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9 Vampire Films with Actual, Scary Vampires

Updated on December 27, 2016

Vampire Films

The concept of blood-sucking immortals stalking the night began long before they were written, and long before they were brought to the silver screen. The era of silent films introduced these supernatural denizens, bringing to life several notable literary "undeads".

Recently, there has been a raving fanaticism on vampire YA novels that spawned film counterparts. While there is nothing wrong with the notion of handsome and beautiful vampires that fight for humanity (we won't be forgetting Buffy's Spike and Angelus, after all), some viewers have missed the daunting thrill of films with vampires that will really make your blood curdle.

So, here are some films that feature vampires that stalk their prey in the setting sun or in the dead of night in a sleepy town, or around the world; as such, this list does not include films like Blade or Underworld, which cater to the more "cool" and action-packed vampire persona.

This list is for the vampires you don't want to meet.

Max Schreck as Count Orlock
Max Schreck as Count Orlock | Source


Nosferatu was produced by German filmmaker, Friedrich Murnau in 1992. It was a silent film and didn’t show them actually biting their victims. It’s original title actually translates to Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror. What makes Nosferatu a scary vampire film is that its vampire, Count Orlock, is so unlike the charming gentlemanly vampires portrayed in books.

Instead, he is creepy, slightly deformed, and heinous in his words and actions. This is definitely one vampire that will haunt your late nights long after the credits have rolled in. The term "nosferatu" evolved from a Greek word that means ‘plague carrier’.

There is a film titled Nosferatu: The Vampyre made in 1979, yet this no longer features Count Orlock, but the story of Dracula. This caused a controversy and a lawsuit was filed against the makers of Nosferatu by Florence Balcombe Stoker, claiming that the film was based on her husband's works.

Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula
Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula | Source


Does this even need an explanation? Written by Bram Stoker, the masterpiece Dracula immortalized the dichotomy of charm and danger of its titular character, Count Dracula. It further thrilled the world with the famous vampire slayer, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.

From the book stands, Dracula made its way to Broadway. It was in 1931 when Bela Lugosi portrayed Count Dracula on the silver screen that people were captivated by the idea of a charming yet dangerous creature of the night. Suffice it to say, this spawned many Dracula spin-offs, remakes, and TV series.

What makes Count Dracula a formidable nightmare is his power and control over his victims. Watch Dracula and see for yourself why this is a classic.

'Salem's Lot

Based on a Stephen King novel of the same title, this film adaptation shows some of the creepiest vampires in film history. Because it was so popular, there was a TV movie made in 1979 and another in 2004.

If you want unabashed screaming, then you'll love the 1979 version where there's a floating kid outside a window in the dead of night - with a maniacal look on his face! You'll never be able to sleep peacefully again.

The story is about a sleepy town named 'Salem's Lot (short for Jerusalem's Lot) that gets a new resident, who turns out to be (surprise!) a vampire. In a few days, more than half of the town gets turned into one and pandemonium begins.

Written in 1975, this story's horror and thrill is translated into the film well, making your blood pump for action as the last few residents of the town fight their friends and families for survival.

Fright Night

Maybe you've heard of the 2011 remake that tried its best to reboot a classic. Regardless of whether you've seen it or not, it's still be a good idea to check out the original Fright Night produced in 1985 that spawned quite a cult following.

Although Colin Farrell makes a handsome vampire, there is no denying the horror he brings on the town and city as he terrorizes its residents, especially the teenage protagonist, Charley Brewster.

Who has never wondered if the charming next-door neighbor is hiding a deaadly secret? Fright Night's vampires are destructive and intelligent blood-sucking killers that, despite their good looks, will make you either want to torch them or lock yourself up in a cathedral.

You can also check out the sequels Fright Night Part II (1988) and Fright Night 2 (2013).

The Lost Boys Trailer

The Lost Boys

Many vampire film connoisseurs have this on their list of must-watch vampire films. Succinctly, this is a film about two brothers who move to a town in California, which happens to be infested with vampires.

Filled with teenage snark and heart-pounding action, this 1987 film revolves around family issues that veer off the edge when the brothers meet different sets of friends that have something to do with mysterious deaths and vampires.

Darkness, angst, and terror in the form of fangs, plus hormones and a rebellious streak make this film the perfect vampire horror film for Halloween.

Near Dark

A 1987 western horror film, Near Dark is favored for its vampire portrayal that is mirrored in some films today: a mix of good and evil. The story is about a young man who meets a young woman who turns out to be a vampire.

The young man, Caleb, gets bitten and is taken in by the young woman's (Mae) family. Beset by many problems in his new vampire lifestyle and one vampire's desire to turn his sister, Caleb escapes with his family and the vampires give chase.

The film is action-packed and delivers a heart-warming ending. Nevertheless, its vampires are generally predators that see humans as walking happy meals.

John Carpenter's "Vampires"

Directed by John Carpenter, Vampires is a 1998 western horror film adapted from the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley. The story is about a group of vampire hunters led by Jack Crow (ames Woods).

There is action, violence, and the ultimate vampire villain. The film shows how the vampire hunters hunt and fight raving blood-thirsty vampires. One of the conflicts of the film is looking after a victim that gets bitten by a vampire and is slowly succumbing to the vampire poison in her veins.

What separates this film from action vampire films like Blade, though, is that the vampire hunters are largely wild but ordinary humans who fight supernatural beings with ordinary weapons. There are no superpowers involved and the humans can be almost as ruthless as their fanged foes.

30 Days of Night

In 2007, 30 Days of Night was released in theaters worldwide. Based on a graphic novel, this film is about an Alaskan town that doesn't see the sun for, that's right, 30 days every year.

Of course, this is the time that vampires decide to ravage the town and eat everyone. In the film, the vampires go from place to place, feeding on people. They don't leave survivors. Neither do they turn people. Then, they burn the entire town down.

Starring Josh Hartnett and Melissa George, this horror film brings real terror as the survivors try to fight off the vampires, hide with minimal food and water for more or less a month. The action scenes are also laudable, and the vampires, despite looking a bit humanoid, do not exude charm, only monstrous fangs and savage thirst.

There's also a sequel titled 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010).


Daybreakers is a 2009 sci-fi action film where the present world is run by vampires. Yes, vampires are the dominant species in this film and the humans are hiding for their lives.

The protagonist is, in fact, a vampire scientist (Ethan Hawke). The twist here is that the savage and monstrous vampires of lore are the ones that have been deprived of blood for so long that they become wild and raving mad. In the course of the story, viewers find out that there is actually a way for the vampires to become human.

Although the film's vampires show decency and civilized manners at first, it's the bloodthirsty and raving mad vampires that grab the spotlight. They jump and bite heads off and dig through human bodies for intestines. They are actual, terrifying vampires.

Which of these vampire films have you seen and liked?

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    • RJ Schwartz profile image

      Ralph Schwartz 23 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

      Thank you - those sparkle vamps are so foolish looking. Nice work and analysis.

    • Maximum A profile image

      Jee Ann G 3 years ago

      ...there is that.... lol. I missed those series. Can't find a good one these days.

    • Anate profile image

      Joseph Ray 3 years ago

      Yes, although I did find both of their relationships with Buffy somewhat creepy. At least Spike waited for her not to be a high schooler.

    • Maximum A profile image

      Jee Ann G 3 years ago

      Ah, my favorite vampires, Angel especially. Thanks for the comment, Anate. You should definitely watch these films - the vampires are just creepily evil.

    • Anate profile image

      Joseph Ray 3 years ago

      While I do love vampires, I have not seen many of the movies with them. I personally have always preferred my vampires for the most part to be evil monsters. I do like Angel and Spike as exception to the general rule in Whedon's work though. Excellent article.