This week’s release of Blood: The Last Vampire brings another vampire-slayer to a pretty crowded cinematic fray in the form of Gianna Jun, who’s a bit of a vamp herself (in every way), but shares both Blade‘s commitment to the destruction of her own kind and Buffy‘s skill at making that happen, often in pretty gruesome ways.
The on-screen death of the vampire can range from the pathetic (Gary Oldman’s demise in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) to the explosive (the apparently gas-filled bloodsuckers in the 1998 drama Ultraviolet). Here are ten of the best despatchings to hell…
10 Scars of Dracula (1970)Roy Ward Baker brings Christopher Lee’s evil aristocrat to yet another sticky end in the last of the period-set Hammer outings for Drac. Having been staked, drowned and impaled on a cartwheel in previous entries, Lee decides to go for yet another spectacular death scene with a classic burn-and-fall manoeuvre.
9 Queen of the Damned (2002)The late Aaliyah wasn’t the greatest thespian in the history of vampire movies (and that’s not a very high bar), but at least she got a spectacular cinematic ending in the otherwise very-patchy adaptation of the third of the Anne Rice ‘Vampire’ novels. Many a vamp has turned to ash, but not quite with this level of detail or lingering on the process…
8 Salem’s Lot (US TV, 1979)Lots of pretty good deaths in Tobe Hooper’s chilling take on the Stephen King vampire classic, but Reggie Nalder opening his eyes during a ‘stake out’ is a nice jump moment after the huge build-up to it in the uncut mini-series.
7 Ultraviolet (UK TV, 1998)The vampire deaths in this under-rated series about hi-tech vampires and the secret society that hunts them, are rather good. The vamps explode in a nasty ball of light as soon as the wooden bullets hit.
6 Dracula (1979)Frank Langella’s matinee-idol take on the evil Count finds him actually closer to his death in the novel than pretty much any other version, since at least he’s at sea at the time. A fight in the cargo hold of the ship in which Drac is fleeing his pursuers leads to a lucky knot and a nasty haul into daylight. Could have done with some flames, but Langella does a great descent into animalistic death-throes up there in the rigging.
5 Are You Afraid Of The Dark (US TV, 1991-96)A pretty spectacular vamp-demise from this Canadian horror series. The ‘Midnight Society’ gathered at a campfire to scare each other silly with horror tales. It was ostensibly for children, but this clip actually contains some half-decent burning effects (a damn sight better than the CGI flames in Mirrors, for example) and is topped off nicely with a fall over the side of the building.
4 Underworld (2003)The old ‘oh, you sliced me’ trick began to get pretty popular in the early noughties, showing up in Ghost Ship and Resident Evil. Earlier versions can be found in Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life and Johnny Mnemonic, but this is a pretty good example, as Kate Beckinsale’s apparently useless lunge at Bill Nighy turns out not to have missed the mark after all.
3 Nosferatu (1922)The first significant vampire death in movies remains one of the most iconic, as Max Schreck’s infatuated vampire falls prey to his own lusts and ends up devoured by daylight, in Murnau’s horror classic.
2 Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)Vampires meet their maker in some memorable and truly spectacular way in Neil Jordan’s atmospheric take on the Anne Rice classic. The death of Brad Pitt’s love, trapped in a silo by her tormentors and left to await the path of the killer sun, is memorable, but the sight of the vamps flying up to the ceiling like burnt parchment in the ensuing revenge sequence is one of the most startling and inventive sights in vampire cinema.
1 John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998)The master of horror provided a hilarious and very effective medium-tech wrinkle to the hackneyed process of despatching bloodsuckers. James Woods’ vamp-hunting force, sent out by a secret cabal in the Catholic church, harpoon their prey and use a towing winch to drag them out into the burning desert light. I’m afraid this trailer doesn’t really show it, but it’s definitely worth a look