Top 50 Vampires

.

5 David

Played by: Kiefer Sutherland
Undead in: The Lost Boys (1987)

You know what the problem is with living in Santa Carla? All the damn vampires. But these were vampires like nothing ever seen on screen before. Director Joel Schumacher may not have made many fans by turning Tim Burton’s gothic Batman series of films into a DayGlo festival of camp, but you have to give him credit: he created the cult of teen vampires in The Lost Boys.

In David, he crafted an icon whose influence fed through into modern vampire mythology. It’s not just the bleached blond hair that David and Spike have in common: the rebel without a cause attitude, the leather coat, the punk/rock sensibilities, the hedonistic lifestyle, the motorbike – all these things have become synonymous with “bad” teen vampires, and they all had their genesis in David.

But it might have all been very different. As originally conceived, the Lost Boys in the film were going to be much more like their Peter Pan namesakes. The film was going to be a Goonies-style romp with little kid blood-suckers and lots of slapstick. Schumacher, though, had a much darker vision for the film, and thought it would be far more interesting to have a bunch of teenage vampires.

You can’t help think that, for all his sins against Batman, in this, Schumacher’s thinking was spot on. He captured the imagination of the new MTV generation with a pounding punk and rock soundtrack, not to mention montages of stripey-stockinged, dyed-haired, pierced and tattooed ’80s teen misfits looking moody and rebellious on street corners.

The film was an instant cult hit with the audience it was aimed at; teens loved it. They especially loved David. Back then, Kiefer Sutherland was just Donald’s son. After The Lost Boys he would be a star in his own right, and deservedly so. With no blueprint to fall back on, he carved out the role of the cocky, thrill-seeking, motorbike-riding, teen vampire, relishing in his vampiric powers as a way of extending his teenage tearaway years into eternity.

Watch his sadistic delight as he uses his powers of suggestion to trick Santa Carla newcomer Michael into drinking blood (thus turning him); first David makes him think he’s eating maggots instead of rice, then worms instead of noodles. By the time Michael’s offered blood to drink, he’s thinking, “I know their game… this ain’t blood, it’s wine.” Bad move… David later freaks Michael out by getting his gang to hurl themselves from a railway bridge in one of the film’s most memorable images. And let’s not forget, the vampires in The Lost Boys are some of the few screen vampires who actually fly. That’s cool in itself. And David is obsessed with cool.

Yet, like all bullies, he’s doesn’t like it when people fight back. As well as being one of the few screen vampires who flies, he’s also one of the few that cries. When he’s staked at the end, a tear rolls down his cheek; a cheek which for the rest of the film has been covered with stubble, but suddenly, in death, goes all smooth. In that final moment, he really does become a little, lost boy.

4 Mick St John

Played by: Alex O’Loughlin
Undead in: Moonlight (2007-8)

There was some serious block voting going on when it came to this guy, but, to be fair, fans of all shows were equally entitled to block vote. Who are we to censure votes just because Moonlight fans got their act together and Blood Ties fans didn’t? Besides, think through the logic: if fans are avid enough to want to mobilise a voting campaign, what does that say about the guy they’re voting for? That he’s popular, basically.  Ipso facto, he’s earned his place in the top 10, fair and square (though we’re glad he didn’t beat Christopher Lee).

Mick St John is private investigator in modern-day Los Angeles who also just happens to be a vampire. (Hey, maybe he should form some kind of union with Angel; the Vampire Private Investigators Regulatory Executive – or VamPIRE.) He was sired around 60 years ago by his wife, Coraline, on his wedding day, which is one Hell of a way of consummating a marriage. But he’s not really comfortable with the traditional vampire lifestyle and refuses to hunt women, children or innocents, and rejects the idea of treating humanity as just a quick snack.

After his disastrous nuptials he’s understandably not keen on pursuing any romantic avenues for a while, but things change when he “bumps into” internet reporter Beth Turner. Bumps into in inverted commas, because he’s actually been stalking her since she was five, when he rescued her from his ex-wife… but let’s not go there. It’s all a bit creepy.

Why’s he so popular? The looks, the charm, the conflicted nature. He’s Edward Cullen for the mature woman, though a lot more eloquent (then again, there are sea sponges more eloquent than Edward Cullen). It’s like all the things that make vampires sexy have been distilled into one character. Which reminds us of another character… called Angel. Is it any coincidence that Angel co-creator David Greenwalt (in that he both co-created the show Angel and indeed the character Angel back in the early days of Buffy) was also one of the original showrunners on Moonlight? Short answer – no.

3 Angel/Angelus

Played by: David Boreanaz
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Angel (1999-2004)

The thing that’s easy to forget about Angel is just how funny he could be. Maybe not always intentionally, to be sure (and no, that’s not a reference to David Boreanaz’s dodgy Oirish accent in the flashbacks to his pre-vampire days as Liam). The popular image of Angel is that of the moping, lovestruck, shadow-lurking vampire of the early days of Buffy (he was the the virtual blueprint for Edward Cullen) or the grumpy, agonised, redemption-seeking square-peg-in-a-round-hole misfit of his time in Los Angeles (a vampire in the sunshine city, a typically Joss Whedon conceit). And he was both of these. And probably would have been fondly remembered even if that was all there was to him.

But there was another side to Angel; a wonderfully appealing, self-effacing humour, helped no end by Boreanaz’s ability to look like a slapped puppy. He was a vampire, for Christ’s sake – he should be big and hard and manly. And Angel could be. But he could also look sulky, pathetic, in need of a hug; and when he was in one of these moods, he usually ended up the target of ridicule from his friends. He was also a rubbish singer and dancer – which may sound like a facile comment, but his amusing awkwardness at such times spoke volumes about who he was.

Plot-wise, few vampires have been so well served. A vampire with a soul; that’s the kind of dichotomy any actor would love to explore, especially with that added proviso about “true happiness will turn him evil”. But, of course, he did find true happiness, and his soul was whipped away from him; Angelus was reborn and Boreanaz clearly had a whale of a time playing him (the scene where he sucks the blood of a smoker then exhales her smoke is one of the best vampire moments ever). Regaining his soul, he goes to LA, away from Buffy and temptation, sets up a detective agency, journeys to another dimension, comes back, becomes a dad, becomes boss at a demon legal firm and watches loads of friends die. But it’s all okay, because at the very end, he’s still doing what he wants to do most: the right thing.

2 Dracula

Played by: Christopher Lee
Undead in: Dracula (1958), Dracula: Prince Of Darkness (1966), Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968), Count Dracula (1970), Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970), One More Time (1970), Scars Of Dracula (1970), Dracula AD 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973), Dracula And Son (1976)

There’s one reason why Christopher Lee might not actually have made a great Dracula: his teeth. Look when you can at Lee’s bottom teeth – they’re not in a great state and haven’t been for many years. Yet this is a man who became the definitive screen Dracula and the most recognisable bloodsucker in town – the head honcho of the undead, if you like. Put that down to being the quintessential English gentleman – but with something of the night about him. And pure, unadulterated quality.

Bela Lugosi may have been Hollywood’s Dracula but his performance wasn’t one for the ages – his Drac was clearly hooked on ham as well as blood. Lee’s is the sturdier performance. 1958’s Dracula, the first of Lee’s six Hammer films as the Count, is probably the best. Although there was an unfortunate on-set incident when Lee fell into a grave while carrying an actress around, on screen he exemplified a monster who was quite capable of seducing beautiful ladies – which many others in the role looked like they’d struggle to – followed by biting a chunk out of their necks.

Even when his enthusiasm for the role waned towards the end, with the likes of The Satanic Rites Of Dracula, he still put in the icy, classy performance that his professionalism demanded. That he could command so much attention while saying so little in the role is significant. There is certainly no actor who could die so many times and do it so well – in so many different and gory ways! But when you’re Dracula and you meet a different sort of grisly end at each movie’s climax, then you need to be versatile. Lee had versatility – along with a thousand other qualities as well – making him the silver screen’s king of the vampires.

1 Spike

Played by: James Marsters
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Angel (1999-2004)

The old adage appears to be true – we all love a bad boy. Born of posh stock in 18th Century London (we can assume his mockney Guy Ritchie-style accent was an affectation he adopted later – which might also explain why it occasionally wobbled slightly), Spike made his first appearance in Sunnydale in season two. He quickly made himself as much loved among the fans as he was (initially) hated by the Slayer and her Scoobies.

So what makes him so popular – other than cheekbones sharp enough to cut cheese on? An antihero in the true sense of the word, Spike is morally ambiguous and ready to fight pretty much anyone, for fun. But underneath it all, he loves deeply and earnestly in a way that remains achingly human. Although, ironically, his personality remains pretty much the same, whether he has a soul or not – in stark (and more entertaining) contrast to Angel.

He’s not as broody as most of the other vamps, with a quick sarcastic wit and a barrage of pop culture references for every occasion. He’s funny and, frankly, the kind of person it’d be a laugh to have a beer and play a few hands of kitten poker with, even if you couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t try to kill you later. He’s also the only vamp on our list who’s got away with using the word “wanker” on US network TV. Yeah, it’s not big or clever, but you couldn’t imagine Dracula getting away with that.