I have been mortified in recent years to see the transformation of vampire films from action packed horror flicks to romance driven, pre-teen love films (looking at you Twilight). Vampire films used to be centered upon an immense battle between good and evil, now they too often center around a teenage girl’s love interest with a supernatural male model who glitters in the sun. While vampire films have a long history of involving female characters, the story itself is meant to be a quest, not a soap opera. In order to combat this change, I decided to honor those vampire films which have stuck to their traditional roots. As such, this article will list the 15 Most Badass Vampire Movies of all time.
The basic criteria for a film to be listed here is that there’s something about it which draws legitimate emotion and excitement from the audience. Thereby, this list will not only feature non-stop action films, but also those whose elements were moving or just plain cool. This list features films which drew great acclaim, as well as those which were universally panned. No matter what, all these films are plain and simply badass.
This list features films which drew great acclaim, as well as those which were universally panned. No matter what, all these films are plain and simply badass. Perhaps seeing such a compilation of badass vampire films all together will inspire current writers to stop the erosion of the vampire genre. Even if not, hopefully these accounts will bring back some memories for you reading this and allow you to relish these badass vampires. All facts and storylines discussed here are based off of the authors own personal recollections of these films.
15. Van Helsing (2004)
I may be showing my Hugh Jackman bias on this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed Van Helsing. A fresh take on the legendary elder from Dracula, Van Helsing is a badass agent of the church on a quest to rid the world of evil. Teaming up with what’s left of the family charged with keeping Dracula in check, Van Helsing must battle through an army of evil vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Finding some unlikely friends along the way, Van Helsing eventually survives heartbreak and loss to vanquish Dracula and rid the countryside of his evil horde. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this film is overly original, but the plot is tight, easy to understand, and the fight scenes are just badass enough to put Van Helsing on the back end of this list.
14. Underworld (2003)
Underworld was revolutionary as a vampire movie not only because it was so action-packed, but because the lead was held by such a badass female character. The films finds the protagonist, Selena, caught in the middle of a vampire-lichen war which has been ongoing for centuries. As one of the premier fighters on the vampire side, she eventually uncovers a nefarious plot by her superiors to take advantage of vamps and lichens alike. Falling in love along the way, Selena fights her way through everyone’s schemes to eventually discover deep dark secrets about the conflict itself. One of the most badass female characters in any film genre, Selena is the main reason for Underworld being on this list at #14.
13. Nosferatu (1922)
While I admit that this film may not be the most bad ass in regards to its plot or action, it is seriously badass when you consider the climate that this film was released into. Nosferatu debuted in 1922 at a time when the horror movie genre as a whole wasn’t widely accepted, much less a film about a caped, pointy eared monster who sleeps in a coffin. Despite this, Nosferatu built a substantial fanbase, paving the way for the litany of vampire epics that we see today. So in many ways, while Nosferatu may not be very high on this list at #13, this movie is the reason that the films above it were even able to be made. Pretty badass.
12. Salem’s Lot (1979)
I just couldn’t resist including the master of horror’s brief array into the vampire epic on our list. One of Stephen King‘s earliest novels, Salem’s Lot was initially made into a movie in 1979 and doesn’t disappoint King’s lofty status. This film (and book before it, which I highly recommend) centers around a vampire epidemic in a town which has its own morbid history. Like many of King’s works, Salem’s Lot centers around a writer, who is eventually joined by an unlikely band of heroes trying to stem the tide of the unholy horde. It was refreshing to see King (and later the filmmakers) take the overdone vampire topic seriously enough to make Salem’s Lot the badass film that it is.
11. Vampires (1998)
The simpleness of this 1998 movies name is very representative of the film itself. When describing this movie to people I often have a hard time identifying something in the film that’s especially unique in comparison to other vampire flicks. However, this doesn’t change the fact that this movie is totally badass and just plain good. The plot follows a pair of veteran vampire hunters on the trail of a powerful villain from their past. Along the way not only their skills but also their friendship is tested in ways they could never imagine. Short, sweet, but not without its twists and turns, this film is definitely worth a watch and #11 on our list of badass vampire movies.
10. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
You know what’s better than a movie about vampires? A movie where a vampire meets another monster. In the ’40s golden age of monster films, these monster collaboration were big money for production companies. My favorite, and the most badass of these movies, was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. As you probably gleamed from the title, this film prominently featured Frankenstein, but also significantly included the Wolfman, and featured an appearance by the Invisible Man. Pretty badass right? This movie had a lot of laughs and just the right amount of retro horror to put it on this list as one of the most badass movies of all time. It might not be the easiest movie on our list to track down, but we assure you it is worth your time.
9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
I’ll admit, the overall theme of this movie is utterly ridiculous. However, the movie itself, totally badass. While one of America’s greatest presidents as a vampire hunter may seem like the plot of a cheesy B-movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter debuted in 2012 and is a ton of fun. Not to mention it helped prove the point that the president should totally be equipped to handle threats in the form of combat. The movie covers a younger Abe and follows him on his quest from a young angry man in the backwoods of Kentucky, to the respected statesman that we know him as today. Facing serious heartbreak, Abe is able to destroy the vampire horde and make the country safe just in time for the Civil War (where he will save it again). I’d say pretty badass.
8. Fright Night (1985)
This is one of the earliest vampire films I can remember watching, and after reviewing it again I was surprised by how good it actually was. Following the stereotypical suburban vampire movie setup, a mysterious stranger moves next door and our protagonist begins to notice some strange things about his neighbor. This of course leads to the vampire making passes at our hero’s mom and then eventually his girlfriend. The movie climaxes when our hero’s love interest is stolen and he must recruit the help of a famous TV vampire hunter to help him get her back. Jerry is able to convince this fraud of a vampire hunter to help him and eventually vanquishes the monster, but not before both his best friend and love interest are forever turned. The main compliment which I think can be paid to Fright Night is in the way it is able to place a vampire epic in a modern setting without it being goofy or unrealistic. Also the fight scenes themselves were pretty bad ass.
7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
One of the best things about vampire movies is their potential to become instant cult classics. Nowhere was this more true than with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was released in 1992. Buffy would eventually become a quality show written by Joss Whedon, but the original movie itself is pretty badass. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the film, it centers around valley girl Buffy Summers who has been gifted the powers of “the Slayer”, making her an unstoppable vampire killing force. Filled with some great fight scenes, the perfect level of corniness, and just the right amount of teenage melodrama, Buffy the Vampire Slayer simply had to be placed on this list of badass vampire movies.
6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Normally, as a rule, I am not a fan of remakes. Too often the new writer either goes off in a whole different direction than the original film, or so closely follows its path as to make watching the new version meaningless. An exception to this that I was glad to see was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, released in 1992. This film is obviously based on the famous novel by Stroker but portrays it in a way that is very modern and exceptionally entertaining. Winona Ryder plays Mina and is the quintessential damsel in distress that Stroker describes in his novel. Toss in Gary Oldman as the evil count and you’ve got one badass vampire flick.
5. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Though this film debuted in 1996. I had not seen it until somewhat recently, but like most Quentin Tarantino films, I was eventually surprised by how much I liked it. Essentially two separate movies, the first part of Dusk til Dawn is essentially an outlaw drama showing the trail of two men on the run (one of them being seriously deranged) following a high stakes bank robbery. When the characters find themselves at a dive bar truck stop by the Mexican border, however, the film takes a huge cinematic twist. It is revealed that the workers at the bar (bartender, bouncers, strippers) as well as some of the patrons are all vampires. From there Dusk til Dawn is a first rate vampire survival film with the remaining characters trying to survive the night in the now vampire infested bar. Featuring some first rate acting performances, good storytelling and some great moments and cameos, this is one of the most unique vampire movies of all time and #5 on our list of badass vampire movies.
4. Queen of the Damned (2002)
Spoiler alert, this will not be the only adaption of Anne Rice’s series of vampire novels which will be on this list. One of the later books in the series, in 2002 the film version of Queen of the Damned materialized as a pretty badass movie. Featuring a mesmerizing female empress of the night, this films centers around a protagonist seeking to unlock her evil coils. Joined by a mortal woman (who he unsurprisingly falls in love with), he must face her evil minions in order to save himself and his love. Featuring its own brand of vampire history, this film is truly a cinematic masterpiece in any genre, and one of the top badass vampire films to make our list.
3. Interview With A Vampire (1994)
I will admit, though I am a fan of vampire movies, their strongest point is typically not their writing. An exception to this rule is Interview With A Vampire. Based on a series of novels by Anne Rice, Interview With A Vampire is more of a real life biography than it is your typical action packed vampire film. While this would typically lower a movies badassery (it’s a word, I swear) level, here it actually increases it. The level of drama and intrigue which exists between the vampires in this film is monumentous and keeps viewers intrigued throughout. Rather than rely on lengthy fight scenes or supernatural powers, this film feeds off the raw emotion of the characters to create its own unique badass environment.
2. The Lost Boys (1987)
My personal favorite on this list, I watched the Lost Boys religiously growing up and how can you not give it some bonus points for the nostalgia factor? The movie features Kiefer Sutherland as the motorcycle riding badass vampire who is able to help make a film that is incredibly enjoyable throughout. Sporting your typical ’80s toughness, this film is equal parts vampire thriller and survival film. Centering around a family who moves to their grandfather’s house in a vampire infested neighborhood, this film has just enough grit and star power (we see you, Corey Feldman) to make it completely badass. I can’t say enough good things about this flick and if this list convinces you of nothing else, you should see this film.
1. Blade (1998)
Was there any doubt about this one? The Blade franchise first debuted in 1998 and instantly made mainstream the badass vampire genre. Based on the comic by Marvel Comics, these movies made vampires cool again. The movies themselves rely little on storylines but make up for it with some of the greatest supernatural fight scenes in any movie, ever. This was perhaps Wesley Snipes most fitting role as he plays the heroic half-blood vampire to perfection. The infusion of Ryan Reynolds and WWE star Triple H added a fresh feel to the third film of the trilogy, making this collection as a whole incredibly entertaining. Legal troubles for Snipes would eventually cut these films short but not before they went down as the most badass vampire films of all time.