When you think of a timeless and ultimate villain, the first thought that pops in your mind is vampires. Vampires have been the perfect villain in movies and stories for generations. This does not come as a surprise though. From their pale-white complexion and blood-shot eyes to their unending desire of blood, just the thought of these creatures lurking in the dark can bring you shivers. Their presence is simply undying as they are reinvented in every generation, from the folklore of Eastern Europe to the legends of the Silver Screen.
Movie screens have introduced us to a lot of vampires through time. Few of them have stood out from the crowd and created a strong and lasting impression. Below are some of the greatest vampire characters that we have known.
Christopher Lee, Horror of Dracula (1958)
Lee’s imposing height of six-foot-five used to be a subject of ridicule. He was once told that his height is a hindrance to his success as an actor. Who would have thought that his terrific height would add a heightened element to his portrayal of a menacing vampire in the 1958 film Horror of Dracula?
He used his physical attributes to become the undisputed star of the popular Hammer horror films. There’s not much dialogue on his character, only some hissing and leering, but he made sure that his presence is strongly felt. He maximizes his huge built and body language to portray one of the best vampire characters of all time.
If you won’t be intimated by a 6’5″ vampire who’s menacing enough to destroy you, I don’t know what else would.
Bela Lugosi, Dracula (1931)
Lugosi used to perform Dracula on Broadway and he impressed the viewers with his commanding and sexually charged performance. The theatergoers were undoubtedly stunned after watching the performance of this great actor. He became an instant star on Broadway, he was one of those actors who were admired and respected by his fans. Unfortunately, it’s a different story in Hollywood though. Hollywood was not impressed by Lugosi’s charm. The actor may have lobbied for the role too much, but he only got the part when Lon Chasey, Universal’s first choice, passed away. But when he uttered the three simple words, “I am… Dracula”, a legend was born and he became instantly famous.
Now almost everyone associates Lugosi with this iconic statement.
Click here to read more about the iconic life of this great actor.
Count von Count, Sesame Street (1972)
Patterned after Bela Lugosi, Sesame Street introduced Count von Count in 1972. Since then, teaching toddlers how to count while staying interested has become a lot easier. Since then, every kid who watched the show has learned how to count, and even did so with that maniacal laugh. The Count has even highlighted a classic trait from vampire lore: their obsessive-compulsive relationship with numbers.
Now who would have thought that a scary, fanged villain could become instrumental in children’s ability to learn faster? Thanks to Count von Count, your toddlers would no longer feel strongly against math and counting numbers.
Jonathan Frid, Dark Shadows (1967)
Long before Johny Depp graced our screens as Barnabas Collins, the iconic character was played by Jonathan Frid in 1967’s Dark Shadows.
Though his character was only introduced after 210 episodes of Dark Shadows, Frid sure knows how to make a grand entrance and make up for the missed episodes. The world had a first glance of Collins in his black onyx signet ring as he reaches from his coffin to choke a robber who was planning to steal on his grave. Poor robber, you have chosen a wrong grave to loot.
He may have been an 18th century vampire who woke up in late 60’s but he sure does know how to rock an impression. He managed to show everybody in Maine how to don a Goth-mode double-breasted suit and a silver-handed wolf’s head cane properly. Talk about elegance and gait! Collins paved the way for sympathetic vampires in pop culture with his seductive mixture of bloodlust, kindness and danger.
Who could ever forget his iconic line, “I did not say she was dead, I said I killed her.”
Nicholas Hormann, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979)
The idea of “space vampire” may not be appealing and some may even think of it as super corny, but something about this episode that made it really scary.
Vorvon was dressed as a classic Nosferatu getup by wardrobe department but this does not matter since he was invisible. Nicholas Hormann played Vorvon who masterfully stalked his next victim Wilma played by Erin Gray. Of course, Buck played by Gil Gerard came to the rescue and saved the day, but this was before Gray acted the sex pot and put the moves on him under the control of Vorvon.
William Marshall, Blacula (1972)
Blaxploitation was a film movement in 1970s where films were made and starred by African-American actors. Blacula was a part of the first wave for this movement. This film could have been a standard picture for the genre, but the Shakespearean-trained Marshall elevated this movie. He played as Mamuwalde, an African prince who was tricked by Dracula before turning him into a vampire. He portrayed the character so well that it appealed to be both tragic and dignified.
Gary Oldman, Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992)
If there’s one actor that could disappear into any role and make it his own, it’s Gary Oldman. His portrayal of Coppola’s ode to Bram Stroker’s classic tale is no difference.
Oldman unwittingly presented all sides of the venerable Count – from aged royalty to tragic knight to unholy creature to London dandy. He presented the persona as either repulsive or sexy, or even both, and blended them into his own.
Kiefer Sutherland, The Lost Boys (1987)
Who could ever forget a time when vampires were cruising the town on a Volvo?
Just take a look at the crew of Keifer Sutherland and bike lovers would suddenly fall head over heels. Sutherland portrayed David as an ultimate bad-boy and leader of the gang. With their fangs and bad haircut, their showing the town that they are rebels with style.
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