The Most Underrated Vampire Movies Ever Made

By Zack Zagranis | Published

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Vampires are some of the oldest monsters ever to grace the silver screen. So vampire movies have seemingly been around forever. Starting in the silent era, the undead bloodsuckers have been giving us nightmares for over 100 years. Of course, with a whole centuries worth of films, some of them are bound to, if you’ll pardon the expression, suck, and many of them do.

There are quite a few gems, too. For every classic like The Lost Boys, there’s an equally good or better vampire movie that nobody talks about. This list will help to shed some light (but not sunlight) on some of the lesser-known, underrated vampire movies. Here are some cult classics that you can really sink your fangs-er-teeth into.

Love at First Bite
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Vampire comedies can be tricky. Go too goofy, and you end up with something abysmal like 1995’s Mel Brooks spoof Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Not goofy enough, and you end up with something weird like Eddie Murphy’s Vampire in Brooklyn from the same year. Luckily, 1979’s Love at First Bite gets it just right.

It’s a typical vamp out of Romania premise where Dracula (George Hamilton) finds himself evicted from his castle in Transylvania and is forced to take refuge in modern-day New York City, where he falls for the reincarnation of a long-lost love.

Some of the jokes might seem cheesy by today’s standards, but by and large, Love at First Bite remains one of the best comedic vampire movies to ever come out of Hollywood’s love affair with the charismatic revenants.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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Before Sarah Michelle Gellar played the ditzy but dangerous Buffy Summers for seven seasons on television, blonde beauty Kirsty Swanson originated the role in the 1992 film of the same name.

More of a comedy than the series ever was, Buffy is a satire of early ’90s vapid, valley girl cheerleaders and what would happen if one of them suddenly had to go out and kill a butt-ton of vampires.

While it will never achieve the popularity of some better-known vampire movies or its beloved spin-off, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still worth a watch if only for the excellent performances from Hollywood legends Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, and the recently passed Paul Rubens.

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In 1977, horror maestro George Romero traded in the flesh-eating zombies he was most associated with for a different kind of undead creature.

Martin is unlike any of the other vampire movies on this list, as it might not actually be about a vampire—at least not in the traditional sense. Martin is a psychological thriller about a young man who may or may not be afflicted with vampirism.

For most viewers, the fun of watching Martin comes from trying to decide if he’s really afflicted by vampirism or if, instead, his craving for blood stems from homicidal delusions brought about by some kind of mental illness.

The movie is interesting for how different it is from the rest of Romero’s filmography—to say nothing of vampire movies in general.

Stake Land

Stake Land is what happens if you take vampires and treat them like zombies. Set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by vampires, Stake Land is a brutal, visceral thriller that doesn’t skimp on the blood and guts.

A young boy is led by his mentor through a North America decimated by a vampire plague. On their way to Canada’s “New Eden,” the pair have to deal with hordes upon hordes of bloodsuckers.

Released in 2011, Stake Land is unique as far as vampire movies go for being one of the only films to treat vampires like a roving group of rabid fiends rather than the mostly solo killers they are in other media.

From Dusk Till Dawn
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From the twisted minds of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez comes a bloody hybrid that’s half crime movie and half vampire gore-fest. If you’ve ever wondered how Tarantino’s particular brand of dialogue would pair with the most grotesque vampires imaginable, then this is the movie for you.

One of George Clooney’s early film roles, 1995’s From Dusk Till Dawn, follows two criminal brothers as they hold a family hostage and use their RV to sneak across the US border into Mexico.

Once across the border, A stop-off at a Mexican dive bar for celebratory drinks turns into a feast of practical horror FX that rival The Thing in their brutal savagery. This is not a movie for the squeamish.

Monster Squad

While it’s not a vampire movie in the strictest sense, 1987’s Monster Squad features Count Dracula in a large role, so we’ll allow it. When Dracula gets the gang back together—the film also features The Wolfman, The Mummy, Gillman, and Frankenstein—in modern-day suburbia, it’s up to a group of tweens to stop him.

Calling themselves The Monster Squad, the group of horror movie-obsessed kids use every bit of useless knowledge gleaned from years of comic books and movies to defeat Dracula and the other monsters from using a magical amulet to plunge the world into 100 years of darkness.

Monster Squad might not be the best vampire movie on this list, but it is the only one that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Wolfman definitely has nards.

Near Dark

Ask a film nerd about vampire movies, and they will inevitably mention how, of the two vampire movies released in 1987, Kathryne Bigelow’s Near Dark is the superior film.

And while it’s hard to consider the other movie, The Lost Boys, anything other than a stone-cold classic, there is some merit to the argument that it unfairly overshadows its lesser-known sibling.

Acting as a kind of pseudo-western, Near Dark follows a young man named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) as he falls in with a group of vampire nomads traveling through the desert led by Lance Henriksen’s Jesse.

While the film might not be as flashy and fun as Lost Boys, its gritty depiction of wandering vampires who travel in an RV wreaking havoc wherever they go deserves to be held in the same regard.

Fright Night

The third and last vampire movie on the list from the ’80s (arguably the best decade for vampire movies) Fright Night has everything anyone could ever want from a vampire movie and then some.

Fright Night has scenes that are laugh-out-loud hilarious, as well as scenes of genuine terror that will make you jump in your seat. The movie is—much like From Dusk Till Dawn—a buffet of practical horror FX from some truly inspired creature designs to shots of belly-churning gore.

Mild-mannered Charley thinks his new next-door neighbor is a vampire and goes out of his way to prove it. Once exposed, Jerry Dandrige proves to be a bigger threat than Charley could have ever anticipated, leading him to beg actor Peter Vincent, famous for playing a vampire hunter on a local TV show called Fright Night, to help him stop the blood-sucking fiend.

A cult hit, Fright Night deserves more mainstream recognition as one of the best vampire movies of not just the ’80s but all time.