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Clark and Kathleen’s top 10 vampires of book and screen

We’ve been immersed in the world of the undead for so long now, we’re growing a bit allergic to the sun ourselves (or victims of polymorphic light eruption, as the undead might call it). A top ten list of the most notable vampires on film and screen is a dangerous undertaking because: one, it requires leaving off hundreds of candidates; and two, we’re suddenly confronted with all of our favorite movies and books and have to fight the urge to re-read and re-watch them. Right now. Instead of finishing this blog post.

Before we give in to that urge, we’d like to share our top ten list. But first, a note: we’re defining vampires not in the narrow sense of undead creatures of the night who sleep in coffins and need blood to live, but rather, we expand that definition to include beings who feed on the life force of others.

UnderWith that in mind, the best of the worst:

  1. Dracula, of course. Specifically, Bram Stoker’s version (1897), which helped spawn the genre. We’re crazy about the original, especially because there was a cowboy in it. Quincey Morris, from the wild west of America (Texas, actually), delivered the fatal wound to the bad Count courtesy of a Bowie knife. We liked Gary Oldman the best of all the various actors who have played Dracula.
  2. Lord Ruthven, from Polidori’s Vampyre, arguably the first published tale of the undead. It’s a little dated now (from 1819) but still worth it; at the very least, watch Gothic (from 1986) which is about the fevered night Polidori came up with the idea and Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein.
  3. Lothos, from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1982), because: Rutger Hauer.
  4. Eli, from Let the Right One In (2008), one of the best vampire movies all time. Such a beautiful, creepy film that conveys such grown up angst, ennui, dread and carnage, and all from the vantage of children.
  5. The Girl, from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014). A black and white movie about an Iranian vampire that feels like a Spaghetti Western and tugs girlthe heart like the best kind of romance, this — naturally — is our favorite vampire movie of all time. The scene of her on her skateboard, abaya billowing behind her, is unforgettable.
  6. The Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson (remember, we loosened the definition boundaries a little), a crazy book about alien parasites that have been lurking in the deepest layers of human consciousness, feeding on human life force, for hundreds of years. It was published in 1967, and still stands out as a creepy masterpiece.
  7. Miriam Blaylock, from The Hunger (1983). This movie has three things going for it: A great, creepy plot, Catherine Deneuve AND David Bowie. Susan Sarandon rocks too, of course.
  8. Carmilla, from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly (1872) collection. It’s a quietly disturbing, genre defining work with not so subtle lesbian undertones.
  9. Frank Underwood, from House of Cards (2013). Clearly, Frank Underwood is sustained by the life force of those he crushes. He may not have fangs, but he sure has claws. The only vampire, it seems, who has the power to challenge him is Claire Underwood.
  10. Elita, from The Cowboy the Vampire Collection. Elita has it all: she’s beautiful, seductive, powerful, vicious and funny — the most irreverentt revenant in the history of the undead. She’s been around for thousands of years, changing allegiances when it suits her, clawing her way through the powerful and the blood-rich alike and leaving behind a trail of smiling corpses.