Saturday, August 8, 2009

[a case of the summer] - Top Ten Cases: Best vampires

The latest edition of Entertainment Weekly takes a look at the twenty greatest vampire characters. While some obvious characters made the list, I was a bit taken aback by some notable exclusions. Overall, I think their list pretty weak. And honestly, Dracula makes the list, like, five times! I should also note that I'm not particularly fond of Blade. I think it's a little cheap to give him every vampire power, but none of the weaknesses. I mean, even Superman had Kryptonite.

And while I do fancy myself a bit of a vampire enthusiast, I have no interest in anything Twilight related. Vampires prancing around in the daylight? No thanks. Nonetheless, I'll also admit that my list is flawed as well, as it pretty much focuses exclusively on a few popular franchises. But for what it's worth, here's my list of the top ten vampires in television, movies, and literature.

Click the "Read More" link for the full list.

10. Count von Count ("Sesame Street") - Aw c'mon, the guy taught us all how to count! Although we never did see him do anybody in.

9. Selene ("Underworld") - I only saw the first Underworld movie, but c'mon -- a female vampire who kicks ass? Not too shabby.

8. David ("The Lost Boys") - I'll admit that it's been forever since I've seen The Lost Boys, and I really don't remember much of anything about the character. But I'm going to say one thing that will warrant his placement on this list: Jack F'n Bauer as a vampire. Nuff said.

7. Drusilla ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"/"Angel") - For the most part, all of the major vampires on Buffy are either extremely powerful, incredibly cool, supremely funny, or all of the above. So it's a bit of fresh air to see one character that's just kooky, fantastical, and supernatural. Along with that, her backstory is incredibly tragic and powerful. Here you had a girl who genuinely wanted to be good, and while vampires like Angel and Spike were manipulated in an instantaneous moment of vulnerability, Drusilla was preyed upon over the course of several months. Perhaps more than any other character, Drusilla's transformation into a vampire was an honest-to-God violation. She's a much deeper character than one might suspect.

6. Bill Compton ("True Blood") - I haven't read the book series in which this show is based, so all I can discuss is what I've seen over the past two seasons (for what it's worth, most people who have read the books seem to favor Eric). I just think Bill's Southern Gentleman character does an excellent job of setting the tone of the series -- essentially that vampires aren't soulless creatures. In fact, much like humans, they are capable of good and bad, and must find a balance between their innate urges and the laws of society. I don't think people would buy the series as a whole if they didn't relate to Bill. I became a real fan of the character after enjoying his kind interactions with Sookie's grandmother.

5. Lestat ("Interview with the Vampire") - Much like Mr. Compton above, Lestat helped reinvent how people view vampires (as noted by the Entertainment Weekly article). Before Tom Cruise popularized the character, most people thought of the caped, pale-blue skinned guy with a widowed peak and unrealistic fangs. Lestat paved the way for the rest of the vamps on this list, making people realized that vampires can be refined and cultured.

4. Angel ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"/"Angel") - While I've always been partial to Spike (more on him shortly), I do have to admit that Angel is a fun, complex character as well. Hell, his curse by nature layers his character: He's got a soul, so he wants to do good. But if he ever achieves pure happiness, he loses his soul. For what it's worth, we first discovered this in season two, when he and Buffy slept together. She was 16. He was about 200. There ya' go.

3. Louis ("Interview with the Vampire") - While most people remember Lestat -- I suppose because he's a more crucial character to the Interview with the Vampire series -- I'm actually partial to Louis (portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie). While Lestat introduced a more civilized, contemporary vision of a vampire, Louis was the one who accentuated the humanity. No longer simply a villainous creature of the night, Louis showed that vampires have the ability to love and build genuine relationships. When I think of the popular film, most of my memories involve Louis, and not Lestat.

2. Spike ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"/"Angel") - In my opinion, it's pretty inexcusable that Spike was left off of the EW list altogether. As far as I'm concerned, he helped MAKE the Buffy series popular. Sure, Angel was pushed as the brooding vampire, but it was Spike's turn as the Big Bad that catapulted the series into cult following status. And when Angel got his spin off, thrusting Spike into the unlikely role as an unofficial member of the Scoobies, the character really took off. Actually, I find it curious that Angel is constantly portrayed as a noble, brave hero, while most view Spike as an obnoxious, selfish anti-hero. Personally, I have always felt that Spike was a far better person than Angel. Consider the following: Before turning into a vampire, Angel was a drunk, rebellious jerk. Spike was a honest and caring, if a bit awkward. After turning into a vampire, Angel brutally murdered his entire family, including his little sister. On the other hand, Spike turned his mother into a vampire in a desperate attempt to save her from dying of TB. Angel was cursed with a soul. Spike violently went through hell in order to earn his soul so that he could be a better man to Buffy. Speaking of Buffy: Without his soul, Angel is a heartless, ruthless killer. He killed the love of Giles' life just to destroy Buffy psychologically. And he did so in a particularly emotionally damaging manner. Yet Spike, even without a soul, continually fought alongside Buffy and her friends (many of whom he didn't even like) out of a sense of loyalty and love. Hell, he even babysat!

1. Dracula - How could you not give #1 to Mr. Vlad the Impaler himself? When most people think of a vampire, they instinctively think of Dracula. I opted not to split up the character based on the various interpretations, although I will say that, for the most part, I'm partial to Gary Oldman's portrayal in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

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1 comment:

Beatrice said...

Yes! Thanks for giving a shout out to some of the BEST vamp characters out there. Interesting how so many of these franchises have two main (and usually very different) vampires. Angel/Spike, Lestat/Louis, Bill/Eric, etc. I must admit I'm way more of an Eric fan than a Bill fan, but then I've read the books (in which B isn't quite so noble). But I love seeing Spike get proper recognition for once. Yay!