As opposed to my pointedly lonely Dishonorable Mention (https://kathysghost.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/top-10-vampire-destruction-scenes-dishonorable-mention-dracula-1931/), I have several Honorable Mentions– too many to fit into the title.
The first one is the Lugosi Dracula’s Latinx cousin, Draculá (1931). Same script, different cast, different language, different (mostly better) cast, better movie. Oh, also some racism. That’s not good. The two films have almost the exact same ending as the English language version, but the Spanish version makes it much more dynamic. Van Helsing and Harker don’t flounder so much. And though they’re still saddled with the anti-climactic dismissal of the lovebirds, it is explicitly states that the doctor will drive a stake through the heart of Renfield, to make sure he doesn’t rise the next night as a vampire.
Next… well, we’ll see Horror of Dracula again on the main list, but it had a ton of good destruction scenes, and I didn’t want to double dip on the top 10. However, on the Honorable Mentions list, I can. So first up is Dracula’s bride.
We meet her in the first scene of the movie, where she puts herself next to Harker quite boldly. Later, she tries to bite him, and winds up having a terrific fight with Dracula, who doesn’t want her bitten. Harker wakes up (Dracula knocked him out) right before sunset and decides to try and destroy the vampires anyway. He starts with the woman, who, we see, had succeeded in biting him. He drives a stake through her heart, and she turns into a crone. Unfortunately, while Harker is transfixed by her transformation, the sun sets, and… let’s say Dracula is none too pleased by the staking of his bride. It’s a powerful scene, but still pales in comparison to the next instance.
To replace the woman staked by Harker, Dracula turns the unfortunate man’s fiancee, Lucy, into a vampire. She tries to bite the maid’s daughter, but the child is rescued by van Helsing, who burns her forehead with a cross (this is one of the few movies to not use a crucifix, the other one, interestingly, being Draculá). He and Arthur Holmwood, Lucy’s older brother, return to the grave at dawn and drive a stake through her heart. Her staking is a good deal more graphic (she screams a lot) and bloody than the other vampire woman, and we see Arthur’s agonized reactions to what his sister is enduring. However, when the vampire is destroyed, van Helsing shows Arthur, and the audience the look of peaceful repose on her face.
The final runner-up comes from The Vampire Lovers. The movie opens with narration from the Baron, who wiped out most of the Karnstein vampire clan– all but the youngest daughter. He lays a trap for one of the vampires, Carmilla’s mother, I would imagine. He steals her shroud and makes her approach him in order to get it back (the Karnsteins rest in their shrouds rather than coffins). He very nearly is seduced by her (clearly he wasn’t expecting his quarry to be a beautiful woman), but she burns herself on the cross he was wearing around his neck. This gives him the opportunity to reclaim his wits and decapitate her (the special effects are quite good). It’s a powerful scene and perfectly sets up the tone of the rest of the film.
Now onto the countdown!