Halloween is upon us and it’s time for something scary. That means vampires! Granted, the folks behind Twilight have tried their best to make these folkloric creatures lame and pathetic, but in my mind, to no avail. Vampires have always had a certain psycho-sexual allure in both literature and in cinema, and no silly glittering nonsense is going to stop that. Here I will give you, not the best vampire movies, but the best vampires themselves. But, as is the usual habit here, please allow me to include a few blood-sucking runner-ups who just missed the final ten.
They are, in no particular order, Nicholas Cage in Vampire’s Kiss, George Hamilton in Love at First Bite, Klaus Kinski in Herzog’s Nosferatu remake and Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire. There are also the vampires from Polanski’s Fearless Vampire Killers, Dreyer’s Vampyr and Guy Maddin’s Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary (black & white, ballet version of the novel, with a Japanese Dracula – how great is that?). And let’s not forget Vampire Hunter D and Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos. Finally, I would also like to give a shout out to The Count from Sesame Street. He, along with Cookie Monster, were two of my best childhood friends. But enough of that. Without further ado, here are my choices for the 10 Best Movie Vampires.
The Gang at the Titty Twister in From Dusk Till Dawn
I couldn’t pick out just one particular vampire here, so why not throw in the whole bunch. This Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino crime-horror hybrid is actually an extremely fun film to watch. Featuring George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis and Cheech Marin, this half small-time-gangster-film, half vampire-nightmare is one hell of a good time. The gang of bloodsuckers, including Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo, Salma Hayek and QT himself are one memorable bunch, helping elevate From Dusk Till Dawn to a modern B-movie classic indeed.
10. Chris Sarandon/Colin Farrell in Fright Night
It doesn’t happen often, but once and a while the remake equals the original. This isn’t necessarily true in the case of Fright Night (1985 vs. 2011) but when it comes to the performances of Mr. Sarandon (the man who gave Susan her married name) and Mr. Farrell (the man who made a lot of husbands angry) as the vampire Jerry, both actors play the part with a giddy arrogance that suits the character perfectly.
9. William Marshall in Blacula & Scream, Blacula, Scream
Coming in the beginning hey day of the Blaxploitation movement and the forerunner of a slew of lesser imitations, William Marshall as an 18th Century African Prince who is turned into a vampire may not exactly be the crowning event in vampire cinema, but the films sure are fun. Quentin Tarantino himself called those some of his favorite horror movies which may automatically make the Blacula films officially low brow. And after it was all over, actor William Marshall would go on to become the King of Cartoons on Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
8. Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys
One of the more iconic film of the 1980′s, The Lost Boys made vampires cool again. Not only were these guys a gang of headbanging bloodsuckers who took shit from no one, they could kick the Twilight vampires butts from here to Santa Clara and back. Leading this pack of fanged misfits is Kiefer Sutherland as David. Okay, perhaps he isn’t technically the leader but he definitely is the coolest. Actually, the original script was a twisted take on the Peter Pan story (hence the title) and had the eventual Sutherland character as Peter and the mother, played by Dianne Wiest, as Wendy. This trendy vampire story was certainly fun, but Sutherland, just twenty at the time of filming, makes it all the much better.
7. Bill Paxton in Near Dark
Severen is a cocky, badass, mean-spirited asshole of a vampire. Bill Paxton’s portrayal of the vampire in Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow’s second feature film is not the type of portrayal that will win the hearts of the fair maidens. Severen is certainly not the suave ladykiller that many a vampire is shown as these days. Unlike the original monstrous lore of the bloodsucker, the modern day vampire is more often than not shown as a seductive creature that lures women into their lair. Instead, Severen is an angry, vengeful beast who preys on the innocent with glee and rapture, just like any good kickass vampire should dammit.
6. Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger
Definitely the sexiest vampire on this list (sorry Max Schreck), the legendary French beauty plays an ancient huntress vampire opposite a not too shabby David Bowie, who seduces a young doctor played by Susan Sarandon. Madame Deneuve, by the time of The Hunger‘s release, 1983, was more than just an icon of French Cinema but its unchallenged queen. Here she plays the ultimate, immortal bitch. But bitch or not (and she is a royal one indeed!), the love scene between Deneuve and Sarandon should be enough to put this sexy vampire flick, and this sexy vampire chick, into the top ten of anyone’s list.
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