The Best 80s Vampire Movies

Last Updated on July 12, 2022

The Hunger The Lost Boys Near Dark Best 80s Vampire Movies

The 1980s gave us some of the best horror movies we’ve ever seen, and today we here at Arrow in the Head have decided to assemble a list that focuses on one particular sub-genre of ’80s horror movies. Below you’ll find what we’ve chosen as the ten Best ’80s Vampire Movies. Did your favorite make the cut? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

The Hunger Best 80s Vampire Movies


The sole horror movie on the filmography of Tony Scott, The Hunger is a very stylish and atmospheric vampire story. Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) is a vampire who has been around for thousands of years. Her companion John (David Bowie) was only turned a couple hundreds ago… but now he’s aging at an accelerated rate. Miriam didn’t tell him the vampires she makes don’t stay youthful for as long as she has. Now she’ll need a new companion, and her pick is lab worker Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon). The studio wasn’t happy that Scott made their vampire movie so “artsy” and The Hunger didn’t do well when it was first released, but decades later it still holds up as an entrancing viewing experience.


Directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) and co-written by Dan O’Bannon (Alien, The Return of the Living Dead), Lifeforce is not your typical vampire movie. It’s a space vampire movie; in fact, the source material was a novel called The Space Vampires. A naked female alien (Mathilda May) is discovered on a spacecraft in the coma of Halley’s Comet and brought back to Earth, where she proceeds to wreak havoc in London. This vampire doesn’t suck blood, she consumes lifeforce, and she is able to make other vampires just like her. Cannon gave Hooper a budget of $25 million for this one, and he delivered a British sci-fi movie that plays out on a large scale.


There are a few ’80s vampire movies that a large majority of horror fans love, and Fright Night is up there near the top of the list. Writer/director Tom Holland put a bloodsucking twist on the Rear Window concept with this one, casting William Ragsdale as horror-loving teenager Charley Brewster, who begins to suspect his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire. And who better to help him deal with this than cinematic vampire slayer turned horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall)? This one has fun characters brought to life by a great cast, memorable moments – some involving a character called Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), another being an extended dance sequence – a cool score, and incredible special effects.


Long before his tenure as the Biggest Comedic Actor in the World, Jim Carrey starred in an ’80s vampire movie – which also doubles as an ’80s sex comedy. He stars in director Howard Storm’s Once Bitten as Mark, a teenager who’s frustrated that his girlfriend (Karen Kopins) isn’t ready to have sex, so he hits the town looking for a stranger who’ll take his virginity. He ends up going home with The Countess (Lauren Hutton), a vampire who needs to feed on virgin blood. Comedic shenanigans follow. Carrey does some of his familiar schtick here and Once Bitten was a financial success, it even opened at #1, so it’s kind of surprising that Carrey was still years away from being a popular movie star.

Vamp Best 80s Vampire Movies

VAMP (1986)

Directed by Richard Wenk, Vamp is sort of a precursor to From Dusk Till Dawn, since the story is about a group of people running into vampire trouble at a strip club. In this case, a trio of college students (Chris Makepeace, Robert Rusler, and Gedde Watanabe) go to a club in search of a stripper who’ll perform at a frat, and end up meeting a vampire stripper named Katrina (Grace Jones). With the help of another stripper played by Dedee Pfeiffer, the guys have to fight for their lives against both vampires and a gang run by Billy Drago. Vamp mixes some bizarre dark comedy with its horror, and has a really cool lighting scheme. It’s a fun one to watch.


Here it is, the film that may be the most popular vampire movie of the 1980s. Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys is about a single mother (Dianne Wiest) and her sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) moving to a new town – where the kids find that the local youth scene is dominated by a group of vampires headed up by Kiefer Sutherland. When Michael starts turning into a bloodsucker, Sam teams up with a pair of self-proclaimed vampire experts (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to save his brother. Very much a vampire story for the MTV generation, The Lost Boys is a really entertaining movie that builds up to an awesome vampire home invasion / vampire slaying action sequence.


The Lost Boys was so cool, it drew all of the attention away from the youth-targeting creature feature that followed just a couple weeks later, writer/director Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad. This despite the fact that The Monster Squad features not just vampires, but Dracula himself, plus Frankenstein’s Monster, a mummy, a wolfman, and a gillman. A tribute to the Universal Monsters classics, the film is about a club of horror-loving kids taking it upon themselves to save their town (and the world) from the forces of evil. Co-written by Shane Black, who wrote Lethal Weapon and appeared in Predator this same year, The Monster Squad is a blast – and Duncan Regehr makes his Dracula one of the most intimidating versions of the character ever put on film.

NEAR DARK (1987)

Horror fans sometimes act like the world has to choose between The Lost Boys and Near Dark just because they were released in the same year, but I say why not just enjoy both? Directed by Kathryn Bigelow from a script she co-wrote with The Hitcher‘s Eric Red, this modern western / ’80s vampire movie follows Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) as he gets caught up with a group of road-tripping vampires; Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, and Joshua Miller. Since Wright’s character is into him, the others attempt to give Caleb a chance… but he just won’t join in on their bloody killing spree. That’s a major issue, and it leads to some spectacular moments of violent action.


Don’t let the fact that this weird horror comedy from writer/director Ken Russell deals with a pagan snake god distract you from the part where it’s said that a bite from the priestess Lady Sylvia (Amanda Donohoe) can infect her victims with “a form of vampirism”. The Lair of the White Worm also happens to be based on a story by Dracula writer Bram Stoker, which gives its vampire movie cred a significant boost. Future romantic comedy king Hugh Grant and Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi being the male leads in this movie adds to the curiosity factor… but the odd tone of this movie is definitely not for everyone.


Speaking of weird, Nicolas Cage gives an early unhinged performance in this horror comedy from director Robert Bierman, which took the ’80s run of vampire movies out on a somewhat puzzling note. Cage put on an unusual accent and ate real cockroaches for his role as yuppie literary agent Peter Loew, who may or may not have been turned into a vampire by a one night stand played by Jennifer Beals. He certainly believes he’s becoming a vampire and starts playing the part, causing a lot of trouble for his secretary (Maria Conchita Alonso) along the way. If you enjoy those unique Nicolas Cage performances, Vampire’s Kiss is a must-see that adds some memorable moments to his “Is he a genius or a madman?” reel.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.