Morbius is this year’s infamous box office flop, and vampire lovers were disappointed that the movie never allowed itself to go “full” vampire. With blue blood that looks like Gatorade, Morbius failed to capture the audience’s attention, except as a meme. However, the film has inspired a vampire renaissance akin to the Twilight era and viewers are hungry for Dracula inspired films.
There are lots of fang-tastic vampire movies that have remained hidden in obscurity. Some were made in the era of black and white film, while others were more recent B-movie flops. If you don’t want to wait twenty years to watch Morbius when it’s being praised as a cult classic, then these unique and underrated movies are worth watching.
10 Once Bitten (1985)
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In one of these first major lead roles, Jim Carrey stars as Mark Kendall, a high school student who is still a virgin. While he is eager to resolve this, his girlfriend Robin is more interested in waiting for the right moment. One night at a club, Mark meets The Countess, a centuries-old vampire who is hungry for the rare blood of a virgin.
This comedy has typical teen movie fare, with silly hi-jinks and teens eager to remedy their innocence. Carrey is hilarious with silly one liners and physical gags. Laura Hutton as the seductive Countess is a joy to watch, and has some great funny moments. Once Bitten is a wonderful film for those looking for something full of cheese and 80’s flair.
9 Rabid (1977)
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Rabid is a Canadian body horror that utilizes vampire and zombie movie characteristics. Rose (Marilyn Chambers) wakes up from an accident to find that her experimental skin grafts have given her a new stinger-like appendage under her armpit, and she hungers for blood.
Sometimes Rabid is comical, like when Rose bear hugs a victim, attacking them with her armpit. But there are plenty of other bloody zombie attacks to keep audiences sated. A remake exists under the same name, directed by sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska, with Laura Vandervoort playing Rose.
8 Vamps (2012)
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This heartfelt rom-com stars Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter as two vampires living in modern-day New York. While Goody (Silverstone) contemplates her long life as a vampire, Stacy (Ritter) dates a descendant of Van Helsing. Trouble arrives in the form of their maker Ciccirus (Sigourney Weaver) who feeds on humans – unlike Stacy and Goody who feed on rats instead.
Vamps is a fun throwback to the era of Uptown Girls and 13 Going On 30-esque movies. It plays with common vampire tropes much like What We Do In The Shadows, including death by wooden stakes and mind control. It eventually takes a turn towards a more sincere and bittersweet ending.
7 Ganja & Hess (1973)
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Ganja & Hess is an experimental horror film directed by Bill Gun. It stars Duane Jones of Night of the Living Dead fame as Dr. Hess Green and Marlene Clark as Ganja Meda, the wife of Green’s assistant. A bloody night between Dr. Hess and Meda leads to Meda’s wife, Ganja, and Dr. Hess gaining immortality with the help of a ceremonial dagger. The combination of a love affair and blood lust leads to Dr. Hess to question his existence.
Gun faced many obstacles during production and release of Ganja & Hess. Studios thought the film was unpalatable for their audiences, who were more used to movies like Blacula. The film was re-cut several times under new names that drastically changed its tone. A remake was released in 2014 by Spike Lee titled Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Considered a landmark film in Black cinema that was ahead of its time, viewers may appreciate Ganja & Hess’s artistic atmosphere and themes of race and religion.
6 Countess Dracula (1971)
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Based on Elizabeth Bathory, this Hammer horror stars Ingrid Pitt as Countess Elisabeth. She discovers that once she bathes in the blood of young women, her own youthful beauty is restored. She takes the identity of her daughter, seducing men and slaughtering young women with the help of her lover, Captain Dobi, who soon becomes jaded with the relationship.
This horror flick takes historical inaccuracies, folklore, and bellydancers, and mixes them all together to create a chintzy vampire-flavored Snow White horror movie. This film has all the trademarks of a gothic story: love, decay, blood, secrets, vampires, and death. Prospective viewers may enjoy the medieval atmosphere, the love triangle, and the suspense as the Countess tries to keep everything from crumbling around her.
5 El Vampiro (1957)
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El Vampiro is a Mexican horror film starring Gérman Robles as Count Lavud and Ariadne Welter as Marta, the film’s young protagonist. Marta travels to Los Sicomoros to visit her ailing aunt, but upon arrival learns that she has passed. A curse in the village appears to have brought a vampire in their midst, and he seeks to revive one of his relatives.
This film was influenced by the classic Universal Studios horror films of the 1930s, which produced some of the most influential vampire movies of all time. This influence is evident throughout with heavy atmosphere and special effects, including a cleverly puppeteered bat. El Vampiro marked Mexico’s horror boom of the 1960s, and it is notable for being one of the first films to feature elongated incisors.
4 Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
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In one of Nicolas Cage’s first roles, Vampire’s Kiss chronicles lonely literary agent Peter Loew’s descent into madness. After a night with a woman who bites his neck, Loew believes he has been turned into a vampire, exhibiting classic symptoms. However, when it’s made clear that the woman was a hallucination, viewers are left to wonder why Loew is behaving so strangely.
This movie, unlike Interview with The Vampire, which is being remade as an AMC series, is a black comedic take on the genre. Nicolas Cage’s over-the-top performance has been criticized as both too much and just right. The movie failed at the box office but fans of the film enjoy its outrageous story and Cage’s enthusiastic performance.
3 A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
Stream on AMC+, Hoopla, Kanopy, & Shudder
This film tells the story of The Girl played by Sheila Vand. The Girl is a vampire who walks the streets of Bad City at night, feeding on bad men. One night she comes across Aresh, a man whose father struggles with addiction. He shows her kindness and soon Aresh’s world bleeds into her own, and she warns him that he doesn’t know about the things that she’s done.
This thriller is a great modern take on the vampire genre, and seeing the main character in a place of power instead of damnation is refreshing. The black and white color palette is an intriguing callback to older films in the genre, while reminding viewers that this vampire is different. Fans of movies like Teeth and Ginger Snaps may appreciate this film’s overall message.
2 Twins Of Evil (1971)
Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video
Twins of Evil stars sisters Mary and Madeleine Collinson as Maria and Freida Gelhorn, twins who travel to a village to live with their witch-finder uncle Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing). Although the sisters are alike in looks, they have very different personalities. Frieda is outspoken and interested in the mysterious Count Karnstein, while Maria is chaste and timid. One night, Frieda sneaks out to visit Count Karnstein, who is, unknown to Freida, a vampire.
This is the third movie in the Karnstein Trilogy, inspired by the novel Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. It was produced by the same company that created it House of Dracula, one of the best vampire movies based on books. Although the film has elements inspired by the witch hysteria in mid-1400s Europe, it is mainly a vampire flick. The Collinson sisters are a delight to watch in their respective roles as evil and good twins.
1 Lake of Dracula (1971)
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This Japanese horror film follows a young girl named Akiko, who lives near a lake. Many years ago, she dreamed about a terrifying vampire in a mansion. Eighteen years later, Akiko is a schoolteacher and dating Dr. Takashi Saki. While examining a comatose woman Dr. Saki finds bite marks on her neck, suggesting that Akiko’s dream may have merit.
Lake of Dracula is the second movie in the Bloodthirsty Trilogy directed by Michio Yamamoto and produced by Toho Studios. Although slow in the beginning, there’s something charming about the pace that leads up to the bloody climax. There is a rivalry between Akiko and her sister Natsuko, and this secondary plot line brings some welcome intrigue to the film. Fans of Hammer horrors will likely enjoy this film.
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