10 Best Female Vampires in Cinema, Ranked


Vampire mythology has existed throughout various cultures for centuries. Although vampires are typically characterized as nocturnal parasitic creatures that feed off of human blood (or energy, in the case of ‘psychic vampires’), individual aspects of vampire lore vary from story to story. As a symbol, the vampire has been used to explore myriad themes and political perspectives – from reactionary representations of societal ‘deviance’ to subversive and progressive portrayals of empowered outsiders.

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Many of pop culture’s most famous vampires are male, from Bram Stoker’s iconic villain Count Dracula to more recent examples like Marvel Comics character Michael Morbius and Twilight‘s romantic hero Edward Cullen. However, unlike with many other classic movie monsters, female vampires are very frequently represented in films. Often engaging with themes of feminism and gender – as well as simply telling fun, spooky stories – these are the 10 best representations of female vampires in cinema.

10 Ernessa Bloch

‘The Moth Diaries’ (2011)

Image via Alliance Communications

Adapted from Rachel Klein‘s 2002 novel, The Moth Diaries is a 2011 gothic teen horror film written and directed by Mary Harron, known for 2000’s classic serial killer film American Psycho. Taking place in an all-girls boarding school, the film follows Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) – a recently-bereaved teenage girl – as her life is thrown into turmoil with the arrival of the mysterious new girl Ernessa Bloch (Lily Cole). Rebecca becomes increasingly isolated and paranoid as she begins to suspect Ernessa is a vampire feeding on her best friend Lucy (Sarah Gadon), and is forced to confront her depression and grief.

The Moth Diaries was negatively received at the time of release but is deserving of a critical reevaluation for its value as a sapphic horror film, its deliciously gothic atmosphere, and its excellent portrayal of a vampire. The film makes allusions to Sheridan Le Fanu‘s classic vampire tale Carmilla through its representation of Ernessa as a seductive force luring Rebecca’s friends to certain doom. Ernessa is enigmatic and ghostly, personifying Rebecca’s grief and depression in a captivating interpretation of vampire mythology.

The Moth Diaries
Release Date
September 6, 2011

Director
Mary Harron

Runtime
85

Watch on AMC+

9 Santánico Pandemonium

‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ (1996)

Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium, a woman in a bikini with a python snake on her shoulders in 'From Dusk Till Dawn'

Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn is a 1996 crime drama-turned-vampire movie. The film follows Seth (George Clooney) and Richie Gecko (Tarantino), two brothers on the run after an armed bank robbery, as they attempt to cross the border from the USA to Mexico. Taking a lapsed Christian family (Harvey Keitel, Ernest Liu and Juliette Lewis) hostage, the brothers intend to hide in a remote Mexican strip club/bar, but their plans are interrupted when it is revealed that it is populated with vampires.

Portrayed by Salma Hayek Pinault, Santánico Pandemonium is an ancient vampire who performs at the bar, luring bikers and truckers to the bar at night with erotic dance performances before locking the doors and viciously feeding upon them. Despite only appearing in the film for around 10 minutes, the character and Hayek’s performance are some of the most memorable elements of From Dusk Till Dawn, owning every moment of screen time she has with her hypnotic movements and her character’s clearly sinister intentions.

From Dusk Till Dawn
Release Date
January 19, 1996

Runtime
108

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8 Izabela

‘I Like Bats’ (1986)

Katarzyna Walter as a vampire in 'I Like Bats'
Image via Zespół Filmowy Perspektywa.

Directed by Grzegorz Warchoł, I Like Bats is a 1986 Polish darkly comedic horror-drama. The film follows Izabela (Katarzyna Walter), a vampire who works at her aunt’s oddity shop in a small Polish town while feeding on men at night. However, when Izabela meets a handsome psychiatrist named Rudolf (Marek Barbasiewicz), she decides to seek treatment at his rehabilitation center. The two embark on a complicated therapeutic relationship, with Izabela nursing romantic feelings, while Rudolf believes she is simply mentally ill rather than supernatural.

Despite its obscurity, I Like Bats is an incredibly watchable film. The concept of a vampire seeking clinical treatment for her condition is a fun and unique premise that makes the film stand out among its genre cohorts. Romantic elements frequently feature in vampire films, and they are very prominent in I Like Bats, with Izabela’s primary motivation being her newly awakened romantic desire for Rudolf. Witty, lonely and undeniably cool, Izabela is a highly likable protagonist.

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7 Dezzy

‘Bliss’ (2019)

Dora Madison Burge as Dezzy praying to a red wall in Bliss
Image via Dark Sky Films

Bliss is a 2019 neo-giallo horror film written and directed by Joe Begos. The film follows Dezzy (Dora Madison), an artist dealing with creative block, who becomes overtaken by madness and bloodlust after using a hallucinogenic drug called ‘bliss’. Although bliss gives Dezzy the artistic inspiration she has been craving, it transforms her into a violent and out-of-control vampire. The film uses vampirism as an allegory for drug addiction, portraying the agony of cravings as well as the destruction caused by Dezzy giving in to her impulses.

Bliss is an intense, gory, psychedelic horror film with an excellent metal soundtrack. With its fast pace, flashy montage sequences, and neon-lit cinematography, Bliss makes for an exhilarating viewing experience. Dora Madison is captivating in the lead role, committing wholeheartedly to the madness Dezzy is consumed by, as well as perfectly conveying her snarky personality and creative frustration. Characterized as a foul-mouthed burnt-out artist who lives alone in Los Angeles, Dezzy is the quintessential Millennial American vampire.

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6 Clara and Eleanor Webb

‘Byzantium’ (2012)

Clara and Eleanor embracing in Byzantium
Image via StudioCanal.

Byzantium is a 2012 vampire film directed by Interview with the Vampire‘s Neil Jordan and written by Moira Buffini based on her stage play A Vampire Story. The film follows Eleanor Webb (Saoirse Ronan), a teenage vampire, and her mother Clara (Gemma Arterton) as they relocate to a seaside town with particular relevance to their past. There, the familial bond between the two characters becomes increasingly fractured as both women contend with centuries-old trauma as well as powerful vampire foes.

One of the 2010s’ best vampire films, Byzantium is a beautiful and sensitive drama with feminist themes that features some truly gruesome scenes of violence and blood-drinking. Clara and Eleanor are both compelling in their own rights, and their relationship is the crux of the film, catalyzed by Eleanor’s desire to self-actualize and tell her story while Clara is desperate to remain in hiding. Brought to life by great lead performances from Ronan and Arterton, Clara and Eleanor are excellent female vampire characters.

Byzantium
Release Date
September 9, 2012

Runtime
118

Watch on AMC+

5 Selene

‘Underworld’ (2003)

Kate Beckinsale as Selene protecting werewolf Michael played by Scott Speedman in Underworld
Image via Screen Gems

Directed by Len Wiseman from a screenplay by Daniel McBride, Underworld is a 2003 gothic action film. The film follows Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire who works as an assassin known as a Death Dealer, as she navigates a centuries-old conflict between vampires and werewolves – known as ‘Lycans’ throughout the film and its larger franchise. When Selene develops feelings for Michael (Scott Speedman), a human with the genetic potential to become a vampire-werewolf hybrid, her ethics and alliance with her kin are thrown into question as the war wages on.

The Underworld franchise is beloved by many fans and cemented Kate Beckinsale’s potential as an action star and a franchise lead, all thanks to the strengths of the first film. Selene is a compelling protagonist due to her moral turmoil, tragic backstory, and undeniably badass fighting abilities, and her all-black leather and latex outfit was instantly iconic. Selene has a strong arc – progressing from a cold-hearted killer to something more human as she begins to fall for Michael and question the righteousness of her cause – and is an extremely strong vampire protagonist.

Underworld
Release Date
September 19, 2003

Runtime
121

Watch on AMC+

4 Miriam Blaylock

‘The Hunger’ (1983)

Miriam Blaylock from The Hunger wearing a pearl veil.
Image via MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

Directed by Tony Scott, written by Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas and adapted from Whitley Strieber‘s 1981 novel of the same name, The Hunger is a British vampire horror film. The film follows Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve), a vampire from Ancient Egyptian times who seduces lovers every several hundred years with the promise of eternal life. However, it becomes horribly clear that eternal youth is not part of this bargain when her partner John (David Bowie), a cellist from 18th century France, finds himself rapidly aging and becoming immobilized.

The Hunger is an artful and visually striking film, marking an astonishing debut for Tony Scott. The film explores themes of aging, queerness, and complicated relationships through Miriam’s partnerships with John and Sarah (Susan Sarandon). Although Miriam is ruthless and exploitative in her relationships – using her partners for her own selfish whims – she is also tender and romantic, expressing genuine emotions for both John and Sarah.

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3 Eve and Ava

‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ (2013)

only-lovers-left-alive-tom-hiddleston-tilda-swinton

Written and directed by indie auteur filmmaker Jim Jarmush, Only Lovers Left Alive is a 2013 fantasy romantic drama. The film follows Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), a married couple of centuries-old vampires. Exploring the contrast between the two protagonists, the film showcases Adam’s disillusion with humanity as well as Eve’s optimism and love of culture and art. Surprisingly life-affirming and romantic despite all its blood, Only Lovers Left Alive reckons with the value of love, companionship and music.

Eve is a beautifully subversive vampire character – she is emotionally honest and caring with her loved ones, she relishes her opportunity to experience human art both throughout her centuries of living and in the present day, and above all else, she is humane, obtaining blood through somewhat ethical sources and advocating against killing humans. In addition, the film also features Eve’s younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska), who behaves like a flighty, playful, and unreliable young woman despite her old age. Despite sharing her bright spirit, Ava is far less ethical than Eve and repeatedly betrays and mistreats Adam, as well as unrepentantly killing humans. In Eve and Ava, Only Lovers Left Alive presents two compelling and complex female vampires.

Watch on Paramount+

2 The Girl

‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ (2014)

Sheila Vand as The Girl, a young woman with fangs wearing a chador in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Image Via Vice Films

Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a 2014 Persian-language horror Western shot in the USA but set in Iran. The film follows Arash (Arash Marandi), a young man entangled in the drug underworld due to his father Hossein’s (Marshall Manesh) active heroin addiction. Arash begins a relationship with a mysterious woman (Sheila Vand) who reveals herself to be a vampire, with the two bonding over their mutual interests and showing one another vulnerability. With striking black-and-white visuals, the film explores themes of womanhood, exploitation, and loneliness through its central characters.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night has been highly critically praised as a subversive feminist horror film, framing a woman of color as a complex and empowered vampire rather than as a victim of violence. The titular ‘girl’, played fantastically and enigmatically by Sheila Vand, is both Arash’s love interest and his potential undoing, with her intoxicating effect on him and other men tying into the film’s themes of substance addiction. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a masterpiece and Sheila Vand’s vampire character is absolutely unforgettable.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Release Date
April 20, 2015

Director
Ana Lily Amirpour

Cast
Sheila Vand , Arash Marandi , Marshall Manesh , Mozhan Marnò , Dominic Rains , Rome Shadanloo

Runtime
101 minutes

Rent on Apple TV

1 Rose the Hat

‘Doctor Sleep’ (2019)

Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat in Doctor Sleep (2019)
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Based on the 2013 novel by literary horror master Stephen King, Doctor Sleep is a 2019 supernatural horror film written and directed by horror maestro Mike Flanagan. The film is a sequel to The Shining, starring Ewan McGregor as the adult version of Dan Torrance. Doctor Sleep follows Dan as he struggles with alcoholism, due to his familial trauma at the Overlook Hotel, and attempts to gain control of his psychic powers. When Dan telepathically befriends Abra (Kyliegh Curran) a young girl with shining powers, the two uncover a secret group of psychic vampires terrorizing and feeding on children with supernatural abilities.

Portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson in one of her best performances, Rose the Hat is the cult leader of the psychic vampire gang The True Knot. In an interview with Bustle, Rebecca Ferguson described playing the character as « liberating » due to Rose’s complexities and her « zest for life » despite being an immortal monster. Rose the Hat is characterized as a strong, cruel and exceptionally powerful villain, as well as being charismatic and seductive, making her one of Stephen King’s most terrifying villains and one of cinema’s greatest female vampires.

Doctor Sleep
Release Date
October 30, 2019

Runtime
153

Rent on Apple TV

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