This is probably the hardest list I’ve had to make during this Spooky Movie Time series. There are just simply too many great vampire films to knock it down to a top 5. It’s not that vamps are the best horror genre or don’t have their own built in tropes and cliches, but for whatever reason I find vampires to have the most interesting and versatile lore in the horror sub genres. You can have hive vamps and eternal vamps and funny vamps and tormented vamps and everything else in between. I guess if you dig through your film collection long enough, you’re bound to find a horror genre you actually DO like, and vampires seem to be it. Hell, as it stands I have 13 films that are candidates for a top 5, and that already includes me cheating and listing it as the “Blade” franchise instead individualizing them.
I’m gonna just try to start the list with the ones I know I can’t remove then figure out the last few as we go. Yes, you’re literally reading my thought process in real time. So let’s get through this Top 5 Favorite Vampire films together, shall we?
See? I’m already cheating with my first pick, but I guess it’s my list and my article so I’m really only breaking whatever rules I set upon myself. And yes, when I say “Blade” franchise, that includes “Blade Trinity.” Listen, I know it’s a terrible movie. Not even just by “Blade” standards, but by both vampire and film standards and well. But without any rhyme or reason, I love it. I obviously love “Blade” and “Blade 2” much more, but something about the cheese factor of the third installment just does it for me. It’s a dumb, big, loud, vapid studio cash grab and I love every second of it. I know I’m alone here, and every single criticism you have of the film is justified and rooted in truth. I’m not here to argue for the merits of a bad film; “Blade Trinity” is a BAD film and I know that. But I’m ok with being wrong here. The point is, no vampire list can be complete without one or both of the first two “Blade” films.
“LET THE RIGHT ONE IN” / “LET ME IN”
Yeah, I know. I’m cheating AGAIN, but I love both of these films so much and I don’t feel like ranking them against each other. You could make the argument that the Swedish “Let the Right One In” is superior, but “Let Me In” is one of the best American adaptions across perhaps any genre to date. It manages to keep many of the nuances of the original and does well to not “Americanize” everything to make it unrecognizable. This is another one of those unique looks at the vampire lore, exploring the struggle of an eternal child with a thirst for both blood and companionship. The films do differ in a major way: Swedish bullies are infinitely worse than American ones. I know that’s hard to believe, but I remember being deeply unnerved by the torments in “Let The Right One In” and not so much in “Let Me In.” If you’ve never heard of either of these films, I highly recommend you check them out. They’re both more than just good vampire films; they’re just really well made films period.
“THE LOST BOYS”
Ok, now we’re getting into some more difficult picks. I literally stared at my list for a good 5 minutes trying to figure out which film I should do next. “The Lost Boys” beats out a few other contenders for a couple of reasons. First, I own it and I watch it just about every Halloween. Second, “The Lost Boys” sports a strong, young, up and coming cast and balances the dark humor with horror mystery really well, with neither undercutting the other. Third, that soundtrack is pure 80s fire, and adds to the haunting of Santa Carla. And lastly, it wouldn’t be Halloween without shirtless, muscle bound saxophone man! Ok, that last one isn’t really a selling point, but “The Lost Boys” overall is a really good film that still holds up to this day.
“FROM DUSK TIL DAWN”
I struggled a lot with including this one on here because it’s more of a guilty pleasure than an actual good movie. But what “From Dusk Til Dawn” may lack in being a great film it makes up for by being just great fun. It’s got wild special effects from the king of gore Tom Savini (who also stars in the film) and gives us evil George Clooney, something we hadn’t seen up until that point and very rarely ever after it. Truthfully, it’s Clooney and Harvey Keitel that really sell the film. The rest are take it or leave it kind of characters, and of course someone’s son who had to be put in the film or someone would refuse to invest playing Scott (Ernest Liu). And ya, Tarantino is a much better writer/director than he is an actor, but none of that really stops you from enjoying “From Dusk til Dawn.” I’ve always loved this movie, and while I’m sure there are better ones that could make the list, I’m standing by my choice here. Plus, who doesn’t love a hot Selma Hayek giving a sexy burlesque dance with a giant snake wrapped around her?
“INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE”
This was the hardest one to include on this list, and actually almost lost out to “What We Do In the Shadows.” Technically, it does. But I’ve decided to move “Shadows” to my horror/comedy list as it fits that bill better than being a straight vampire horror film. This is the same exception I made for “Ghostbusters” which didn’t make my top 5 ghost movie list but is easily one of my favorite films period. “Interview With the Vampire” is a bit more toned down when it comes to the horror aspect, as the film focuses more on the drama and tumultuous friendship between Lestat and Louis. I’ve always enjoyed how much “Interview” explores the loneliness of immortality, as well as the consequences of creating involuntary companions. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are a great pair, and “Interview with the Vampire” has one of my favorite Cruise lines of all time: “There’s life in the old lady YET!”
So there you have it, my very difficult top 5 favorite vampire movie list! Some films that almost made the cut: “Fright Night,” “Daybreakers” (a criminally underrated vampire flick with amazing performances), “30 Days of Night,” “Vampires,” (who doesn’t love the match made in heaven pair of Carpenter and vampires?), “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Dracula 2000.” That last one is a lot like “Blade Trinity” for me; I know its god awful and pales in comparison to pretty much all of the other films on the list, but I really dig the unique take on the vampire origin, and Jonny Lee Miller is one of my favorite actors even in bad movies.
[Editor’s note: PLEASE watch “The Hunger.” Seriously. Fangless sexy vampires. David Bowie. Susan Sarandon. Bauhaus.]
What are some of your favorite vampire films?