This week’s Entertainment Weekly cover story: All about our favorite vampires! How many of them do you agree with, and who was left out?
Without Lestat, there would be no Twilight. Until Anne Rice introduced the character in her 1976 novel, Interview With the Vampire, the undead had all the sex appeal of Bela Lugosi in plastic fangs. But her handsome blond creation — Tom Cruise dyed his hair to play the role in the 1994 movie — was a new sort of bloodsucker. Foppishly charming, endearingly tortured, and always trendy no matter what the century, he became the template for all culturally relevant vampires since.
2. Christopher Lee’s Dracula
He was an evil Sith lord in the Star Wars saga and threatened James Bond as Scaramanga, but Lee will always be remembered — especially by cowering beauties in their gauzy negligees — for his suave, silent, and really, really thirsty Count Dracula from a string of Hammer horror films in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.
3. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula
With his billowing black cape and heavily accented delivery (”I never drink…wine”), Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 film adaptation of Stoker’s novel remains the one by which all others are judged. Unfortunately, Lugosi, who campaigned hard for the role, became so associated with the charming count that the life quickly drained out of his career.
4. Edward Cullen
To Bella Swan (and author Stephenie Meyer), Edward Cullen — with his alabaster skin, unkempt hair, and lanky frame — is the undead ideal. But add songwriting skills, piano-playing prowess, and 100 years of wisdom packaged into a 17-year-old’s physique, and the two women may have a point. Robert Pattinson masters the tousled hair and tortured gaze every Twilight fan expects. Even men agree. ”He becomes this perfect creature,” says New Moon director Chris Weitz of his star. ”Plus he photographs like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
5. Bill and Eric
FROM TRUE BLOOD
Even in the world of HBO, it all comes down to choosing between a brunet and a blond. While dark-haired Bill (Stephen Moyer) exudes genteel Southern values, Eric (Alexander Skarsg) thrills with bad-boy mystique. Their battle for control of Sookie (Anna Paquin) has not only fueled season 2 of the hit series but also polarized fans into two camps — with a bonfire blazing in each.
6. Asa Vajda
FROM 1960′S BLACK SUNDAY
”Look into my eyes…Embrace me. You will die!” warns the beautiful and deadly Asa (Barbara Steele) in Italian horror maestro Mario Bava’s cult hit. Five decades later, Steele’s villainess remains one of the most scarily seductive vamps in film history.
As portrayed by the dreamy David Boreanaz on Buffy the Vampire Slayerand later in a spin-off series of his very own, Angel was sort of like a vamp Fonzie: effortlessly cool, with meticulously coiffed hair and a fondness for black leather. Sexual tension between him and Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) simmered, but unfortunately for the couple, their horizontal mambo unlocked Angel’s dark side and transformed him into one helluva mean ex-boyfriend (see: unleashing demons).
8. Mr. Barlow
FROM SALEM’S LOT
In the 1979 miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel, the bat-fanged Mr. Barlow (Reggie Nalder) didn’t say much. Instead, he let his assistant, Mr. Straker (James Mason), do the talking while he terrifies a sleepy Maine town — not to mention millions of TV viewers.
9. Schuyler Van Alen
FROM MELISSA DE LA CRUZ’S BLUE BLOODS SERIES
Teen vamp Schuyler likes to toy with things way beyond her years: schoolmate Jack Force, a Blue Blood — or ancient vampire — who must cycle through lifetimes bonded to someone who isn’t her; and Silver Bloods, who prey on their Bluer cousins. Fans came for the romance but stayed for the slow-build family and murder mysteries.
10. Gary Oldman’s Dracula
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Stoker’s novel has long been regarded as especially sensitive and accurate — largely because the director emphasized romance almost as much as horror. Oldman reveals the vampire for what he really is: a guy who’s still hung up on his late wife. ”I have crossed oceans of time…” he tells the reincarnation of his long-dead beloved, played by Winona Ryder. It’s as heartbreaking a performance as you’re likely to find in a movie that also features Keanu Reeves.
11. Klaus Kinski’s Dracula
Vampires haven’t always been sex symbols. In Nosferatu the Vampyre, Werner Herzog’s 1979 reworking of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film, Kinski radiated pathos and self-loathing as a rodentlike Count Dracula (a stark contrast to Murnau’s character, who was merely a walking cadaver). Kinski amped up the creep factor by shaving his head and spackling himself in white makeup. Critics still regard him as the most human rendering of Stoker’s creation.
12. Zoey Redbird
FROM P.C. AND KRISTIN CAST’S HOUSE OF NIGHT SERIES
Through five YA best-sellers, teenage heroine Zoey has matured into the most gifted and beautifully tattooed rebel that the coed Tulsa vampyre finishing school House of Night has ever seen. Battling evil that ranges from your standard Mean Girl to a seductive fallen angel, as well as higher-than-Hogwarts hormone levels, she’s learned the power of free will and friendship — and the joy of having a gay man in her circle.
FROM LAURELL K. HAMILTON’S ANITA BLAKE, VAMPIRE HUNTER SERIES
Technically, the Master of the City of St. Louis — who still rocks a lace-trimmed shirt and leather pants after centuries and 17 novels — first blackmailed Anita Blake into dating him by threatening to kill her werewolf boyfriend. But ultimately theirs is a relationship based on his respect for her free will (Anita resisted him until a heavily earmarked bathtub scene in the sixth book, The Killing Dance) and their mutual openness to the male-skewed menage a trois. Hello, Asher (book 11, Cerulean Sins)!
FROM 1987′S THE LOST BOYS
The ’80s were a natural fit for vampires — after all, what’s more punk rock than refusing to die? As David, Kiefer Sutherland sported a platinum Billy Idol mullet and black new-wave overcoat — perfect attire for terrorizing beach parties, dangling from railway bridges, or menacing Coreys on the boardwalk. His vamp-gang leader flashed a style just attainable enough to inspire parent-upsetting trends. See what happens when you watch too much MTV? You start drinking blood!
15. Miriam Blaylock and Sarah Roberts
FROM 1983′S THE HUNGER
Tony Scott’s directorial debut didn’t win many raves from critics, but the appeal of actresses Catherine Deneuve (Miriam) and Susan Sarandon (Sarah), when combined with the star wattage of David Bowie (who also played a vampire, natch), and a killer song by Bauhaus called ”Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” helped the picture build a fan base. The steamy face-sucking scene between the two women is a cinematic moment as immortal as the vampires they play on screen.
FROM BLADE TRILOGY
Blade is a complex dude: He’s both a vampire and a vampire hunter. But thanks to Wesley Snipes’ take on the Marvel character, he’s also 100 percent badass. With his long black leather coat, chopsocky moves, and signature double-edged sword with an acid-etched titanium blade, Snipes’ most indelible performance singlehandedly rescued the black-vampire genre from Blacula minstrelsy.
FROM 2008′S LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
In the Swedish sleeper hit, Lina Leandersson plays Eli, a vampire in the body of a 12-year-old girl. As she befriends a neighborhood boy, Eli poignantly battles a foe worse than angry mobs or cross-wielding hunters: the loneliness of being undead in a living world.
18. Countess Bathory
FROM 1971′S DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS
Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) looks like Dietrich and kills like Dracula. With her flawless style and timeless beauty — who needs Botox when you’ve got the blood of 800 virgins? — Seyrig’s vampire is one of the undead’s most glamorous.
FROM THE UNDERWORLD TRILOGY
Most of the vampires on this list can bare fangs and suck blood, but how many of them can also rock a curve-hugging leather ensemble while blasting guns? Vamp warrior Selene, embodied by a pale, pouty, eerily still Kate Beckinsale, has been pumping silver bullets into archenemy Lycans for centuries, with style. Who cares if the Underworld movies themselves make very little sense?
20. Caleb and Mae
FROM 1987′S NEAR DARK
The vampires in Kathryn Bigelow’s neo-Western-cum-horror flick are far from your stereotypical bloodsuckers. They’re more like a vicious, pistol-packing biker gang. Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss recently called Near Dark ”the all-time teenage vampire love story.” (Though we know a few million Twilighters who might disagree.)
Link to EW’s list of 20 Greatest Vampires