TOP 50 Vampiresdgolder | Features, Fun Stuff | 05/06/2010 09:43am
SFX has a Vampire Special out at the moment. And to celebrate here’s a reminder of the Top 50 Vampires as voted for by you in the previous vampire special…
SFX’s second Vampire Special is now on the newsstands, and the popularity of the fanged fiends hasn’t ebbed one it in the intervening months. If anything, they’re probably becoming even more popular. Anyway, as a way of getting you in the mood to go out and buy the new special (yeah, this is not-so-subliminal advertising) here, for the first time on-line, is the Vampire Top 50, as voted for by SFX readers, that we published in the first special. Despite the usual evidence of fan-power in action in some of the positions, there’s actually an impressive variety of vampires in the voting, from all periods of literary, film and TV history. Enjoy your browsing!
39 The MasterPlayed by: Mark Metcalf
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2002)
Buffy’s first Big Bad was the leader of the vampire cult, the Order of Aurelius. He lurked in Sunnydale after a failed attempt to open the Hellmouth left him trapped in a mystical forcefield. Unlike other Buffy vampires, he never condescended to assuming a human form, preferring to look like he’d been in the bath for a few centuries. Sired Darla (see number 25).
32 Vampire WillowPlayed by: Alyson Hannigan
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1998-9)
Alternate universes are always a great opportunity for TV shows to have fun turning good characters into bad ones. Luckily, for Buffy’s third season episode “The Wish” Alyson Hannigan didn’t have to wear a stick-on goatee as evil Willow (probably somebody’s fantasy, but nobody you’d actually want to meet). Instead, she acquired fangs, a tight-fitting goth wardrobe and an attitude. Oh, a whole new fanbase. Vampire Willow would return in “Doppelgangland” when she materialised in the “real” universe. Interestingly, considering later plot developments, when the real Willow met Vampire Willow she commented, “I think I’m kinda gay.”
31 Harmony KendallPlayed by: Mercedes McNab
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2001), Angel (2001-4)
Harmony was one of a bitchy clique of valley girls at Sunnydale High before being vampirised in the battle to defeat Mayor Wilkins after he’d turned into a giant snake. Airheaded, spiteful and obsessed with unicorns, she then became Spike’s on/off lover (he was her “Blondie Bear”) before getting a job as Angel’s secretary when he took over the legal firm Wolfram & Hart. Age, death and the realisation that she’s a rubbish evil vampire mellowed her, but she never got the respect she craved from her bosses (it’s the helium voice, love) and ended up betraying Angel to the Senior Partners. A wife in search of a vampire footballer.
25 DarlaPlayed by: Julie Benz
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2000), Angel (2000-2004)
Vying for position as the breathiest-voiced female vampire of all time, Darla was a prostitute vampirised in 1609 (she was dying of syphilis at the time) by The Master (see number 39). She sired Angel (see number 3) in 1753, and they remained a partnership for the next century and a half. In the late 1800s they were joined by Spike (see number 1) and Drusilla (see number 10) in their bloodreign of terror. After Angel regained his soul and became all mopey, the glory days were over. Darla tracked down Angel to Sunnydale in the 1990s, was killed, then resurrected, then became the mother of Angel’s son, Connor, before finally staking herself. It’s complicated, okay…?
10 DrusillaPlayed by: Juliet Landau
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Angel (2000-4)
Drusilla is often described as a Nancy Spungen to Spike’s Sid Vicious, a hedonistic pair of vampires living a rock’n’roll lifestyle of booze (well, blood) and sex. Amusingly, Juliet Landau was told when she was given the role that she could use either an American or a British accent and opted for a Cockney interpretation (channelling Dick Van Dyke) because that suited the whole Sid and Nancy vibe, ignoring the fact that Spungen was, in fact, American.
But Dru was more than a mere punk vampire. There was a whole other dimension to her; she was Buffy’s Ophelia character. Sent mad by Angelus, who tortured and killed her entire family, she was cursed to spend her unlife unhinged when Angelus subsequently sired her. As a vampire she would forever be floating down a river of blood, distracted and babbling nonsense (“Run and catch, run and catch, the lamb is caught in the blackberry patch”). Yep, Dru was a certified nutjob, but hey, that just added to her mystique; witness the way she would squeal and giggle like a little girl while she gleefully tortured some poor victim.
The turned Drusilla had an incredible capacity for sadism. While the living Dru was a god-fearing psychic who was in line for sainthood (part of the reason why Angelus delighted in turning her), the undead Dru was as heartless and deadly as vampires get. Let’s not forget, she killed a Slayer – Kendra, the one who was called after Buffy died briefly at the end of season one. She hypnotised her then sliced open her throat with her fingernails. After being Spike’s girlfriend for the best part of a century, she dropped him after he sided with the Slayer to defeat Angelus, claiming that he had become soft. When Wolfram and Hart asked her to re-sire the resurrected (human) Darla, she really couldn’t understand why Darla didn’t embrace the opportunity.
So, with her Victorian-cum-goth sartorial sense, casual cruelty, beguiling speech patterns and unpredictable insanity, is it any wonder Drusilla has staked a claim in the top 10 of this list?
3 Angel/AngelusPlayed by: David Boreanaz
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Angel (1999-2004)
The thing that’s easy to forget about Angel is just how funny he could be. Maybe not always intentionally, to be sure (and no, that’s not a reference to David Boreanaz’s dodgy Oirish accent in the flashbacks to his pre-vampire days as Liam). The popular image of Angel is that of the moping, lovestruck, shadow-lurking vampire of the early days of Buffy (he was the the virtual blueprint for Edward Cullen) or the grumpy, agonised, redemption-seeking square-peg-in-a-round-hole misfit of his time in Los Angeles (a vampire in the sunshine city, a typically Joss Whedon conceit). And he was both of these. And probably would have been fondly remembered even if that was all there was to him.
But there was another side to Angel; a wonderfully appealing, self-effacing humour, helped no end by Boreanaz’s ability to look like a slapped puppy. He was a vampire, for Christ’s sake – he should be big and hard and manly. And Angel could be. But he could also look sulky, pathetic, in need of a hug; and when he was in one of these moods, he usually ended up the target of ridicule from his friends. He was also a rubbish singer and dancer – which may sound like a facile comment, but his amusing awkwardness at such times spoke volumes about who he was.
Plot-wise, few vampires have been so well served. A vampire with a soul; that’s the kind of dichotomy any actor would love to explore, especially with that added proviso about “true happiness will turn him evil”. But, of course, he did find true happiness, and his soul was whipped away from him; Angelus was reborn and Boreanaz clearly had a whale of a time playing him (the scene where he sucks the blood of a smoker then exhales her smoke is one of the best vampire moments ever). Regaining his soul, he goes to LA, away from Buffy and temptation, sets up a detective agency, journeys to another dimension, comes back, becomes a dad, becomes boss at a demon legal firm and watches loads of friends die. But it’s all okay, because at the very end, he’s still doing what he wants to do most: the right thing.
1 SpikePlayed by: James Marsters
Undead in: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Angel (1999-2004)
The old adage appears to be true – we all love a bad boy. Born of posh stock in 18th Century London (we can assume his mockney Guy Ritchie-style accent was an affectation he adopted later – which might also explain why it occasionally wobbled slightly), Spike made his first appearance in Sunnydale in season two. He quickly made himself as much loved among the fans as he was (initially) hated by the Slayer and her Scoobies.
So what makes him so popular – other than cheekbones sharp enough to cut cheese on? An antihero in the true sense of the word, Spike is morally ambiguous and ready to fight pretty much anyone, for fun. But underneath it all, he loves deeply and earnestly in a way that remains achingly human. Although, ironically, his personality remains pretty much the same, whether he has a soul or not – in stark (and more entertaining) contrast to Angel.
He’s not as broody as most of the other vamps, with a quick sarcastic wit and a barrage of pop culture references for every occasion. He’s funny and, frankly, the kind of person it’d be a laugh to have a beer and play a few hands of kitten poker with, even if you couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t try to kill you later. He’s also the only vamp on our list who’s got away with using the word “wanker” on US network TV. Yeah, it’s not big or clever, but you couldn’t imagine Dracula getting away with that.