Probably the single most prolific monster in all of cinema. So who's at the top of the heap?
Dracula has been reinvented innumerable times and has appeared in more films than any other fictional character. There's good reason for this. He is quite simply all things to all vampires. He is the prototype for every incarnation of the vampire that has been put to screen. Yet where most vampires are clearly one thing or the other (romantic, vicious, evil, tormented) the big D manages to be all of those things at the same time. More layered and complex than any other vampire, and you can pick your favorite incarnation to boot. Like some mystery to your vampire? Go with Bela Lugosi. Prefer more all out evil? Christopher Lee for you. How about an Emo version? Gary Oldman has you covered.
But in many ways it's really hard to top Lugosi. His accent was aristocratic yet unnerving. He had a sexual appeal but it was subtle and under the surface. He was ruthless but seemed to care for his intended victim Mina Murray in a way that went beyond straight desire. And let's not forget the look, the formalwear with cape. It's a gag Halloween outfit now but that's because it's iconic, immediately indentifyable yet not overly outlandish.
Some might call foul on two counts, first being that he's technically only half vampire, and the other because he's animated. But we dare any of those people to complain to his face. Trust us you don't want to piss him off... or that freaky face that live in his left hand (yeah you read that right).
D may only be half vampire but that half is big old daddy Dracula so even watered down he's still more powerful than any pure-blooded neck biter out there. Because of a hate-hate relationship with his vampire half he doesn't like to feed, even from the bad guys. But when push comes to shove that is exactly what he will do and with fresh blood in his system he can literally destroy a vampire's soul. The outfit is a little odd, what with the long hair and lady's sun hat, but who knows where fashion will be 12,090 AD?
What's cooler than an acient society of vampires working behind the scenes of humanity? How about the rebel prick trying to bring them down and just out the vampires as the superior species for all to see? We give you Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorf) of the original Blade. After sun baking the Dracula-esque leader of the old regime Deacon takes control with a punk swagger and blood in his eyes. Hell he faced down the title hero in broad daylight (thank god for sunblock, must have been like SPF 5000) holding a schoolgirl by the throat. How much more genuinely badass can a vampire be?
Screw Le Stat (Tom Cruise), he created a monster that even he couldn't handle in Interview With The Vampire and her name was Claudia (Kirsten Dunst). This killer with an innocent face didn't quibble with morality or humanity like wuss narator Louis (Brad Pitt). If she had a problem she ate it, simple as that. It's that purity of understanding of her place in the world that gets her on the list. Bonus points for cutting Tom Cruise's metrosexual throat and watching him bleed out.
Not all good vampires come from good movies. Case in point is Viktor from the Underworld series. Simply put Bill Nighy brough back a certain regal authority to the vampire that really hadn't been seen since Christopher Lee hung up his fangs. Viktor is not forever young, he's damn near ancient and looks it. But he's calculating, methodical, ruthless and amazingly able to give a semblence of tenderness when he feels it's to his advantage. And more than that he's frightening, which is something frequently lost since vampires were made all romantic by Anne Rice.
Also as far as visible age goes this is the opposite extreme from Claudia. Can we all just admit that there's something inherently unnerving about somebody old enough to be a grandparent who can kill you with his bare hands before you can blink? We get creeped out by the elderly, they show our own mortality. And to have somebody who looks like they should be in an old folks home bite your neck is freaky.
She's only in one scene before getting staked but Selma Hayek dancing with a huge snake before biting the living hell out of Quentin Tarantino is probably the best remembered scene in From Dusk Till Dawn (well that and Cheech Marin's pussy rant). She dances out with a snake and almost no clothes, which in and of itself is enough to warrant inclusion given the body on display. But then her face twists and transforms into something terrible and she eats the nearest breathing body. Bonus points for that body belonging to Tarantino (sorry buddy, we love your films but leave the acting to people who know what they're doing).
Not everybody knows the name but the image is unmistakable. Nosferatu was an unauthorized version of the Dracula novel, and therefore they had to change the name of the vampire played by Max Schrek. And the name wasn't all that was changed. Whereas Bela Legosi solidified Dracula as a charming sophisticated character, Orlock is quite simply a monster. Nobody is being seduced by this face. But nobody will ever forget it either.
Before there could be a Deacon Frost, there had to be David. In 1987's The Lost Boys Keifer Sutherland played the original young punk vampire. Before this vampires were stuffy old guys in castles. David and his gang changed all of that by riding motorcycles and raiding the boardwalk for prey.
Now to be fair the members of his gang don't hold up as well. Dying in a bathtub (holy water filled or not) is not a very dignified end for any blood sucker. And being taken down by either of the two Coreys (Haim or Feldman) just adds insult to injury. David though stands out above his laughable cohorts thanks to a vicious streak a mile wide and a swagger that just screams "I'm gonna live forever, do you really want to piss me off?"