Vampires are a prevalent figure in folklore – especially in Europe. That is why basic vampire defence is usually based around natural and earthy imagery (such as garlic) or religious imagery (such as crosses). In the world of movies however, things usually get a little more dramatic.
Method 1: Fire!
In the Hammer Film Productions picture Scars of Dracula (1970) [Roy Ward Baker]. Christopher Lee’s Dracula meets his death in a most thorough manner. As Dennis Waterman limbers up to defend himself against a stake in the hands of Dracula, a bolt of lightening hits the spike and engulfs the vampire in flames! He then falls off of his castle plummeting to his death whilst still on fire.
Method 2: More fire!
Why set one vampire on fire when you could set hundreds on fire? That’s what Akashka decides to do in Queen of the Damned (2002) [Michael Rymer].
Method 3: SPF 0
If you watched the TV adaptation of What We Do in the Shows (2019) [Jemaine Clement] then you will have learned how fatal a swift opening of the front door is. Frank Langella’s Dracula met a similar fate to the Baron in Dracula (1979) [John Badham], as well as Max Schrek’s Nosferatu in Nosferatu (1922) [F. W. Murnau]. For the most stubborn vampires, this method may require you to tow them out of a forest and into the desert sun, John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) style.
Method 4: The slice of life
This tricksy method is perfect for the unassuming vampire slayer, but requires a fair bit of skill. The killer takes a jab at the vamp and seemingly misses, whilst the vampire grows bemused, they realise… Hark! They’ve been sliced in two! This method is used by Kate Beckinsale in Underworld (2003) [Len Wiseman].
Method 5: Hurl religious imagery at them
Vampires find the Christian symbol of the cross, or crucifix, most undesirable. Vampiric folklore hails from Europe, a widely Christian continent so it makes sense that storytellers would pick imagery from that specific religion. Vampires are generally opposed to bibles and holy water as well. The crucifix proves to be an effective weapon in Vampires (1998) [John Carpenter], Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) [Terence Fisher], and even the 1931 film Dracula [Tod Browning].
Method 6: Decapitation
Decapitation is a great way to kill anything, even vampires. After all, vampires are essentially reanimated corpses. Films that demonstrate the old chop off the block are The Vampire Lovers (1970) [Roy Ward Baker], Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) [Francis Ford Coppola], and Fright Night (1985) [Tom Holland].
Method 7: A stake through the heart
A surefire way of stopping a vamp in its tracks is to plummet a wooden stake through its undead heart. Many on-screen vampires have met their end this way, including the best and the baddest, Dracula. The stake has been the weapon of choice for a number of vampire hunters, including Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2001) with Mr. Pointy, and various Van Helsings. In 2010, there was even a film where staking vampires was the whole premise, titled Stake Land (2010) [Jim Mickle], and in 2016 a sequel (Stake Land 2) was produced.
Of course, there are other ways to kill a vampire, from silver bullets to knocking one off of the balconies attached to their Gothic mansion. If you suddenly found yourself performing as a vampire slayer in a vampire film one day, which method would you choose?
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