There is no sight quite as jaw-dropping as a vampire bursting into flames. The imagery of a bloodsucking demonic creature seeing the sunlight and bursting into a giant ball of fire is horrific and shocking in so many ways. It’s attention-grabbing and can be used as either a great horror moment or as a dramatic beat at the end of the story.
Over the course of TV and Film history, there’ve been some great moments where a vampire has burst into flames so let’s look at a few of them.
10: Sonja – Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
The prequel to the Underworld series might not have been well loved but the one thing everyone could agree on is the brilliance of Michael Sheen’s performance as Lucian, which is honestly why the scene of Sonja’s execution works so well. Lucian and Sonja are locked in a room together, Lucian is whipped and beaten down so he can’t escape while Sonja is tied to a pole in the middle of the room.
After a final declaration of love, the roof opens and the sun pours in and Sonja instantly turns into a burnt corpse. What elevates the entire scene is Lucian’s screams of anguish, the rest of the movie could be completely unwatchable but this one moment is still amazing.
9: Trunk Vampire – The Forsaken
The Forsaken isn’t exactly the most well-regarded film (7% on Rotten Tomatoes) and clearly suffers from being a horror movie in the early 2000s but what it has got is a glorious vampire death. Our protagonists Sean and Nick stumble upon a car with a guy sprawled on top of it and, after dealing with him, decide to check the trunk. In the trunk and underneath a tarp is a screaming bloodthirsty vampire.
She gets a few seconds to really make a good effort at taking out our heroes but soon gets knocked back and feels the full effects of the sun above at which point she promptly explodes… not burns, explodes. Exploding vampires is just automatically cool no matter how bad the rest of the movie might be.
8: Spike – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
On a technicality, Spike burned to death and he does catch fire during the process so it’s eligible. After 7 seasons, the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer had to go out with a bang and destroying the town that the entire series took place in is definitely that. The reason the town crumbles the way it does is because of Spike, who burns from the inside out in a dramatic slow burn to save the town. Flaming self-sacrifice was a powerful final moment for a beloved character… who then came back next season on the spin-off show Angel, but he still burned to death so it counts.
7: Dragonetti – Blade
There could be so many Blade deaths on this list but Dragonetti’s is just so drawn out and brutal that it deserves it. Dragonetti is an elder who was born a vampire, so to be almost ritually executed by those he considered inferior is intense. Throw on the fact that the vampires in question tear out his teeth, strip him to ensure he gets the most sun possible and stand there to watch while dressed in protective clothing is just a powerful and shocking way to end the life of a true supreme being.
6: Titty Twister Vampires – From Dusk Till Dawn
From Dusk Till Dawn is easily one of the best vampire movies ever, just because of how it just goes for the most over-the-top fun option every chance it gets. In this case the fun option was to slowly have rays of sunlight stream into the Titty Twister bar and hurt the vampires, before eventually letting so much light in that it hits a giant mirror ball which spreads that light everywhere and causes the vampires to explode, triggering a chain reaction that leads to the Titty Twister itself exploding into flames. There are many glorious images in From Dusk Till Dawn but “Mirror ball causes Vampy Explosion” is certainly one of the best in the film.
5: Steve Newlin – True Blood
For reasons that are too long to go into here, Steve Newlin and a bunch of other vampires are about to be exposed to the sunlight and have to drink the blood of a special vampire in order to survive. Steve wants to do this but another vampire holds him back so he can’t join in and instead makes sure Steve stays in place so he’ll hit the sunlight.
So why is this on the list? Because Steve’s last action is to look up, see his wife standing on a platform above them and look her dead in the eyes while saying “I love you… JASON STACKHOUSE”. Jason Stackhouse, for those who haven’t seen the show, is the brother of the series protagonist. It’s just hilarious that this man’s dying act is to flaunt his gayness in his wife’s face… True Blood was actually an amazing show and should be appreciated more than it is.
4: Vampires (1998)
In terms of sheer numbers of flaming vampires, it’s hard to go past the opening of Vampires where vampire slayer Jack Crow and his team descend upon a vampire hideout, incapacitate them, and then use a rig to slowly pull the vampires out of their house and into the sunlight. Considering the entire film is about Vampires trying to find a relic that would allow them to be in sunlight without catching on fire, this dramatic shot makes it clear what normally happens to vampires who try to go out in the sun… and it’s also just generally badass to watch essentially a conveyer belt of flaming vampires.
3: Subsiders – Daybreak
Daybreak exists in a world where pretty much everyone is a vampire, they’ve actually worked to make the world specifically safe for vampires by making sure they never have to be in the sun. So, when the powers-that-be in Daybreak need to perform what is effectively a mass execution of Subsiders (vampires who haven’t fed in a long, long time and have basically turned feral).
It’s very reminiscent of the Vampires idea where these creatures are dragged into the sunlight, except they’re not incapacitated, they’re just chained and forced to walk directly into the sunlight. It’s horrifying even out of context, just watching these creatures slowly stumble into an inevitable flaming death is genuinely gut-wrenching.
2: Claudia – Interview With A Vampire
Interview with a Vampire sets a child on fire… that’s insane. As punishment for the alleged murder of Lestat, young Claudia (and her new carer Madeline) are thrown into what is essentially a well that they can’t escape from where the hole at the top will let the sun stream in slowly as it rises. It’s truly a horrifying and brutal moment, the screams of a dying child-vampire are haunting and when all that’s left is an ashen statue of the child and her protector, it’s one of the most depressing moments in cinema. But is it the best burning vampire death? Not as far as I’m concerned
1: Radu – Subspecies 3
Is this death more dramatic than Claudia’s? No, it’s not. It’s not a better effect, it’s not the most impactful and it’s not even from a movie that most people have heard of (Be honest, did you even know there was a single Subspecies movie let alone 3 of them? Because there isn’t, there are actually 4 movies and a spin-off with a 5th entry due to come out sometime in the next year). So why is this top of the list? Because it’s the funniest thing you will ever see.
Radu is obsessed with something called the Blood Stone and tries to get it from the antagonists of the film. He gets shot several times with silver bullets and eventually chases them to the top of a castle where the sun is very clearly shining brightly so he could just go inside and wait but nope, instead they throw the Blood Stone to try and get him away from them and like a very stupid puppy he chases it right into the sunlight, promptly catching fire and falling down onto a tree that impales him. Sometimes you want something dramatic and horrifying, but nothing’s better than glorious over-the-top stupidity.
So those are my ten best moments where a vampire exploded into flames and died, got any more? Share them down below and we can all laugh at the flambe fangers.