Following is my list, in chronological order, of five vampire films and TV shows that are must-sees. If you are a fan of vampire fiction, then you might be familiar with everything on my list. If not, but you still enjoy a good horror, check out these five greats:
A man gets pulled into a group of vampires—and their very dark world—after getting bitten. He struggles to survive, the moral dilemma of “kill or be killed” weighing heavily on him. He falls for the woman who turned him, learning that she is as much a hapless victim as he, while he works against the clock to reclaim his humanity.
Near Dark is a rare gem, with good dialogue, great acting, and an ending that will leave you with goose bumps. The special effects are great for 1987, and the vampires’ mythos and lifestyle are both well conceived. The story gives a terrifying look at the vampire’s point of view, without romanticizing or glorifying it. These vampires are hard, gritty, and as evil as they come. They can’t fly or control minds, but they are nonetheless scary.
Near Dark won’t leave you with nightmares, but it will haunt you.
An 800-year-old vampire attempts to right the wrongs of his life by swearing off murder and becoming a police detective. He becomes close friends with the medical examiner, who learns his secret and researches a way to make him human again.
Forever Knight is one of those rare guilty pleasures that I looked forward to every week. The special effects are on par with other early ‘90s television shows: minimalistic, but effective. The character dynamics are fun, the story is provocative, and the progression of the series is well crafted. The lead character’s struggle to interact with and “be” human is fascinating. I still can see in my mind’s eye the recurring scene in which he watches the sunrise through live camera feeds while drinking blood from a wine bottle. Brilliant!
A Police detective stumbles upon a vampire underground while investigating mob activities, finding the five secret clans on the brink of war. He and the leader of the clans, who slowly falls for a human reporter, work together to keep order and prevent the truth about the “Kindred” hidden from the mainstream. The series is based on the role-playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade.
It is unfortunate that Kindred: The Embraced only lasted for one season, as it had amazing potential. The characters were well developed, the acting very good, and the storyline intriguing. Tragically, the lead actor died in a motorcycle accident before another season could be shot.
This has got to be one of the most novel vampire movie concepts I’ve ever seen: A vampire plays a human playing a vampire in the silent film, Nosferatu. The director finds it makes for a realistic horror film—but he also loses most of his cast and crew during the filming.
Shadow of the Vampire is artfully dark and delightfully smart. The acting is phenomenal across the board, the character progression flawless (particularly the director’s descent into madness as he sees the repercussions of bringing a real vampire onboard accrue), and one of the best endings I’ve seen. This movie is highly disturbing and equally provocative.
A little boy befriends a little girl, who turns out to be a vampire temporarily living next door with her adult caretaker. As the town becomes plagued with murders, the boy slowly learns his friend’s secret.
Let the Right One In has so many amazing qualities, it’s hard to know where to begin in describing it. The dynamics created between the perceived childhood innocence in both lead characters and the bloodthirsty monster the little girl truly is makes this story both creepy and genius. The friendship that develops between the two lead characters is deep and touching, but the moral dilemmas posed through the story’s progression are equally poignant—while also, at the same time, being absolutely horrifying. Let the Right One In may be the last on this list, but it is probably one of the greatest vampire films ever made.