Vampires and sexiness go together like peanut butter and jelly. While that connection has become more explicit in recent years, its roots reach all the way back to the early days of horror cinema. For example, Bela Lugosi was a handsome man, and Dracula’s Daughter, Universal’s sequel to the 1931 classic, features some famously lesbian subtext. Later iterations of these creatures often followed suit (with varying levels of subtlety), so when modern horror fans think of vampires, sex is often not far behind.
But that’s not always the case. There are plenty of vampire movies that ditch the sex appeal and go straight for the jugular, so if you just want your bloodsuckers to be brutal killing machines or gruesome monsters, there’s more than enough room in this subgenre for you. To help get you started, here are five of the best vampire flicks that don’t make their vampires sexy, and I’m sure they’ll slake your thirst for the more horrific side of these classic movie monsters.
We’re going to start off somewhat unconventionally, with a movie that isn’t strictly about vampires. Black Sabbath is a classic anthology film directed by the great Mario Bava, and it tells three stories that span a wide gamut of horror subgenres. One of them is a slasher/psychological thriller, another is a ghost story, and the best of the bunch is about a wurdalak, a vampire from Slavic mythology that feeds especially on the blood of its loved ones.
The vampire in this story is played by Boris Karloff, and even though he’s not made up to look nearly as horrific as the other bloodsuckers on this list, he’s definitely not sexy either. For starters, Karloff was in his seventies when this movie was made, so even though he looked good for his age, he was no sex symbol. On top of that, the wurdalak’s victims are all close family members, so a sexy vampire would’ve been out of place in this story. Instead, Black Sabbath just lets him be a creepy monster without worrying about his sex appeal one way or the other, and for this particular nosferatu, that approach makes for an all-time classic anthology segment.
Cronos is a Mexican movie from the early 1990s, and it introduced the world to the great Guillermo del Toro. It’s about a man who finds a strange device made by a mysterious alchemist hundreds of years ago, and after he accidentally activates it, it slowly turns him into a vampire.
When the story begins, the main character, Jesús Gris, is a normal-looking elderly man, and at first the transformation actually restores his vigor and makes him look a bit younger. He thinks the device is doing him good, but he doesn’t realize just how diabolical it really is.
In the third act, Jesús starts to look like a walking corpse, and once this decline begins, his appearance deteriorates at a pretty rapid pace. At one point, he even peels some of the skin off his face, and he eventually turns into a legit monster. By the time the credits roll, the poor guy is truly disgusting, so even though he starts out pretty ordinary, his gruesome metamorphosis more than earns Cronos a spot on this list.
30 Days of Night
30 Days of Night is one of those genius ideas that are super hard to come up with but that seem really obvious once someone does. The story takes place in Barrow, Alaska, a small town that experiences thirty straight days of darkness every winter, and when a group of vampires finds out about it, they turn the place into a bloodsucker’s paradise.
Without any sunlight to worry about, these creatures have free rein to do whatever they want, and they’re absolutely brutal. They have some human characteristics, like a hierarchy and a language, but once they go on the attack, they’re utter savages. They go all out when they devour their victims, and when they come up for air, they don’t bother to wipe the blood from their mouths.
On top of all that, these monsters don’t just have two fangs that extend beyond the rest of their teeth. No, all of their teeth are razor sharp, so even though their faces aren’t nearly as twisted as some of the other vampires on this list, they look no less demonic. There’s absolutely nothing sexual about these creatures, so if you like your bloodsuckers to straddle the line between animal and human, 30 Days of Night is right up your alley.
Stake Land is a really interesting concept. Much like the classic novel I am Legend (and all its cinematic adaptations), this movie takes the idea of a zombie apocalypse and substitutes vampires for zombies, but unlike that book, there’s more than one human being left alive. In fact, there are a whole lot, and because vampires only come out at night, there are actually still some functioning towns and villages left. The film follows a young kid named Martin and his vampire-hunting mentor Mister as they travel this post-apocalyptic world, and it puts some really interesting twists on the classic vampire tale.
Most significantly for this list, the movie makes its vampires even more savage than the ones in 30 Days of Night. They’re straight up feral, without any hint of humanity left, and they look and act more like animals than people. For example, they growl like beasts, they sometimes crawl on all fours, and their faces are often twisted like deformed Neanderthals. These bloodsuckers are the absolute antithesis of sexy, so more than any other film on this list, Stake Land strips away anything even remotely attractive about its vampires and leaves you with just the bloody, animalistic core.
Blood Vessel is a Shudder exclusive film that didn’t get the buzz it deserved when it hit the horror streaming service last year. It’s set during World War II, and it follows a group of military personnel from various Allied countries who come upon an abandoned German ship floating aimlessly at sea. As they search the vessel, they find evidence of an inexplicable catastrophe, and they unwittingly unleash a family of vampires that’s looking for its next meal.
The undead family in this movie consists of a daughter, a mother, and a father, and while the daughter looks like a regular young girl, her parents are some of the most deserving vampires on this list. They have rat-like faces that not even a mother could love, and they make Count Orlok from Nosferatu look like the sexiest ghoul on the block. These are quite possibly the two ugliest bloodsuckers I’ve ever seen, so if you’re looking for an anti-Twilight undead love story, you can’t do much better than Blood Vessel.