Of all of the famous horror monsters of Hollywood, vampires have been keeping audiences returning to the box office longer than any other. These blood-sucking fiends have taken a multitude of forms, a testament to the lore and legend that filmmakers breathe new life into for our viewing pleasure. Whether the genre is comedic, Victorian, anamorphic, or even sparkly, vampires don’t seem to be disappearing from the silver screen anytime soon. Check out our list of the Top 10 Cinematic Blood Suckers of All Time.
10. John & Miriam from THE HUNGER
The late Tony Scott created a cult masterpiece with his erotic vampire thriller, The Hunger. Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie are Miriam and John, a pair of gorgeous, eternally young vampires out to captivate Susan Sarandon. Vampire films are normally presented as a means to appease the widest audiences possible, but the casting of Deneuve and Bowie wholly emphasizes the beauty of The Hunger’s arthouse aesthetic. John and Miriam set the stage for Adam and Eve in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, with their mysterious and androgynous features. There’s something otherworldly about the pair, and it makes it difficult to look away…even in the scenes that don’t contain lesbian seduction.
9. David from THE LOST BOYS
Before he was the action-jacked Jack Bauer of 24, Kiefer Sutherland slithered his way into the hearts, and loins, of men and women all over the world with his role in The Lost Boys. David introduced the dangerous bad boy vibe to vampires we love so much as the leader of a gang of plasma sucking punks in Santa Carla, California. It was here that Joel Schumacher showed that mullets and the Coreys were something to be respected.
8. Count Von Count from SESAME STREET
For most of us, Count Von Count is the first experience any of us had with monsters. Cheerfully creepy, Count Von Count has been teaching generations of kids not to fear the big bad number, and find fun in mathematics. Jerry Nelson’s puppetry and voice over work is clearly reminiscent of the cinematic Draculas we’ve come to love as adults, but Count Von Count’s iconic voice and laugh is something that many of us will forever hold dear to our hearts.
7. Akasha from QUEEN OF THE DAMNED
If you’re thirsty for African American vampires, one might look to for Wesley Snipes’ Blade or even William Marshall’s Blacula, but it’s the late R&B artist Aaliyah, in her portrayal of Anne Rice’s vampire villainess, that deserves our attention. She’s the only stand out in a mostly forgettable film that paved the way for our contemporary brooding bloodsuckers like True Blood and Twilight. What separates Aaliyah from the world of Bella and Sookie isn’t the color of her skin but her raw sexual prowess and how linked it is to her sadly overlooked performance.
6. Jerry Dandridge from FRIGHT NIGHT
Charming, threatening, and more than a little homoerotic, Christopher Sarandon’s portrayal of Jerry Dandridge in Fright Night would inspire pansexual vampires like Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Bill Compton on True Blood, and the Tom Cruise’s performance as Lestat in Interview with a Vampire. Colin Farrell tried his best to recreate the character in the 2011 remake of the same name, but Christopher Sarandon proves that there’s only one Jerry.
5. Santanico Pandemonium from FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
Much like Count Dracula, Santanico Pandemonium is a vampire that has taken many forms. Salma Hayek originated the role in the original film From Dusk Till Dawn, but the Queen Vampire of the Titty Twister Mexican brothel/strip club is currently played by Eiza Gonzalez on the television series of the same name — the second season of which premieres on August 25. Santanico is normally seen as a gorgeous Latina (in order to seduce her victims), but has the ability to transform into a fanged, serpentine creature before sucking the blood out of these poor saps.
4. Severen from NEAR DARK
Kathryn Bigelow’s vampire western Near Dark is quite frankly, the film Twilight would have been had it had any balls. While the story is centered around a young rancher that falls in love with a female vampire and is “turned” in order to be with her, it’s Bill Paxton’s performance as Severen, part of the vagabond vampire clan that terrorizes the honky-tonk residents that cross his path, that truly pops. Most vampires are presented as being moral conflicted about their power, but Severen is one of the few bloodsuckers that wants to torture those around him simply because he can.
3. Eli from LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
This character offers one of the first glimpses of a fully realized “child” vampire. While previously seen in films like Interview with a Vampire, the symbiotic relationship Eli shares with her hosts is what makes her so unique. Her gender, age, and abilities are all left ambiguous, so we are left to focus on the bleakness of a vampire’s existence in a mortal world. The parallels of Eli’s vampirism and the pre-pubescent struggles of her human companion, Oskar, are relatable to any audience member, and make us question what really makes a monster.
2. Count Orlock from NOSFERATU
Long before Bram Stoker’s infamous vampire would set the standard for all fanged fiends for years to come, the German expressionist film Nosferatu was almost a lost picture. Bram Stoker’s estate sued the filmmakers, bankrupt the production company, and demanded all existing prints to be burned. However, a print of Nosferatu survived and the visually stunning film quickly developed a cult following, thereby solidifying Count Orlock as the first true “cult film” icon. His influence is still present today ranging everywhere from Werner Herzog’s tribute film Nosferatu The Vampyre to an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
1. Count Dracula from DRACULA
Christopher Lee gave us a run for our crucifixes — as did Frank Langella, Gary Oldman and Luke Evans, among hundreds of others — but it is Bela Lugosi that sits on Dracula’s throne. After successfully portraying the titular character on Broadway, casting Lugosi in the classic film personified the horrors of those hunting for hemoglobin better than all others before and after. Lugosi would go on to play numerous horror icons, but his interpretation of Bram Stoker’s famous Count would set the standard for vampires in pop culture. Lugosi would later be buried in his Dracula cape, proving once and for all that he is truly the greatest vampire, ever.