Monday, August 03, 2009
My Top Five list of Least Scary Vampires of All Time
Vampires are back in vogue big time and the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly devotes several pages to those bloodsucking bad boys and girls in film,TV and literature,complete with their list of the 20 "greatest" vampires in pop culture.
That list isn't bad,altho they left off a few of my favorites(such as Spike from BTVS and Jerry Dandridge from Fright Night)and while I could comment on Laurell K. Hamilton's snarky remarks about Stephanie Meyer(ladies,can't we all just live and let live,seriously?),I thought it would be more of a challenge to select the worst vampires from the murky media realms of horror film lore.
I managed to come up with a Top Five of vampires who are as scary as a batch of Halloween cookies and would be an embarrassment to the nosferatu nation or the American Vampire League,which ever one went public first.
All of these silly creatures of the night are from TV and film,with most of them arising the potent minefield meld of horror comedy. To get this party started right,let's go with ladies first:
1) THE COUNTESS(Once Bitten)
One of the worst career moves that Lauren Hutton ever made was appearing in this pitiful hybrid of teen sex comedy and vampire lore,with her character in desperate need of virgin blood to keep her somewhat youthful good looks. While the notion of male virginity being a strong allure to evil doers is interesting,the movie mainly uses it as a riff point for smarmy jokes.
The Countess comes across as more of a cougar than a maneater,with her worst acts of malice being pushing people over in public when thwarted from her goal of seducing a young Jim Carrey and throwing down some sadly sexy moves on the dance at a high school Halloween party. Honey,if you can't keep up with the young ones,it's time to retire your fangs:
2) BENNY(Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
One of the joys of watching the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie is spotting the young Hollywood hopefuls who made brief but memorable appearances. The most prominent is Hillary Swank,as one of Buffy's clueless girlfriends,and the trickiest to find is Ben Affleck(watch the basketball scene,he passes off to a suspicious looking team member).
The one that you can't miss,even if you wanted to,is David Arquette who plays Benny,a geeky buddy of Buffy's love interest Pike(Luke Perry). Benny is equally annoying as a human and as a vampire,with his lame jokes and pointy ears(why all the secondary vamps have rat ears in this movie,I'll never understand). Dude,when Pee Wee Herman is a way more scarier vamp than you,that says something there:
3) MR. BARLOW(Salem's Lot,1979 version)
Barlow made the EW list of great vampires but as a fan of the book,I must firmly disagree. In the Stephen King novel,Kurt Barlow was a smooth talking master vamp in the suave European style of Dracula. While he did have a daytime guardian who could talk the talk,Barlow himself could have easily blended into regular American society after dark.
Unfortunately,in the first TV miniseries adaptation back in '79,the filmmakers decided to have Mr. Barlow's makeup in the same mode as Klaus Kinski's remake of the classic Nosferatu,rendering him a speechless,blue skinned monster. While the 2004 TNT miniseries of Salem's Lot had it's own flaws,at least they let Barlow resemble his earlier literary incarnation(played by Rutger Hauer,who makes a great vampire in any sort of film)instead of a hokey figure straight out of an Abbott and Costello movie:
4)LESTAT(Queen of the Damned)
There are many things wrong about the major motion picture adaptation of Anne Rice's third Vampire Chronicles novel(which tossed in bits and pieces from the second book into the mixer that the screenplay must've been run through)and a main misstep was casting Stuart Townsend as Lestat.
Sure,he seems to fit the bill at first glance,with his silky Brit accent and pale good looks but Townsend's take on Lestat is as one note as his performance in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as Dorian Gray;snide,snippy and as charismatically menacing as an over the top Goth kid hanging out at your local Hot Topic store in the mall:
5) ZACHARY SIMMS(Love Bites:The Reluctant Vampire)
A prime example of the rock star as bad actor cliche,Adam Ant was the leading man in this 1992 TV film that had his 300 year old vampire rise from his coffin in modern day New York,which happens to be in the basement of a townhouse owned by a moody blonde named Kendall(Kimberly Foster)who is being pushed into marriage by her yuppie boyfriend.
Zachary is a total wuss,who gets a serious beatdown from Kendall upon his attempt to feast on her blood and winds up falling in love with her. Adam Ant was a good singer back in his day but as a vampire lover,he certainly doesn't get my toes a-tapping. Of interest to True Blood fans,Michelle Forbes is in this flick as well,playing Zachary's sire who looks scarier than him at least:
While I am happy to see so much vampire love on the pop culture circuit these days,the inevitable fear factor of overexposure still lingers on the horizon. Then again,if you really love something,you have to love all of it,the good, the bad and the godawful goofy.
It's best for any a fan of any genre to have a sense of humor,especially when the object of your affections is supernatural. Otherwise,you risk becoming what you fear the most: someone too serious minded to enjoy even a musical. The horror,the horror!:
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