Musings From Jason’s Fevered Mind: Essential Vampire Films

Recently (yesterday!), a friend who goes gaga for vampire flicks asked me to compile a list of recommendations for her to add to her blossoming collection. This sparked the OCD maniac in me (see 101 Classic Horrors), so I dove into my own collection and tried to find the essentials of the genre that I think any vampire nut should see at least once. What I came up with is an admittedly longer list than I had intended (145 films), but it covers just about every vampire flick ever made and should appeal to the fan who thought they had seen every deserving slice of bloodsucking horror ever filmed. There are some inclusions that will roll the eyes of jaded horror fans (Fright Night 2 or Blade: Trinity come to mind), but the list has been painstakingly compiled for those that want to run the full gamut of vampiric thrills. Every film included has some kernel of delight waiting to be experienced (Parker Posey as a vampire! Awesome!). Some are pretentious (The Addiction), some are redundant (Jess Franco’s Count Dracula), and many are better forgotten after a single viewing (Interview With the Vampire), but all are worthy. Dig in, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

P.S. It should be noted that even I, obsessive scourer of dusty DVD bins, have not seen every single vampire flick ever produced. I will start with a list of films I have not had the fortune to find copies of. If any of our loyal readers can help in unearthing these obscurities, you would be welcome to a pint or two of my tainted plasma. (Dracula in Istanbul, 1953; El Vampiro Negro, 1953; Lady Vampire, 1958; Lake of Dracula, 1970; Night of the Vampire, 1970; Evil of Dracula, 1974; Old Dracula, 1974; Son of Dracula, 1974; Last Rites, 1980) and my copy of Korea’s Thirst from 2008 is on the way!

The Classic Essentials ( + denotes personal favorites)

+Nosferatu, 1922; +Dracula, 1931; Dracula (Spanish version), 1931; +Vampyr, 1932; The Vampire Bat, 1933; Condemned to Live, 1935; +Mark of the Vampire, 1935; Dracula’s Daughter, 1936; The Return of the Vampire, 1943; Son of Dracula, 1943; House of Frankenstein, 1944; House of Dracula, 1945; I, Vampiri, 1956; Blood of Dracula, 1957; +Not of This Earth, 1957; The Vampire (El Vampiro), 1957; The Vampire (USA), 1957; Blood of the Vampire, 1958; +The Horror of Dracula (Dracula), 1958; The Return of Dracula, 1958; The Vampire’s Coffin (El ataud del Vampiro), 1958; +Curse of the Undead, 1959; Brides of Dracula, 1960; The Genie of Darkness (Nostradamus and the Genie of Darkness, Nostradamus, el genio de las tinieblas), 1960; +Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir), 1961; Bloody Vampire (El vampiro Sangriento), 1962; Slaughter of the Vampires, 1962; Invasion of the Vampires (La invasion de los vampiros), 1963; +Kiss of the Vampire, 1963; +Cave of the Living Dead (Der Fluch der grunen Augen), 1965; Devils of Darkness, 1965; +Dracula, Prince of Darkness, 1965; +Planet of the Vampires (Terrore nello spazio), 1965; The Blood Drinkers (The Vampire People, Kulay dugo ang gabi), 1966; +Dance of the Vampires (The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are In My Neck), 1966; +The Queen of Blood, 1966; Blood of the Virgins (Sangre des Vigenes), 1967; Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (Castle of the Walking Dead, Blood of the Virgins, Torture Chamber, Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel), 1967; Fangs of the Living Dead (Malenka), 1968; The Living Corpse (Dracula in Pakistan, Zinda Laash), 1968; +Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, 1968; +Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (La marca del Hombre-lobo), 1968; +Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell (Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro), 1968; Rape of the Vampire (La viol du vampire), 1968;

The Modern Essentials (+ denotes personal favorites)

Santo in Dracula’s Treasure (Santo en el tesoro de Dracula), 1969; +Taste the Blood of Dracula, 1969; Count Dracula (Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht), 1970; Countess Dracula, 1970; +Count Yorga, Vampire, 1970; House of Dark Shadows, 1970; Lust For a Vampire, 1970; +Scars of Dracula, 1970; Shiver of the Vampires (Le frisson de vampires), 1970; +The Vampire Lovers, 1970; +Vampyros Lesbos, 1970; +Werewolf Shadow (The Werewolf vs the Vampire Women, La noche de Walpurgis), 1970; +Daughters of Darkness (Les levres rouges), 1971; +Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, 1971; Night of Dark Shadows, 1971; +Requiem For a Vampire (Vierges et vampires), 1971; Return of Count Yorga, 1971; +Twins of Evil (Evil Twins, Twins of Dracula), 1971; The Vampire Circus, 1971; The Vampire Happening (Gebissen wird nu nachts), 1971; The Velvet Vampire, 1971; Blacula, 1972; +The Blood Spattered Bride, 1972; Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, 1972; +Dracula A.D. 1972, 1972; The Dracula Saga (Le saga de los Draculas), 1972; Grave of the Vampire, 1972; +The Nightstalker, 1972; +Vampire’s Night Orgy (Orgy of the Vampires, La orgia nocturna de los vampiros), 1972; +Young Hannah, Queen of the Vampires (Crypt of the Living Dead), 1972; Dracula, 1973; The Legend of Blood Castle (Ceremonia sangrienta), 1973; +Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural, 1973; The Satanic Rites of Dracula, 1973; +Scream, Blacula, Scream, 1973; +Blood For Dracula (Andy Warhol’s Dracula, Dracula cerca sangue di vergine…e mori di sete), 1974; Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, 1974; Vampyres, 1974; +Alucarda, 1975; Lips of Blood (Levres de sang), 1975; +Nightmare in Blood, 1976; +Rabid, 1976; Count Dracula (British TV), 1977; +Martin, 1977; Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, 1977; +Dracula, 1979; Fascination, 1979; +Love at First Bite, 1979; Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula, 1979; Nosferatu (Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht), 1979; +Salem’s Lot, 1979; Vampire (TV), 1979; +The Hunger, 1983; +The Keep, 1983; +Fright Night, 1985; +Lifeforce, 1985; The Midnight Hour, 1985; Once Bitten, 1985; Graveyard Shift, 1986; Vamp, 1986; +The Lost Boys, 1987; +The Monster Squad, 1987; +Near Dark, 1987; Fright Night 2, 1988; +Vampire’s Kiss, 1988; Nightlife (TV), 1989; Bandh Darwaza, 1990; Subspecies, 1990; Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, 1990; Children of the Night, 1991; +Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1992; +Cronos, 1992; +Darkness: The Vampire Version, 1992; +Bloodstone: Subspecies 2, 1993; +Innocent Blood, 1993; Aswang, 1994; Bloodlust: Subspecies 3, 1994; Interview With the Vampire, 1994; +Nadja, 1994; The Addiction, 1995; Blood and Donuts, 1995; Embrace of the Vampire, 1995; From Dusk TIl Dawn, 1995; +Vampire Journals, 1996; +Habit, 1997; Stephen King’s The Night Flier, 1997; Blade, 1998; Bloodstorm: Subspecies 4, 1998; John Carpenter’s Vampires, 1998; Modern Vampires, 1998; +Razor Blade Smile, 1998; +Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary, 2002; Fiancee of Dracula, 2002; Blade: Trinity, 2004; The Roost, 2005; Dracula (Masterpiece Theatre’s Dracula), 2006; Frostbitten (Frostbiten), 2006; +The Hamiltons, 2006; 30 Days of Night, 2007; +Let the Right One In (Lat den ratte komma in), 2008;

Favorite Prolific Actor: Christopher Lee
Favorite Prolific Director: Jean Rollin / Terence Fisher tie
Favorite Vampire Decade: 1970s
Favorite Overall Film: Nosferatu (1922)

Some other noteworthy films that have vampires as characters but could not be construed as “vampire” flicks: Shadow of a Doubt, 1943 (Watch it with the vampire angle in mind and you will see the references); Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, 1948 (Bela’s final vampire, unless you count Plan 9, and I don’t); Black Sabbath (I tre volti della paura), 1963 (Karloff plays one of the finest vamps EVER in his segment, The Wurdulak); Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, 1965 (wonderful anthology with Donald Sutherland marrying a vamp); The House That Dripped Blood, 1971 (Ingrid Pitt makes a sexy vamp in this anthology); The Vault of Horror, 1973 (small town vamps in the first segment of the E.C. inspired anthology); The Monster Club, 1980 (Vinnie Price in his only role as a vampire); Transylvania 6-5000, 1986 (Geena Davis thinks she’s a vamp in this tepid monster mash-up);

Don’t see your favorite here? As long as it’s not in that crappy Underworld series of films, let me know!


9 comments so far

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  1. Great to see Rollin on that list.

  2. The man is an icon is Europe and, sadly, little known in the states. A true artiste, his visuals are amongst the greatest put on film in any genre.

  3. Fantastic list, great to see Salem’s Lot (and Goke!) on here! Salem’s Lot definitely has one of the creepiest vampires ever! Would love an episode on this movie guys!

  4. Yes indeed, this film is on the list.I would insist on doing the full version WHEN we get to it because the truncated film loses so much in the realm of character development which is so important to the story as in all of Stephen King’s writings. Not to mention the vampire hunter angle the film closes with, which is so cool, and it is the basis for John Carpenter’s Vampires.

    The guy who played the vampire Barlowe is Reggie Nalder, a real creepy looking guy out of makeup as well. He had some severe facial scarring which made him a sought after “baddie” in a slew of pictures most noteworthy of which are The Man Who Knew Too Much remake, Mark of the Devil, and The Dead Don’t Die, and of course this picture.

    Thanks for writing in!

  5. Yes, I agree, the “mini-series” version is the only way to go. And it certainly does not have a “made for TV” feel, at least to me anyway. It makes me chuckle now when I watch this knowing that Lance is now a “religious” man but I certainly related to his character and the relationship he had with his dad in the picture. BTW, “The Wolfman” episode was fantastic, looking forward to the next one, cheers!

  6. Don’t knock religious men, Ambulancechaser! I am intensely religious when I take a shit or play doctor with my lady! You, you…blasphemer!

    I wanted to be Lance when I was 8, except for the religious looney stuff, of course. I remember looking for his vampire model kit for years, but had to settle for the Monogram reissues of the Aurora models which my proud papa helped me put together and paint! Greatest dad ever, huh! (He reads this)

    Thanks for your kind words on our Wolfman episode. We worked really hard on that one. I must have put in 12 hours researching through more than two dozen books and dozens of magazines in my collection, but it was worth it. It is one of the films most responsible for my love of the genre, so I felt we owed it the royal treatment. Not that we shuck off the others…

  7. Jason,
    Haha, thats true! Doktor LaVey did did write that “The toilet is more than a throne. It is a sacred chamber.”! Oh yeah, thanks for the heads up on those King Diamond re-issues! Eagerly awaiting some DePalma dissection, cheers!

  8. King Diamond re-masters list : The Graveyard; The Spider’s Lullabye; Voodoo; House of God – Support the horned god of horror metal! You can find each of these for less than 10 bucks a pop at Deepdiscount.com.

    DePalma who? 😉

  9. List update: “Thirst” (Korea 2009) was an hour of greatness followed by an hour of suck.

    “Lady Vampire” (1959 – Onna Kyuketsuki) is AWESOME and perhaps the best vampire flick of the 50’s (sorry Hammer)! Review to come!

    Rod Hardy’s “Thirst” (1979) was sorely overlooked and should absolutely be included in this list. Sorry Oz fans, but my head has now been (at least partially) removed from my ass!

    Up next – the Mr. Vampire series from Hong Kong…

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