Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 10 Vampire Hunters

For me, vampires are the most perfect mythological creature to ever epitomize evil.  They are lustful, murderous, appalling, and menacing, making them fascinating, romantic villains.  Therefore, it takes a special kind of hero to be their adversary.  It is necessary for him or her to be motivated enough and brave enough to stand up against such terrifying and strong villains.  But most importantly, with vampires being seductively interesting, the audience tend to root for them, therefore, these vampire hunters should be charismatic enough to steal the audience’s affection from the simultaneously despicable and appealing vampires.  


Charley is the main protagonist of Fright Night.  I love both the original and the remake, but the remake being fresher in my mind since it’s the most recent between the two that I’ve seen makes me like the remake’s Charley more as a vampire hunter.  I love the character development of Charley from a skeptic that his new neighbor, Jerry, was a vampire; to a nervous wreck after witnessing that his new neighbor was indeed a vampire; to a man on the run and fighting to survive; and, finally, to a badass vampire hunter who made a brilliant but crazy plan to destroy Jerry (who was actually a very powerful centuries-old vampire and had defeated countless hunters that tried to kill him).  I love how the Charley in the end became a contrast of the shaking, terrified Charley at the start.  My favorite part was when Jerry started making out with Amy, Charley’s girlfriend, who had been turned into a vampire earlier.  Despite this being a depressing and hateful sight for Charley, he maintained his cool, sticking to and proceeding with the set plan that would ultimately destroy Jerry and return Amy to normal.


I’m not really a big Castlevania fan, but I’m familiar with the game.  Simon is probably the most popular protagonist of Castlevania.  What really makes him cool and unique to me is he combats vampires with the use of a whip.  This whip, known as the Vampire Killer Whip (or Magic Whip or Holy Whip), is an heirloom of the Belmont clan, whose eternal duty is to stand against Dracula and his allies.


Neville is the protagonist of the epic novel I Am Legend (which was made into a “good-movie-but-inferior-to-the-novel” film starring Will Smith).  What’s interesting about the character is Neville being a vampire hunter because he had to, since he’s the last uninfected human on earth with the rest of humanity becoming vampires already.  In his research, while trying to survive day-by-day in a vampire-infested post-apocalyptic world, Neville learned that the vampiric pandemic was caused by a bacteria that was capable of infecting both living and deceased hosts (making the vampirism in the I Am Legend world as having scientific explanation instead of the usual idea that it’s mystical or supernatural).  Near the end of the story, it was revealed that the vampires are starting to overcome their weaknesses against sunlight and are attempting to rebuild society.  These evolving vampires, however, fear and hate Neville because he had killed some of their people along with the undead-type vampires (the dead that was infected and reanimated by the bacteria) during his vampire hunting trips.  He was captured and set for execution, which he accepted.  He realized their point of view: that in this new world of vampires, he is the “monster”, being the last human, someone that is dangerous and different from the rest of the world.  In his last seconds, he declares: “[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever.  I am legend.”  


In John Carpenter’s movie Vampires, James Woods plays Jack Crow, leader of a group of vampire hunters sanctioned by the Vatican (I love their method of dragging vampires into the sunlight).  There’s a lot of James Woods to the Jack Crow character (just as there’s a lot of James Woods in Hades, from Disney’s Hercules) – which is a good thing – especially the smooth badass talking.  Jack Crow is one mean, serious ass-kicker who has no reservations in killing vampires, even if it’s someone he had known.        


Arguably, Blade is the most popular superhero/vampire hunter from comics.  A vampire attacked Blade’s mother while she was giving birth to him.  This will kill her mother, but vampiric enzymes were passed on to the infant Blade.  Thus, this gave Blade the same enhanced strength, durability, speed, and agility, and healing factor that vampires have.  He would also have the power to sense supernatural creatures and be immune to full vampirism.  When growing up, he would meet Jamal Afari, a vampire hunter, who would train him to become a vampire hunter.  Blade would become an Olympic-level athlete, a proficient hand-to-hand combatant, and an expert in weapons.  He would devote his life in hunting down vampires and his vision is their ultimate annihilation. 


I really find it interesting and amusing that Seth Grahame-Smith would reinvent a major historical icon like Lincoln into a badass vampire hunter in his book (which was made into a movie recently).  Lincoln’s vampire killing motivation would come in an early age, when vampires killed his mother.  Later in life, Lincoln would be trained to become a highly skilled axe-wielding vampire hunter.  After witnessing a vampire buying slaves for food in a slave auction, Lincoln became an Abolitionist.  After learning of a vampire plot to start a civil war so that they can enslave all America, Lincoln enters politics, which will ultimately lead him into the presidency.  During the early parts of the Civil War, the South started winning because of the Confederate vampires.  However, with Lincoln announcing the Emancipation Proclamation, encouraging slaves to fight slave owners and vampires, the tides of the War turned in the North’s favor.        


The name “Van Helsing” has been forever nailed on pop culture consciousness as synonymous to the archenemy of Dracula and vampires.  The first thing that impressed me about Dr. Van Helsing is his rich collection of post-nominal initials of “M.D., D.Ph., D. Litt., etc.”  This shows that Van Helsing is a genius with a variety of interests.  In Bram Stoker’s classic, Dracula, it was under Van Helsing’s leadership – with his great knowledge of vampirism – that allowed the protagonists to combat Dracula, drive him out of England, and ultimately destroy him.  Peter Cushing’s performance is said to be the greatest and most accurate cinematic portrayal of the character. 

3.) D

D is a dhampir, meaning his father is a vampire (implied to be Dracula) while his mother is a human.  With his vampire heritage, he possesses most vampiric strengths but only few of the weaknesses.  His supernatural powers are also not limited to the physical aspect, since he also has some magical skills as well.  He rarely uses his magic, only doing so when really needed.  He possesses great fighting skills and grace, and uses the sword as his main weapon. 

D also has a sentient symbiote named “Left Hand” that resides in his left palm, which is capable of independent thought and will, but also aware of most of D’s thoughts.  Left Hand can create a very strong vacuum to suck things with its mouth.  It also has the ability of psychometry, making people sleep, and ability to evaluate other’s strength, power, and health.  Moreover, Left Hand can heal or revive D by creating life force by consuming the elements (fire, earth, water, wind).  Thus, Left Hand is indeed a very invaluable companion to D.  Left Hand likes making wise-cracks to the silent, serious, unemotional, and gloomy D, but only talks when he and D are alone.

D works as a vampire hunter for hire in a far distant future setting (that is an interesting mix of several elements from different pulp genres like sci-fi, fantasy, horror, high fantasy, western, occult science, and Lovecraftian mythology) where vampires, demons, werewolves, mutants, and other monsters share the world with humankind.  D possesses great reputation as a powerful and successful vampire hunter, but is nonetheless despised and feared by both humans and vampires for being a half-breed.       


The beloved Slayer is, of course, a part of this list.  In fact, for years prior to encountering the number one of this list, Buffy was my most favorite vampire hunter.   I already discussed Buffy in my top 10 TV characters list (No. 3).      


Alucard is the most powerful and most important agent of the Hellsing Organization (also known as the Holy Order of Protestant Knights), an England-based vampire hunting organization headed by Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing.  A pair of powerful handguns are his favorite weapons; the “gunslinging vampire hunter” aspect is what made me like the character initially.  Alucard is in fact Dracula (“Alucard” is “Dracula” in reverse) and had decided to serve the Hellsing family after he was defeated by Abraham Van Hellsing (founder of Hellsing Organization and ancestor of Integra).  Alucard only answers to no one except to Integra (though he had also showed humbleness and respect to the Queen of England).              

Being a vampire, Alucard still has darkness and madness in him.  He takes pleasure in killing, and has no reservations in killing whether the opponent is human or vampire.  He delights in causing chaos, mayhem, and destruction.  He’s a ferocious and ruthless fighter.  Being in fact Dracula, Alucard is the most powerful vampire in the world.  Strengthened by the hundreds of thousands (or possibly even millions) that he had killed in the past, Alucard is impossible to kill.  He would only regenerate when he is badly damaged or dismembered.  Being powerful, Alucard fights with arrogance and disregard for his life (since he can’t be killed).  He never fights at full strength at first, and would allow opponents to take their best shot in destroying him.  No matter how powerful his opponents’ attacks are, they aren’t able to completely destroy Alucard since he would only regenerate.  Alucard would then go on to disable and humiliate his opponents before killing them.     
Aside from regenerative powers, Alucard also has the usual superhuman strength, speed, and senses attributed to vampires.  With his superior senses, he is able to shoot his guns with great accuracy.  He can phase through walls, stick on vertical surfaces, communicate telepathically, and shapeshift to any form he wants.  One of the forms he morphs to is an amorphous shapeshifting mass of darkness covered with eyes that has chaotic projections of blood, bats, demonic dogs, as well as his human head and limbs, usually his hands with his guns.  However, Alucard’s great power is restrained by a series of seals made by Hellsing.  Alucard can unlock all seals by himself, except for Level 0, the final seal, which only Integra Hellsing can release (but in my opinion, Alucard can release it by himself and just needs Integra’s permission, something he routinely does before performing a task).  Once the final seal is released, Alucard can summon a large army under his control made up of all the souls he had consumed in his life.

It is heavily implied that Alucard regrets becoming a vampire and consider being a vampire inferior to being human.  He is bored with his immortality and the reason that Alucard greatly lusts for battle, especially with powerful opponents, is because he wants to get himself killed.  However, he would only allow himself to be killed by a human.  “Only a man can truly hope to kill a monster,” he usually declares. 

What’s so awesome about Alucard, making him the most interesting vampire hunter for me, is he ironically hunts down vampires despite being the most powerful vampire ever.  Moreover, he is not at all the type of character who was a former villain, had a change of heart, and now seeks redemption for his sins.  No.  He is merely a villain who happens to be at the side of good.  Having such complex moral ambiguity makes Alucard an extremely exceptional and exciting character.    

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