When you think “vampire,” you likely picture the signature Count Dracula character brought to life from Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name. He’s a well-dressed, seductive, blood-sucking fiend living in an old, dark castle with an aversion to garlic, wooden stakes, and sunlight. Dracula certainly had a big year in 2023 with both the release of Renfield and The Last Voyage of Demeter, which looked to put new blood into the popular franchise.
Many films have built off the mythos of what Bram Stoker laid down. Interview with the Vampire, 30 Days of Night, Fright Night, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and The Invitation are just a few of the films that have played on the traditional notion of how people imagine vampires. Creatures of the night that are either alluring romantically or vicious monsters. While Dracula may be the “poster child” for interpretations of the classic monster, there’s more to vampire movies than what Dracula’s interpretations offer.
Update September 27, 2023: In honor of the upcoming Halloween season, this article has been updated by Rafa Boladeras with even more great unconventional vampire movies.
There are many non-traditional vampire movies that range from different genres to ones that explore unique corners of vampire mythology that some might not have considered. Whatever your flavor of vampires is, the signature monster has been reimagined in a variety of ways over the years. Here are some of the best different takes on vampires to check out.
12 Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire (2000)
Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire is a fun, corny Disney movie about a single mom (Caroline Rhea) who gets set up on a date with a vampire played by Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny). The movie premiered on Disney Channel on Friday, October 13, 2000, perfectly timed in the middle of the Halloween season. While Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire certainly isn’t an award-winning flick, it’s fun.
In terms of made-for-TV Halloween movies, it certainly doesn’t stand up to other greats like Disney Channel’s Halloweentown. But it’s a unique take on the vampire trope, and as corny as the movie may be, Shaughnessy gives a great performance.
11 The Twilight Saga (2008-2012)
Whether you love it or hate it, it’s impossible to deny the magnitude of success of the Twilight Saga movies. Following the story created by Stephanie Meyer in her book series of the same name, Twilight is about high school misfit Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who falls in love with the mysterious vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).
Despite mixed reviews from critics when it premiered in 2008, Twilight was a massive success and was followed up by four more movies. The Twilight Saga formed a massive fandom of both lovers of the books and new initiates. Though today, much of the movie may feel a little cringe and dated, Twilight is still a favorite for a lot of people and will soon get a television adaptation of the books.
10 Near Dark (1987)
Although everyone talks about another entry on this list, Near Dark is another great movie about vampires made in the eighties that looked at them as biker gangs and outlaws. This one is the directing debut of none other than future Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow and tells the story of Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar), who meets and falls in love with Mae (Jenny Wright).
The problem? She’s a vampire and has just bit him, so he becomes part of her band of scary vampires led by Hooker (Lance Henriksen) and the deranged Severn, with Bill Paxton going all in on the performance. This Neo-western looks at vampires, not as sexy, rich royalty but as outlaws who must fight for everything they get (sometimes literally) while living the sex, drugs, blood, and rock and roll lifestyle.
9 Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
Vampire’s Kiss is about Peter (Nicolas Cage), a white-collar businessman, who brings home a woman named Rachel (Jennifer Beals) from a club one night. Rachel bites him on the neck, and the next day, he’s convinced he’s become a vampire. However, there’s no real proof of this happening — no great transformation, no aversion to sunlight, nothing. So Peter dons fake fangs and begins stalking women like the creature of the night he thinks he is. Vampire’s Kiss is one of those “it’s so bad it’s good” movies. While it’s pretty weak in the plot department and not as funny as it could be, it still offers an outrageous performance from Cage and is unlike any other vampire movie out there.
8 The Addiction (1995)
The Addiction is a black-and-white vampire horror about a philosophy grad student who gets bitten by a vampire and develops an addiction to human blood. With a strong cast including names like Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Edie Falco, and Annabella Sciorra, this 1996 film is not only a unique and enjoyable vampire movie but also a great metaphorical watch.
Director Abel Ferrara has confirmed that The Addiction is meant to be an allegory about drug addiction. It portrays vampires as drug (blood) addicts, which is a trope that has never really been seen before, but The Addiction does it in a way that feels genuine, deep, and masterful. It’s a must-watch for anyone who loves a movie with layers of deeper meaning or anyone who likes vampire flicks and wants to see a very novel approach to the horror classic.
7 Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)
Leave it to couldn’t-be-cooler-if-he-tried director Jim Jarmusch to create a unique, Bohemian, existential film about vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are two vampires who’ve been in love for centuries and have seen everything the world (and humans) have to offer, including its art. They meet in Detroit after some time and talk and talk and talk. Adam is depressed as he feels the human art (movies, music) has stagnated and is getting worse, while Eve tries to show him there are still some good things in there.
These vampires show why immortality can be a burden as they’re more bored than depressed, and it makes sense these two can philosophize and get existential about the meaning of life, as they’ve lived a very, very, very long one. As with any Jarmusch film, the rhythm and pace of the movie is different from most Hollywood films, as here conversations and thoughts are much more important than action, and yet this vampire movie is as entertaining as they come.
6 The Lost Boys (1987)
The Lost Boys is another vampire movie from the ’80s about two brothers, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), who move with their mother to a small town in California. While Sam becomes friends with the local comic book nerds, Michael falls into a bad crowd that turns out to be a gang of vampires, leading Sam and his friends to save his brother from the local vamps.
The Lost Boys is one of those vampire movies that makes vampires feel so cool and desirable. Not only is the plot of The Lost Boys entertaining, blending both comedy and suspenseful supernatural horror, but it’s also complete with a great cast, killer soundtrack, and a very ’80s style. If you’re looking for cool, ’80s nostalgia that’s perfect all year round, watch The Lost Boys.
5 Blade (1998)
Blade is a different kind of vampire film; both a superhero movie and an action movie, it tells the story of Blade, a half-human half-vampire who hunts vampires and has the best performance in Wesley Snipes’ career. This movie integrates vampires as rave monsters, with an incredible first scene that tells audiences this is going to be a bloody affair in more sense than one, as not only are these creatures looking for some food, but Blade is going to destroy them in the goriest way possible.
Yeah, there are bloodsuckers and fangs, and the reimagining of vampires into rave addicts is pretty fun and makes sense. Even then, this is much more of an action film, as Blade must face a villain who isn’t Dracula, named Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), who wants to turn everyone on Earth into vampires. Although the script can’t avoid some corny lines for its lead character, Snipes is a master at selling them, as he did his whole time as an action hero.
4 Let the Right One In (2008)
Let the Right One In was a Swedish adaptation of the book of the same name written by John Ajvide Lindqvist and directed by Tomas Alfredson (who later made Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy). The movie mixes teenage love and horror in a unique way. This is the tale of a bullied kid at school: sad, dark Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), and his new neighbor, girl-next-door Eli (Lina Leandersson), who is a teenage vampire.
Mixing horror, coming-of-age stories, and teenage love genres, this vampire film is as tender and loving as they come. As in any love story, the characters have a unique first-time encounter and start to get to know each other, and when it’s revealed what Eli really is, Oskar proves why he’s the perfect guy for her. The film was such a surprising success that there was even an American remake called Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves, that starred Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz.
3 From Dusk till Dawn (1996)
Written by Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk till Dawn is about criminal brothers Seth (George Clooney) and Richard (Tarantino), who are on the run after robbing a bank. The pair kidnap a family and sneak across the Mexican border in their RV. They eventually make it to a bar in the middle of the desert and decide to stop, only to find out that it’s actually the home base for a gang of vicious vampires, including Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, and Danny Trejo.
From Dusk till Dawn is an action-packed, gruesome horror and is a strange but well-crafted blend of genres and plot lines. The movie premiered in 1996 and was met with mixed reviews, but has since gone on to become a cult classic. What makes From Dusk till Dawn so interesting is how the film shifts genres, with the first half being a grounded crime thriller that suddenly shifts into an over-the-top vampire action film.
2 A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night might be the most indie vampire film ever made. It started as a crowdfunded project, was shot in black and white, is moody, doesn’t happen in the States, has long tracking shots, and a titular vampire like no other. The Girl (Sheila Vand) skateboards through the fictional Iranian town of Bad City looking for bad guys who she can suck the blood from, listens to punk music and has as much fun as possible doing so. He even meets a friend, Arash (Arash Marandi), and she helps him with his own troubles.
Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, this movie might have much more in common with We Are Lady Parts than with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, offering a new, feministic, unique point of view for vampire films. One where she wears a chador that might look like a superhero cape in some shots, using some of the classic ideas about vampires and actualizing them for a new, interesting reality.
1 What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
This horror/comedy, mockumentary-style movie is about a group of vampire housemates — Taika Waititi, Jermaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, and Ben Fransham — who live together in Wellington, New Zealand. Hilarity ensues as the group of undead grapple with the complexities of modern living, familiars, and newly-turned vamps. What We Do in the Shadows is innovative, witty, and hilarious, and one of the most entertaining non-traditional vampire movies out there.
Following the 2014 movie’s success, an American TV series of the same name premiered in 2019, with Waititi and Clement as executive producers. The TV series is just as hilarious as the original movie and recently concluded its fifth season.