Nosferatu was the first adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. It set the blueprint for every horror film that came after. The film still holds up as a haunting and ethereal piece of work.
Vampyr was the first sound film by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. Dreyer has said that he was uncomfortable making the transition into sound and I think the film is better off for it. Dreyer used minimal dialogue, relying solely on cinematic language to tell the story. In doing so, he created a film with an unparalleled atmosphere and ambiance, that is paced much better than a lot of its contemporaries. Also, if you're a fan of dark music, I would highly recommend watching the film with the Year of No Light soundtrack.
Son of Dracula (1943)
Son of Dracula is the third film in the Universal Dracula franchise, succeeding Dracula and Dracula's Daughter. It was the first film to show the physical transformation of Dracula into a bat. It is also notable for being the first time the name Alucard (Dracula backwards) was introduced. This name was later adopted by such works as the Castlevania series and Hellsing.
Horror of Dracula (1958)
Hammer studios revamped all the classic horror franchises in the late 1950's and early 1960's. They started with The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 and made their best film a year later with Horror of Dracula. This was the first film to feature Christopher Lee (RIP) in the role. Hammer amped up the Gothic imagery while still making the film bright and colorful, making this the most visually appealing version of the Count's tale to date.
Black Sunday (1960)
Mario Bava, the film's director, and all the other Italian horror maestros are known for their style over substance approach. Black Sunday has that in spades. That's not a bad thing however. The beautiful yet eerie black and white Gothic imagery of the film leaves a lasting impression on the viewer, one that will haunt their dreams for years to come.
What best-of list is complete without a David Cronenberg movie? Cronenberg's entry to the genre explored the sociopolitical reactions to a vampiric outbreak. The film comments on a lot of social issues that were occurring in Canada at the time it was made because Cronenberg always has to go deep.
Near Dark (1987)
Fuck The Hurt Locker, I will always know Kathryn Bigelow for Near Dark. This is pretty much the perfect vampire movie. It features Bill Paxton in his best and most Bill Paxton-y role. It has a three-dimensional cast of characters that really make you care about the story. The action and horror elements are top notch, but Near Dark also tugs at your emotional heart strings.
Cronos was the debut film by Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director, Guillermo del Toro. He ended up with a vampire film that is wholly unique, moody, atmospheric, and somewhat depressing. It introduced many of del Toro's trademarks including his frequent use of blue and amber and his infatuation with gears.
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
What would happen if Max Shreck (the lead actor of Nosferatu) was actually a vampire? This is the premise for Shadow of the Vampire, a fictionalized account about the making of the 1922 classic. The film features Willem Dafoe in his best role playing Schreck/Orlok.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
This one's not really a "horror" film, but it's a great use of the vampire mythos nonetheless. The film was directed by Jim Jarmusch, famous for Dead Man and Ghost Dog. This is a dramatic and artsy movie, as can be expected of Jarmusch, that provides a fresh take on the bloodsucking beasts we know and love.