'Twilight' to 'True Blood,' 'Buffy' to 'Vampire Diaries': The Vampire Powers That Be

Perhaps you've heard that vampires are all the rage these days. The stylish undead with a hunger for hemoglobin have conquered all forms of media and can currently be found holding court everywhere from TV to bookstores to multiplex screens. With "New Moon," the second movie in the "Twilight" series, opening Friday (Nov. 20), fang fever shows no signs of abating any time soon.

Not all bloodsuckers are created equal, though. From the original Transylvanian Count to the Volvo-driving Cullens, popular vampires have sported a variety of supernatural abilities, Achilles heels and other characteristics. Here we take a look at what makes some of the best-known nightwalkers different from the rest.

dracula_large.jpg "Dracula"

In Bram Stoker's novel, the titular Count Dracula is a master of black magic who transforms himself into a vampire as a means of escaping death.

Powers: Super strength and enhanced speed, though you can usually spot him creeping up with his cape dramatically held open. Can climb walls and crawl across ceilings. Hypnotism and mind control. Control animals. Generate mists. Create storms. Transform into animals and mist.

Weaknesses: Strength and abilities are lessened in the daytime. Repelled by garlic, crucifixes, Communion bread/wafers. Can only rest near Transylvanian soil (as in dirt). Can only cross running water at certain times. Wolfsbane. Garlic. Must be invited into a house in order to enter it.

Sunlight: Has no effect.

Misc.: Casts no reflection or shadow. Lives in a castle with a trio of vampire lady friends.

For the Kill
: The archetypal vamp can be killed with a wood stake through the heart. If you want to be absolutely sure though, decapitation followed by staking will do the deed. In the novel, he's knifed through the heart which seemingly kills him. But probably not.


buffy_large.jpg"Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel"
:

In the Buffyverse, vampires are a demon species, though they may be the result of demon/human hybrids way back in the ancient days. Given seven televised seasons of "Buffy" (and an eighth in comic book form), five of "Angel" and various novelizations, comics and other appearances, the B-verse contains many varieties of vampire with different abilities and weaknesses.

Powers: Super strength and enhanced senses, speed, reflexes, stamina and healing. Immune to psychics. Don't need to breathe. Very old and powerful vampires seem to have acquired the ability to hypnotize, control and cloud the minds of humans. "Buffy" version of Dracula and a coven of Japanese vampires are capable of transforming into various animals and mist.

Weaknesses: Amputation (limbs don't grow back). Can be burned and repelled by crucifixes and crosses, holy water and Bibles. Angel has a soul, which leaves him emotionally vulnerable and causes endless navel-gazing and guilt issues. Must be invited into a house in order to enter it.

Sunlight: These vampires have inconsistent sensitivities to the sun. Angel and Spike can go out in daylight; they just need to stay in the shade or in a car with tinted windows. Angel often walks around in buildings during the day without concern for light from windows. Other vamps flame up as soon as exposed. The Wolfram and Hart offices had special tinted glass windows.

Misc.: They cast no reflection. Gem of Amarra (magic ring) gives them immunity to most weaknesses.

For the kill: Wood through the heart, though the force and amount of wood seems to vary by the age and strength of the vamp. Immolation. Vamps can burn to death, though it's not the quickest way to dispatch them and they can recover if not fully consumed. Ingestion of sufficient quantities of holy water. Full exposure to the sun for the requisite amount of time. Decapitation.


trueblood_large.jpg "True Blood"

The undead vampires in the HBO adaptation of Charlaine Harris' novels are of unknown origin. Unlike most others in the genre, their existence is public knowledge, though all their abilities and vulnerabilities are not.

Powers: Super strength and speed. Enhanced healing and senses. Stealth. Can heal humans by feeding them vampire blood. Hypnosis, or, as they say, "glamour." It's not quite as powerful as full mind control, more of a strong influence, Jedi mind trick sort of thing. Some vamps possess the ability to fly -- not "turn into a bat" flight but "fly like Superman" flight. Vamps possess a number of psychic links to their makers, progeny, those who drink their blood and those from whom they drink. Immune to pesky, mind-reading psychics.

Weaknesses: Wood. They need to rest during daytime. Wolfsbane. Silver will burn them and can be used to restrain them. Fire. Hepatitis D. No kidding; it's a strain to which humans are immune but which weakens vampires. Must be invited into a house in order to enter it.

Sunlight: In contrast to "Buffy" vamps, the older ones in "True Blood" are more vulnerable to light. Younger vamps burn, but do not immediately combust.

Misc.: In an ironic twist, vampire blood is sought after by some humans for its hallucinogenic and aphrodisiac properties.

For the kill
: The classics: wood stake through the heart, exposure to sunlight and burning.


vampirediaries_large.jpg"The Vampire Diaries"

As far as we know from the first season of this CW series (based on a series of YA novels), vampires are brooding but unnaturally attractive young people. Of course, there have only been a handful of vampires in the show to date; we assume there are more, to be revealed in the future. The full extent of their powers is still unfolding, but here's what we know so far.

Powers: Super strength, speed and hearing. Ability to transform into -- or perhaps just possess -- birds, even during daytime. Their hypnosis and mind control powers are fairly powerful, including ability to compel humans to do their bidding, and wipe or alter memories. Other psychic abilities such as manipulating dreams. May create and control mists. It's suggested that they don't all have the same powers.

Weaknesses: Wood. Impalement or puncture with wood somewhere other than through heart causes injury. Vervain, a plant that's the bane of vampires. It can protect humans from mind control, makes human blood poisonous and will weaken vampires if ingested or injected. Must be invited into a house in order to enter it.

Sunlight: Can be fatal, but the main vampires in "VD" own magic rings that make them immune from its harmful rays. SPF infinity.

Misc.: Their powers are magnified by drinking human blood. Stefan gets the moral high ground by feeding solely on critter juice, but it makes him a bit of a wuss. They do cast reflections, which explains their meticulously well-groomed hair.

For the kill: Wood stake through the heart. The bodies do not dust, explode or otherwise vanish. We can only wonder what the Mystic Falls Sheriff's Department is doing with them.


twilight_large.jpg"Twilight"

Though Edward Cullen and his ilk are the most popular of the recent wave of vampires, they're also the least vampiric. They're nearly invulnerable, and their defining characteristic is a deep, soulful physical beauty that makes tween girls (and their mothers alike) weak in the knees.

Powers: Super strength, speed and enhanced senses. Super jumping. Super good smell. Invulnerable to most injury. Hypnotically good looking. Some may possess psychic abilities, such as knowing when their true love is in danger. Nearly immortal.

Weaknesses: Other vampires, werewolves. Slightly androgynous yet curiously attractive teen girls. Recasting. Tabloids.

Sunlight: Makes them sparkle like a unicorn sticker on a three ring binder. A heavy cloud cover is sufficient to prevent any potentially embarrassing and revealing luminescence.

Misc.: The Cullen clan doesn't drink human blood but this does not seem to have diminished their powers. They have reflections and cast shadows and can be photographed.

For the kill: If you can, chop them up into pieces. Separate the pieces (they can reassemble themselves back to their original pretty state). Burn the pieces. Scatter the ashes.

-- More of Eric Almendral's media musings can be found at ericonmedia


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