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Peter Travers on The Best and Worst Vampires on Film and TV

Peter Travers on The Best and Worst Vampires on Film and TV

Courtesy of HBO

Vampires are everywhere these days — call it twilight for originality. All you need to sell movie tickets or cable TV subscriptions, it seems, is to call in the undead. What attracts us to bloodsuckers? It can be as simple as their eternal hottie youth, or as complex as how they make pacts with the devil in exchange for immortality. Either way, audiences aren't even close to putting a stake in the heart of this craze. So let us praise the actors who vamp with style, and stick it to those who don't have a clue about true blood's essence. Here's a countdown of the 10 best — and then the 5 worst — vampires in movies and television.

BEST 10. Robert Pattinson The Twilight Saga

© 2009 Summit Entertainment

Best, Number 10: Robert Pattinson of ‘The Twilight Saga’

Admirers of both sexes might name the Brit actor Number One for his humongous fan base. But as Edward Cullen, he has neither the fangs nor the balls to go for the human jugular when he can hunt Bambi or moon around Bella instead. What Pattinson does have: Byronic good looks that are unfakably hypnotic.

BEST 9. Deborah Ann Woll True Blood

Phil Parisi/HBO

Best, Number 9: Deborah Ann Woll of ‘True Blood’

As the newly-turned teen vamp Jessica on the HBO series, Woll shows the boy bloods how it's done. There's a wildness in this character that Woll handles with extraordinary skill. An early sequence, in which Jessica sneaks home to visit her family — including her abusive father — burns in the memory.

BEST 8. Kiefer Sutherland Lost Boys

O'Neal/Warner Bros

Best, Number 8: Kiefer Sutherland of ‘Lost Boys’

If you ever wondered what Jack Bauer would be like as a blond vampire, check out Sutherland in this 1987 cult hit. Highlight: When his character David attacks Surf Nazis at a bonfire.

BEST 7.Christopher Lee Horror of Dracula

Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos

Best, Number 7: Christopher Lee Horror of ‘Dracula’

The 1958 movie is slight and spawned some lousy sequels. But Lee, now best known for playing Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, gave the Count an iconic presence that few have equaled.

BEST 6. Lina Leandersson Let the Right One In

Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Best, Number 6: Lina Leandersson of ‘Let the Right One In’

This child actress from Sweden used a chilling stillness to play a vampire who says, "I've been 12 years old for a very long time." A Hollywood remake of the 2008 film will star Kick Ass dynamo Chloe Moretz in Leandersson's role. It opens in October.

BEST 5. Nicolas Cage Vampire's Kiss

Warner Brothers Entertainment

Best, Number 5: Nicolas Cage of ‘Vampire’s Kiss’

Some may argue that Cage's performance as a New York literary agent once bitten takes over-the-top acting to the point of no return. Idiots! That's the fun of this 1989 film.

BEST 4. Alexander Skarsgård True Blood

French/HBO

Best, Number 4: Alexander Skarsgard of ‘True Blood’

As Eric Northman, a 1,000-year-old Viking and the current vampire sheriff of Louisiana, Skarsgard provides heat the Twilight movies lack. His scenes with Anna Paquin's all-too-human Sookie Stackhouse flare like nothing else in a series that is already a sexual bonfire.

BEST 3. Ian Somerhalder The Vampire Diaries

Colbert / The CW

Best, Number 3: Ian Somerhalder of ‘The Vampire Diaries’

Kevin Williamson's terrific series on the CW network casts Somerhalder (formerly Boone on Lost) as Damon Salvatore, the bad boy vampire in hot pursuit of the woman his brother Stefan (Paul Wesley) loves. Somerhalder deftly balances dangerous and funny without compromising either quality. Says Damon: "I do believe in killing the messenger. Know why? It sends a message."

BEST 2. Willem Dafoe Shadow of the Vampire

STR/AFP

Best, Number 2: Willem Dafoe of ‘Shadow of the Vampire’

Dafoe gives the best portrayal of a vampire in the new century in this Oscar-nominated performance. (Ian Somerhalder has said the same thing.) Watch Dafoe's character, the star of Nosferatu, advance on an actress as the camera rolls and then, forgetting he's acting, go right for her pretty white neck.

BEST 1. Bela Lugosi Dracula

Hulton Archive

Best, Number 1: Bela Lugosi of ‘Dracula’

Lugosi owns Count Dracula, cutting deep into the tortured soul of his character. Play close attention to his face and voice as the Count expresses his delight in the howling of wolves: "Listen to them. Children of the night — what music they make." Lugosi's music is forever.

WORST 5. Tom Cruise Interview with the Vampire

Warner Brothers Entertainment

Worst, Number 5: Tom Cruise of ‘Interview with the Vampire’

Time hasn't been kind to this 1994 film version of Anne Rice's bestseller — or to Cruise's performance. Rice initially protested the casting of Cruise as the blond vampire Lestat. She should have fought harder.

WORST 4. Kate Beckinsale Underworld

Sketch Films

Worst, Number 4: Kate Beckinsale of ‘Underworld’

Beckinsale looks great in leather, but her lady vamp couldn't scare a cat on Friday the 13th.

WORST 3. Gerard Butler Dracula 2000

Dimension Films

Worst, Number 3: Gerard Butler of ‘Dracula 2000’

If Dracula was ever cloned more anemically than here, I don't know when. Butler was scarier singing in Andrew Lloyd's Webber's Phantom of the Opera.

WORST 2.Eddie Murphy Vampire in Brooklyn

Paramount Pictures

Worst, Number 2: Eddie Murphy of ‘Vampire in Brooklyn’

As a Caribbean vampire on a mission in New York, Murphy makes plenty of jokes — none funny.

WORST 1. Peter Facinelli The Twilight Saga

Walker/Getty (Scarlett), Summit Entertainment (Faccinelli)

Worst, Number 1: Peter Facinelli of ‘The Twilight Saga’

Facinelli is a solid actor, but playing Carlisle Cullen, the white-haired head of the fang-challenged Cullen vampire family, he looks about as terrifying as Project Runway winner Austin Scarlett, whom Carisle closely resembles.

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