Bloody Sexy Beasts: Top 100 Vampire Stories

As cinematic spirit guide Martin Scorsese once said: “The vampire thing always works for some reason. Always works.” I couldn’t agree more, Marty.

Vampire stories on film have been working for 100 years and counting, since F.W. Murnau gave the copyright lawyers the finger and made Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, a slightly modified version of Bram Stoker’s iconic 1897 gothic horror novel, Dracula. The concepts from Stoker’s novel gave form to a mythos of desire and violence, isolation and depravity, mystery and magic that film and TV have been riffing on ever since.

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

But who has done it the best? I amassed a list of all the vampire movies and shows I could find (nearly 350 in all), consulted 13 sources, gathered more than 8,000 datapoints, and set a custom curve and selection model to evaluate and rank each work across three dimensions:

  • Popularity – 1) Box Office adjusted for inflation, and 2) Number of Internet ratings across 4 platforms: IMDB, Letterboxd, Rotten Tomatoes, and Trakt.tv
  • Quality – 1) Critics: The film’s Metascore and 2) Strength of Internet rating across Letterboxd, Rotten Tomatoes, and Trakt.tv
  • Influence – 1) Cultural Canon: how often the work is referenced in other works or inspired sequels/remakes; 2) Awards; 3) Prestige: Accomplished Director or strong film Festival presence; 4) Cult Status: enthusiastic online community; 5) Icon: mentions in “best of” lists

And then I made a monster list of the top 100 for you, culminating in a super juicy top 25.

But first, a Vampire Mixtape to whet your appetite:


100. Forever Knight (1992-1996)

Tubi

Mid-90s Canadian crime drama with a huge following (more than 5000 pages on its fandom wiki!)–top 5% cult status of all films on the list!


99. Count Dracula (1977)

YouTube

This BBC mini-series is perhaps the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel and earns top 5% honors according to the metrics that assessed audience opinion.


98. Habit (1995)

AppleTV

Decent 90s indie slow burn starring Larry Fessenden looking like Nick Cave by way of Jack Nicholson.


97. The Gates (2010-2010)

Vudu

Soapy single-season ABC drama trying to do Desperate Housewives but supernatural.


96. Afflicted (2013)

Amazon

Found footage POV buddy horror that succumbs to the inherent weaknesses of its gimmick but makes up for it in wicked effects and fun.


95. The Blood Spattered Bride (1972)

Digital rental – Amazon

Surreal, blood-soaked, sexual revenge vampire horror – drawing on the Carmilla tradition (more of those coming!) but with women’s lib flair.


94. Ultraviolet (1998)

Tubi

A 6-episode British crime drama miniseries with vampires (of course) that quits while it’s ahead. And yes, that is Idris Elba!


93. Blood for Dracula (1974)

Not currently available to stream

Udo Kier in the role he was born for – the Prince of Darkness – in an artsy, sleazy, whiny, darkly comedic Andy Warhol-produced Dracula.


92. Nadja (1994)

Not currently available to stream

Ultra-indie 90s arthouse horror – featuring lo-fi visuals, a shoegazey soundtrack, and a cameo from producer David Lynch. Directed by Michael Almereyda!


91. Count Dracula (1970)

Tubi

Christopher Lee’s attempt at “ok let’s get serious guys.” After a decade of Hammer films, apparently he only agreed to this Dracula film because it attempted to be faithful to the text. Featuring Klaus Kinski as a totally nuts Renfield, 9 years before he would don the fangs himself.


90. Priest (2011)

Hulu

Techno-vampire western starring Paul Bettany. I always confuse this movie with Legion.


89. Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

Digital rental – multiple platforms

Mel Brooks and Leslie Nielsen team up to make a silly, silly movie that is neither of their best work.


88. The White Reindeer (1952)

Not currently available to stream

A snowy, sensual Finnish horror folk tale – come for the starkly beautiful vistas, stay for the shapeshifting vampire witch!


87. Dracula (2013-2014)

Tubi

Mediocre single-season NBC Bram Stoker revival starring a smoky Jonathan Rhys Meyers.


86. Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Vudu

An eerie, desolate seaside dread-fest in which an elegant aristocratic lady vampire stalks a couple of honeymooners with problems of their own.


85. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

Digital rental – multiple platforms

Slow, surreal post-hippie madness spiral centering on a vulnerable young woman in a rural hotbed of dreamlike dread.


84. Midnight, Texas (2017-2018)

Peacock

Reasonably fun series from the mind behind True Blood, but this time set in Texas and made for NBC. So, less sexy, less bloody, and well – less good.


83. Deathdream (aka Dead of Night) (1974)

Vudu

A son supposedly killed in the Vietnam war returns home one day alive but – changed. A bleak, emotionally intense blend of PTSD, grief, and family disintegration packaged up in a vampire tale from pre-Christmas Story Bob Clark. Chilling.


82. Kindred: The Embraced (1996-1996)

Not currently available to stream

Aaron Spelling’s vampire show aired on Fox in the mid-90s and despite a small but devoted fanbase, was canceled before it could really take off.


81. He Never Died (2015)

Netflix

Small-budget dark horror-comedy starring Henry Rollins; if that sounds like your thing, well, here you go!


80. Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

Amazon

Hands down the most unhinged Nicolas Cage performance captured on film, Vampire’s Kiss is an unmissable movie experience. It obliterated my expectations in every way. A truly strange and amusing experience.


79. Ganja and Hess (1973)

Showtime

Experimental arthouse film from Bill Gunn loaded with allegory, narrative fractures, passion, and (capital-m) Mood. Top 5% BEST of the list, according to film nerds!


78. Blacula (1972)

Shudder

Straight fun and less silly than its title suggests, Blacula embraces its 70s vibe more directly than the dozens of other Dracula-inspired films of its decade, much to its credit. Its sequel, Scream Blacula Scream (5.17) is also a banger.


77. Hemlock Grove (2013-2015)

Netflix

A trailblazer for streaming service original content (all episodes released on the same day WHAT), I remember thinking the first season of Hemlock Grove was pretty legit.


76. V-Wars (2019-2019)

Netflix

Damon Salvatore becomes a scientist in this short-lived Netflix original doing the apocalyptic vampirism-as-virus thing.


75. My Babysitter’s a Vampire (2011-2012)

Netflix

Canadian Disney Channel show about teenagers who fight supernatural creatures; definitely on the dark side, but it’s still for kids so… shrug, I dunno.


74. Ravenous (1999)

Digital rental – multiple platforms

Yeah I realize categorizing this as a vampire movie is a bold assertion – but the monsters in question do appear to need to eat blood in order to live, so…. I’m counting it. Plus we should all talk about this movie more because it is so weird and great. Full review here.


73. Count Duckula (1988-1993)

YouTube

I don’t really know what to say about this other than that my search criteria were extremely thorough and cast a very wide net and people really love Count Duckula! It earned its place and here it is.


72. The Little Vampire (2000)

Tubi

The kid from Jerry Maguire and his vampire best friend – apparently this movie is very cute, pretty goth, a little gay, and totally for kids.


71. Blood Ties (2007-2007)

Vudu

Fans campaigned for another network to pick up Canadian crime drama Blood Ties when Lifetime canceled it after 2 seasons, but to no avail! People loved this thirsty show.


70. The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Rental – Vudu

Hammer Films’ version of a lesbian vampire/Carmilla story is all brooding castles, creepy mist, bosoms and banging. The sequel, Twins of Evil (6.50), is better and more interesting than the first (though slightly less popular). The third installment, Lust for a Vampire (4.60), is probably Hammer’s worst vampire movie – but still, kind of a good time!


69. Dracula (2020-2020)

Netflix

Netflix’ 2020 mini-series directed by Steven Moffat (known for Sherlock and Doctor Who) starts off fun but apparently ends in a ludicrous third act. Maybe worth checking out just for the first episode!


68. Love at First Bite (1979)

YouTube

A Bram Stoker-inspired comedy. It may have a disco dance number, but that can’t erase the racist jokes.


67. NOS4A2 (2019-2020)

Hulu

Did you know that Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, ALSO writes scary books? And those books sometimes get turned into TV shows? This AMC series has some cool ideas and Zachary Quinto was born to play a menacing vampire; apparently it gets kind of crushed by its own ambition but might be a fun ride?


66. Stake Land (2010)

Tubi

An indie striver from that super specific post-vampire-apocalypse wasteland sub-genre, Stake Land tries to make up for thin characters with great atmosphere, world-building, resourceful effects, and solid storytelling. Does it succeed? I don’t know, check it out. (Its sequel, The Stakelander, definitely doesn’t – it earned a 2.4 overall.)


65. Moonlight (2007-2008)

Vudu

And now the American vampire crime drama series! Formulaic but generally winsome, my favorite factoid about Moonlight is that it features Veronica Mars’ Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) as a vampire. Say no more – I’m in!


64. Carmilla (2014-2016)

YouTube

This Canadian 8-hour-long web series about a vampire and her college roommate falling in love unfolds over 120 4-minute episodes, and was so wonderful and beloved that they also made a feature-length film (which earned a 6.4 overall)! The web series and the film both earned top 5% quality ratings from the metrics assessing audience opinion.


63. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)

HBOMax

Glum, pedantic, simplistic, monotonous, and terrible to look at, one Letterboxd reviewer wrote that “Anyone looking to bemoan the state of the art can use this movie as a whipping boy.” It was very popular though.


62. Dracula Untold (2014)

Digital rental – multiple platforms

Another submission for the popular-but-terrible subsection of this list, Dracula Untold tries to convince audiences that Dracula wasn’t a bloodthirsty creature of the night but was, in fact, a misunderstood superhero. Unsurprisingly, no one is interested in this hot take.


61. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002)

Filmrise

From Director Guy Maddin, Pages from a Virgin’s Diary is a cinematic presentation of a Dracula ballet, adapted from the Bram Stoker novel and performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Of the top 5% highest Metascores on the list!


60. The Addiction (1995)

Not currently available to stream

Abel Ferrera’s take on the genre is VERY New York, which in this case is not at all a bad thing. Classy, despairing, maudlin, lonely… Lili Taylor snaps ferociously as Ferrera invites us to ponder genocide, the limits of human brutality, and the fragility of our systems for accountability and justice. Heady but entertaining, and the black and white frames are soft and gorgeous. Top 5% highest rated by film nerds!


59. Mr. Vampire (1985)

YouTube

A super fun Hong Kong cinema mid-80s action comedy with vampires! With great gags, fun frights, and badass fights, Mr. Vampire was powerful enough to spawn two sequels (Mr. Vampire 2 – 3.10 and Mr. Vampire Part 3 – 3.65). I haven’t seen this but it just moved up on my watchlist!


58. The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Tubi

Another entry in the post-apocalyptic vampire movie sub-genre, in the Vincent Price version of I Am Legend/The Omega Man, Price is the last human being on a planet overrun by vampires. It’s mostly about him being isolated, lonely, and slowly going nuts – with some light vampire hunting on the side.


57. Lifeforce (1985)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

You think that POSTER is intense, you haven’t seen anything yet! Tobe Hooper brings his B-movie skills to this big budget, totally wild femm-space-vampire/apocalypse odyssey and the result is incredible effects, mesmerizing visuals, and overwhelming dedication to its own holy craziness. Starring Sir Patrick Stewart.


56. Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)

Not currently available to stream

By all accounts a beautiful piece of animated film, Manga Entertainment decided to do a wide release for Blood: The Last Vampire, despite its short 50-minute runtime. Though it does feel more like a pilot than a standalone piece of storytelling, the film adequately whetted folks’ appetites and was followed by two animated series, a second animated film, and a live-action remake:

  • Blood+ (2005, 50 episodes) – 7.45
  • Blood: The Last Vampire (2009) – 4.00
  • Blood-C (2011, 12 episodes) – 4.45
  • Blood-C: The Last Dark (2012) – 4.25


55. Night Watch (2004)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

When a film is often described as ambitious, it’s hard to discern whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Night Watch is one of those ambitious movies. It’s definitely got BIG ideas. (Its sequel, Day Watch, scored an 8.2.)


54. Dracula (1979)

Tubi

With Sir Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing and Frank Langella as the Count, 1979’s Dracula is all cobwebbed candelabras and gothic splendor, with some sweet feathered late-70s disco hair and a banger John Williams score to take it home!


53. Daybreakers (2009)

Digital rental – multiple platforms

And… another post-vampire-apocalypse dystopian sci-fi horror entry – but this time, with Ethan Hawke!


52. The Hunger (1983)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

Class act Catherine Deneuve lusts for both David Bowie and Susan Sarandon in Tony Scott’s luscious 80s New Wave vampire queen drama.


51. The Night Stalker (1972)

Not currently available to stream

Wisecracking beat reporter slums around the sleazy underbelly of 1970s Vegas and begins to suspect there’s a vampire running through the showgirls. This wry, gritty detective film with conspiratorial flair was made for TV but deserves a much bigger audience now. Not available to stream, but fully track-downable on disc.


50. Rabid (1972)

HBOMax

Early-career David Cronenberg vampire virus body horror. It’s not his best, but it is his vampire movie. And yes, it features a botched surgery, a weird phallic elbow growth, and an unexpected new body hole. Cronenberg’s gonna Cronenberg!


49. 30 Days of Night (2007)

Amazon

Setting a vampire story in Alaska in the middle of the winter IS a fantastic idea, it’s true. Unfortunately it’s also this movie’s best idea, and they nabbed it from the graphic novel! The vampires in this movie hiss a lot.


48. Dracula (Spanish-language version) (1931)

Internet Archive

As talkies took over in the 1930s, studios needed to find new ways to make films for international markets – one popular strategy in those days was to re-use the script/sets/costumes of a big release, but recast the production w/ actors who spoke Spanish (or French or Italian) and then reshoot the whole movie. The Spanish-language version of Dracula was shot on the same sets, at night, after Tod Browning’s production finished up for the day. The crew and lead actor had the benefit of watching the dailies for the Browning/Lugosi version, and would devise new camera angles and lighting techniques to improve on what they saw. Lost/forgotten for 45+ years, the Spanish-language version of Dracula resurfaced in 1978 and many now claim it is superior to its infamous sibling. See for yourself! Spanish-language Dracula is screening free here.


47. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

Most famous because it is the last Sharon Tate film released before her death, The Fearless Vampire Killers is supposed to be a silly spoof of the Universal monster films of the 30s and Hammer horror films of the 50s. Unfortunately it’s all setup and no punchline. All the ingredients are there but it just doesn’t make soup.


46. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

Criterion Channel

A cornerstone of Czech New Wave surrealist cinema, Valerie is about a girl named Valerie. Beyond that, you’re on your own! There’s definitely some coming-of-age themes here, and lots of really cool imagery, and sexuality and menstruation and vampires and nature orgies and magical earrings and hiding in attics and stuff. It’s kind of scary like fever dreams are scary, but it’s also visually stunning… and also kind of troubling? Because the protagonist is only 13 and an actual child. It’s a wild arthouse movie, folks – consider it a conversation starter.


45. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

Not currently available to stream

Although both Vampire Hunter D films did well, this is one of the rare cases in which the sequel outscored the original. Considered by film nerds to be in the top 5% best of all vampire films, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust matches beautiful retro animation with a great story and earns a place with fans as one of the best anime films ever. (The original, 1985’s Vampire Hunter D, is also up there – scoring an 8.6 overall.)


44. Byzantium (2012)

Rental – Amazon

Director Neil Jordan’s story of a vampire mother/daughter team is beautifully made and refreshingly complex in its feminine themes. Daughter Saoirse Ronan struggles with the burden of secrecy, and the suffocating sadness that comes with never being able to know or be known by anyone. Mother Gemma Arterton is defined by the complicated centuries-old dynamics of abuse, sex work, and survival. Worth seeking out if this one slipped by you, as it did me.


43. Van Helsing (2016-2021)

Netflix

Apparently, there’s 5 seasons of a SyFy Van Helsing show (now on Netflix) about a lady vampire hunter. Were you all aware? The data suggests that you are. Well, I was not. This show has won 22 awards (most of them Canadian FWIW), top 5% in the awards category. But reviews are mixed – apparently the first couple seasons are worth your time, if this kind of thing is your thing, i.e. if you’re me.


42. Van Helsing (2004)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

It’s so cute that the two Van Helsings ended up right next to each other! Hugh Jackman’s mid-aughts blockbuster was mega popular (top 5% in IMDB ratings), but by most accounts, really sucks.


41. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Hulu

Karyn Kusama’s fantastic high school horror comedy is definitely an edge case; Jennifer is technically possessed by a demon succubus, I think. But, since she needs to drink blood in order to survive, I decided that counts. This movie is really pulpy and fun.


40. Vampires (1998)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

John Carpenter’s savage late-90s vampire western is equal parts goofy and nasty – not GOOD, necessarily, but it sure did make an impression. Starring James Woods at his sleaziest and the very least of the Baldwin brothers, Daniel. Vampires also inspired two much shittier sequels:

  • Vampires: Los Muertos (2002) – 2.45
  • Vampires: The Turning (2004) – 0.60 (ouch!)


39. Salem’s Lot (1979)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

Tobe Hooper directed this Stephen King gem for late-70s network TV – and it is a delicious marriage of his earlier work (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and the 80s gems to come, particularly Poltergeist. With an 82 Metascore, critics rank it as top 5% best of all films on this list! It inspired a crappy sequel (Return to Salem’s Lot – 3.00) and a TV series remake 25 years later (Salem’s Lot – 5.20).


38. The Strain (2014-2017)

Hulu

Guillermo del Toro’s FX series leans into the monster element of the vampire myth and The Walking Dead-style TV apocalypse-horror narrative structure. Top 5% most popular with audiences.


36-37. Black Sabbath (1963) and Black Sunday (1960)

Shudder

A twofer from Italian “Master of the Macabre,” Mario Bava! Black Sabbath, a 3-story anthology, features “The Wurdalak,” in which a family is preyed upon by vampiric monsters; the film gradually transitions from gothic psychological horror to full-on technicolor surrealism and is in the top 5% best according to critics! Black Sunday is an atmospheric black-and-white creepfest with gorgeous gothic sets, eerie lighting and haunting sound design that influenced countless horror films in future generations.


35. The Monster Squad (1987)

Amazon

Shane Black’s first screenplay was Lethal Weapon; this movie, released the same year, was his second. It’s a Goonies-esque good time.


34. Dark Shadows (2012)

HBOMax

The Tim Burton comedy about a dysfunctional aristocratic New England family with an eccentric vampire patriarch – although extremely popular and featuring a characteristically steamy performance from Eva Green – really doesn’t deserve top billing in the Dark Shadows universe. The TV series upon which it is based ran for 12 seasons starting in 1966 and both began and cemented the cultic fandom (top 5%, with more than 3000 pages on its fan wiki) that fueled this film’s success, as well as a 1970s film and an early 1990s TV remake:

  • Dark Shadows (1966, 12 Seasons) – 10.00
  • House of Dark Shadows (1970) – 5.97
  • Dark Shadows (1991, 1 Season) – 5.00


33. Shadowhunters (2016-2019)

Hulu

Based on The Mortal Instruments book series, ABC’s Shadowhunters follows a group of good-looking, half-human/half-angel teenage demon hunters. Described by reviewers as “eye candy” and “a guilty pleasure,” Shadowhunters didn’t earn its multiple People’s Choice and Teen Choice awards for being especially tight or cerebral – not that there’s anything wrong with that.


32. Sanctuary (2008-2011)

Amazon

This fan-favorite Canadian SyFy series – kind of like Fringe + Heroes, but set in the future and with magic and monsters – won lots of Canadian TV awards during its 4-season run.


31. Cronos (1993)

HBOMax

Guillermo del Toro’s first feature film is kind of a big mess of the influences that he would refine in later films. But despite its flaws, Cronos is a lot of fun. Winning prestigious awards at influential international festivals such as Sitges and Cannes, it certainly earned del Toro enough credibility and financing opportunities to kickstart his celebrated career (that would later bring us masterworks like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water).


30. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

A lonely, mysterious girl vampire in a fictional Iranian ghost town stalks bad men in this stylish, moody black-and-white dazzler. Top 5% best according to film nerds.


29. Horror of Dracula (1958)

HBOMax

Starting with 1958’s Horror of Dracula, the British studio Hammer Horror unleashed several Dracula films over 15 years, mostly starring two incredible leads who are constantly chasing each other around: Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. The 1958 film is the original, based mostly on Bram Stoker’s novel, but through the cycle of Dracula story extensions to come, Hammer films’ gothic castles, heaving bosoms, bloodlust, and charismatic rivalries wrote the playbook for future generations of pulp-horror filmmakers. Top 5% strongest impact on film culture AND top 5% most iconic. Others in the series and their scores, highest to lowest:

  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) – 8.47
  • Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968) – 8.15
  • The Brides of Dracula (1960) – 7.40
  • Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) – 6.93
  • Scars of Dracula (1970) – 6.50
  • Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) – 5.77
  • The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) – 5.30
  • The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) – 5.20


28. The Munsters (1964-1966)

Peacock

A well-meaning family of monsters just living that suburban life! Even though the original run of the sitcom lasted only two seasons, The Munsters’ universally beloved fish-out-of-water zaniness made a huge cultural impact and led to three TV movies and three reboots:

  • Munster, Go Home! (1966) – 5.90
  • The Munsters Today (1987) – 5.40
  • Mockingbird Lane (2012) – 5.00
  • The Munsters Revenge (1981) – 4.50
  • Here Come The Munsters (1995) – 2.90
  • The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas (1996) – Unscored


27. Martin (1977)

Not currently available to stream

George A. Romero, the king of zombie cinema, made a great vampire movie (or did he?)! Like Martin, it’s a little unclear. He definitely does murder people and drink their blood though. Dynamite direction, affecting violence, a protagonist who is equal parts creepy and charismatic, the classic unreliable witness, lots of fantastic Pennsylvania atmosphere and Romero just directing the F out of the thing – Martin is a slept on Romero classic just waiting for you to dig it up. Best of the list according to film nerds!


26. Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Not currently available to stream

About the making of the classic silent 1922 film Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire supposes that the film’s star, Max Schreck, truly was a vampire (an intriguing idea since the film was plagued by mysterious problems and deaths) – and explores the struggle between him and director F.W. Murnau as the consequences of his controversial casting start to affect production. A darkly comedic, affectionate tribute to silent cinema with a bombastic lead performance by Willem Dafoe.


25. Vampyr (1932)

HBOMax

After completing the realist masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Dreyer made Vampyr, a surrealist meditation on fear. Mostly silent with moments of sparse and unsettling dialogue, Vampyr brings Dreyer’s trademark emotional austerity to a story of a man trying to protect two sisters from a vampire and mixes in disorienting visual effects, horrific visuals, and a soft-focus fuzzy visual style to produce a genuinely scary early horror film. Film nerds and the general public agree this is one of the best vampire movies out there.


24. Doctor Sleep (2019)

HBOMax

Yeah, I didn’t realize this was a vampire movie either! Definitely more King than Kubrick, it’s tricky to call this a sequel to 1980’s horror classic The Shining – even though the story centers on Danny Torrance, all grown up and back at the Overlook. The vampires in question are a cult of psychics who feed on people like Danny, who have “the shining” – or as they call it “steam.” Like psychic steam I guess? Anyway, they get it through eating people which makes them live a long time. Sounds like vampires to me! Top 5% most popular with both the film nerd community and the general populace.


23. Underworld (2003)

Netflix / Hulu

Absolutely the gothiest (as in leather pants and eyeliner) of all vampire franchises, Underworld follows Kate Beckinsale – who pretty much built her career around playing elite vampire assassin, Selene – as she hunts down werewolves (who they call “Lycans”) as part of an effort to end a centuries-old war, uncovering an intergenerational vampire conspiracy and falling in love with a vampire-Lycan hybrid (played by Ben from Felicity) in the process. It’s gonzo mythology-building fantasy, but as an action movie set to a techno soundtrack, its great! They made 4 sequels (from highest to lowest):

  • Underworld: Evolution (2006): 9.65
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009): 8.25
  • Underworld: Awakening (2012): 8.10
  • Underworld: Blood Wars (2016): 6.25


22. Preacher (2016-2019)

Hulu

Drawing from the same high-style visual well of as its big budget, violent fantasy-drama contemporary, American Gods, AMC’s Preacher follows a hard-living especially influential Pastor-with-a-past, his hellraiser girlfriend, and their vampire buddy on a quest to find God. OK! I haven’t watched Preacher but I’m intrigued. A people’s favorite!


21. Thirst (2009)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst is just awesome. It really has everything you could want from a vampire movie… it’s steamy, badass, mysterious, contemplative, haunting, gross, sweet, tragic, surprisingly hilarious and it really lets itself get completely out of hand by the end. Plus it is just beautifully made. Strongly recommended – one of my new favorites!


20. Near Dark (1987)

Shudder

Ooooh yeah, we’re getting into that good shit now folks! Others have tried but no one has nailed the vampire western quite as perfectly as Kathryn Bigelow in her 1987 classic, Near Dark. Adrian Pasdar falls for a girl, turns into a vampire, and gets pulled into her unsavory and violent family of vampire outlaws – all in 48 wild hours in the southwest. Few have used the gorgeous palette of night, the loneliness of country roads after dark, or the piercing power of pure sunlight quite like Bigelow does here. And that bar fight! And Bill Paxton! This movie is a treasure.


19. Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Digital rental – multiple platforms

Hotel Transylvania is proof that there is always room for things that are fun and cute, even in a long list of stories about bloodsucking monsters. In this version, Dracula is running a vacation getaway spot for monsters and all hell breaks loose when a human stumbles in from the cold. It’s got an all-star cast of voices, it inspired a franchise that has made nearly $1.5 billion (and counting), and the data demonstrates it’s top 5% most popular according to the people across the board. The next installment comes out in 2022. Related media and their scores (highest-to-lowest):

  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018) – 10.50
  • Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) – 10.30
  • Hotel Transylvania: The Series (2017-2020) – 8.00


18. Dracula (1931)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

This mother of all Dracula films starring the infamous Bela Lugosi birthed what is arguably the first cinematic universe, the Universal Studios Monsters. Followed by Frankenstein the same year and The Mummy a year later, the 41 films in the Universal Monsters canon produced between 1931-1956 are so influential, they basically invented the language of popular horror cinema. 1931’s Dracula is the single most culturally influential film on the list, top 5% most iconic, and top 5% best according to the people. Other vampire films from the franchise and their scores (highest-to-lowest):

  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) – 11.07
  • Dracula’s Daughter (1936) – 7.20
  • House of Dracula (1945) – 6.77
  • Son of Dracula (1943) – 5.63


17. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Amazon

This is one of my favorite movies of all time and I am in no way neutral in writing about it. The master Jim Jarmusch pairs otherworldly goddess Tilda Swinton with smoldering charisma-machine Tom Hiddleston as centuries-old vampire lovers just living their lives, struggling with the problems of existence, squabbling with annoying family members, and going to rock-and-roll shows in a profoundly romantic love story set in a world so rich with texture and ideas I just want to tumble into it and live there. Such a special movie. Nerds like me agree – top 5% best of the list.


16. Fright Night (1985)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

In Fright Night, teenager Charley Brewster suspects his super-suave next-door neighbor, Jerry, might be a murderer… and then discovers he’s much more than that. A killer combination of neighborly snooping, paranoia, practical effects and humor with relentless pacing and fantastic 80s pulp-horror style, Fright Night was an instant classic that is also one of the most culturally influential films on the list. Other films in the Fright Night family, highest-to-lowest:

  • Fright Night (2011) – 11.70
  • Fright Night Part 2 (1988) – 6.00
  • Fright Night 2 (2013) – 2.55


15. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Tubi

Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog takes the best ideas from both Bram Stoker’s novel and F.W. Murnau’s groundbreaking 1922 silent film, mixes some post-modern existential dread into the subtext, casts a notoriously bizarre person in the leading role, and brings his full arsenal of mad directing genius to this project and the result is one of the most compelling, melancholy, sophisticated, complex, haunting vampire films ever made. Top 5% best according to everyone.


14. Being Human (2008-2013)

Vudu

The premise of Being Human – a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost navigate life as roommates in contemporary Bristol – sounds like the setup to a goofy joke, but the BBC series that ran for 5 seasons leans into compelling characters and solid writing, and manages to be heartfelt, surprising, and juicy. Best of the list according to the people, Being Human inspired a slightly-less-good American rehash (obviously), which also scored well with a solid 11.40.


13. Blade 2 (2002)

HBOMax

Guillermo del Toro tackles vampires a second time, but this time with loads more ass-kicking and one-liners. Blade 2 isn’t GOOD per se, but it is a goofy fun superhero action movie with fantastic makeup and effects, a good-guys-and-bad-guys-team-up plot, and a whole lot of posing and flexing. This second film in the franchise was the best reviewed and most popular at the box office, and narrowly tops the first film, which was by far the most influential. The two other films in the franchise and their scores are below. The next Blade film, this time recast as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, comes out in fall 2022.

  • Blade (1998) – 12.35
  • Blade: Trinity (2004) – 8.25


12. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)

Netflix

You knew it was coming! The 5 films in the Twilight franchise completely broke the box office mold – making nearly $4 BILLION over 4 years. Breaking Dawn Part 2 – the last film in the franchise – was the top-earning vampire film of all time. But that’s not all. Even though these films aren’t GOOD (this one in particular won a whole bunch of Razzies), people love to watch them; all the films in the Twilight franchise take top 5% honors across ALL popularity categories. I can’t help myself, I love these movies too! I’ve seen them all so many times. They are silly, lusty, often lazily-made, and take place in a reality that is profoundly stupid, but they’re undeniably fun and Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson f-n BURN UP the screen and I am here for it. All the films in the franchise, highest-to-lowest, are below:

  • Twilight (2008) – 13.00
  • Twilight: New Moon (2009) – 12.40
  • Twilight: Eclipse (2010) – 12.35
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011) – 12.25


11. Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

Showtime

Though at its core Penny Dreadful is true to the spirit of the cheap popular literature of its namesake, Showtime’s stunning 3-season original is so much more. Wrapped in a layer of genuinely menacing supernatural horror (the arch-villain is Lucifer himself for goodness sake) that seethes from the candlelit shadows of its gorgeous Victorian settings, the classic monsters emerge as genuine threats, a powerful shadow self of the age of rationalism. Eva Green dominates the series, entirely inhabiting the complicated antihero, Vanessa Ives, whose power, darkness, and conviction make her one of the most interesting women in the vampire story universe. I know I’m all hyperbole on top of hyperbole here, but this show really is that good. Top 5% best and most popular according to the people and recommended by Team Midnight.


10. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

HBOMax

The best description I’ve heard of this movie is that it’s a grindhouse double-feature smashed into one movie: the first part an action crime thriller written by Tarantino, the second a balls-out vampire stripclub brawl directed by Robert Rodriguez. It’s full-on camp with wazzy mid-90s B-movie flash that was extremely popular with the bros, inspiring 2 lesser sequels and a series that ran for 3 seasons (I had no idea!). Here they are, from highest-to-lowest:

  • From Dusk Till Dawn – The Series (2014-2016) – 8.20
  • From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) – 4.10
  • From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999) – 2.75


9. The Lost Boys (1987)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

As a horror movie, The Lost Boys is a pretty straight – though totally awesome – 80s trope-fest, but that’s not really what sets this film apart. It’s ALL style, and it’s so hot. Neon SoCal surfer goth-punk has never been so vibrant, so sexy or so…. MALE, but male in a way that feels overtly erotic in every direction. Its California nights are so fun and free and full of promise, The Lost Boys is a vampire horror dream-date vacation for the brain. Top 5% most iconic.


8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Hulu

Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula is a gorgeously deranged erotic hallucinatory epic, so lush, over the top, and marvelous that its oddball moments (like Keanu Reeves trying so hard to do a British accent and just not getting close) barely register. The film is also a non-computer generated technical marvel and won lots of awards for its extraordinary costumes, makeup, effects, and other feats of analog wizardry. Top 5% most iconic.


7. The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017)

Netflix

Yeah, it’s a supernatural soap with wildly silly narrative devices and a cast so sexy they are genuinely absurd – but The Vampire Diaries just TOTALLY works. It’s thrillingly romantic, often shockingly violent, races forward at 100 mph but also savors every tantalizing moment, has more twists than a Bavarian pretzel, and just adores its characters so much that no matter what kind of ridiculously convoluted supernatural trouble they make for each other, forgiveness and redemption and love and friendship is always just a plot device away. The series is deliciously addicting, as the 2500+ pages on its fan wiki and two spinoff series will attest. Top 5% most popular and best rated by people, and winner of lots of awards – most of them for things like “best chemistry” or “choice liplock.” Spinoffs, rated highest-to-lowest, below.

  • The Originals (2013-2018) – 10.77
  • Legacies (2018-?) – 9.00


6. Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922)

Tubi

Finally, the legendary German silent film that inspired so many others. Though most prints were destroyed in a copyright scandal, the film survived due mostly to the fervor of its devoted fans and is celebrated now as perhaps the first example of a cult film. Nosferatu is a remarkable visual achievement, and expanded upon Stoker’s legend in ways that would redefine the vampire myth. Top 5% most influential and iconic, and top 5% best according to film nerds and the general public.


5. True Blood (2008-2014)

HBOMax

Set in a universe in which vampires have “come out” and the world is adjusting to the new challenge of coexistence with bloodsucking immortals, True Blood is the bigger budget dixieland premium cable version of The Vampire Diaries. So naturally, it has more nudity, more cussing, and ups the ante on the sexiness of the cast (hello, Alexander Skarsgaard). Although I do love some Vampire Eric, I think the secret MVP of True Blood is doofy horndog, Jason Stackhouse. Remember that part when Jason was kidnapped and made to be “ghost daddy” to a whole community of hillbilly inbred were-panther meth dealers? That was messed up.


4. What We Do In the Shadows (2014)

Digital rental – Multiple platforms

From beloved Kiwi comedy treasures Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok) and Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), What We Do in the Shadows is a dry, dark, charming, relentlessly funny mockumentary about a house full of vampire roommates as they navigate contemporary life in urban Wellington, NZ. Absolutely BEST of the list according to the film buffs, What We Do in the Shadows elucidates what may be underneath vampires’ many eccentricities, for example: why the obsession with virgin blood?: “Deacon: I think we drink virgin blood because it sounds cool. Vladislav: I think of it like this. If you are going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it.”

The film also inspired a 3-seasons deep FX series that earned a respectable 12.25.


3. Interview With the Vampire (1994)

Digital rental – Mutiple platforms

Lavish costumes, ornate settings, a star-studded cast and so much flowing HAIR, Neil Jordan’s stunning interpretation of Anne Rice’s novel is a campy, outlandish film event, the kind it feels like studios are way too timid to make anymore. Brad Pitt as a femme sad boy vampire arsonist? Baby Kirsten Dunst as an adult in a vampire child’s body? Scientology crazypants Tom Cruise as a lovesick, power-hungry, flamboyantly vain, gay 18th century French vampire? Apparently Cruise watched videos of lions attacking zebras in the wild in order to prep for the role. You can’t make this stuff up! Most iconic of the whole list; in fact, Taika Waititi based his character in What We Do In the Shadows on Lestat.

Interview‘s 2002 sequel, Queen of the Damned, didn’t get the A-list stars, direction, or resources and came in at a 6.70.


2. Let the Right One In (2008)

Hulu

It makes sense that a chilly, haunting, Scandinavian drama takes top film honors. From Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Let the Right One In follows lonely 12-year-old Oskar and the strange nighttime friendship he develops with new neighbor, Eli, who appears 12 but is much, much older. A gorgeous muted tone winter slow-burn, Let the Right One In doesn’t shy away from the horror inherent to its story, delivering some of the most haunting visuals in vampire cinema, but violence isn’t the film’s main interest. Rather, it lingers on some of the most interesting themes in vampire lore – loneliness, friendship, isolation, devotion, survival. Somehow both heartwarming and deeply upsetting, Let the Right One In stands apart as a unique cinema experience that lingers with you and is the only film on the list to take top quality honors across all categories.

In 2010, Matt Reeves helmed a decent (but not quite as good) English-language remake titled Let Me In that scored a strong 13.15.


1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Amazon, Hulu

Taking the top spot (by FAR!) is the extraordinary series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a network TV anomaly of groundbreaking, deeply heartfelt storytelling that just deepens in richness and impact over its 7 seasons. For my money, Buffy remains the best TV show of all time, and I’m not alone in singing its praises. Buffy repopularized the long-story arcs that came to define the last 20 years of television, paving the way for shows like The Sopranos and The Wire. Its sophisticated characters, themes, and impeccable writing raised the bar for not only genre TV, but all of TV. It broke all sorts of new ground, particularly regarding female leads, female sexuality, and LGBTQIA+ representation and sexuality on TV, and has since become a pop culture text of incredible importance in academia. According to one study, it is the most studied pop culture work with hundreds of peer reviewed journal articles, papers and books – and its own academic journal (Slayage) and biennial academic conference. Buffy fandom is positively RABID, with a wiki of 6,790 pages (and growing!) – by far the largest fandom space of any entry on the list. The Buffyverse itself has also grown to include its original 1992 film (7.70), its spinoff Angel (with a strong 15.62 that would’ve made it #3 on this list its own), multiple distinct comic series’, novels, and games.

So yeah, Buffy is a big deal. But more than all that, it’s just SO good, so much better than it has any business being, even with its corny 1997 UPN network production value. It’s so funny and smart and honest, its characters are wonderfully complex and authentic, and it really embraces the complexities of its big themes: power, sacrifice, grief, friendship, growing up, love, loneliness, embracing the darkness in ourselves and the world, trying and failing and trying again to live with courage. Plus its season 6 villains – a group of misogynist “downtrodden” white men who are desperate for power – make the show downright PRESCIENT in our 2021 world. Ah, I’m getting all worked up just thinking about Buffy. It’s always satisfying when the thing that is actually the best comes out on top in the end, and Buffy is just untouchable. She’s the queen!


Don’t see your favorite? I’ll tell you how it stacked up. Did I miss a film or show you love? Tell me in the comments. Hope you found some gems to add to your watchlist – these long winter nights are perfect for a new vampire fave.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s