10. George Hamilton
Of the dozens of features George Hamilton made after his 1952 big-screen debut, surely his most indelible one was and remains his perpetual suntan. So, in 1979, Hollywood was totally surprised by 'Love at First Bite,' Stan Dragoti's satirical horror flick in which Hamilton played the hemoglobin-hungry Count. The tale kicks off after the Count is booted from Romania by the testy Communist authorities and comes to New York. The remainder of the plot is a delirious spoof: In the original cut of the film (omitted on the DVD), there's nothing better than Hamilton and co-star Susan Saint James on the dance floor, hoofing it to Alicia Bridges' disco hit 'I Love the Nightlife.'
9. Gary Oldman
By the time he began filming 'Dracula' for director Francis Ford Coppola, Gary Oldman was already an irresistible presence on screen, what with 'Sid & Nancy' and 'JFK' under his belt. Yet 'Dracula' did even better for Oldman, catapulting his career into an entirely new realm. Supported by Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins and even an uncharacteristically animated Keanu Reeves, 'Dracula' was a 1992 box-office smash, with global grosses reaching more than $200 million, making the film the most commercially successful 'Dracula' to date. Oldman's acting remains one of the measurements by which subsequent Draculas will always be measured.
8. John Carradine
Yes, there's cheese in this choice. After all, John Carradine vaulted into vampiredom in 'House of Frankenstein' (1944) and 'House of Dracula' (1945), two low-budget ventures that aren't exactly holies of horror. But they were key building blocks in what made Carradine, overall, one of the leading horror-film actors ever. In fact, Carradine once wrote a critical appraisal of his own vampirical abilities. Quoted in a 1993 book, he wrote, 'I played the character as evil as possible for I learned long ago that if I wanted to continue to eat, villains find steadier work than artists. The public will remember a villain.' Truer words never spoken.
7. Tom Cruise
Sorry, Anne Rice! We know the famously odd, nitpicky novelist first had an issue with Tom Cruise being cast as Lestat in 2004's 'Interview with the Vampire.' Then, when she saw the actor acquit himself admirably in the role, Rice baked a pie of cawing crow, paying for a Variety ad that apologized for being a bloodless whiner. Simply put, for all the industry caviling that Cruise is little more than a monster draw at the box-office with limited dramatic range, Lestat was a crisply rendered and engaging vampire, one that shone daylight on the breadth of Rice's novel.
6. Robert Pattinson
With those thickly furrowed eyebrows atop laserlike eyes and that distinctive tout-to-a-pout mouth, Robert Pattinson is the essence of the 21st century vampire. As Edward Cullen, an unusually moral blood-drinker, he inhabits his soulful and mercurial character with a hint of the ineffable, just as novelist Stephenie Meyer imagined in her page-turning 'Twilight' series. Pattinson's acting is undoubtedly why the whole 'Twilight' franchise has now transcended the boundaries of horror and entered mainstream popular culture as a freakish fan phenom.
5. Kiefer Sutherland
Hey, it's Jack Bauer with super-blond, mega-spiky, uber-scary hair! The DVD of Joel Schumacher's 1987 cult classic 'The Lost Boys' is a must-have for any vampire-vulture's vault. Not based on the stories of J.M. Barrie's 'Peter Pan' though taking its cue from the writer's famous phrase, 'The Lost Boys' here is a gang of vampires who put the fictional town of Santa Carla through some terrified paces. Kiefer Sutherland played David, of whom little is known, and, as the movie unfolds, from whom little is said. Still, Sutherland's smirk was a study in the unnerving: you couldn't help but to be allured by him and frightened to death of him, too. Jason Patric and Corey Haim co-starred.
4. Kate Beckinsale
The image of Kate Beckinsale in top-to-bottom tight black leather is so scorching in the first two 'Underworld' films -- 2003's 'Underworld' and 2006's 'Underworld: Evolution' (she opted out of the 2009 threequel 'Rise of the Lycans' -- that the mercury might as well explode out of the thermometer. Playing Selene, only survivor of a Hungarian family supposedly offed by the Lycans (aka werewolves), she herself is now is a vampire, and given to demonstrations of superhuman abilities and a real way with both modern-day and medieval weapons. That must be the way her husband, director Len Wiseman, likes it.
3. Frank Langella
A stage actor of monumental gifts, Frank Langella earned a Tony nomination in 1978 for playing the title role in 'Dracula' on Broadway, in a script adapted from the Bram Stoker original by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston back in the 1920s. Like Bela Lugosi -- the actor perhaps more inextricably bound to the Count than any other -- Langella, in 1979, starred in a remake, one that emphasized romance for the randy, rascally Romanian. Despite critical raves and even Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing, the film's timing was a bit of a killer, with Werner Herzog's 'Nosferatu the Vampyre' and the aforementioned 'Love at First Bite' opening the same year. Still, Langella's charm was brilliant nibble on the screen.
2. Christopher Lee
Long before 'Star Wars' episodes, 'Lord of the Rings' and a flurry of Tim Burton flicks, Christopher Lee played Dracula many times, including in 'Dracula' (1958), 'Dracula -- Prince of Darkness'; 'Count Dracula' (1970), 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' (1970), 'One More Time' (1970), 'Scars of Dracula' (1971), 'Dracula A.D. 1972' (1972) and 'The Satanic Rites of Dracula' (1973). So much blood to imbibe! So many sharp fangs to wear! But no wonder Lee, by the mid-1970s, left the horror genre completely. However, his endurance record will live eternally.
1. Bela Lugosi
Just as Sarah Michelle Gellar might thank Kristy Swanson for being a banal Buffy, Bela Lugosi could always thank silent-screen star Lon Chaney for dropping dead. The Hungary-born actor, touted back home as a great classical actor, starred in the first Broadway version of 'Dracula' in the late 1920s (see Frank Langella, above). Cheney, per legend, was the first choice of Universal Pictures for the 1931 film version of 'Dracula,' but when Cheney died, the big-screen job went to Lugosi, who was identified almost exclusively with horror for the rest of his life, often teamed up with another duke of ghouldom, Boris Karloff. The memorable line 'I never drink...wine,' was first spoken this film, which in 2000 was named to the National Film Registry