It should be no surprise to anyone lately that I absolutely adore vampires. I don’t read a lot of books starring vampires because I’ve found most of the modern versions of this dark and mysterious creature are pretty poorly done, but I want to read more. They’re one of my favorite monsters that go bump in the night, so much so that one of my main characters in an upcoming novel I’m writing is a vampire.
But what, exactly, is so appealing about them?
SO MUCH! I’m going to use this post to talk about some of my favorite vampire tropes, as well as touch briefly on the ones that I wish would just die
permanently already. There will probably be some sort of rec list at the end, too, so let’s get started!
Look, I’m going to try not to use only Matthew Clairmont gifs, and I’ll probably succeed a little, but this is definitely not the last time we’re going to see him, and for very good reason. He’s especially perfect for our first category, though:
My favorite vampire trope is the super charming one. Like, that’s the whole point of vampires! They seduce you into death! You’re so caught up in the wow so pretty that you’re totally chill with them drinking your blood. I loooooooooooooooooove the suave so much, oh my gosh, I’m just giggling writing this right now. Give me suave vampires forever. I want them sharply dressed, purposeful movements, and slow smiles. UGH.
Do I also love bumbling vampires? Yes, of course. I love all vampires who aren’t Edward Cullen and awkwardly sniff their prey from across the room with a terrifying expression on their face. If you’re going to sniff your person, do it like Matthew Clairmont. Gently brush her hair behind her ear and lean in to kiss her, pausing for a quick sniff on the way. This is all beside the point. Sure, I’m here for an awkward vampire. I’m here for the Simon Lewises of the world. But I also really, really enjoy the Raphael Santiagos.
Oh boy, do I love a good “you have to invite me in” trope. I love how easily it can be misconstrued as just something polite to do, too. Most of the standard vampire lore makes me role my eyes, as you’ll see below, but there are some that just get me. Like this idea that they’re now unholy because they’re undead, and thus they can’t come into your home, which is your most vulnerable and sacred space is just??? YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU. Heck, it’s half the reason the women survive for so long in Stoker’s Dracula. He doesn’t start truly feeding on them until they actually let him in, and the fact that all you have to do is run into your house and the vampire is suddenly just sighing on your doorstop like, “Come on, don’t be like this, just invite me in.” Yeah, I’m here for it.
casually debunking myths
This is going to be in direct contradiction to the one below it. Look, I’m feeling contrary today, I love a lot of different things about vampires. What it comes down to is that I love how they’re interpreted. Do I love vampires that can only go out at night? Heck yeah.
But I also love the ones that can go out during the day, too. Here, I’ll show instead of telling you what I mean:
“Don’t they cut the heads off to kill them?” she asked in return.
Andrew slowly lifted his head to look at her over the fridge door.
“Or, like—” she mimed stabbing him, “—stake through the heart?”
Andrew blinked at her.
“Look,” he said, “you stab someone through the heart, cut off their head, whatever, vampire or not, and they’re a goner.”
That’s from one of my novels, which is in serious first draft land, meaning this is from the second chapter out of only four, but something of this ilk will make it into the final draft. Because seriously? This piece of lore that if you stake something through the heart they’ll die? I mean, DUH. Like Andrew says, vampire or not, if you stake someone or cut off their head, of course they’re going to die.
Thus, I really like the explanation of why vampires can go out in the daytime in A Discovery of Witches.
“What’s the truth in the story about vampires not being allowed inside without an invitation?” Having pressed him on his diet, I focused on the entrance protocols.A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness
“Humans are with us all the time. They just refuse to acknowledge our existence because we don’t make sense in their limited world. Once they allow us in—see us for who we really are—then we’re in to stay, just as someone you’ve invited into your home can be hard to get rid of. They can’t ignore us anymore.”
“So it’s like the stories of sunlight,” I said slowly. “It’s not that you can’t be in sunlight, but when you are, it’s harder for humans to ignore you. Rather than admit that you’re walking among them, humans tell themselves you can’t survive the light.”
I love that. I love when the reason makes sense. If they can just go outside during the day because the author has decided to ignore lore, that’s dumb, but if they provide something that makes sense, well. And I’m not going to tell you why my particular vampire can go outside during the day because spoilers, but I will tell you that the rest of them only go out at night.
only out at night
OH HELL YEAH TIME TO OUT MYSELF!
When I was younger, Underworld was the coolest thing ever. But it was also rated R, so I couldn’t go see it in theaters, and my dad decided that meant he was going to kick me out during all the sex scenes when we watched it at home. Mind you, not the violent scenes that also were a reason for a R rating, but I digress.
However, I was also a crafty child and figured out a way to watch them secretly, and Underworld has remained my favorite over the years for a lot of reasons. Blood Wars was on TV last night, and while it’s truly terrible, it’s also amazing, and I will stand by this series forever. Especially because it leans hard on two of my favorite tropes–suave & nocturnal.
I really do enjoy vampires who can only go out at night. Yes, I like when there’s a good explanation for why they’re out during the day, but things are so much scarier at night that it just makes sense for them to be there. Plus, they’re usually in all black and skulking in the shadows, and I just need that aesthetic like I need air.
immortal = remembers all history
This is another contradictory one because one of the things I also don’t like is when immortal = remembers all history.
So, here’s the thing. Ancient vampires who remember everything is super interesting, and it totally leans into that superior, aloof vibe that I like from old lore, but I also like when they’re like:
Again, it’s all based on how you’re doing it. I think a healthy balance really works well. If all of your vampires are super knowledgeable about history, then none of your vampires should be recent ones. But, like in the Shadowhunters universe, if you’ve got Camille, whose been around for a few centuries, paired with Simon, who was basically turned last week, then I really appreciate the balance of “yeah I was there when Victoria was queen, what about it” with “what do you mean we changed our band name again???”
I feel like I’ve already kind of talked about the things that I don’t like mixed in here, so there’s really only one thing to touch on that I don’t like:
possessive & anti-feminist
Yes, I am saying Dracula is at fault for this, though I am also saying that he’s kind of exempt because he’s a product of his time. However, I also appreciate when stories, like Luke Evans in Dracula: Untold don’t sit so heavily on this trope since, well, we’re in the 21st century, y’all, and lore is not law.
Am I mad at A Discovery of Witches for how they treated pretty much all women? You betcha. The show did a really excellent job of quietly not including any of it, which I appreciate, but here’s the thing. Lore is made up. It’s not real, guys. It’s not the end of all things. If we’re allowing our vampires to go out in the sun, we can also allow them to not growl possessively over Bella’s head to signal who she “belongs” to. Like, that’s so fucking antiquated and gross.
I’m fine with the whole wanting to protect your people vibe, but being weird about it? Matthew literally stalking Diana? Nah, bro, I’m not here for it. Your vampires don’t have to be creepily possessive and anti-feminist about the women around them just because that’s what lore has brought us up on. We’re better than that.
Oh wait, I had one more small one! I really, really hate when vampires don’t have fangs! Why! That’s literally their staple! Give vampires fangs, even if they’re like Baz and don’t show up until they’re eating, and heck, while we’re at it, give more vampires capes again, they deserve it.
Okay, while I really want to rec you guys some books, I like about one vampire book in existence (that I’ve read), and I’ve talked about Matthew Clairmont enough for one day, and Shadowhunters only has the occasional vampire, so instead, I’m going to give you movie recs, and you’re going to give me book recs in the comments. Cool? Cool.
The entire Underworld series is easily my favorite vampire movie ever. The aesthetic is on point, and I love the crossover with werewolves. I don’t think I’ve ever really shouted about it, but Lucian just literally makes me scream. I love him so much. Originally, my vampire detective was named Lucian because I had no chill, and I still have no chill over him. These movies are questionable in whether they’re actually good or not, but I will watch them over and over again. Kate Beckinsale is one of my favorite actresses, and I just love the futuristic, but still fantasy aspects of this.
Okay, I’ve definitely shouted about Priest on here before. I have no idea why, but it might have been during my Halloween special. The mythology surrounding these vampires is some of my favorite. They don’t have eyes because eyes are supposed to be windows to the soul, but the whole idea in vampiric lore is that they no longer have souls because they’re undead, and I just YES OKAY THANK YOU PERFECT LORE IS PERFECT. I love so much that they don’t have eyes, and that’s why. They’re also way different than all of the other vampires on this list, and are much more monster than they are anything else. Plus, this has Paul Bettany and badass religious vibes, so it’s basically a match made in heaven for me.
Guys, you knew that The Little Vampire was going to show up on this list. I had the biggest crush on Rudolph growing up, and the fact that he also plays Scipio in The Thief Lord adaptation killed me. In fact, I’m still murdered by it. This is just my corpse talking to you. Vampires are welcome to snack. Anyway, this is also the cutest movie on this list, and if you just need a sweet laugh about vampires in ancient outfits being super dramatic and hissing everywhere in Scotland with a crazy vampire hunter, do yourself a favor.
Dracula Untold is definitely my favorite Dracula retelling. I’m a huge Gary Oldman fan, and the 1992 version is on this list somewhere, but I’m always going to love a kingly figure. Putting Dracula in armor & making him fight for the people he loves is just the perfect storm of charming vampire that still maintains some human qualities. Plus, Luke Evans is gorgeous, and he plays a very believable sad vampire. And! This is not the story of Dracula as you know it since it’s a prequel, which I am all about.
There is a lot to love about the UK version of Being Human, and a lot of that a lot is Aidan Turner and his character’s romance plot line. This just kills me. So badly that I briefly swayed into fanfiction land before swerving right back out after a few several thousand words. I love that this is a more serious version of Shadowhunters, almost, in that it deals with each of the supernatural creatures have real world jobs, instead of just fighting demons out of a church (don’t even start with me, Shadowhunters is my life blood). But it’s really interesting to see a vampire & werewolf doctor with a ghost roommate.
I mean, of course A Discovery of Witches is on here, I’ve only talked about its main vampire for this entire post. I’ve only read the first book and seen the first season (the second one isn’t out yet), but the vampire lore in this is really neat. I love how they explain away some of the pieces of old lore, as I mentioned above, and I just love the vampires in general in this. Plus, it’s set in current times in England, and it involves witches, so win/win.
I know I’m going to get either some comment hate or just silent hate for this, but I’ve never been an Interview with a Vampire fan. I’m going to say that’s probably 80% because I literally cannot stand the sight of Tom Cruise, and I should probably give it a second chance, but until that happens, I’m going to hang out in my loving Queen of the Damned. This was such an obvious choice for teen!Mary back in the day because it’s suave vampires + rock and roll, and yeah? Yeah.
Another monster movie! There’s a pretty clear divide between suave vampires & monster vampires in the film industry, and I’m not sure I’ve seen anything in between. (Note: that’s probably because I haven’t seen What We Do in the Shadows yet.) And 30 Days of Night really leans hard on the monster vampire side. I’m particularly fond of this movie because the literal 30 days of night in Alaska is a real fear of mine, and 100% of me thinks that vampires exist during that time, so like, this is basically a nonfiction movie for me, and it is the stuff of nightmares.
Does Bram Stoker’s book make me want to light things on fire? Yes. But do I love Gary Oldman with every bone in my body? HECK YES. Thus, the 1992 version of Dracula is one of my favorite movies to also kind of not like. I like the movie way more than the book, particularly because of the format (ie: not pointless letters & rambling journal entries), but I’m always going to have a kind of complicated relationship with this vampire because the story is just outdated and kind of ridiculous. Gary Oldman, however, plays a fantastic character, as he always does, and I had to include this for him.
Last, but certainly not least, we’ve got Van Helsing! I’d like to think I had a hearty selection of vampires as protagonists in this list, but vampires are kind of inherently villains, so we do need a few that feature vampire hunters, too. I definitely like this more for Hugh Jackman than anything else, but the lore & the setting make for a really neat story, and it’s definitely worth the watch.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of best vampire movies ever, although Underworld is always going to take the top slot for that in my heart. There are several movies/shows that I haven’t watched yet that I really want to:
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- What We Do in the Shadows
- Let Me In
- Let the Right One In
So, if you want to drop a movie/show rec while you’re dropping a book rec, do it! Just be warned I’ve been rec’d The Vampire Diaries a million times, and I’m never going to watch it. #sorrynotsorry