Part of the danger of the vampire is the sex appeal, the idea that you can be facing a thing that just wants to drain your life force and all you can do is keep staring. But lately vampires have been worn down until they seem to be nothing but sex appeal, and that's a shame.
Vampires are monsters, kids, and for the 24nd installment in our 31 Days of Halloween series, we've assembled a group of monstrous bloodsuckers to remind you of that.
First appearance: Nosferatu, 1922
Created by: Bram Stoker (original character), Henrik Galeen (screenwriter), F.W. Murnau (director) and Max Schreck (actor)
It's one of the most iconic images in all of horror: that bald head, those pointed ears, the wide eyes and tall, gangling frame, and the clawlike hands reaching out like shadowy spiders. Max Schreck's portrayal of Count Orlok in F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu set the standard for vampire creepiness on screen. Murnau based his film (without authorization, by the way) on Stoker's Dracula novel and changed all the names so it didn't look like he was violating a copyright, but Orlok is an invention all his own. He retains very little of the suave aristocrat that is Count Dracula. He's a hypnotic beast, and if you've seen this film you know there are shots of him staring from the shadows that stay with you long after the flick is over.
The vamps of From Dusk Till Dawn
First appearance: From Dusk till Dawn, 1996
Created by: Quentin Tarantino (screenwriter) and Robert Rodriguez (director)
Here's a bunch of monsters that start out sexy (Salma Hayek sexy) and end up among the more hideous creatures of the night you could imagine. From Dusk Till Dawn embraces the notion that the vampire starts as a seducer but makes it clear by the end that the seduction part is all about drinking your blood. Once they've got you, they don't care how ugly they end up being. On an unrelated but equally awesome note, this film features very effective weaponized condoms.
The Man in the Beaver Hat
First appearance: London After Midnight, 1927
Created by: Tod Browning (co-writer and director) and Lon Chaney (actor)
Lon Chaney, the legendary "Man of a Thousand Faces" of the silent film era, who brought life to The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, almost got a chance to play Count Dracula in the now-classic 1931 film, but his untimely death meant the role fell to Bela Lugosi. Thus London After Midnight remains Chaney's only portrayal of a vampire-style character (the vampirism is really only implied, but those teeth definitely give it away). Unfortunately, the last known print of the film was destroyed in a fire at an MGM vault in the 1960s, making this possibly the most sought-after "lost" film of all time. But even without the moving picture, publicity photographs reveal it to be one of Chaney's most memorable transformations.
First appearance: Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 1, episode 1, "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
Created by: Joss Whedon (writer/series creator) and Mark Metcalf (actor)
Buffy has its share of sexy vampires, and it did that whole high-school-girl-falling-in-love-with-a-vampire thing when those Twilight kids were just getting their first pubescent zits. But Buffy's first major adversary was the monstrous Master, a hideous creature with a look influenced by Nosferatu and a personality so stirring that his looks didn't matter when it came to recruiting followers. Whedon's vampires embraced the modern notion of the bloodsucker as boyfriend, but that whole face-shifting thing helped us to remember that deep down there's always an inherent sense of evil.
Count Dracula (Hammer version)
First appearance: Horror of Dracula, 1958
Created by: Bram Stoker (original character), Jimmy Sangster (screenwriter), Terence Fisher (director) and Christopher Lee (actor)
The character of Count Dracula has been morphed into a number of forms over the last nine decades, and Lee's still ranks among the best. While Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the count was all about polite elegance and swishing capes, Lee took the character in a more savage direction. The elegance and aristocratic bearing are there, and with them the seductive power, but when the character sees blood he attacks it with fangs bared and red-tinged eyes wide. Lugosi may have defined the character for all time, but Lee's take may be the perfect melding of sexual and violent energy.
First appearance: John Carpenter's Vampires, 1998
Created by: John Carpenter (director), Don Jakoby (writer) and Thomas Ian Griffith (actor)
Vampires is not exactly a seminal John Carpenter film, but it does offer a somewhat novel portrayal of the vampire-versus-vampire-hunter story. James Woods' Jack Crow is a modern Van Helsing, a Catholic-sanctioned hunter of the undead roaming the American West in search of monsters to slay. Griffith is Valek, a vampire master who enters into a duel of wits and weapons to the death with Crow. It's High Noon played out in the dead of night. Griffith's Valek is tall, dark and handsome, but when he bares his fangs there's no mistake that he's out for blood.
First appearance: Hellsing, episode 1, "The Undead," 2001
Created by: Kouta Hirano (manga), Umanosuke Iida (director), Chaki Konaka (screenwriter), George Nakata (Japanese voice), Crispin Freeman (English voice)
Hellsing is an obvious homage to English vampire stories with a distinctly Japanese action flair, and at the center of it is Alucard, a not-so-veiled allusion to Dracula living and working as an undead servant to an English organization devoted to exterminating the undead at every turn. Though this Alucard is a striking figure with his long red coat and sweeping hat, it's when he shifts from charismatic to savage that he's at his most compelling.
First appearance: 30 Days of Night, 2007
Created by: Steve Niles (original comic and co-screenwriter), David Slade (director) and Danny Huston (actor)
30 Days of Night is a very simple but very well-told vampire story. In Alaska it remains dark for long periods of time. A group of vampires lay siege to a remote town in the middle of a month of nightfall so they can eat everybody. That's it. Likewise, the vampires in the tale are simple yet effective. Marlow, their leader, is bent only on getting his blood feast. He and his followers are driven by their thirst and their desire to wring every last drop of dinner out of this town. It's a pure reminder that for all their cinematic charisma, vampires want what's in our veins, and often very little else.
Count Dracula (Coppola version)
First appearance: Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992
Created by: Bram Stoker (original character), Francis Ford Coppola (director), James V. Hart (screenwriter) and Gary Oldman (actor)
Coppola's Dracula often relies much more on romance than horror, and even though he gets to play the loverboy for much of the film, Gary Oldman's portrayal of the count remains tinged with violent, hungry rage. It's particularly evident in his first incarnation, as a pale old man in long red robes with a really, really distinctive hairdo. This Dracula is not only bloodthirsty, but bitter and ravaged by centuries of loneliness, and his various appearances throughout the film suggests that while he may be able to play the soft, sweet prince, a part of him will always be a beast.
First appearance: Salem's Lot, 1979
Created by: Stephen King (character), Tobe Hooper (director), Paul Monash (screenwriter), Reggie Nalder (actor)
The Barlow that Stephen King imagines in his novel is sophisticated, largely human in appearance and quite charismatic. The version brought to life by Reggie Nalder in the 1979 TV miniseries adaptation is a blue-skinned monster with Nosferatu fangs and wide, animalistic eyes. It's not a very faithful adaptation, and the miniseries isn't exactly a classic, but seeing Nalder in such a shocking vampiric state leaves a lasting impression.