18 Underrated Vampire Movies That You Should Really Sink Your Teeth Into

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Vote up the vampire movies that deserve another bite.

The roots of the vampire in popular culture can be traced back to 19th-century literature, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they found their way into cinema early on. Although there are many popular and well-remembered vampire films, there are also plenty of underrated vampire movies forgotten or dismissed unfairly in their initial release. Because the vampire is a monster that never truly disappears from the screen, only occasionally slumbering to rise up again in later decades, the plethora of options can prevent some from receiving the attention they deserve. The undying popularity of the subgenre even precedes the classification of the horror genre itself, with Tod Browning’s 1931 adaptation of Dracula marketed by Universal as a love story and released on Valentine’s Day. 

Some of these underrated cinematic vampire gems follow traditional storylines and creature characteristics, while others are a revision of the monster’s mythology, making it debatable whether they are actually vampire movies at all. Some also land distinctly and exclusively in the horror genre, and others creatively blend with genres like comedy or sci-fi to create a hybrid variation. While the elements of the films and the characteristics of the monster may vary, each of these vampire films are worth keeping alive for future audiences to discover.


  • 1
    414 VOTES
    Daybreakers
    Photo: Lionsgate

    Daybreakers is the sophomore feature from German-Australian filmmaking brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, following their take on the zombie subgenre with Undead. The sci-fi/horror hybrid takes place in a dystopian future society in which vampires now rule the world, with the dwindling human population farmed as the primary food source. Although the vampires remain civilized when able to feed on blood, they devolve into non-communicative bat-like monsters when deprived of sustenance.

    Vampire hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is developing a synthetic blood source for a pharmaceutical company when he's approached by a former vampire named Lionel "Elvis" Cormac (Willem Dafoe), who claims to have discovered a cure capable of making vampires human again. Daybreakers contains scenes of horrifyingly mutated vampire creatures, but it elevates the subgenre with deeper science fiction themes. Though it received mostly positive reviews, Daybreakers suffered from being lost amongst a number of other vampire films released after the success of Twilight.

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  • All seductive attributes are removed from the vampires in 30 Days of Night, who attack an Alaskan town as it enters a month-long polar night. They have no need to use sexuality to entice humans, instead relying on their superhuman strength and speed to hunt. They are portrayed as the ultimate predator, with shark-like rows of teeth.

    The film, based on the comic book miniseries of the same name, follows the efforts to survive and eliminate the invading threat, led by the town’s sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett). With the invasion occurring without warning and the vampire clan speaking in a foreign language, 30 Days of Night can also be read as an allegory for post-9/11 fears of foreign terrorist threats. Despite mediocre responses from critics, 30 Days of Night was popular enough to inspire a DTV sequel and two streaming miniseries. 

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  • 3
    334 VOTES

    Based on the Marvel Comics series, Blade II continues the story of human-vampire hybrid Eric Brooks (Wesley Snipes), a vampire hunter who goes by the name of Blade. In his continued efforts to protect humanity, Blade - “The Daywalker” - battles against a group of mutant vampires who are planning the global genocide of both vampires and the human races. Blade and his human allies are forced to join forces with an elite group of vampires in order to eliminate the threat.

    Blade II was directed by Guillermo del Toro and features inventive action choreographed by martial artist Donnie Yen, who also has a small role in the film as a mute vampire. Although some critics complained about the film’s mindless escapism, del Toro’s atmospheric direction elevates the simplistic story along with some impressive action sequences. The Blade series also holds the distinction of being the first major film franchise to combine the horror and superhero genres.

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  • 4
    202 VOTES

    Director Kathryn Bigelow revised the vampire narrative by combining it with the Western genre, setting it in the sunny plains of Oklahoma while also abandoning many of the icons associated with the creature, including crucifixes, holy water, garlic, and mirrors. The word “vampire” is never even spoken in the film’s dialogue, though there is no question about what the bloodsuckers with an aversion to sunlight truly are.

    The film follows a gang of modern-day outlaws who also happen to be creatures of the night feasting on humans as they commit their crimes. Near Dark reworks the captivity narratives found in Westerns, replacing the Native Americans with vampires who snatch up a young man named Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) from his family farm and turn him into one of them. The family of nomadic vamps is led by Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen), though Bill Paxton is just as memorable as his psychotic sidekick. When Colton discovers a way to cure himself of the disease, the vampires set their sights on his younger sister in retaliation.

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  • Adapted from the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley, John Carpenter's Vampires combines elements from the western genre with the horror subgenre, both in setting and plot. Taking place in the deserts of New Mexico, the film follows a team of Vatican-sponsored vampire slayers led by Jack Crowe (James Woods), who discovers a powerful vampire named Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) thought to be the first of the monsters. Valek is seeking a centuries-old cross capable of giving the creatures an immunity to sunlight, and Crowe vows to stop him in order to save humanity from the impending threat.

    Despite horror icon Carpenter attached as director and a clever revision of the vampire narrative, Vampires failed to impress critics and only made a profit because of success overseas.

  • Although the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was extremely popular and ran for seven seasons, even inspiring the spinoff show Angel, few remember that it was based on a horror parody written by the show’s creator, Joss Whedon. Revising the typical vampire hunter figure from a patriarchal figure into a feminist icon, the film follows valley girl cheerleader Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson) as she learns to become a slayer after discovering it is her fate. Buffy is informed that she is the Chosen One after being approached by a man named Merrick (Donald Sutherland) and the vampire threat emerges shortly after this revelation.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer plays up the comedic elements more than horror, and some of the changes to the original script resulted in Whedon distancing himself from the project. While fans of the series may prefer Whedon’s vision brought to life in the series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer works as a standalone parody of vampire movies.

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