Vampires are an integral part of the folklore of many cultures. Undead bloodsuckers chasing their prey at night and hiding in gloomy crypts by day is an image whose fascination is hard to resist. The horror genre is littered with vampire films, but over time, more subgenres developed.
So vampires do not always have to be dark and gruesome but can be interpreted differently. In the 26 best vampire movies, you can find the most different vampire types. From classically dark to sexily seductive, it’s all here. The most popular vampires are multifaceted and timeless.
1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Real estate agent Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) travels to Transylvania, where old Count Dracula believes he recognizes the reincarnation of his great love Elisabeta in a photo showing his visitor’s fiancée. The Master of Darkness then sets off directly for London.
Director Francis Ford Coppola presents the best Dracula film ever made without question. This is ensured by a star-studded cast, including Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins, and attention to perfect detail. From the big sets to the smallest props, everything is just right. That makes this film the most popular genre, even almost 30 years after its production.
2. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
The mix of road movie, Gangster movie, and vampire splatter, which Robert Rodriguez conjured up on the screen from Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay, has long since become a cult film. Typical for Tarantino, he impresses with a pleasant amount of self-mockery and takes a whole genre for a ride with his black humor without being the least bit silly.
Brothers Seth and Richard flee across Texas after a bank robbery, leaving a bloody trail behind them on their way to Mexico. They want to meet their client in the Titty Twister, a shady bar. But the place turns out to be a playground for vampires. A murderous inferno breaks loose, and there is only one thing left to do, survive the night. The film is available uncut with FSK18 labeling or almost 20 minutes shorter, as the FSK16 version available.
3. Interview with a Vampire (1994)
The vampire Louis du Pointe du Lac (Brad Bitt) sits across from a reporter and tells his life story. A life story that really begins with his death and his encounter with the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise). After his bite, the latter confronts him with the choice between death and eternal life. But this life turns out to be unbearable for Louis, and it comes to a break with the ruthless yet fascinating Lestat.
Director Neil Jordan directs this Fantasy drama very sensitively to the change between life and death. The film captivates with its stylish language and is accompanied by excellent film music, which uniquely underpins the whole atmosphere.
4. The Lost Boys (1987)
The cool punk vampire David (Kiefer Sutherland) terrorizes a small Californian town with his gang and, in the process, casts a spell over young Michael, who has newly moved to the place. He quickly becomes a vampire himself and joins their group. His little brother Sam sees only one way to save Michael and put an end to the haunting. Together with his friends, he invades the vampires’ quarters.
Vampire horror meets teen movies, and that with a straight 80s rock soundtrack. The cult film by Joel Schumacher still radiates absolute coolness today.
5. Blade (1998)
Wesley Snipes shines in his role as Eric, a seemingly invincible half-being of human and vampire, a daywalker. His mother was killed by vampires on the night of his birth, sealing his unique fate. With the strength of both worlds, the now-grown Blade goes into a bloody battle to avenge his mother. His greatest enemy is Deacon Frost, a blood-hungry vampire who would love to wipe out all humanity.
This action-packed vampire movie from the late 90s is based on the Marvel comics of the same name and has achieved quite a cult status, thanks mainly to Wesley Snipes. An uncut (FSK18) or a cut (FSK16) version is available in Germany.
6. Van Helsing (2004)
Hugh Jackman is convincing in the role of Dr. Gabriel Van Helsing, a hardened monster hunter who is seemingly a match for all supernatural enemies. Until he is sent to Transylvania to help fight Count Dracula there. With the last survivor of an ancient noble family, Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), he goes into battle against a seemingly invincible enemy.
This fantasy flick is padded with old horror legends, some of which make it back to the big screen completely reinterpreted. Partly comical and partly action-packed, this is a visually stunning masterpiece without equal.
7. Nosferatu (1979)
International fame can also get German vampire films. Tells the story of Jonathan Harker, who has to travel from Wismar to faraway Transylvania to meet someone interested in an old house in the Hanseatic city. Count Dracula, portrayed by Klaus Kinski, goes directly to his new home after the successful conclusion of the contract and spreads death and destruction there. Seriously ill because bitten, Harker arrives later back home and tries to convince the city that the Count is the source of all evil.
This film is a homage to Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu – A Symphony of Horror from 1922 and an absolute must-see in German film history. He creates an almost intangible intensity and captivates with his simple, uncluttered narrative style.
8. Underworld (2003)
A war between the forces of darkness that has been going on for centuries is continued in modern times on a high-tech level. The fight between vampires and werewolves is not fought with wooden stakes but with silver nitrate bullets and UV light. Suddenly a human gets between the fronts. But Michael Corvin seems to be no ordinary person. He plays a key role in this war, whose terrible background is revealed more and more. The mood is dark, action-packed, and bloody.
The film from 2003 set the starting signal for a whole series of sequels. A total of 5 parts today form one of the most popular vampire film series ever.
9. Fright Night (1985)
Director Tom Holland directs the story of Charly Brewster in this fantasy thriller. A normal teenager seems to be the only one who notices something wrong in the neighborhood. But really, no one wants to believe him that a vampire lives in their midst. The latter finally pursues only one goal: to silence Charly.
The film has the typical charm of an 80s scary flick and yet stands out completely from the crowd. The effects are nothing special from today’s point of view, yet this film is a must for fans. It captivates with amusing characters, dark goosebumps, and pitch-black comedy.
10. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
A tender love story develops in a place that could not be more inappropriate. Bad City is an Iranian ghost town where not only living creatures roam the streets but also a vampire girl who gradually rids the city of the most disgusting of fiends. The young and frustrated Arash also wanders through the night and quickly falls under the spell of the enigmatic girl.
The Iranian vampire film, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, is quite different in many ways. The black-and-white movie plays with contrasts and sometimes very overdrawn sets. The very poppy soundtrack takes some getting used to at first but forms an interesting ambiance with the film’s pictorial mix.
In terms of content, this film also breaks new ground and sometimes seems a bit bizarre, as when the vampire girl in a chador, hooded and on a skateboard, whizzes through the night. A vampire experience is worth seeing of a somewhat different kind.
11. Let Me In (2010)
Director Matt Reeves presents here a remake of the 2008 Swedish film “So Dark the Night” that is absolutely worth seeing. This socially critical Horror thriller is not shallow fare but quite sophisticated.
The story is told from the point of view of 12-year-old Owen, who grows up neglected by his parents in a dreary suburb. Bullied by his classmates, he can’t find any connection, even though he longs so much for affection and tenderness. He finally finds it in Abby, a girl who moves into the apartment next door and carries a dark secret with her.
The two realize they are not alone in the world and draw hope from the familiarity that develops between them. At the same time, a horror scenario comes to a head, as Abby and her father’s thirst for blood want to be quenched. A serious film marked FSK16 despite some explicit scenes of violence.
12. The Hunger (1983)
British director Tony Scott makes his film debut with this terrifyingly beautiful vampire drama. With an absolute star cast, David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon, among others, put on a mixture of horror and eroticism, which is performed with almost hypnotizing calmness. At the latest, after Bowie’s death, the whimsical and atypical vampire film has achieved absolute cult status.
Miriam Blaylock is a mysterious woman who keeps looking for new lovers. But then she turns into a tearing beast whose lust is ultimately only the blood of its victims. This is the only way she and her partner John can stay young forever. But for some reason, this centuries-old procedure no longer seems to work for John, and he evolves into an old man with an insatiable hunger for blood.
13. Near Dark (1987)
Director Kathryn Bigelow stages a surprising vampire film with horror, western, road movie elements, and romance in this US-American B-movie.
The young cowboy Caleb falls in love with the dark and fascinating Mea, and already the first kiss connects both beyond death. He must now confront the darkness, but he is still too human to accept his fate. With the help of his family, he manages to find his way back into the light, but his love is so strong that he only knows one goal: to free Mae as well.
Near Dark relies on modern coolness. Musty crypts are replaced by darkened cars cruising through town. The dark electro soundtrack underlines the mood of this film, which can frighten and enchant in equal measure.
14. 30 Days of Night (2007)
Thirty days is the longest night in the quiet Alaskan town of Barrow. Thirty days in which not a ray of sunlight blinks over the horizon. Many inhabitants have left the city for this time, and only a few remain behind. They observe the arrival of gruesome strangers, who, in turn, are on the lookout for food.
David Slade presents exciting, action-packed vampire horror from the first to the last minute. The acting performance of Josh Hartnett, who stands up to the wild horde as the remaining sheriff, is also convincing all along the line. Emotionless and cold is this FSK18 masterpiece.
15. Thirst (2009)
Sang-Hyeon is a young Korean priest who is sent to help fight a mysterious disease in Africa. When he returns to Korea, no one suspects that this is only possible because the priest has become a vampire. However, the price for his immortality is high. The formerly pious man of God fights against his desire and that of all things with the wife of his best friend.
This South Korean vampire film is full of extreme emotions. From sizzling eroticism to unexpected cruelty, everything is represented. The film is unsparing in every respect.
16. Daybreakers (2009)
A future vision of a special kind is presented here by the directors Michael and Peter Spierig.
On earth live almost only vampires, who have a big problem. Too few humans are left, and human blood becomes a valuable commodity without which the vampires mutate into savage monsters. The vampire scientist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawk) is working on creating artificial blood and, together with a group of humans, comes across a very different solution: healing. But most vampires don’t want to be cured, and bloody war breaks out.
The story offers an interesting twist on the point of view. The vampires are not monsters but society on the edge of the abyss to which it has maneuvered itself. There are many parallels to today’s humanity, which the Spierig brothers depict sometimes more, sometimes less subtly, and thus mercilessly hold a mirror up to us.
17. John Carpenter’s Vampire (1998)
Vampire trash at its best. The Vatican sends its own vampire hunters to fight the undead. But after Jack Crow, Anthony Montoya, and their team have wiped out an entire nest of vampires; the powerful vampire Valek is out for revenge.
The film is consistently thrilling and action-packed and certainly represents one of the most brutal films of its genre. The characters are not clearly separated into good and evil, so everything blurs in the bloodlust.
James Woods shines as a ruthless vampire hunter, a role you absolutely buy into. There is a cut (FSK16) version, which often finds bad reviews. The uncut version (FSK18) is recommendable.
18. What We Do in the Shadows Opening Scene (2014)
This fascinating “documentary” about a vampire flatmate is completely unsparing in its depiction of the petty everyday life of an almost unknown species in a stylishly squalid environment. When five vampires live under one roof and must learn to cope with the complexities of modern life together, there’s plenty of room for conflict to arise. Be it uncoordinated bleeding victims or the question about the best outfit for the night.
Shot in the style of a reality soap, this FSK12 comedy holds horror slapstick at its finest. The characters are absolutely quirky and perfectly exaggerated. Black humor from New Zealand can be found here, paired with absolutely scream-worthy dialogue.
19. Dracula (1931)
The quintessential vampire classic, directed by Tod Browning, is an absolute must-see for vampire fans. Bela Lugosi, the one and only Dracula, sits enthroned in his castle on the mountains of the Carpathians and fills the people of the surrounding countryside with fear and terror.
From today’s point of view, this vampire movie is not very scary and is often even unintentionally amusing. This is also reflected by the age rating of 12. Still, it’s exciting to see how horror worked in the 30s—an almost historical film experience.
20. Dance of the Vampires (1967)
Professor Abronsius arrives in the Carpathian Mountains with his assistant Alfred to study vampires there. In an old castle, they meet a whole family of undead aristocrats.
In this classic, Roman Polanski once again stages the theme of humanity in a hostile environment. Time-honored clichés are wonderfully satirized here, while macabre shocks meet affectionate type comedy. One of the best vampire films of all time offers the viewer an imaginative and intellectual pleasure in a class of its own.
21. Dark Shadows (2012)
22. Twilight (2008)
23. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
24. I Am Legend (2013)
25. Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
As different as the most famous vampire films compiled here may be, they have one thing in common. A fascination with a sinister life form that may lie dormant deep within everyone but thankfully only exists in our imaginations.