dark comedy and psychological introspection, this movie has amassed a dedicated following, solidifying its status as a captivating and intriguing addition to the vampire genre.