Lock your doors. Hang garlic from the windows. Remove the Welcome mat from your front porch. And arm yourself with a crucifix. These are just a few of the precautions you are likely to take after sinking your teeth into one of the following vampire movies!
Do you agree with our ‘best’ picks? Or have we failed to include a vampire horror movie that you think deserves a mention? Let us know in the comments below.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola’s visually-striking movie stars Gary Oldman in the role of the titular Count and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, the famed vampire hunter who is on a mission to put a stake through Dracula’s heart. Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, and Sadie Frost also star in this entertaining horror flick that, despite the title, isn’t completely faithful to Stoker’s original work of fiction.
The movie still captures the gothic spirit of the novel, however, and it contains many scenes that avid readers of Stoker’s work will recognize. But Coppola has taken artistic liberty with his version of Dracula, not only in his representation of the character but in the way he has included an origin story for the fanged menace that wasn’t present in the novel.
Salem’s Lot (1979)
Salem’s Lot was made as a two-part miniseries for American viewers but it was given a theatrical release overseas with a shorter running time and added violence.
Directed by Tobe Hooper, this was one of the earliest adaptations of Stephen King’s works and it still ranks as one of the scariest thanks to a truly terrifying Nosferatu-alike vampire (pictured above) and some very chilling scenes, including the moment when young Mark Petrie (Lance Kerwin) spots his former best friend Ralphie Glick floating ominously outside of his bedroom window.
Another adaptation of King’s vampire novel was released in 2004, and in 2021, Adrian Brody starred in the disappointing prequel, Chapelwaite. The book was recently given another adaptation courtesy of Gary Dauberman (Annabelle Comes Home), but at the time of writing, this much-delayed movie’s release date is currently unknown.
This Australian vampire movie slipped under the radar in 1979 due to more prominent movies featuring the sharp-toothed bloodsuckers. We are specifically referring to the aforementioned Salem’s Lot, the remake of Nosferatu, and the Frank Langella-starring Dracula that was based on Bram Stoker’s classic work of horror fiction.
It’s a shame it isn’t better known as it’s well worth a watch for horror buffs. You shouldn’t expect traditional vampires in this creepy terror tale, however. In this movie, which is set in the modern day, the bloodsuckers wear business suits instead of flowing black capes, and they are able to move around in daylight. They are no less scary than the vampires we know and…erm… love, however, as they are as sadistic as ever in their treatment of the poor unfortunates who they keep prisoner in their blood farm.
Let The Right One In (2008)
Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), the main protagonist of this Swedish horror gem, experiences real-life terrors at the hands of his bullies. Many of us will be able to relate to his plight but we are hardly likely to relate to the solution to his problem: Eli (Lina Leandersson), his neighbour, who turns out to be a vampire. She needs to drink blood to survive and who better to feed from than the kids who make poor Oskar’s life a constant misery!
Director Tomas Alfredson’s film, which is adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s bestselling novel, is both a chilling tale of terror and a love story between a human boy and a vampire girl. It was later remade in 2010 as Let Me In with Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead roles. That movie is a good one but it isn’t quite as atmospheric as Alfredson’s beautiful and haunting coming-of-age tale.
Horror Of Dracula (1958)
Christopher Lee had a long and varied movie career outside of Hammer’s first Dracula picture but it’s his role as the titular count for which he will be most remembered. Lee is truly imposing as the legendary vampire, managing to send a shiver down the spine even before opening his fanged mouth to take a bite out of the unwary folks who have visited his castle.
The actor reprised the role several times after this movie’s release but the scares were diluted with each passing entry due to unimaginative scriptwriting that proved more deadly to the franchise than a stake through the bad Count’s heart. It’s this first movie that is the most fondly remembered, with Peter Cushing impressing as much as Lee in his performance as the fearless Van Helsing.
Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror(1922)
Back in the silent movie era, audiences were primarily treated to slapstick comedies and sentimental romances. Nothing could have prepared cinemagoers of that period for F. W. Murnau’s unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula which likely horrified them when they first laid their eyes on the terrifying Count Orlok (Max Schreck) with his talon-like fingers and sinister, rodent-like face!
Nosferatu was the first vampire movie ever made and over 100 years after its release, time has not diluted its power. Schreck disappeared into his role and was truly convincing as the deaded Orlok. His performance, as well as the eerie atmosphere and creepy images, likely gave many people nightmares after seeing the movie.
It was remade successfully in 1979 with Klaus Kinski in the lead role, and a movie based on the making of this masterpiece was released two decades later (scroll down on this list), which we’re hoping was completely fictionalized!
The Lost Boys (1987)
Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old! It’s fun being a vampire, right? That’s the impression we get when watching Joel Schumacher’s classic teen horror, although Corey Haim’s character Sam isn’t too happy when his brother Michael starts to turn into one of the bloodsuckers.
The Lost Boys places the emphasis on fun rather than scares, but there are a few scary moments when Sam and the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) enter the vampires’ cave. There are a fair few gross-out moments too, including one scene when the transforming Michael starts to hallucinate that his Chinese rice has been turned into squirming maggots!
A couple of sequels followed but neither were as good as this 80s slice of camp horror.
30 Days of Night (2007)
30 Days of Night is one of the best comic book adaptations ever made and is certainly the scariest. Based on the three-issue comic series by Steve Niles, this exhilarating and often horrifying movie is centred around an Alaskan town that is besieged by vampires when the townsfolk experience their annual month of darkness.
Josh Hartnett and Melissa George are just two of the hapless residents that are completely cut off from the outside world after the vampiric bloodsuckers shut down the town’s phone and computer systems. They have to endure 30 days (and nights) of all-out terror as Danny Huston’s vampire leader and his clan descend on Barrow, Alaska to get their fill of the red stuff.
The movie’s director, George A. Romero, is most famous for making zombie movies, of course. But in 1977, he turned his attention to vampires with this celebrated horror film that stands apart from others in the genre for one simple reason: it’s not really about a vampire! Martin (John Amplas), the young man at the heart of this tale certainly believes himself to be a vampire and he has blood-craving urges. But he’s a confused and lonely individual and not a resurrected member of the undead.
This is as much a psychological thriller as a horror movie, with a focus on Martin’s troubled psyche. That isn’t to say there aren’t any scenes of blood-letting, however, as Martin still manages to fulfil his bloodlust, using razor blades and syringes instead of fanged teeth when preying on his unsuspecting victims.
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Vampires aren’t real. At least, not in the way they have been viewed through the lens of a movie camera. But in this film, which is centred around the making of the 1922 silent classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, we are led to believe that Max Schreck wasn’t only a talented performer but was also a real-life vampire who preyed upon his co-workers!
As far as we know, Shreck wasn’t really a vampire, but Willem Dafoe, in an Oscar-nominated performance, convinces as the hungry nightwalker who is an actor by day and bloodsucker by night. John Malkovich also impresses as Nosferatu’s director FW Murnau, who apparently made a pact with Shreck that allowed the vampiric actor mealtime access to the cast and crew.
So, there we have it, our pick for the 10 best horror movies about vampires. Do you agree with our picks? Or have we missed any movies that you think deserve a mention? Let us know in the comments below.