There’s a lot that can be done with a vampire. Unlike a zombie, who is always undead, essentially mute and hungry for flesh, or a werewolf who, when not a man is a primal, relentless animal, the vampire has a lot of range to develop. He can be ultra-smooth, or ultra-aggressive. He can be reclusive. He can be a socialite. There really are more options with vampires than most other screen monsters.
But today, we’re just going to look at the cool vampires. The suck-heads we can’t get out of our minds. The killers who seem so strangely seductive we all get lost in their edgy witticisms and sometimes-pronounced-sometimes-not sensuality. These are the vampires that make us lose our minds for one brief moment, fantasizing about how exciting our own lives would be if we were just a little bit more like them. Yeah, you know a vampire is cool when you think, I wanna be that guy!
These are those guys.
Blade is and always has been a bad dude. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and a highly functioning brain, which are key components that help him to stand out among his peers. He’s a blast on page (Blade was introduced in the Tomb of Dracula book, which is readily available in four amazing and beefy volumes) and Wesley Snipes made him a perfect anti-hero on screen.
Bill Paxton was an absolute spitfire as a younger man. He brought an uncanny energy to a number of now iconic roles. Chief among those roles is Near Dark’s Severen. Severen is the loose cannon of a roaming vampire group, and he’s drawn to blood and violence like none other. The character is jaw-dropping, and that is as much Eric Red’s doing as it is Paxton’s.
Even though The Lost Boys is a little… shiny, for lack of a better term, it’s still an excellent film, and Kiefer Sutherland made for one of the coolest vampires of the decade. David, as he’s known, is cunning and he projects a wisdom beyond what his years would seem possible. That makes him a constant threat; David can lull you into an almost sensual comfort, right before he rips the throat from your neck.
The only lady on this list, Santanico Pandemonium is one of the most memorable female vampires in cinematic history. She can ride a pole, and she’s got serious hops. She’s also quick to dispose of one of the Gecko brothers, and that’s no easy feat. From Dusk Till Dawn’s iconic sex symbol easily ranks among the very best vampires to ever crawl from someone’s imagination.
Jerry Dandrige/Jerry Dandrige (2.0)
Whether you favor Chris Sarandon’s depiction of Jerry Dandrige in Tom Holland’s original film, or Colin Farrell’s depiction of the character in Craig Gillespie’s remake is completely irrelevant. That’s because they’re both ridiculously smooth, handsome bloodsuckers who make your flesh crawl. Sarandon was amazing in the day of practical effects while Farrell was goosebump brilliant in the age of CGI. You can’t lose with either character, and both performers deserve an extreme amount of respect for their work with the character.
This is that gnarly bad ass that cruises around a snowy Barrow, Alaska looking for any sign of human life, because eradicating that human life, while consuming copious amounts of plasma, are all that matter to the man. He’s intimidating. He’s mysterious. He’s well-dressed… in Alaska. Come on, how many vampires can make the same claim?
The original maestro of suave nature and eerie romanticism, Dracula was pretty much the first truly cool vampire. I’ve got to extend my love in Bela Lugosi’s direction, as he was far ahead of his time when he morphed into the prince of darkness. Without Lugosi’s silky delivery, we never get a guy like Jerry Dandrige.
Maybe it was the hair. Maybe it was the Rockstar apparel. Maybe it was the fact that fans of 80s cinema knew damn well that Thomas Ian Griffith could kick the face off our heads. I think it was probably a mixture of all those things, with a dash of bold sexuality that made Jan Valek such a cool super-sucker-villain. He’s just a great, well-written and performed monster, and neither Griffith nor John Carpenter get as much credit as they should for bringing the beast to life.
There was something extremely cool about William Marshall. When you watch the man don the accentuated widow’s peak and pointy fangs, you just get lost in his persona. He’s strangely edgy, and because we’re not accustomed to seeing black vampires in film, we’re extremely drawn to him. He brings something new to a familiar character, and while Blacula probably should have been far funnier than it was, the fact that it’s played straight in unexpected moments keep the viewer constantly off balance, and completely stimulated. Blaxploitation? Absolutely. Genius? No doubt about it.
Dark Shadows is one of the craziest cultural phenomenon’s we’ve ever seen. A sprawling gothic soap opera that places humans and monsters in the same universe and allows them to run with strange and intricate storylines? How in the world does that work? I can’t answer that in any thorough manner, but I can tell you that Barnabas Collins, the creepy vampire that you can’t take your eye off, but would desperately love to. He works in eerie moments and he works in mundane moments. He’s also one of cinema’s older vampires. The guy embodies longevity, and for the record, he’s every bit as awe inspiring on page as he is on screen.