The 10 best movie vampires

The 10 best movie vampires. By Simon Miraudo.

This week, blood-sucking gladiatrix Selene (Kate Beckinsale) returns to cinema screens in Underworld – Awakening, the vampire franchise that – fittingly – can’t be killed. Perhaps its popularity should be credited to the cultural obsession with all-things-undead that has existed since Bram Stoker first penned the legendary Dracula in 1897. Or, more likely, it’s due to the recurring image of Beckinsale in a skin-tight leather onesie. Either way, we’re taking the opportunity to look back on our 10 favourite fanged freaks from film (alliteration!). We, of course, regret the following omissions: Vampire in Brooklyn, Lesbian Vampire Killers, Transylmania, Uwe Boll’s BloodRayne trilogy, the four Twilight films, and their spoof Vampire’s Suck.

10. Prince Mamuwalde in Blacula

Super slick William H. Marshall helped kick off the blaxpoitation movement as Prince Mamuwalde (Blacula, to his friends) in this 1972 box office hit. As it’s put in the trailer, he’s ‘Dracula’s soul brother’. In your face, Blackenstein!

9. Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire

Here’s a bit of foreshadowing of things to come. In ninth place is Willem Dafoe‘s Oscar nominated depiction of actor Max Schreck on the set of Nosferatu. According to E. Elias Merhige‘s film, Schreck was an actual vampire recruited by director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich). At the 2001 Academy Awards, the film lost the Best Makeup prize to an equally spooky flick – How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

8. Asa in Black Sunday

One of cinema’s great beauties – Barbara Steele – took on a dual role in Mario Bava‘s still-effective freak-fest Black Sunday, playing resurrected vamp-witch Asa, as well as the gorgeous Princess Katia whose blood is ripe for the drinking. Originally banned in the UK, you can now see it in all its gruesome glory.

7. Peter Loew in Vampire’s Kiss

Let it be known; if Nicolas Cage is eligible for inclusion on any list, he will be included. Though it’s not really clarified whether or not yuppie jerk Peter Loew is actually turned into a vampire, or is merely going insane, Cage’s unparalleled commitment to this role (which included eating a live cockroach, and madly reciting the alphabet) deserves all the praise in the world.

6. Tae-ju in Thirst

South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) tried his hand at horror with 2009’s Thirst, which is about a vampire priest who begins an affair with a woman and eventual bloodsucker. The woman, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin), gets the credit here though, for shape-shifting from timid young thing into a shrill, blood-crazy Lady Macbeth.

5. Count Dracula in Dracula

Easily the most famous movie vampire, Bela Lugosi made movie history in this Universal Monster classic. Though no-one will deny his iconic presence, we must admit to a few personal favourites that trump him…

4. Lestat in Interview with the Vampire

including Tom Cruise (and to a lesser degree, Kirsten Dunst) in Interview with the Vampire! It’s an underrated performance almost as nutty as Cage’s in Vampire’s Kiss, but with humour, charm, pathos, and creepiness to spare. Kind of like Cruise in real life.

3. Satánico Pandemonium in From Dusk til Dawn

It remains one of the best, most terrifying twists in recent times; when Robert Rodriguez‘s From Dusk Til Dawn evolves from a criminal-getaway pic into an oh-my-God-the-strippers-are-vampires pic. Salma Hayek‘s wordless seduction of Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney is jaw-dropping enough. And then the teeth come out and all hell breaks loose.

2. Eli in Let the Right One In

Lina Leandersson was just 13 when she starred as the morally (and sexually) ambiguous child vamp Eli in Tomas Alfredson‘s Swedish flick Let the Right One In. Whereas Chloe Moretz was CGI’d in the blood-sucking scenes of American remake Let Me In, Leandersson convinces completely as a ruthless, decapitation-happy killer who’s still seems frail enough that you want to care for her.

1. Count Orlok in Nosferatu

Willem Dafoe played Max Schrek in Shadow of the Vampire, and Max Schreck played Count Orlok – a thinly veiled rip-off of Stoker’s Dracula, for which the studio could not afford the rights – in the never-bettered 1922 silent film Nosferatu. There is imagery in this picture that will stay with you for an afterlifetime, yet none more chilling than the sight of Orlok – with his dinosaur arms, spindly fingers and piercing gaze – waiting in the dark for his houseguest to fall asleep.

Discuss: Who did we miss?

16 Responses to “The 10 best movie vampires”

  1. Gary Oldman? Much better than Tom Cruise….

    • please not another twlight trying to getmoney from teenagers oh plkease thats not a vampire movie bring on christopher lee vincent price & bella now there vampirese

  2. i love vampires kiss funny movie i actually went and bought it

  3. I thought Gary Oldman was a really good vampire and George Hamilton made a very funny if not a bit corny vampire in “Love at first bite”.

  4. Christopher Lee – Hammer’s best Dracula incarnation.

  5. The Twilight saga movies of course 🙂

  6. Christopher Lee! Yes! I knew I was missing someone really obvious.

  7. Well done on including Thirst, one of the best vampire movies of the last few years. Just when we thought vampires were getting all soft and emotional, crazy Tae-ju reminds us of what they SHOULD be – nasty and sadistic. Awesome!

  8. Left out Queen of the Damned’s aaliyah as queen akasha and stuart townsend as lestat, i reckon they were both very convincing and lifelike (AS WELL AS SEXY) vampires

  9. I missed Gary Oldman in the list.

  10. Would have to give No. 1 spot to Gary OLDMAN.

  11. what about the sexy sophistication of David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve in ‘The Hunger’ – a very classy pair.

  12. Bill Paxton in ‘Near Dark’ best scene with a pair of spurs. “I hate ’em when they ain’t been shaved”

  13. Gary Oldman – definitely – creepy, sexy, mesmerising. . . . everything a vampire should be!

  14. I always enjoyed Jerry Dandridge from Fright Night }:[

  15. any of the vamps from The Lost Boys.The first ones to make vampires cool.The intoxicating evil of Keifer Sutherland & the great advertising tagline:Sleep all day,party all night,never grow old,never die;its fun to be a vampire…………Bite me please

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