It’s hard to come up with a type of monster that’s been featured in more films than the vampire. The undead bloodsuckers have had a prominent place on screen since the dawn of cinema, and they’re still a box office draw today. However, most fans of the macabre would agree that the greatest vampires of the silver screen appeared before the new millennium when sparkly, brooding emo vampires became the norm. So with that in mind, have a look at our countdown of the 16 suckiest — AKA best — movie vampires of the twentieth century.
16. Sal the Shark – Innocent Blood
What do you get when you cross a mobster with a vampire? You get Robert Loggia’s campy/terrifying performance in this underrated John Landis flick.
15. Amilyn – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Known more for his long, drawn out death scene than anything he does while alive (err, undead), Paul Reubens’ vamp is still the best part of this pre-Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy incarnation.
14. Dwight Renfield – The Night Flyer
This Stephen King adaptation isn’t great, but the Cessna-flying serial killer vampire with the boring name gets bonus points for having the most terrifying design of any movie vampire ever.
13. Lestat de Lioncourt – Interview With the Vampire
This film’s vampires are generally too pretty to be considered horrifying — a sign of things to come — but Tom Cruise’s performance is just manic and unhinged enough to earn a spot on this list.
12. David – The Lost Boys
Kiefer Sutherland’s ’80s bully/head vampire mashup steals every scene he’s in in this modern classic, and remains the greatest vampire to ever rock a mullet.
11. Jerry Dandrige – Fright Night
The movie that answers the question, “what if your next door neighbor were a vampire?” wouldn’t be nearly as effective as it is without Chris Sarandon’s genuinely scary performance.
10. Blacula – Blacula
The titular villain of the first blaxploitation horror film, Blacula is considerably more entertaining — and way cooler — than many better-known creatures of the night.
9. Severen – Near Dark
In the ’80s, vampires transformed from aristocratic counts to leather-clad biker badasses, and no one fit the mold better than Bill Paxton with his hammy and psychotic performance in this gem.
8. Count Yorga – Count Yorga, Vampire
This movie started out as a raunchy take on Dracula, but ended up becoming a legitimate vampire movie that was better than it had any right to be. Count Yorga owes most of its success to Robert Quarry’s equally charming and frightening performance as the bloodthirsty count.
7. Peter Loew – Vampire’s Kiss
OK, he’s not technically a vampire, but this is Nicolas Cage at his absolute craziest, so who cares if he doesn’t actually require blood for sustenance?
6. Dracula – Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Dracula has been done so many times it’s hard for any modern actor to leave his own original mark on the character, but Gary Oldman did just that in Francis Ford Coppola’s ambitious gothic horror by creating a count unlike anything we’d ever seen before.
5. Kurt Barlow – Salem’s Lot
A much better Stephen King adaptation, and possibly the scariest TV movie ever made, the Nosferatu-like Barlow is what nightmares are made of, and reminds us that vampires are supposed to be scary.
4. Santanico Pandemonium – From Dusk till Dawn
Talk about an iconic performance. Salma Hayek’s sexy snake dance is forever ingrained in the brains of many men who came of age in the ’90s, but it’s her transformation to a snake-like vampire queen that completely changes the tone of this film from crime caper to pure horror which earns her such a high ranking here.
3. Dracula – Horror of Dracula
For many, Christopher Lee’s performance here is the gold standard when it comes to Dracula portrayals, and it’s hard to argue with them. Lee is suave, menacing, and imposing, and definitely not someone whose castle you’d ever want to visit.
2. Count Orlok – Nosferatu
The one that started it all, the monster of this nearly 100-year-old German silent film still holds up as one of the most disturbing and unnerving creatures to ever appear on screen.
1. Dracula – Dracula
Was there really ever any doubt? When you hear the word “vampire,” your mind inevitably goes first to Bela Lugosi in this 1931 classic. His performance defined the entire genre, and there’s no escaping his influence. His Dracula will forever remain the greatest movie vampire of all time.