It would be gargantuan task to chronicle every vampire movie ever made. Some of them have been good; some of them have thankfully faded into oblivion, and some of them have the power to live on. In many cases, it’s the lead characters themselves who really make the movie shine, often against the odds of poor dialogue and an overly convoluted plot. Here is just a sampling of famous movie vampires, appearing before 2000, who have greatly influenced the image of vampires as they appear today.
Count Orlock (Max Shreck) – Nosferatu
Nosferatu was originally intended to be a tribute to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but rights could not be obtained so the character names were altered to avoid copyright infringement. Count Orlok shows none of the charisma and appeal of later incarnations, but is instead hideously deformed, with gnarled fingers and bulging eyes.
Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) – Dracula
There is a popular belief that a vampire can so entrance their victims that they have no desire whatsoever to flee. Bela Lugosi’s version of Dracula certainly could, relying on charm to woo helpless females. This classic portrayal of the world’s most famous vampire also introduced Dracula as an urbane, caped gentleman.
Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) – The Hunger
Vampires don’t have to be male, and they certainly don’t need to have a preference for the opposite sex (as evidenced in the iconic Carmilla). Miriam Blaylock is beautiful, alluring and quite capable of getting what she wants. She is not a vampire in the accepted sense, but rather a separate species which needs blood to survive.
David (Keifer Sutherland) – The Lost Boys
Why can’t vampires ride motorcycles and have a fondness for leather? No reason at all, at least according to David, leader of Santa Carla’s vampire gang. There’s no guilt trip or pining away for life here. David is a monster and he revels in it. He is the epitome of the ‘bad boy’ vampire, in all his dangerous glory.
Lestat (Tom Cruise) – Interview With The Vampire
While some would eschew the homoerotic overtones of this movie, it quite simply would not have worked without them. Tom Cruise, although he later tried to distance himself from the role, gave a stellar performance as Lestat, the sexually ambivalent vampire with a superiority complex. He is free from morality and enjoys all the decadence his era has to offer.
Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek)) – From Dusk Till Dawn
A vampire who’s an erotic dancer by day and the Queen Vampire at the aptly named Titty Twister by night? Salma Hayek’s portrayal of the character is thought by many to be the best part of the movie. Far from being demure wallflower, Santanico Pandemonium ushered in a new era of beautiful, completely ruthless bloodsuckers.