Vampire movies in the 80s still meant big hair, kind of outrageous clothing, and a kind of punk rock or very gothic feel that was leading into the 90s and would eventually become something more classy in nature and less punk. But as far as the 80s went a lot of things were in a transitory phase that was a bit hard to figure out at times. Vampires were no different as they were coming off being the cold and dead-eyed, ravenous beings that sought to charm their prey and were becoming far more feral and likened to wild animals on the hunt. For some of them this was pretty accurate, but others tended to remain steeped in myth and lore as they tried to keep to the old ways that had seemingly kept the vampire movies fresh and enjoyable for so long. But like everything else, they had to change with the times to really survive.
Here are some of the best vampire films from the 80s.
5. Once Bitten
While the 80s didn’t produce a whole lot of great vampire movies this one was pretty funny at least and it kind of heralded the arrival of Jim Carrey since he was the hopeless and somewhat clueless guy that was involved with one woman but couldn’t get anywhere and so he turned to an older woman for his kicks. Unfortunately that older woman happened to be much, MUCH older and, a serious drawback, she was a vampire that wanted more from him than he was ready to give. Eventually it became a battle to see who he would finally go with, the vampire that wanted him or the girl that loved him.
So honestly, it wasn’t just a vampire movie, but Dracula was in charge so we’ll go with it. Out of all the movie monsters Dracula is the one with the greatest amount of life experience coupled with the kind of intelligence that is needed to hatch any kind of plot. Yes, the mummy has more life experience but between the Boris Karloff and Brendan Fraser eras the mummy’s that were put onto the screen never had much in the way of intelligence as they were just bandage-wrapped zombies shuffling about. In this film however Dracula was pulling all the strings and yet since he never figured on the precocious nature of children he found himself at a loss more than once in the movie.
3. A Return to Salem’s Lot
This one might fall short of the first film but you can’t deny that an entire town that’s become vampires, give or take a few that are kept as a food supply and to give the town a pretense of normalcy, is pretty frightening. It’s the kind of town you don’t linger in unless you’ve got a good reason, and being the next meal for the town’s inhabitants doesn’t seem like a great reason. Stephen King penned the book that inspired the first movie and it would seem that he had as much to do with this one as well. Unfortunately sequels don’t always do quite as well, but in this case things were at least spooky enough to warrant some attention.
2. Fright Night
This one has almost been lost to film history save for the fact that it’s remembered by those of us that grew up during this decade and can remember a lot of the movies that scared the living hell out of us. Fright Night was almost funny however in many instances despite the fact that it was supposed to be terrifying. When you have the options of laughing or shaking in your seat though laughing tends to take some of the edge off and can actually open your eyes to things in the movie that you might have thought were just outright creepy and worthy of cringing and hiding your eyes from.
Cheesy dialogue, corny ideas, and the lead vampire was rocking a mullet. Yet for all that this movie has become a cult classic for a good reason, it’s just flat out awesome. Imagine heavy metal punks with the big hair and the tattered clothing, and the fangs and crazy eyes of vampires that are nearly feral. That should set your heart to pumping just a bit faster, or at least it did back in the day. The Lost Boys actually spawned two sequels that featured Corey Feldman as the main star this time and without a doubt they tanked and went straight to video. But the first one was golden no matter how it did at the box office since many of us can probably remember the holy water bath and the grandpa that knew about the vampires but never said anything about them until the end of the movie.
Why waste a good surprise after all?