The 13 coolest vampire films of all time

If you can't make it to "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" this holiday, sink your teeth into these morbid classics

Published November 29, 2014 3:00PM (EST)

This article originally appeared on Indiewire.

Indiewire If you like your vampire movies cool, creepy and haunting, you can't do better than Ana Lily Amirpour's feature directorial debut "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," which finally opens today, months after wowing at Sundance. Shot in black and white, the David Lynch-ian slow burner follows a young Iranian woman who moves briskly through shadows with a penchant for human blood. To celebrate the film's release, we've compiled a list of other cool vampire movies worth biting into -- "Twilight" not included. Tell us some of your favorites in the comments section.

"Only Lovers Left Alive" (2013), directed by Jim Jarmusch

"Only Lovers Left Alive"
SPC"Only Lovers Left Alive"

Leave it to Jim Jarmusch to make what is arguably the coolest vampire film of all time. Having Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston vamping it up as the film's two lead lovers doesn't hurt matters. In the gorgeously lensed dark comedy, Swinton and Hiddleston team up to play Eve and Adam, a pair of old (but young looking) vampires, who reunite after living apart for many years. Their newfound quiet life together is interrupted rather abruptly with the surprise arrival of Eve's wayward sister (Mia Wasikowska), who shakes things up -- and not in a good way.

"Let the Right One In" (2008), directed by Tom Aldredson and "Let Me In" (2010), directed by Matt Reeves

"Let Me In"
"Let Me In"

In 2008, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson brought us "Let the Right One In," a stunning and spooky horror romance that follows a romance between a reclusive 12 year-old boy and a mysterious girl who turns out to be a vampire. It's a delicate and violent film, a picture that was expertly (and rarely) adapted into the English language. Only two years later, Matt Reeves, now known for this year's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" brought us "Let Me In," essentially the same movie but with rising stars (at the time, at least) Chloe Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee in leading roles. Both films are oddball coming-of-age stories which feature perfect levels of romance, youthful innocence and gore.

"Thirst" (2009), directed by Park Chan-wook

Thirst (Bakjwi)

"Oldboy" director Park Chan-wook incorporates the supernatural into his raw psychological approach to storytelling with the 2009 film, "Thirst," which centers on a priest who turns into a vampire after undergoing an experimental treatment for a deathly illness that has long been plaguing his community. "Thirst" meditates on many of the same themes as "Oldboy" -- truth, desire, power and self-control. The supernatural aspect of the film enhances the potency of the narrative's engagement with each theme because the extreme circumstances of the film allow us to travel the spectrum of each theme with the characters. We not only see them in their most contained or unhinged states, but also, in a way, experience it with them -- which is rather unsettling (in a good way).

"Blade 2" (2002), directed by Guillermo Del Toro

Blade 2

"Blade 2" is the strongest entry in the vampire-action franchise by a landslide, thanks to the involvement of director Guillermo Del Toro, who injects the routine story with his own brand of inventive madness that's impossible to resist. The film marked the director's second studio effort following "Mimic" and it shows him on surer ground, executing a number of set pieces with the visionary sense we've come to love over the years in films such as "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Pacific Rim." Wesley Snipes is back playing the titular half man/half vampire, who this time around is forced to team up with the vampires he did battle with in the first round to overcome a new type of monster that threatens both races. Cue the carnage!

"Shadow of a Vampire" (2000), directed by E. Elias Merhige

"Shadow of the Vampire"
"Shadow of the Vampire"

While most films focusing on immortal bloodsuckers lend themselves to horror, romance or both, this Oscar-nominated film starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe blends its unnatural elements with the most natural of them all: humor. "Shadow of a Vampire" is the fictional behind-the-scenes story of another film on this list -- and perhaps the most influential vampire film of all time -- "Nosferatu." The delightful twist carrying the film chronicling the other film is that the latter's star, Max Shreck, is not an actor at all but the very creature he's so expertly portraying. Dafoe sunk so deep into the role he too could have been mistaken for the Transylvanian transformer, and his efforts earned him an Oscar nod. Though conspiracy theorists will attest to its verisimilitude, "Shadow of a Vampire" is perhaps the most preposterous retelling of a classic achievement in cinema to date -- a badge of honor for a film this compelling, clever and quite funny.

"Near Dark" (1987), directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Near Dark

Many years before her historic Oscar win for "The Hurt Locker," Kathryn Bigelow crafted the vampire Western flick, "Near Dark" (1987) as director and co-writer. A cult classic, "Near Dark" stars Adrian Pasdar as Caleb Colton, a small towner who meets a vampire Mae (Jenny Wright) who both seduces him and brings him into the world of the blood thirsty and violent. Caleb joins a gang of roaming vampires and doesn't fit in at first, due to his hesitance at killing in order to feed. He also ends up getting about a week from the leader of the vampire crew, Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) to prove that he has what it takes to become a true vampire "family" member. What makes this film distinct is the fact that it veered away from the typical Romantic-Gothic complex of vampire canon, unafraid to take the dive into a more gritty portrayal where the vampires were unafraid to be downright bad rather than seductive, and very much susceptible to gun slinging and shooting. Even more unusual, a cure to vampirism was presented in the film, adding to its unique spin on the marriage between ‘80s horror, the vampire genre and the wild, wild West.

"The Hunger" (1983), directed by Tony Scott

"The Hunger"
"The Hunger"

Any vampire movie that pairs up Susan Sarandon with French icon Catherine Deneuve and Ziggy Stardust himself, David Bowie, is bound to get a mention. Tony Scott's 80s thriller also happens to be a really good (and bloody) film. In it, Bowie and Deneuve play two extremely wealthy lovers, who, unbeknownst to the masses, are actually ancient vampires. Their relationship is put to the test when Deneueve's elegant vampire lady begins to get the hots for new researcher friend (Susan Sarandon). Incredibly stylish and overflowing with sexual energy (that culminates in a scorching sex scene between Deneuve and Sarandon), "The Hunger" is all mood and no plot. Let it wash over you and you're in for quite the torrid ride.

"The Addiction" (1985), directed by Abel Ferrara

"The Addiction"
"The Addiction"
Abel Ferrara's bleak tale of an NYU philosophy doctorate whose existential despair is intensified when she's turned into an East Village bloodsucker is a keen metaphor for drug addiction, but casts a much broader net by also taking potshots at religion and warring intellectual convictions. Lili Taylor stars as a fragile academic who gradually learns to accept her newfound powers, and Christopher Walken delivers a typically wily performance as an older vampire who has learned to control his urges. Above all else, "The Addiction" marvelously encapsulates the daily frustrations of urban life — and the euphoria involved in fighting through another day.


"Nosferatu" (1922), directed by F.W. Murnau


"Nosferatu" is not just the best "Dracula" adaptation of all time -- it's the landmark vampire film that came at the incipience of horror cinema. F.W. Murnau's 1922 masterpiece is a haunting expressionist journey into vampiredom that employs horror techniques still being used today, such as committed POV shots, mounting suspense and tension, and the idea that what's left to the imagination can often be more terrifying than what's shown onscreen. Max Schrek's performance as the gothic vampire Err Orlock is heralded as one of the Silent Era's best.

"Summer of Blood" (2014), directed by Onur Tukel

Summer Of Blood
"Summer of Blood."

Brooklyn based writer, director and actor Onur Tukel stars in "Summer of Blood," a dark comedy where Tukel is Erik, a bonafide New Yorker and awkward loser-narcissist with commitment issues (he turns down his girlfriend's marriage proposal) and related girl troubles. After the break, Erik goes on a series of online dates which do nothing to lift his spirits, let alone self-confidence. Everything for him changes one night when he runs into a vampire who bites him and transforms him into one of the undead. Cue Erik wandering the streets in New York covered in blood and craving blood, in addition to sex. His life seems to take a turn toward the better, as his social engagements blossom and threesomes are no longer a dream, but a reality. This film is another sort of outlier so distant from the "Twilight" craze which tapped into the sexy and brooding sensibilities of the male vampire. Erik doesn't have a six pack and is old with salt-pepper hair and glasses which makes it laughable that he actually becomes a devastating lady killer with literal blood lust on the brain. Further irony lies in the instances where Erik's able to nab the women who previously rejected him once undead. What makes "Summer of Blood" distinct is the self-disparaging and humor that manages to make some insightful commentary on the nature of human relationships—from a screwball, inhumane perspective.

"Rabid" (1977), directed by David Cronenberg


If you're sick of the"sexy vampire" archetype that's been so dominant in pop culture, David Cronenberg's "Rabid" is the perfect antidote; its "vampires" are far from sparkling. Often referred to as a zombie film, "Rabid" is a classic example of Cronenberg's masterful play with horror clichés. The film is the story of a woman who develops an orifice in her armpit that spreads a virulent strain of rabies around Montréal, turning people into drooling bloodsuckers. Crazy Cronenberg-ian gore aside, the coolest part of the film is the stunt casting. While Cronenberg had initially wanted Sissy Spacek for the lead role, he eventually cast '70s porn veteran Marilyn Chambers. John Waters wishes he'd thought of that first.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992), directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

Let's face it, this 1992 film starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry is nowhere near as good as the Sarah Michelle Gellar Series, but comparing a two-hour comedy film to a nuanced (and well-acted) seven-season television drama isn't that fair. What is fair, however is to give credit to the film for creating one of the most badass female characters in entertainment. Swanson's Buffy might not have had Gellar's comedic chops, but she could certainly, well…chop the heads off of some vampires and demons. And while everyone loved Anthony Stewart Head as Buffy's watcher Giles, Donald Sutherland's Merrick was the epitome of classy cool.

"Habit" (1995), directed by Larry Fessenden


Larry Fessenden's seminal New York indie about a lonely bachelor who falls for a cryptic woman at a cramped East Village party works on a number of levels: In some ways, it's less about the alleged vampire than the paranoia she invokes in her victim, who grows increasingly freaked out about his surroundings as he falls ill. Fessenden's eerie tale is a marvelous look at the claustrophobic dimensions of New York youth culture.

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