My Top Ten … Fantastic Female Vampires

I like female vampires. I’m usually ranting about their portrayal in literature, but they’ve certainly made an impact on the big screen. I’m the not the first to make a ‘Top 10’, and won’t be the last, but here goes…

My criteria:

  • This is a list of female vampires from movies; I agree that there are also some fantastic female vampires in TV series.
  • The vampire must be a major character in the story, so Monica Belucci (in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, 1992), Salma Hayek (in From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996), Jeri Ryan (in Dracula 2000, 2000) and Sophia Miles (in Underworld, 2003) do not count.
  • The vampire must drink human blood – from the source! Bags of blood from the hospital, etc., do not count. (Yes, I know there are other types of vampire, and it’s tempting to bend the rule to allow Lifeforce, 1985, for example.) Technically I could have included Vampirella (Talisa Soto, 1996) and Underworld’s Selene (Kate Beckinsale, 2003, 2006, 2012), but it’s unusual for them to drink human blood.

Delphine Seyrig as Countess Bathory in Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Delphine Seyrig in Daughters of DarknessIn Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness, Delphine Seyrig is Countess Elizabeth Bathory (although resembling Carmilla more than either the real or mythical Countess Elizabeth Bathory) whose lover and companion vampire is the girl Ilona. The Countess is determined to seduce the newly-wed Valerie away from her husband Stefan. The twist is that Stefan is a very disturbed and sadistic individual. He may represent ‘the natural order’, but only in the sense of human evil versus supernatural evil.

 

Soledad Miranda as Condesa Oskudar in Vampyros Lesbos (1971)

Soledad Miranda in Vampyros LesbosJesús Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos is both erotic and artistic, and Soledad Miranda makes a beautiful lesbian vampire who enjoys wine and sunbathing. The film opens to a stage performance in which she dances seductively around a naked woman who seems tranced, almost a mannequin or a robot. During the dance, Soledad Miranda’s clothes are transferred to the naked girl, and at the end the vampire feeds on the girl, to much applause. It’s an entertainment that foreshadows Anne Rice’s Théâtre des Vampires.

 

Lina Romay as Countess Irina von Karlstein in Female Vampire (1973)

Lina Romay in Female VampireJesús Franco’s Female Vampire (filmed originally as The Bare Breasted Countess) stars Lina Romay in her debut role as Countess Irina of Karlstein. (Soledad Miranda, Jesús Franco’s previous favourite, died in 1970.) There are various versions of Female Vampire, the original often being considered hardcore pornography – the Countess subsists on human semen and uses sex (with men and women) to drain her victims’ vitality – but there is a horror version where she bites necks to drink blood.

 

Catherine Deneuve as Miriam Blaylock in The Hunger (1983)

Catherine Deneuve in The HungerMiriam Blaylock is a natural-born vampire who has lived for thousands of years, keeping many lovers – both men and women – over the years. Catherine Deneuve makes her beautiful, refined and poised.

I decided not to include Whitley Strieber’s The Hunger (published 1980) in My Top Ten … Modern Vampire Novels, although I do consider it a five-star book, mainly because I love the film rather than the book (largely because of the music). The film’s ending does not make any real sense, Tony Scott having chosen to rewrite the end of the book (in much the same way that his brother Ridley Scott rewrote the ending of Hannibal).

 

Anne Parillaud as Marie in Innocent Blood (1992)

Anne Parillaud in Innocent BloodAnne Parillaud was the star of Luc Besson’s 1991 assassin film La Femme Nikita which spawned a Hollywood remake (Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return, 1993) and at least two series, as well as countless copycats. Innocent Blood doesn’t have the same depth and realism as La Femme Nikita, and the film plays for humour more than horror, but Anne Parillaud makes Marie an attractive and charming vampire.

 

Eileen Daly as Lilith Silver in Razor Blade Smile (1998)

Eileen Daly in Razor Blade SmileThis is a very tongue-in-cheek film that makes up for having a bad script by having an excessively bad script. It’s not self-referential comedy or even 1970s arty exploitation. It’s quite simply having a laugh, with conspiracy theories (Illuminati, etc.), lots of blood and fangs, gratuitous sex, dodgy characters and even dodgier acting. Ultimately it’s fun, and Eileen Daly makes the bisexy Lilith Silver a vampire you can’t help but love.

Eileen Daly – Actress and Singer

 

Aaliyah as Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned (2002)

Aaliyah in Queen of the DamnedBased loosely on Anne Rice’s 1988 novel The Queen of the Damned (one of the sequels to Interview with the Vampire), Queen Akasha is played by the singer Aaliyah (who played opposite Jet Li in Romeo Must Die, 2000, which I never tire of watching). I loved the novel but the film is less interesting.

 

Yukie Kawamura as Monami in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009)

Yukie Kawamura in Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein GirlThis is a wonderful film, full of brilliant colours, hilarious genre satire, and has my favourite film scene of all time: Yukie Kawamura dancing in a rain of blood to Man Hunt.

I’m generally not a fan of oriental vampire films (although Blood: The Last Vampire is brilliant – both film, 2009, and anime, 2000), perhaps because the idea that vampires can be attractive or seductive is uncommon. Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is too satirical to take itself seriously, so the characters are quite unreal except for the central figure of Jyugon, a nice boy whose stereotypical normality contrasts with the insane world around him.

 

Saoirse Ronan as Eleanor and Gemma Arterton as Clara in Byzantium (2012)

Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan in ByzantiumDirected by Neil Jordan, who also directed the excellent Interview with the Vampire, 1994, Byzantium’s focus is on a mother-daughter relationship set against a male-dominated vampire society.

I confess I haven’t seen this yet, having missed it in the cinema and the DVD isn’t out yet… but it looks very good: a dark, serious and artistic film with two female vampires and with feminist themes – just my cup of tea!

 

Other movies I haven’t properly considered, because I’d like to see them, or see them again, include: Blood and Roses (1960), The Insatiable (2006), Countess Dracula (1971), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Lust for a Vampire (1971) and Rise: Blood Hunter (2007).

If you can think of other films that meet my criteria, leave a comment!

All images sourced from corresponding pages at IMDb.com.

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About Frank

A Sci-Fi & Fantasy author and lyrical poet with a mild obsession for vampires, succubi, goddesses and Supergirl.
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3 Responses to My Top Ten … Fantastic Female Vampires

  1. Pingback: Byzantium | Francis James Franklin (Alina Meridon)

  2. Hi! Very interesting! That last movie left me very intrigued.

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