Top 5 Most Unusual Big-Screen Vampires

Top 5 Most Unusual Big-Screen Vampires

This Friday, the first highly-anticipated big screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series of young readers novels hits theaters, introducing the author's distinctive world of angsty, teenage vampires to moviegoers not yet hooked on the multi-million copy selling books.

From Max Schreck in 1922's "Nosferatu" to Bela Lugosi as arguably the screen's most famous Dracula to the more recent ”30 Days of Night", Hollywood has had a long love affair with vampire lore. While Twilight offers its own unique spin on the legend, it still shares some familiar elements to traditional vampire mythology, including the trademark atmospheric gothic undertones and romanticism.

Some films have eschewed these common elements more than others, however. Here's a look at five of the most unique big screen interpretations of vampires.

5. Peter Loew [Nicolas Cage] in 1989's "Vampire's Kiss”.

Cage stars here as a mentally unbalanced New York yuppie (when that term was still relevant) who thinks he's turning into a bloodsucker. But while most screen vampires feed on humans, Cage spends this film chewing on the scenery – literally and figuratively. In a career full of unusual, over-the-top performances that sometimes divide fans and critics, this is perhaps the eventual Oscar-winner's (for "Leaving Las Vegas") most infamous.

As for that literal scenery-chewing, Cage reputedly did two takes in the film's most memorable scene, and we don't mean memorable in a good way. In a fit of increasing madness, Cage's character catches and eats a real live cockroach. That's about as far removed from the traditional heaving-bosom, vampire romanticism as you can get.

4. Blade [Wesley Snipes] in the 1998-2004 "Blade" Trilogy.

Loosely based on the Marvel comic book character, Blade operates in a fairly typical contemporary vampire environment, but what makes the titular character unusual is he is only half-vampire (and half-human) and hunts and heroically protects humans from his evil, fully undead cousins. While not the screen's first "dhampir" (half-vampire), he's likely the most famous.

His half-human side also lets him walk around in the middle of the day unharmed (hence, his is known in vampire circles as a "daywalker"), but he never really uses that unusual ability to his advantage in the course of the three films.

2002's "Blade II" (directed by Guillermo del Toro) earns some bonus points for the introduction of "Reapers", a new strain of evil vampires with a double-hinged jaw/mouth ala "Predators", but 2004's "Blade: Trinity" gets those points subtracted for perhaps the most uncharismatic depiction of Dracula ever put on film.

And on a side note … though "Spider-Man" and the "X-Men" in the early 2000's are remembered for breaking open the damn for the current wave of comic book-based movies, it was actually the relative surprise box office success of "Blade" in '98 that really made the first crack.

3. Claudia the child vampire [Kirsten Dunst] in 1994's "Interview with a Vampire".

Before Meyer or Charlaine Harris, the undisputed Queen of contemporary vampires was author Anne Rice. The mid-90's movie adaptation of her 1976 novel "Interview with a Vampire" was most notable for the controversial casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat, but it was the then 12 year-old Dunst in one of her first film roles that stood out from the bat-pack.

Despite the 2000 kid-friendly Jonathan Lipnicki vehicle "The Little Vampire", depictions of child bloodsuckers remain fairly uncommon in Hollywood and even in traditional vampire lore. Rice and director Neil Jordan didn't pull any punches to soften the blow for the squeamish, however (legend has it Oprah walked out of a screening). Claudia was a violent, sadistic character made more unusual because she matures mentally – but not psychically – over 30 years after being transformed as a child.

2. The Insect/Mechanical Golden Scarab in 1993's "Chronos".

The first film written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (him again) introduces an insect-like creature encased inside an ornate antique scarab, that unwittingly injects whoever opens the device with a venom that not only grants the "victim" apparent eternal youth, but a vampire-like need/thirst for blood to go along with it.

This highly-unique take on vampirism foreshadowed the love of unusual monsters and creatures by the now A-List director of "Pan's Labyrinth", the "Hellboy" movies, and soon the two-part "The Hobbit" adaptation.

1. Female Space Vampire [Mathilda May] in 1985's "Lifeforce".

It isn't so much the stunningly beautiful May starred as a female vampire from space in director Tobe Hopper's now cult-classic sci-fi epic. And it wasn't so much that May played a female space vampire that sucks the [wait for it…] "lifeforce" out of her victims, as opposed to drinking blood. It's that the French actress played a female vampire from space that sucks the lifeforce out of her victims completely nude throughout the entire film.

And no, Hooper wasn't very creative with artful lighting or strategic camera angles, and May did little to obscure the views. Her immodest "in-all-her-glory" performance didn't help with the film's box office, however. "Lifeforce" made just $12 million dollars in the United States despite a reported $25 million dollar budget, but a late-night cable television legend was spawned.

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