The 100 Best Vampire Movies of All Time

Movies Lists horror movies
Share Tweet Submit Pin

25. Black Sabbath (1963)
Director: Mario Bava

25-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Black Sabbath.jpg

There was once a time before “Black Sabbath” merely conjured up images of Ozzy Osbourne caterwauling about an “iron man,” “war pigs” or being paranoid over the sounds of Tony Iommi shredding. Indeed, the band in question famously took their name from this celebrated anthology film, which spins three tales of Mario Bava-directed horror. The middle chapter, “The Wurdulak” stars horror icon Boris Karloff as a man who sets out to slay an undead creature (the titular “wurdalak”). To say anymore would be to spoil this fascinating and subversive take on the vampire story. An absolute essential totem of the horror genre. —Mark Rozeman


24. Blade (1998)
Director: Stephen Norrington

24-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Blade.jpg

History seems to have forgotten that the modern gold rush of “serious” Marvel comic book movies didn’t begin with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002, or even Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000. In 1998, screenwriter David Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy) and director Stephen Norrington (uhh… The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), brought a Marvel property to the big screen, and took full advantage of a hard-R-rating. Likely because of not being one of the comic giant’s better-known characters, the filmmakers were able to make significant changes to the Daywalker, upping his coolness level since his debut in 1973’s Tomb of Dracula by about, say, a thousand-jillion percent—starting with casting Wesley Snipes, who absolutely crackles with badass-ness. This version of the half-vampire is the ultimate predator or predators who, along with his guru/weaponsmith Whistler (the awesomely grizzled Kris Kristofferson), slices and stakes his way through the secret vampire society. The history of this world’s vampires and their various castes is well-explored—and strangely believable. While they do clandestinely rule from the shadows, they unfortunately are (un)dead meat to our titular dhampir, and look nowhere as stylish wearing shades. —Scott Wold


23. The Hunger (1983)
Director: Tony Scott

23-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Hunger.jpg

As famed for its Sapphic sensuality as for its all-star cast, Tony Scott’s hyper erotic thriller—his first theatrical feature—is more stylish than it is scary. But oh, what style. Catherine Deneuve works her icy elegance to great effect as the eons-old temptress who’s tiring of her latest lover/meal, David Bowie, who in turn approaches Susan Sarandon’s doctor about a cure for his rapid bout of Dorian Gray-type aging. Doc meets bloodsucker, and for viewers as patient as they are prurient, that closed-set scene ensues. Adapted from Whitley Strieber’s novel, The Hunger is violent and glamorous, filmed with a deathly art-house seriousness and a glacial sense of pacing. Scott’s luxurious visuals and Howard Blake’s musical direction—steeped in classical strains that paint the A-list sex and death that much more highfalutin’—make for a decidedly chic if softcore take on the vampire story. It’s no wonder Scott (three years before he’d hit it big with Top Gun) was then best known for TV commercials—Is The Hunger a movie or an Obsession by Calvin Klein ad? No matter: The film enjoys a cult following to this day, aided by the on-the-nose inclusion of the Bauhaus song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”—Amanda Schurr


22. Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Director: E. Elias Merhige

22-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Shadow of a Vampire.jpg

We now reach a special occasion in our vampire list. As it currently stands (and please someone correct me if I’m mistaken), Willem Dafoe remains the only actor to be awarded an Oscar nomination for playing a literal vampire. And boy, does he earn it. A love letter to fans of both horror and film history, Shadow of the Vampire recounts the shooting of F.W. Murnau’s vampire classic, Nosferatu, with an added revisionist twist—the actor who portrayed Count Orlok was an actual vampire that Murnau hired for authenticity. As the unhinged director, John Malkovich is perfectly cast, particularly in the moments where he goes off on infuriated tangents about Max’s behavior (when the vampire takes a bite of the production’s cinematographer, Murnau berates him for not eating someone more disposable like “the script girl”). The film, however, belongs to Dafoe. His “Max Schreck” is at once frightening but also wryly funny. What’s more impressive are the moments where the film incorporates scenes from the actual Nosferatu, making it hard to distinguish Dafoe’s embodiment from the real thing. —Mark Rozeman


21. Thirst (2009)
Director: Park Chan-Wook

21-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Thirst (2009).jpg

Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) is a devoted priest who’s punished for his devotion. In volunteering to aid with relief efforts for a deadly viral outbreak, Sang-hyun is infected, isolated and then, in a fleeting effort to save his quickly waning life, is given a blood transfusion—after which he comes back to life, mumbling the same prayer that was on his lips right before he passed away. The blood was of course vampiric, an extra step of unluckiness added to the priest’s devolution from devout to doomed, but as blessed as it may seem for him to be alive at all, even the most deep-seated vows of his pure spirit can’t stand strong against the urges of the “growling beast” rearing inside of him. Eventually, Sang-hyun falls for an abused young woman, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin), and together they explore what being a vampire really entails, which mostly means clinging to the fringes of civilization, trying not to kill people and having a bunch of messy sex. Bleak but thoughtful, grotesque but hopeful, Park Chan-Wook’s sleekly sad horror fable eventually reveals itself to be a romantic thriller with a love triangle at its core: between a vampire, a woman and their God. —Dom Sinacola


20. Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979)
Director:   Werner Herzog  

20-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Nosferatu, the Vampyre.jpg

Werner Herzog  recreates the cornerstone of vampire cinema (and German expressionist filmmaking, for that matter) through an ever-mounting nightmare of unsettling, disjointed vignettes. Which isn’t anything new for the German director, but his methods and sensibility do lend themselves naturally to the language of phantasmagoria, as he tells a well-known story via one subconscious-upending image after another. As in any Herzog film, the story is never intended to hold together flawlessly—only barely logically—but to imprint indelibly upon the insides of the viewers’ eyelids the stark silhouette of evil borne absurdly from the primeval fear in all of us. That Klaus Kinski also plays Count Dracula means that madness bristles at the edge of every manicured line of chiaroscuro: Nosferatu revels in the beauty of horror. In fact, Roger Ebert said, “Here is a film that does honor to the seriousness of vampires. No, I don’t believe in them. But if they were real, here is how they must look.” —Dom Sinacola


19. Ganja & Hess (1973)
Director: Bill Gunn

19-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Ganja and Hess.jpg

Although Blacula may serve as the definitive “black vampire” movie in the minds of many cinephiles, the experimental Ganja & Hess offers a more cerebral dive into the implications of the vampire story as it pertains to the African-American community in the 1970s. Brought to life by playwright/novelist/experimental filmmaker Bill Gun, the film centers on an aristocratic black anthropologist named Hess Green. After a fight with his assistant, Hess is stabbed by a mythical dagger and transformed into a vampire. Upon meeting his late assistant’s beautiful wife (the titular Ganja), Hess falls in love and the two begin a warped courtship. Through this deranged love story, Gunn fashions a tale ripe with parallels to black assimilation and religious hypocrisy. In a way, the film almost works more as a visual political treatise than a narrative film. Though occasional a bit overbearing in its exploration of ideas, the film remains a fascinating artistic document of its time period. And, as Spike Lee’s 2014 remake demonstrated, there are issues brought up in this movie that are still worth exploring to this very day. —Mark Rozeman


18. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)
Director: Jaromil Jires

18-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Week of Wonders.jpg

Over the course of seven days, a young girl on the precipice of womanhood is hounded by a vampire, menaced by a pervy priest, and romanced by a handsome young chap who may or may not be her sibling. That’s quite a packed slated for a 76-minute film. But the full breadth of lovely weirdness in Jaromil Jireš’ Valerie and Her Week of Wonders can’t be easily captured through any number of words. Put simply, it’s a treasure trove of delights for any lover of the surreal, and a must for fairy tale connoisseurs. (Most of all, it’s gorgeous from start to finish.) Sexual politics make up the center of this lyrical little pohádka; Valerie is both preyed on and protected by her femininity. There’s a mother lode of symbolism that can be mined out of Jireš’ work here, but the film baffles on first viewing and demands one’s utmost attention. Luckily, it has great rewatch value. —Andy Crump


17. Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968)
Director: Hajime Sato

17-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Goke.jpg

A film that must be seen to be believed, Goke holds nothing back—it boasts a use of color that is surreal in its intensity, explores blatantly heavy-handed anti-war sentiment and appears to pattern the movement of those possessed by the central monster after some frenzied kabuki routine. Most importantly—the film is a blast to watch. The set-up is simple: a plane crashes in a remote area, leaving the survivors to deal with a parasitic blob creature that transforms its victims into blood-craving vampires. While stymied by seriously dated special effects and no shortage of cheesy performances, Goke is all about execution. It’s a brash, yet ambitious bit of filmmaking that brings to mind the likes of Carnival of Souls and Toho’s House. For those who prefer their horror with an off-kilter twist, Goke is a classic just waiting to be rediscovered. —Mark Rozeman


16. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Director: Jim Jarmusch

16-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Only Lovers Left Alive.jpg

An hour into Only Lovers Left Alive, and vampire—though that word is never once uttered—Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is taking his wife, also-vampire Eve (Tilda Swinton), on a crepuscular tour of Detroit, showing her the hollowed-out Packard Plant, the once-achingly-opulent mansions now literally collapsing on themselves, the home where Jack White grew up. “Oh, I love Jack White!”, Eve responds, not a hint of hesitation or pretension in her voice. The house, a Victorian brownstone of which Detroit once boasted so many, sits alone, neck-high weeds taking up residence where finely mown lawns used to be. The city in which these two undead monsters thrill in the history of a humanity which shuns them is itself a vampiric wasteland, a vast twilight of ambition and privilege and promise reduced to the stifling of animalistic urges—still beautiful, but struggling to be more than just an echo of something once so much more vital. That Jarmusch chose to have his lovely creatures inhabit the shadows of Detroit’s endless night is a stroke of genius: It’s inhabited best by those most disengaged from it—by those impervious to the deep corporeal pain it causes. —Dom Sinacola


15. Near Dark (1987)
Director:   Kathryn Bigelow  

15-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Near Dark.jpg

Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark was one of her first films with a decent budget, and she invested those funds wisely into making a stylish, moody, pulpy vampire Western with an excellent supporting cast, from the iconic Bill Paxton (whose demise is beautiful) to horror staple Lance Henriksen in one of his higher-profile appearances outside Aliens. It’s a film that really drives home the light vs. shadow, day vs. night aspect of the vampire psyche and physiology—so much of the movie involves the biker gang-like vampires laying low, hiding from both sunlight and the human police that their existence is hardly “romanticized” at all. In fact, these vampires project more of a tragic streak—outlaws who have convinced themselves that they’re living a life of freedom and immortality when their existence is actually fragile and just a blast of UV light away from being cut short. It’s like one of the many ’70s-era Hells Angels biker films—a Wild Rebels where the vampires are those doomed outsiders who live fast and die (relatively) young. —Jim Vorel


14. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002)
Director: Guy Maddin

14-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary.jpg

Continuing his obsession with expertly recreating older film aesthetics, Canadian auteur Guy Maddin chose to adapt the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s performance of Bram Stoker’s Dracula by shooting the production in the mode of a silent film, complete with title cards, tinted screen and Vaseline-infused blurriness. What’s more, Maddin juxtaposes this archaic format with a more modern sensibility, filming the dance sequences primarily in close ups with added jump cuts. Moreover, in the role of Dracula, the production cast an Asian man, emphasizing the story’s potential xenophobic themes. All these strange artistic choices somehow add up to a enthralling whole, making Pages from a Virgin’s Diary one of the most audacious and powerful adaptations of Stoker’s work to ever be put to film. —Mark Rozeman


13. Martin (1977)
Director: George Romero

13-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Martin.jpg

After bringing zombies to the cultural forefront with Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero turned his brand of horror-commentary to the vampire. In doing so, the director crafted a film that was less direct horror and more of a warped character drama. The central figure/enigma of Martin is the titular character, a pasty young man who is convinced—despite his lack of fangs or any discernible symptoms—that he is a vampire with a need to feed. Is Martin a legitimate bloodsucker or merely a delusional psychopath with a bloodlust? It’s a question that propels the narrative, but, on the whole, the answer doesn’t especially matter. In many ways, Martin’s actions, particularly his violence against women, serves as Romero reflecting on man’s own destructive primal urges and the brutality that occurs when they are left unchecked. Whereas most horror movies clearly delineate between the righteous heroes and the monsters that must be vanquished, Martin posits much deeper questions, pushing viewers to contemplate the darkness that lies within us all. —Mark Rozeman


12. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
Director: John Hancock

12-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.jpg

Don’t let the somewhat flippant title ward you off—Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, with its isolated setting and emphasis on paranoia and psychological horror, plays like some sort of lost Polanski film. There’s no major blood or gore; rather, it’s all about atmosphere and creating an eerie sense of unease. The titular Jessica is a young woman newly released from a psychiatric facility who, along with her husband and a friend, relocates to a remote farm. Once there, she hears the tale of a woman who drowned in the nearby lake and now haunts the area as a vampire. Soon Jessica begins to wonder whether the vampire is after her or if she’s simply falling back into her mental delusions. Jessica is the type of horror film that gets under your skin and won’t leave for days after. To put quite frankly, it’s a forgotten classic waiting to be retrieved from obscurity. —Mark Rozeman


11. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Director: Taika Waititi

11-Top-100-Vampire-Films-WhatWeDoIntheShadows.jpg

Just when you thought the proliferation of a certain breed of network sitcoms had all but killed the “mockumentary” format, along comes a film like Taika Waititi’s gut-busting What We Do in the Shadows to prove that the subgenre can still be done with dexterous skill and great panache. Centering on a quartet of vampire flatmates (among them, Jemaine Clement, in one of his funniest roles) who range in age from a spry 183-year-old to a degenerated Nosferatu-esque figure clocking in at eight millenniums, the film documents the group’s attempt at adjusting to modern life, whether it’s wrapping their head around the latest technology, learning how to dress like they belong in this century or navigating millennial club life. Not since the heyday of Christopher Guest has a mockumentary so thoroughly made good on its comedic premise. —Mark Rozeman


10. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

10-Top-100-Vampire-Films-A Girl Walks.jpg

Most vampire movies aspire simply to entertain. Once in a while, a director uses the medium to make a statement about society, sexuality, materialism, etc.—all to varying degrees of success. In some rare, special cases, however, a movie comes along that transcends the genre and become something approaching legitimate, potent art. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night sufficiently fits into that latter characterization. It’s a dazzling and supremely confident debut from director Ana Lily Amirpour, marking her as a potential successor to the likes of art-horror craftsman like Polanski and Cronenberg. Set in an Iranian ghost town, the story follows several disenfranchised residents as they encounter a mysterious, chador-clothed woman who turns out to have a mighty big pair of fangs. Photographed in sumptuous black-and-white with a thrilling electro-pop score, the film firmly establishes itself as a new gold standard for arthouse horror features. —Mark Rozeman


9. Blade II (2002)
Director:   Guillermo del Toro  

9-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Blade II.jpg

Leave it to gothic horror maestro extraordinaire Guillermo del Toro to take our unstoppable vampire hunter and crank the style past 11, and playing up the comic book craziness to the tilt. Arguably even more enjoyable than its predecessor, Blade II sees a fragile alliance between Blade and the Bloodpack—basically, the Dirty Dozen of vampires, as they face off against Reapers—super-vampires who enjoy them some tasty vampire blood. Great new characters in the ’pack, and since this is a del Toro joint, there’s 100% more Ron Perlman. And that’s never not an improvement. —Scott Wold


8. Horror of Dracula (1958)
Director: Terence Fisher

8-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Dracula 1958.jpg

Horror of Dracula is either the second or third most iconic “classic vampire” film ever made, trailing only the 1931 Bela Lugosi Dracula and possibly the original Nosferatu. But really, if you were going to put together the ultimate, time-spanning Dracula film, you’d choose this version of the vampire, as played by the regal, intimidating Christopher Lee at the height of his powers. Horror of Dracula is simply a gorgeous movie, with lush, gothic settings—crypts, foggy graveyards and stately manors—photographed with the Golden Age charm of Technicolor. It has the best version of Van Helsing ever put to film (the aquiline, gaunt-looking Peter Cushing), some of the best sets and an omnipresent feeling of refinement and grandeur. Dracula, as played by Lee, is a creature of dualities—preferring to use very few words and simply influence through his magnetic presence, but also just moments away from leaping into action with ferocious animality. Along with Curse of Frankenstein, it’s the film most responsible for the late ’50s to early ’70s revival of classic gothic horror via Hammer Film Productions in the UK, which would produce dozens of takes on Frankenstein, The Mummy, and no fewer than eight Dracula sequels, which we’ve covered in-depth on this list. The first, however, is unquestionably the best—so effective that it typecast Christopher Lee as a horror icon for decades, exactly as Dracula did to Bela Lugosi. —Jim Vorel


7. Vampyr (1932)
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

7-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Vampyr .jpg

While wandering the countryside, a naïve young man with a propensity for the occult stumbles upon a castle where he learns that the owner’s teenage daughter is slowly descending into vampirism. Upon seeing the village doctor trying to poison the girl, the boy intervenes and complications, naturally, ensue. Notable as being one of the few early vampire movies not even passingly based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Vampyr nonetheless brought very little joy to its creator, legendary Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer (he of The Passion of Joan of Arc). Forced to shoot the production in three different languages (French, German and English), Dreyer’s first sound film experience was a proverbial trial by fire. To add salt to the infuriating production, the film was released only after some fairly heavy censoring. The reception was no less brutal, with critics delivering scathing reviews. As the years have passed by and an appreciation for Dreyer has grown, however, so has an appreciation for the film, with many modern critics citing its subversive take on sexuality to be years ahead of its time. Shot with the delicacy and elegance of a dream, Dreyer quickly plunges the viewer into an expressionistic hellscape of shadows and dread. Though it may be a bit slow for some audiences, even with a sparse 73-minute runtime, Vampyr is a intense mood piece that picked up where Nosferatu left off. —Mark Rozeman


6. Black Sunday (1960)
Director: Mario Bava

6-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Black Sunday.jpg

After years spent toiling as a cinematographer and (at times uncredited) co-director on an assortment of moderate to low-budget horror and sword-and-sandals productions, Mario Bava broke out in a big way with Black Sunday. Loosely (and I mean loosely) based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, the film centers on the resurrection of a 17th century vampire-witch and her paramour as they seek revenge on the descendants of the brother who executed her. Designed as a throwback to the Universal monster movies of the 1930s, Black Sunday drew significant controversy for several gruesome sequences (including, but not limited to, the implementation of a spiked death mask and a moment where a cross is stabbed through an eye). Naturally, this kind of notoriety only intensified the film’s popularity. Though time has since lessened the impact of the gorier scenes, the movie still packs a huge punch with its nightmarish atmosphere, which is further accentuated by its vivid black-and-white photography and striking production design. An influence on filmmakers from Tim Burton to Francis Ford Coppola, Black Sunday remains a towering beast in the history of the horror genre. —Mark Rozeman


5. Dracula (Spanish version) (1931)
Director: George Melford

5-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Dracula Spanish .jpg

It’s crazy to imagine a film being shot multiple times, with different casts and in different languages today, but this was once common practice and thus was born the Spanish version of Universal’s classic Dracula. It features an entirely different cast—no Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Dwight Frye as Renfield-but filmed on the exact same sets, with the same script. The Spanish crew was literally filming at night, after the English language crew had gone home for the day. It’s remembered today because of the visual transformation it undergoes—director George Melford ultimately proved much more active and experimental than Tod Browning, the director of the English language version, which imbues the Spanish Dracula with significantly more interesting and challenging cinematography. Many shots that are simply static in the Browning Dracula (which is a bit of a stuffy movie, although extremely important historically) are given a new lease on life in the Spanish version. The performances are also solid, although unsurprisingly they’re nowhere near as iconic as Lugosi. Watching the Spanish version, you can’t help but wish for a third version of the 1931 Dracula—starring Lugosi and Frye, but directed by Melford. With that combination, perhaps it would be Dracula and not Frankenstein hailed as the crown jewel of the original Universal monster series.—Jim Vorel


4. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Director: Charles Barton

4-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.jpg

By the end of the ’40s, the classic Universal monster movie series was on its last legs. In the wake of WWII, the old monsters simply couldn’t hold up, so the studio instead turned to comedy with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein while simultaneously including their most iconic monster creations. The movie is significant for being the one and only time that Bela Lugosi ever returned to play the Dracula role in a second film after the 1931 Dracula, although he played a different vampire on several other occasions. He brings his magnetic presence back to the role while also introducing more comedy, and there’s even a great little sequence where we actually see him transform into a bat via animation. The movie is great fun, with reverence both for the classic monsters and the blockbusters they starred in while also injecting levity and classic Abbott and Costello wordplay/physical comedy. It’s a must-see for fans of classic cinema and is also a great Halloween movie for kids, presuming they can be convinced to watch something in black and white. But as a vampire film, how can you say no to Lugosi playing Count Dracula one more time? —Jim Vorel


3. Dracula (1931)
Director: Tod Browning

3-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Dracula1931.jpg

At this point, director Tod Browning’s Dracula has become such an indelible cornerstone of pop culture that it’s nearly impossible to view the film separate from its iconic standing. Yes, the film is a classic for a reason, but how does it really stand up? Let’s start with the obvious—Bela Lugosi is phenomenal in the title role, oozing charisma with an ever-present undercurrent of menace. As a studio, it’s Universal’s greatest shame that, despite perfecting his Dracula on stage throughout the late 1920s, Lugosi only secured the role after some heavy lobbying and the departure of several potential actors. In fact, the lone downside to Lugosi’s towering presence is that, when he’s not onscreen, the movie becomes significantly less interesting. That’s not the fault of the cast, who all turn in decent performances, but it’s like a talented college b-ball player playing one-on-one with Michael Jordan at his prime—even the best are bound to look amateurish by comparison. Besides Lugosi, the other MVP of the film is cinematographer Karl Freund, who complements Lugosi’s presence with a shadowy, Gothic look that would go on to haunt moviegoers dreams for decades afterward. And while the much celebrated Spanish version of Dracula unquestionably made bolder creative decisions, it’s Lugosi’s performance that elevates this production from an effective adaptation to a cultural landmark. —Mark Rozeman


2. Let the Right One In (2008)
Director: Tomas Alfredson

2-Top-100-Vampire-Films-LetTheRightOneIn.jpg

Some vampire films are scary. Some are gory. Some are visually striking. Some are cerebral. Some are emotionally resonant. A select few embody two or three of these qualities. Let the Right One In is the full package. As unnerving as it is heartfelt, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s adaptation of his own vampire-centric coming-of-age tale feels as though it should be rife with contradictions and tonal shifts. Instead, it’s a film that expertly captures both the isolation of childhood and the blush of first love. Tracking the relationship between a lonely young boy and the mysterious young vampire girl he meets and becomes infatuated with, the film takes what, in lesser hands, could easily have just been a perverse subversion of puppy love and explodes it into something as emotionally honest and universal as any movie that graces the Oscar stage. Though director/co-editor Tomas Alfredson emphasizes the bleak, cold hues of the Stockholm suburbs, he tempers this dour melancholy by directing some of the warmest, most true-to-life interactions between children ever to be captured on screen. And if all this ranting makes the story seem like little more than an arty drama, rest assured that Alfredson still takes time to include all manner of gore and badass vampire action. In particular, a climactic sequence in which a character spends most of their time underwater, currently stands as one of the most instantly iconic moments in recent film history. Most vampire flicks are happy to transcend their horror trapping and become something that traditional audiences can appreciate as a satisfying thrill ride. Let the Right One In transcends such expectations. Yes, it’s an unquestionably a great horror film, but, much more than that, it’s a flat-out cinematic masterpiece. —Mark Rozeman


1. Nosferatu (1922)
Director: F.W. Murnau

1-Top-100-Vampire-Films-Nosferatu.jpg

What can you say about a film that not only serves as an essential architect of a young medium’s development but also remains terrifying more than 90 years after the fact? Indeed, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu didn’t just help birth the cinematic horror movie, it revolutionized the ways one could tell a story through film. And to think this version only exists because Bram Stoker’s widow refused to grant permission for the studio’s planned adaptation of Dracula, thus forcing Murnau to reconceive Dracula as the more monstrous Count Orlok. Delivering one of the most memorable turns in cinema history, actor Max Schreck, with his grotesque makeup job and reptilian body movements, thoroughly embodies one of the most nightmarish images ever to grace the screen. There’s nothing romantic, sensual or charming about his Orlok; rather, the character connotes simple, unadulterated horror. Moreover, when film was still considered little more than a gimmick, it was productions like Nosferatu that would help elevate the rough new medium to the status of a genuine art form. So long as people continue to document history, the image of Schreck’s Orlok rising from his coffin will undoubtedly be among the first definitive images in the story of film. Watching Murnau’s masterpiece today, one can still be frightened by its set pieces, awed by its technical wizardry and become emotionally invested in a cast of long-deceased actors flailing about in fright. Nosferatu, in many ways, represents the beauty of cinema in its purest form. —Mark Rozeman

Also in Movies