When the topic of vampires comes up in pop culture, discussions inevitably turn to Dracula. Bram Stoker’s classic novel introduced many tropes associated with vampirism into the world of fiction, and The Prince of Darkness has been the subject of several films and television reports. Nicholas Cage will be the last actor to don Dracula’s fangs in Renfieldwhich focuses on the titular servant of the Lord of the Vampires (Nicolas Hoult). With so many actors playing a classic character, debates have been sparked among moviegoers as to who the better Dracula is – and I’m here to throw my two cents in the ring.
1. Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)
First place should go to Bela Lugosi, whose portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 Universal Pictures film remains a classic. Lugosi was far from the first person to play Dracula on the big screen, but his appearance – from his slicked back hair to his mesmerizing gaze, which was the subject of many unsettling close-ups – would go on to shape the view of Dracula in pop culture. for decades to come. Lugosi, having previously played Dracula on stage, only reprized his role once in Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. Suffice it to say, this was far from his first turn as the Prince of Darkness, mostly due to his comedic nature and the fact that Dracula had to share screen time with Frankenstein’s monster (strange glenn), Wolfman Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) and The Invisible Man (Vincent Price).
2. Christopher Lee in Dracula (1958)
When came the time to Christopher Lee to don Dracula’s cape for Hammer Films’ adaptation of the material, he aimed to put “darkness” back into the Prince of Darkness. And he succeeded: his Dracula performance is more monstrous – Lee’s glowing red eyes, as well as the blood running down his chin when he feeds, are pure nightmare fuel. Lee’s Dracula also began to introduce more sexual themes into vampirism; women exposed their bare necks to him when he visited them in the middle of the night. “He also had to have an erotic element to him (and not because he sunk his teeth into women)… It’s a mysterious question and has something to do with the physical attractiveness of the person who empties your life “, said Lee. That same intensity lent weight to his future villainous roles, including Saruman in the the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Count Dooku in the star wars prequels.
3. Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola Dracula
The 1992 film adaptation Dracula elicited mixed reactions. While Francis Ford CoppolaThe direction and setting/cinematography received praise, fans and critics were divided over the performances, especially Keanu Reeves like Jonathan Harker and his… dodgy attempts at a British accent. However, Gary Oldman had an impressive turn as the Prince of Darkness, especially with the way he was costumed. When Dracula first appears, he is deathly pale with sunken eyes and an elaborate mane of silver hair. However, after feeding on blood, he acquires a younger and more handsome appearance; this feeds into the idea that blood gives life to vampires. Oldman delivers a magnetic and emotional performance throughout, with the opening scene where Dracula renounces God and turns into a vampire throw down the gauntlet.
4. Peter Stormare in Batman Vs Dracula
The Batman The animated series remains one of the most underrated versions of the Batman mythos, and its first film adaptation is perhaps one of the darkest Batman movies ever to hit the screen. True to its title, the film pits Batman (Rino Romano) against a revived Dracula (Pierre Stormare), who seeks to make Gotham City his new kingdom. Stormare’s Dracula outclasses Batman in strength and speed, nearly killing the Dark Knight when they first meet. He is also quite terrifying, to the point that the Joker (Kevin Michael Richardson) attempts to flee before being dragged into Dracula’s coffin. And that’s not counting his obsession with Vicki Vale (Strong Tara), whom he sees as the reincarnation of his deceased wife – this plot point also doubles as a nod to Coppola’s take on Dracula.
5. Duncan Regehr in The Monster Squad
The Monster Squad had all the makings of a cult classic, especially its plot, which saw a number of movie monsters come to life and a group of tweens using their knowledge of horror movies to defeat said monsters. All monsters are led by Dracula (Duncan Regehr), who plays his prince of darkness as a vengeful and frightening character. Dracula blows up the Monster Squad house with dynamite and attacks Phoebe Crenshaw (Ashley Bank), the younger sister of Squad Leader Sean (Andre Gower). What really makes Regehr’s Dracula horrible is the line he spits at Phoebe after cornering her: “Give me the amulet, bitch!” At the end, the audience can’t help but applaud when the Earl is finally sent to limbo alongside his compatriots.
6. Adam Sandler in Hotel Transylvania
Genndy Tartakovskyhis directorial debut Hotel Transylvania is a far cry from the animation legend’s more action-packed efforts such as samurai jack or Primitive – and that extends to his take on Dracula, who is played by Adam Sandler. This Dracula has sworn to protect his fellow monsters by building a hotel where only they can visit, and that safety is threatened by backpacker Jonathan “Johnny” Loughran (Andy Samberg), who falls in love with Dracula’s daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). Less a frightening inhuman force than an overbearing father, Sandler’s Dracula drew mixed reactions, but it was a hit with young audiences and spawned an entire franchise including three sequels and a TV series.
7. Luke Evans in Unspeakable Dracula
Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe took pop culture by storm, Universal Pictures created team-up movies that saw its classic monsters collide. The studio has attempted, with little success, to replicate this process, with Unspeakable Dracula being the first film in a planned reboot of the Universal Monsters films. Luke Evans plays the prince of Wallachia Vlad Dracula, who strikes a dark bargain with a vampire (Charles Dance) in order to protect his kingdom from the Ottoman army. Evans plays Dracula as a tormented figure struggling to retain his humanity; it’s a choice that seems at odds with other portrayals of Dracula, and one that doesn’t sit well with viewers or critics. Ironically, the screenwriters Matt Sanzama and Burk Sharpless would take on another tormented vampire when they commit to writing Morbius.
8. Richard Roxburgh in Van Helsing
Speaking of uniting universal monsters, Van Helsing attempted to revive the properties by opposing Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) against monster hunter Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), throwing a Wolfman (Will Kemp) and Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley). While director Stephen Sommer had found success with its 1999 reboot of The Mummy, Van Helsing didn’t quite take off. Much of this is due to Roxburgh’s performance as Dracula; rather than sinking its teeth into necks, it bites off large chunks of landscape. That doesn’t even mention his convoluted plan to bring his children to life, or his transformation into a massive bat-like beast.
9. Gerard Butler in Dracula 2000
On paper, Dracula 2000 probably sounded like a good idea. A turn-of-the-millennium take on the Prince of Darkness produced by the horror icon Wes Craven should have been an easy lay-up; but director Patrick Lussier and writer Joel Soisson chose to look at every shot that would come to define the early crop of films of the 2000s. Gerard ButlerDracula sports a mane of long dark hair and an unbuttoned trench coat to show off his bare chest. He looks less like the infamous vampire and more like a dummy. And the film chooses to add an absurd twist by revealing that Dracula is none other than Judas Iscariot, cursed with vampirism after betraying Jesus Christ. Although the film was critically acclaimed and bombed at the box office, Lussier wrote and directed two sequels, although Butler did not return for either.
10. Dominic Purcell in Blade Trinity
The first one Blade the film launched the Marvel film renaissance, long before Robert Downey Jr. donned the Iron Man armor or Sam Raimi brought Spider-Man to the big screen. Two sequels followed, but the third film Blade Trinity lacked the “bite”, so to speak, of its predecessors. And his take on Dracula is nothing out of the ordinary; Dominique Purcell“Drake” (yes, that’s what the movie chooses to call him) walks around with his shirt open to reveal his bare chest and turns into a bad CGI creation. Purcell found better luck in the comic world with the flash and Legends of tomorrow, where he played arsonist thief Mick Rory/Heat Wave (Mick is shown reading Dracula in the Legends episode “Return of the Mack” as a nod to Purcell’s time as Prince of Darkness.)
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