The Lost Boys
The Rule: Vampires hate garlic.
The Rulebreak: Using the age-old comic book rules to battle vampires, Sam and the Frog brothers trick their mother’s date (and vamp suspect) Max into eating a heap of garlic. Nothing happens.
Little do they know that “garlic don't work, boys!”, as they later discover when they use it on the very-definitely-a-vampire Paul. Lucky they had that bathtub full of holy water...
Why? Imbuing the rockin’ ‘80s tunes with tension, this also sets up the film’s nifty final act twist.
Let the Right One In
The Rule: A vampire cannot enter a person’s home without an invitation.
The Rulebreak: As mini-vamp Eli stands on the threshold of his home, Oskar asks her what would happen if he didn’t invite her to come in.
In response, she enters anyway. But soon she begins to convulse. Then blood pricks from her eyes, nose, ears, scalp, streaking down her face...
Why? It’s a quiet, gory, shocking moment in a film packed with quiet, gory and shocking moments. Also, hella iconic.
The Rule: Once turned, you’re a vampire for the rest of your unlife.
The Rulebreak: The world is now populated by vampires, including Ethan Hawke’s Edward.
But when Ed stumbles on Willem Dafoe’s Elvis, he may have discovered a way of reverting a vampire back into being a sunlight-savouring, heart-thumping human...
Why? Sort of exploring centralised power in a very claret-soaked way, the reversion thing basically serves to uphold a bit of Christ-like imagery. Really, it's a load of guff.
The Rule: Sunlight reduces vampires to a pile of dust.
The Rulebreak: Instead of igniting Robert Pattinson’s pasty vamp Edward (and, with the amount of hair products he uses, he’d deserve it), sunshine turns him into a shiny, glittery fairy.
Scary. If this is a vampire, we're quite happy to walk around at midnight with a top that reveals our ample neck cleavage.
Why? It makes him more palatable for teenage girls. And it’s pretty. (Not.)
The Rule: Vampires are the bad guys.
The Rulebreak: Sang-hyun is a priest infected and transformed into a vampire after he is given an experimental vaccine that goes wrong.
Catch that? He’s a priest...
Why? A morality play with lashings of gore. Sang-hyun’s internal struggle forms the crux of this very adult vampire yarn, and makes for a riveting watch as he yo-yos between faith and desire.
30 Days of Night
The Rule: Ingesting vamp blood will turn you into a killer vampire.
The Rulebreak: Trapped by the ice and the darkness, Sheriff Eben knows that he and the rest of the town are doomed.
Except, then he notices that people don’t become immediately evil once vamped. So he injects himself with vampire juice in order to match the physical prowess of his adversaries. Oh, and save his wife.
Why? Wrings tragedy out of the situation, and makes a martyr out of the Sheriff.
Interview with the Vampire
The Rule: Fang fiends cannot bear the sight of the holy cross.
The Rulebreak: “That is, how would you say today… bullshit?” reveals Louis, when Christian Slater’s brown-nosing journalist asks about the enduring myth.
Why? Could we really fear a creature that’s afraid to look at something? Nope. Hence the rulebreak.
The Rule: Holy water is deadly to the undead.
The Rulebreak: Just as Louis debunks crosses in Interview with the Vampire , Blade makes short work of the myths surrounding holy water.
“Crosses and holy water don't do dick, so forget what you've seen in the movies,” he growls. “You use a stake, silver, or sunlight.” Here endeth the lesson.
Why? Because the thought of vampires cowering away from water is, like, pretty daft.
The Rule: A vampire is created by being bitten by another vampire
The Rulebreak: A centuries-old mechanical device turns people by injecting them.
Given the facade of a scarab, this golden instrument is actually a tomb for a deadly insect that turns people into vampires when it stabs them.
Why? Mechanics-obsessed Guillermo del Toro goes 20th century on vampirism, making for a cool twist.
Lesbian Vampire Killers
The Rule: Vampires have enormous sexual prowess which they can use as a weapon
The Rulebreak: Hmmm, bit of an unintentional rulebreak, p’raps. Lesbians have long been overtly sexualised through the media, so you can see why making them into vamps seemed like a good idea.
Instead, it’s as horribly cheesy as the title, and about as sexy as a wet weekend in Guernsey.
Why? Your guess is as good as ours. Watch the far sexier Underworld instead.
The Rule: Vamps drink human blood.
The Rulebreak: Newly-turned bloodsucker Caleb just can’t bring himself to kill a human being.
So, in Kathryn Bigelow’s mostly under-stated (some would say under-rated) fangless fang flick, Caleb drinks the blood of his sire Mae for nourishment instead.
Why? It’s effectively a plot device to both illustrate how weak Michael is without blood, and to delay his first kill so that we’re never quite sure where his allegiances lie.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampires Assistant
The Rule: Vampires are immortal.
The Rulebreak: Well, there are quite a few kid-friendly rulebreaks here (vampires aren’t evil, they drink blood from veins not necks, they never kill, are spectacularly unscary like John C Reilly).
But the main break here is that they can die. Instead of unliving endlessly through the ages, a vampire merely has an extended lifespan.
Why? Because kids have to learn the cold, hard facts of life: death happens. Even if you’re a vampire.