I’ve seen a few vampire movie lists pop up recently, and have found that I disagree more often than not. While my tastes usually veer more to the classics than modern, the dearth of modern vampire movies (let alone ones that are good), does nothing to dissuade me from doing so.
Therefore, I present my top 5 vampire films, with a few honorable mentions added for variety.
- Dracula (1931)- I never grow tired of watching this film. Love Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Dwight Frye as Renfield, Helen Chandler as Mina and Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing. Tod Browning sometimes gets a bad rap for creating a stagy atmosphere, (specially when compared to the Spanish counterpart for their version shot on the same set) but there are a ton of memorable shots and scenes he helped to create. I also like the newer score Philip Glass created for the film on the DVD I have. If you have not seen this film, this Halloween is the perfect time to remedy that.
- Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966)- I could just as easily choose The Horror of Dracula or Dracula Has Risen From the Grave. The Dracula films from Hammer Studios are all superb. Christopher Lee is a highly menacing and almost animalistic Dracula, yet his noble, refined bearing can be glimpsed often in the way that he presents himself. I love the way that Dracula returns in this one. It involves a lot of bright red blood, of course. You can’t go wrong with any of the Hammer Dracula films, but this is my top choice today.
- What We Do In the Shadows (2014)- True confession: I laughed so hard at parts of this film that I may have snorted loudly and rolled around unable to breathe. It was wonderful. You can tell that Tiaka Waititi and Jermaine Clement have a lot of love for vampires. You couldn’t make this as funny as it is without having that love in the first place. Shot in a documentary fashion that follows a group of vampires that happen to be flatmates, this is one of the best modern vampire films. Now, let us all have a moment of silence for poor Petyr.
- Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)- I know what you’re saying. This is a Frankenstein film and not a vampire one. Wrong. It is just as much a Dracula film as Frankenstein. Bela Lugosi plays the role of Dracula again, and is a delight as he tries to revive the Frankenstein monster and give him the brain of a simpleton, Lou Costello’s Wilbur, to more easily control him. The wolf-man is along for the ride as well, of course. The jokes are great, as usual for Abbott and Costello, though the monsters are all played straight as if unaware they are in a comedy. This is a mainstay at my household, with my now eleven year old daughter asking to watch it every October.
- Fright Night (1985)- The premise of this film is great. What if a vampire moved in next door to your house? What if no one believed you? What if a horror host was your only help in defeating this vampire? If only more movies featured horror hosts as character. Maybe there would be a glorious revival of horror hosts across the streaming channels of the land (this is happening a bit already if you know where to look,but that’s another blog post entirely). With Roddy McDowell as the horror host, Chris Sarandon as the vampire and William Ragsdale as the young horror fan next door to the vampire.
Honorable mention: The Brides of Dracula, Interview With the Vampire and Blacula.