The ‘80s were a brilliant time for cinema, in which many sagas and cult classics thrilled audiences. And as in every decade, there are trendy themes that reign in popular culture, the ‘80s were no exception, with the immense popularity of fantasy and horror movies.

As you well know, classic vampire stories usually mix both genres, and in the 80s they exploded into cinema and gave us some of the best vampire movies we still consider gems to this day, as well as others that went a little unnoticed, but with great quality all the same.

We were introduced to vampires never seen before, leaving behind the mystery of Nosferatu and the elegance of Count Dracula that characterized them for decades. In the 1980s vampires became more urban creatures, mixing with civilians in the cities, but being more fierce and brutal while maintaining their eternal thirst for blood.

So sharpen your wooden stakes and join us to remember,

The Best Vampire Movies Of The 80s

My Best Friend is a Vampire (1987)

My Best Friend is a Vampire MovieWe start the list with this comedic vampire film directed by Jimmy Huston.My Best Friend is a Vampire (from Amazon) introduces us to a teenager who has to deal with high school and the typical conflicts that arise in this hormone-fueled stage of life.

It sounds like a pretty average ‘80s movie so far, but everything changes when he meets a vampire girl who turns him into a vampire. This starts an odyssey in the life of the young man, who tries to hide his evil condition from his parents while escaping from a couple of vampire hunters who, more than antagonists, are the ones who make you laugh the most in the story. 

But there are also good things in the life of our teenage vampire, like the girl he has a crush on in high school, and to win her over, he relies on the help of his vampire mentor.

A film that moves away from vampire horror and instead gives us a simple story that we have already seen many times but with a very funny twist, perfect to watch with friends and family.

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A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

A Return to Salem's Lot Blu-rayAs its name suggests, this is the sequel to Stephen King’s famous novel Salem’s Lot in film format.

It was directed by Larry Cohen, who had previously tried to adapt the film, but his proposal did not convince Warner producers, who instead gave the green light to Paul Monash and Tobe Hooper to make the 1979 miniseries based on the novel.

But Cohen would not give up, creating this film which captured his vision of the story of the town in which practically everyone is a vampire.

The narrative stars Michael Moriarty as an anthropologist who returns to Salem’s Lot, his hometown, to discover that it is plagued by the undead and that the few remaining humans serve as food for these evil creatures.

This horror film was not successful either critically or with audiences, despite being based on a successful King title. However, it has a few interesting scenes and it’s always a creepy experience to revisit this town.

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Once Bitten (1985) 

Once Bitten DVDBecause Jim Carrey comedies will never go out of style… This Howard Storm-directed film introduces us to teenager Mark, played by the hilarious Jim Carrey in one of his first starring film roles.

It turns out that Mark is a virgin, and like every hormonal teenager, he has the desire to lose his virginity as soon as possible.

And who can fulfill this is the Countess, played by Lauren Hutton, a centuries-old vampire who drinks the blood of young virgins to keep herself beautiful and full of “life.” The Countess sets her eyes (or rather fangs), on Mark, her next victim.

Loaded with the over-the-top humor of the juvenile genre of the time along with the spicy moments that come with it, Once Bitten (from Amazon) is a comedy horror film with 94 straight minutes of laughs and fun, even though it falls into certain conveniences and clichés.

It’s all made up for by a young Jim Carrey who was taking his first steps in the industry, where years later he would become one of its biggest stars.

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Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

Vampire's Kiss

We add another appearance of a legendary actor, Nicolas Cage, loved by some, overrated by others, but known by all.

In this dark comedy film directed by Robert Bierman, Cage takes on the role of Peter, an arrogant Manhattan literary agent who gradually loses his mind after spending a night with a seductive woman.

Peter is adamant that the woman is a bloodsucker who is feeding on him, laments that his poor secretary, played by Maria Conchita, is forced to listen to day after day. 

In this story, rather than being about vampires, it’s about Peter’s insanity, played in a very exaggerated way by Cage, who is good at these roles. But it’s not a criticism at all, to the contrary, it’s really fun to watch because of all the crazy things the main character does.

Despite being rejected at its premiere by critics and audiences, today it is remembered indirectly when using the famous meme “You don’t say” by Nicola Cage, which came from this film. A curious legacy to say the least.

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Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989)

Sundown: The Vampire In RetreatNowadays, perhaps not many people remember the mythical production company Vestron Pictures, but those who do remember it, know very well for the good movies they released, such as the Dirty Dancing phenomenon.

But for every banger they released, they also released another 100 very bad and low-budget movies. It was precisely this business model that gave way to stories without limits that managed to entertain a lot. 

Sundown was one of his last films before the studio’s closure. Directed by Anthony Hickox, this story with western overtones places us in the desolate desert of Purgatory, a fictitious town, where a group of vampires, led by an old count, seek to live in peace leaving behind their violent habits. They even have a factory of artificial blood.

But not everything would be so calm, because one of the vampires wants to feed on humans as before, starting a revolution in the village in which a human family is left in the middle.

And if that wasn’t enough, a vampire hunter appears to get involved in the conflict, a descendant of the legendary Van Helsing and played by the legendary Bruce Campbell.

If you missed this one, you definitely need to go back for a watch.

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Lifeforce (1985)

LifeforceWho would think that representing vampires as space aliens would be a good idea? Well, Colin Wilson thought so, releasing his novel Space Vampires in 1976, which was made into a movie by Tobe Hooper (maybe you’re familiar with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). The truth is, this crazy proposal didn’t turn out badly at all.

The story begins with a space mission that on its way encounters a very old ship, full of strange mummified creatures. The astronauts also find 3 humanoids asleep in capsules, which they decide to take back to Earth… with catastrophic consequences.

At the time, the film was a huge failure for Cannon Films, its producer, as its peculiar plot did not end up catching on with audiences. 

Nowadays Lifeforce (from Amazon) is remembered as a cult film, with many special effects scenes that aged very well and exquisite composition. And the twist they gave to the genre is something that deserves to be applauded, it could have gone very wrong, but it came out as something that, while not perfect, is quite enjoyable.

This kind of idea would not come at all bad in today’s film industry, saturated with the same formulas.

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Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night on Blu-ray

Another mix of horror, comedy, and teenagers, something that became quite popular in the 1980s.

This film, directed by Tom Holland (not the one who plays Spider-Man, but the one who directed Chucky) tells the story of a town where several young girls are found dead in the streets.

Charley (William Ragsdale), a teenager in the town, points the finger at his new neighbor, Jerry (Chris Sarandon) as the culprit of the murders after he sees him biting a girl’s neck. Of course, no one believes his new neighbor is a vampire, not even his mother or girlfriend, which is quite frustrating because Jerry really is a vampire and is trying to kill Charley. 

Although the teenager has an ace up his sleeve, the movie vampire hunter and now TV host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who “by surprise” ends up being a fraud, overestimated by Charley. 

Fright Night (from Amazon) is a parody of the vampire and horror genre in general, which used many of its scenes to mock the industry, but at the same time broke stereotypes that would later change the way vampires are portrayed.

The film has it all, an enveloping atmosphere and soundtrack, charismatic characters, and scenes of great visual impact in which the creatures’ makeup takes center stage. Because yes, in this story there are not only vampires…

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Near Dark (1987)

Near DarkThe bronze medal goes to this film directed by Kathryn Bigelow, with an extremely violent and raw atmosphere.

The story, a mixture of western and road movie, introduces us to a young cowboy, Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) who one night falls in love with a beautiful girl, Mae (Jenny Wright) who very kindly ends up biting his neck.

Now turning into a vampire, Caleb is forced to join Jesse (Lance Henriksen) and his buddies, a sort of “family” of bloodsucking psychopaths who love to play with their victims before feeding on them. 

This is the beginning of a journey in which we will see these sadistic vampires do all sorts of atrocities, while Caleb fights against his new nature to stay as human as possible.

Near Dark (from Amazon) is a tough film to watch but with artistic quality, giving us a new, more scientific, and realistic point of view on the phenomenon of vampirism. You don’t even see fangs on the characters, but boy, do they know how to bite. 

Unfortunately, this jewel passed without shame or glory in theaters, getting lost in history, but those who caught it place it as one of the best vampire movies ever made.

In addition, the charismatic Bill Paxton is part of this film as one of the vampires, and that’s enough to get anyone hooked.

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Lost Boys (1987)

The Lost Boys 4K Ultra HDThe best way to sum up this excellent movie is to say that it is a mix between Peter Pan and vampires, hence its name, which I’m sure you’ve heard before.

Directed by Joel Schumacher, the plot introduces us to two teenage brothers, Mike played by Jason Patricnew neighbor is a vampire, and the film debut of Corey Haim as Sam, normal and ordinary teenagers who move with their mother (Dianne Wiest) to a not-so-normal ordinary town, because there are rumors of vampire attacks.

Gradually, Mike becomes friends with David (Kiefer Sutherland) the leader of a gang of young bikers… and also vampires.

This story posed quite a challenge for Schumacher, moving away from the kind of movies he was used to make, but he ended up delivering in spades. The director portrayed his vampires with a certain attractive aura and a nihilistic way of thinking, to break the mold of how they used to be adapted to the audiovisual medium.

The story is full of references to Peter Pan, classic literature, and monster movies, mainly in the names of the characters. It also has some groundbreaking special effects for the time and great makeup, which gives the vampires a demonic look when they pull out their fangs.

But it also leaves significant messages to the viewer, referring to friendships, youth, love… And if you add to all that a sinister soundtrack composed by Thomas Newman and the use of songs by Tim Capello, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Lou Gramm, you have a winning formula.

The Lost Boys (from Amazon) was a box office success, especially among the young audience, for whom the film was intended.

Move ahead to today, and Lost Boy went from being one of the best 1980s vampire movies to a popular culture icon, generating a literary adaptation and multiple comic books, with a television series on the way under the CW Network.

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The Hunger (1983)

The Hunger Blu-ray

We end with the film that started the evolution of vampire movies. The Hunger (from Amazon) is a British film directed by Tony Scott and starring Catherine Deneuneve, Susan Sarandon, and the legendary David Bowie (who always had a vampire vibe and you know it).

Catherine plays Miriam, a glamorous collector who not only has a taste for art from different ancient civilizations but likes to turn people into vampires to be her eternal lovers.

Miriam has a problem, her blood is losing power, so her lovers age very fast and end up dying. Something that is happening to her husband, John (David Bowie) so they contact a specialist in geriatrics, Dr. Sarah, to help them in that situation.

But in her lust, Miriam sees Sarah as John’s replacement, creating a tense love triangle.

The Hunger, like many cult films, was way ahead of its time, being misunderstood by the audience and earning very negative reviews from experts. But this did not stop it from becoming an icon of vampire cinema, as it is remembered for the introduction of the gothic element to this genre, a glamorous aesthetic and a story that reinvents the myth adapting it to our times.

And of course, highlighting the erotic and attractive nature of these creatures that only desire blood. 

This take on the vampire may only be remembered by a small group of fans, but it was the one that served as inspiration for later directors who then released the films that redefined vampire cinema. That’s why it’s our first place in our list of the best 80s vampire movies.

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Last update on 2024-04-03 at 21:36 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API