Vampires are among the most prominent horror creatures in pop culture, and there have been a few films and shows that have taken these monsters and put a more comedic spin on their stories. Renfield, the new movie starring Nicolas Cage as a very campy Count Dracula, is just the latest example of this trend that, pardon the pun, refuses to die.
Such parodies and comedic homages have allowed these bloodsucking beasts to stay fresh in the horror genre a century after they became cultural icons. So now, let’s dig up the comedy films and TV shows that continue to immortalize the vampire subgenre.
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
You can’t go wrong with Mel Brooks, especially when he’s teamed up with the legendary Leslie Nielsen (“I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley”). In a similar vein to Young Frankenstein, this film is a ridiculous retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic horror story filled with Brooks’ brand of comedic flair. While this movie may not measure up to some of Brooks’ other comedy masterpieces, it still features enough laughs to warrant a late-night viewing.
The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Before he shocked the world with Rosemary’s Baby, controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski directed and starred in this film about the two titular vampire killers, who travel to Transylvania and try to rescue a local woman from the bloodsucking Count von Krolock. Basically The Pink Panther, but with vampires, this posh but absurd flick is an underrated piece from Polanski’s filmography featuring marvelous performances from Jack MacGowran and Sharon Tate. No matter what you think of Polanski, this film is still worth a watch for any fan of old-school comedy.
Nicolas Cage as Dracula? Yes, please! This new horror comedy shows Dracula’s longtime familiar Renfield trying to get out of his abusive relationship with his dark master. Renfield also has to battle sadistic mobsters, corrupt cops, and ska-loving drug dealers.
Despite premiering to mixed reviews, Renfield is a hilarious and ultraviolent bloodbath that presents an empowering story of a man seeking redemption and choosing to treat himself with love and kindness. Cage also gives one of the best performances of his career as the deliciously evil Dracula, which will make everyone think he’s an actual vampire even more.
The Lost Boys (1987)
The late director Joel Schumacher helped revolutionize vampire media with this sleek black comedy about a teenager who encounters a group of bloodsucking bikers after moving to the beaches of California.
As the title suggests, The Lost Boys is a dark and fiery fairy tale that hypnotizes the viewer with its enchanting style, making for one of the strangest, but most beloved coming-of-age tales to come out of the ’80s. The film very much started the trend of vampires being sexy heartthrobs that would permeate pop culture in the following years.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Written by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, What We Do in the Shadows follows the “regular” lives of a group of vampire flatmates living in modern-day New Zealand, as presented through the lens of a local documentary crew. There’s the adorable dandy Viago, the young bad boy Deacon, the tyrannical Vladislav the Poker, the ancient nosferatu Petyr, and the unexpected newcomer, Nick. But despite all these hilariously eccentric characters, the film somehow takes a regular IT guy named Stu and makes him the breakout star.
From the opening flat meeting to the vampires getting dressed without reflections to their encounter with the werewolves (not “swearwolves”), the film packs so many funny moments and quotable lines into just 85 minutes that the laughter is almost impossible to contain. At the same time, it depicts a heartfelt story about the vampires struggling to find love and happiness in their never-ending lives, making for a terrific blend of humor and pathos.
What We Do in the Shadows (2019-present)
Just as The Office received the Hollywood treatment, Taiki Waititi’s vampire mockumentary got a TV adaptation that moves the story from New Zealand all the way to New York City. This ongoing show features an entirely new cast of roommates, which includes the former Ottoman leader Nandor the Relentless, the perpetually horny nobleman Laszlo Cravensworth, and his good lady wife, Nadja of Antipaxos. The show’s main players stand out spectacularly with their ridiculous antics and hilarious one-liners.
It also expands the lore of the franchise by including the energy vampire Colin Robinson and the group’s familiar-turned-vampire killer Guillermo de la Cruz. Each episode features a new and spectacular blend of the mundane and the monstrous as the cast encounters all sorts of mythical creatures, including ghosts, witches, zombies, and werewolves (of course). With four seasons and 17 Emmy nominations under its belt, the show doesn’t seem like it will enter the coffin anytime soon.
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