While writing the upcoming oral history of Buffy and Angel, Slayers & Vampires, we had the chance to spend many months with our favorite slayers and vampires from the Whedon-verse. But long before anyone had ever heard of Sunnydale High, there were many others who stalked and slayed in the night, and here are some of our favorites. (Buffy and Angel favorites excluded, including Faith, Kendra, The Master and Jonathan, The Vampire Slayer. That just wouldn’t be fair. Plus when we picked Angel over Spike, the hate mail from the alt-Spike would never stop.)
- Dracula: The legendary Bram Stoker character has been played by more actors over the years than James Bond but from Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee to Frank Langella, there wasn’t a Timothy Dalton in the bunch.
- Lestat: Anne Rice’s iconic creation was one of the most nuanced and compelling dentally challenged antagonists of all time. His story made the Vampire Chronicles essential reading for millions of fans.
- Miriam Blalock: Catherine Deneuve’s beautiful and stylish vamp in The Hunger. She even had David Bowie as her paramour, making her even cooler. After his untimely death, she fell in love with Susan Sarandon and we did too.
- Graf Orlok Nosferatu: When F.W. Murnau couldn’t acquire the film rights to Stoker’s Van Helsing, he created his own legendary vampire instead, the chilling, folically challenged and downright creepy Graf Orlok Nosferatu who could stand for a day in the salon. The oldest, and still scariest, film on our list.
- Jesse Hooker: Lance Henriksen’s bad-ass vampire Jesse Hooker, in Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, helped usher in the age of the postmodern vampire film along with films like Lost Boys, Fright Night and the aforementioned The Hunger.
- Carl Kolchak: Long before there was The X-Files, there was Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak in The Night Stalker. As journalists ourselves we have to admit that we’re partial to sarcastic, wise-cracking wordsmiths who chronicle and kill vampires and other beasties that go bump in the night with equal aplomb.
- Robert Neville: Richard Matheson’s Robert Neville from his 1954 novel I Am Legend has never been more deadly than as played by a scenery chewing Charlton Heston in The Omega Man as he goes up against Anthony Zerbe and his band of bad-ass zombie vamps in this post-apocalyptic horror (later remade with Will Smith as I Am Legend by director Francis Lawrence). We’ll enjoy this 1971 guilty pleasure until you pull the Blu-Ray from our cold, dead hands.
- Blade: The Marvel Comics anti-hero, the Daywalker, a half human/half vampire and all badass hunts his fellow vamps and the vicious Deacon Frost with brutal efficiency. Played by Wesley Snipes in the classic trilogy and ripe for a remake.
- The Frog Brothers: You can’t beat the Coreys. In The Lost Boys, Edgar and Allan Frog realize their destiny to rid Santa Carla, California from a pack of bloodsuckers only to face eternal damnation on the way. Carry on, Coreys…
- Peter Vincent: As the long-suffering nighttime horror host, Peter Vincent, Roddy McDowall goes mano a mano with Chris Sarandon in the ultimate Fright Night.
Mark A. Altman (@markaaltman) is the co-author of Tor Books’ upcoming Slayers & Vampires: The Complete Oral History of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. He is a writer/producer who is a former Co-EP of such series as The Librarians, Agent X, Castle and many others. His films include Free Enterprise, The Thirst, DOA: Dead Or Alive and his directorial debut, the upcoming romantic comedy, Can’t Have You.
Edward Gross (@edgross) is a journalist for such publications and websites as Empire, Geek and FHM. He is co-author of Slayers & Vampires and last year’s The Fifty-Year Mission, an oral history of Star Trek, he wrote with Altman.
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