Let’s be honest: Twilight ruined vampires. The once fierce, manly, blood-sucking creatures of the night were rendered glittery wimps thanks to the tween franchise. But Jim Jarmusch’s new flick Only Lovers Left Alive, which opens April 11, reminds us that once upon a time, vampires used to be cool. In the film, Tom Hiddleston plays a depressed musician who also happens to be undead, in a story that recalls the pre-Twilight days when vampires were brutal and interesting and didn’t fly around in the sunlight. Here are the seven coolest vampires from movies that pre-date Edward Cullen.
Movie: Dracula (1992)
Played by: Gary Oldman
Dracula in any incarnation obviously belongs on every list of the best vampires, but Gary
portrayal of the character in Francis Ford
version of the story is arguably the craziest. He’s dangerous, seductive, and he can turn into a really weird bat. Honorary mention to Bella
portrayal in the 1931
, a performance that proves special effects are not important when it comes to being super creepy.
Movie: Near Dark (1987)
Played by: Bill Paxton
Before Bill Paxton chased tornados in
and became a Mormon in
, he played a frenetic vampire in Kathryn Bigelow’s horror film
is totally off the rails and completely cruel – and he loves every moment of it.
He gets in bar fights and wears sunglasses indoors (which, as we all know, are both hallmarks of coolness). You’ll probably never look at Paxton the same way again.
Movie: Nosferatu (1922)
Played by: Max Schreck
Nosferatu was the first on-screen
, and he remains the most terrifying. He wasn’t pretty or some kind of heartthrob, but instead looked like a crazy rat-man with sunken eyes and long, long, long fingers. He wasn’t trying to impress the ladies or convince a sullen teenage girl to love him; he just wanted some blood. See? You shouldn’t have to try to be cool. Honorary mention to
the role in 2000’s
Shadow of the Vampire
, a film about the making of the original
was actually a real vampire.
Movie: Blade (1998), Blade II (2002), and Blade: Trinity (2004)
Played by: Wesley Snipes
OK, so technically Blade is only a half-vampire, but he could still kick the ass of any vampire from
. Based on the Marvel comic book character, Blade is ruthless and aggressive – and always willing to kill a bunch of a people. He’s on Team Good, choosing to fight off evil vampires to protect the human race - which may not put him at the cool kids table. But it’s nice to imagine that Wesley Snipes has your back in a dark alley.
Movie: Interview With the Vampire (1994)
Played by: Tom Cruise
was like the original
, indulging in human blood and beautiful women. For this character, who’s a bit of a sadist, being a vampire is about power and lust – two things he harnesses with glee. Bonus: He brings a mopey, reluctant Brad Pitt along for the ride, proving that every good vampire needs a good
Movie: The Lost Boys (1987)
Played by: Kiefer Sutherland
A vampire named David shouldn’t be as unquestionably cool as Kiefer Sutherland’s character in the
The Lost Boys
. As the leader of a gang of teenage vampires, he’s the worst incarnation of peer pressure, always goading the other kids into dangerous stunts (that include drinking people’s blood). Of all the movie vampires, he’s also the coolest-looking, with punk rock hair, a leather jacket, and a hot girlfriend. It’s a bummer he’s the bad guy.
Character: Jesus Gris
Movie: Cronos (1993)
Played by: Federico Luppi
In Guillermo Del Toro’s highly underrated movie
, a mysterious device gives its owner eternal life and a serious desire for blood. Jesus Gris, although not technically a vampire, happens upon this device and transforms from an old man to a vigorous youth who just wants to lick blood off the floor. Del Toro has continued his fascination with vampires (he directed
), but Jesus Gris represents one of the strangest and most compelling versions of the movie vampire to date.