11/16/1998 at 01:00 AM EST
Those lips! Those fangs! Vampires have driven women batty ever since 19th-century novelist Bram Stoker took a batch of Eastern European folk tales and turned them into Dracula
. Today, such bloodsuckers as Blade and Deacon Frost in Blade
(above), Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(right) and the ingratiating ghoul in the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody" video (left) exude an equally seductive wounded romanticism. "Their immortality—their fountain of youth—gives them sex appeal," believes David Boreanaz, who plays Angel. "Vampires were supposed to scare ladies out of their wits," adds Jonathan Frid, who roamed the grounds of the Collinwood estate as Dark Shadows
' Barnabas Collins in the 1960s TV series. "But not so!"
Francis Ford Coppola's richly textured Bram Stoker's Dracula
(1992) starred GARY OLDMAN (left) as the tortured Count who transforms himself into a dashing young prince to win the heart of Winona Ryder's Mina. The result, said TIME, is "a luscious, infernal romance. [Dracula] is Don Juan, sucking the innocence out of his conquests."
Britain's CHRISTOPHER LEE
joined the undead in 1958's Horror of Dracula
and went on to star as the Count in seven movies. Veronica Carlson, his costar in 1968's Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
(below), remembers "how seductive and attractive he was as Dracula." Once, she recalls, "Christopher was saying to [director] Freddie Francis, 'I think it would be a good idea if I roam her face and then come back to her mouth and look as if I'm actually going to kiss her, but then slide off into the jugular vein.' Freddie said, 'That sounds wonderful!' and I thought, 'Oh God, that does sound wonderful! I'm all for that!' "
Though cast as a creature of the night, JONATHAN FRID
(left) thrived in daytime from 1967 to 1971 as lovesick Barnabas Collins on ABC's soap Dark Shadows
. Playing the victim to DAVID BOWIE
's cultured vampire in 1983's The Hunger
, "I felt completely spellbound," says Ann Magnuson (above, left). "It's Bowie's boyish quality that invites you to keep your door unlocked at night." In the 1995 horror-comedy Vampire in Brooklyn
, EDDIE MURPHY's modern jive and goatee didn't mask his traditional (blood)lust for New York City cop Angela Bassett (above, right).
After starring in Dracula
on Broadway and in the 1979 movie version, FRANK LANGELLA
(left, onscreen with Kate Nelligan) knows why the Count always gets the girl. "Simple," he says. "Romantic love through all eternity with a man who wants only you." Yet as the leader of a gang of MTV-ready punk vampires terrorizing a coastal California town in 1987's The Lost Boys
, KIEFER SUTHERLAND
(below, center) had to fight for the love of vampire trainee Jami Gertz (second from right) with help from Brooke McCarter, Billy Wirth and Alexander Winter.
Hungarian émigré BELA LUGOSI
firmly planted himself in the pantheon of American film icons with his starring role in the first talkie version of Dracula
in 1931. He personified vampirism in four more films, including 1935's Mark of the Vampire
with Carol Borland (above). Of his appeal to fans, Lugosi theorized, "It was the embrace of Death their subconscious was yearning for."
Sexual decadence permeated 1994's Interview with the Vampire
. TOM CRUISE
(far left) and BRAD PITT
wore dandy duds, dwelled in great houses in New Orleans and Paris, and cavorted their way from the 18th century to the present day. As the ravishingly libidinous Lestat, Cruise seduced most everyone along the way, but Pitt's Louis fought his vampire nature. When at last he drank the blood of a young girl, a gorgeous—but lethal—family was born.