It’s true, not much beats a big bowl of popcorn and Dracula on the big screen. He’s a horror icon and the most popular character in the genre. There have been over 200 films with various portrayals of Dracula over the years and they have ranged from grotesque and terrifying to mesmerizing and sexy - and sometimes ridiculously hilarious.
Before we had Dracula on film, he haunted the pages of the 1897 gothic horror novel by Bram Stoker. Stoker spent seven years researching vampires and European folklore before penning the classic, and a vivid nightmare (brought on by too much mayo-covered crab meat) of a vampire king rising from the grave dropped everything into place for him.
For years, the Dracula in movies was a direct adaptation from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Then, little by little, new aspects were added to the mythos. This list contains just some of the hundreds of takes on Dracula through the ages.
In 1931, Count Dracula arrives in England in the form of Bela Lugosi. With a tip of his hat and a flip of his cape, Lugosi successfully coined the iconic image of Dracula that literally everyone conjures up at just the mention of the classic creature of the night.
This film’s atmosphere was exceptionally dark and mysterious, especially for the 1930s, and Lugosi’s mesmerizing performance truly made the film. As Variety wrote, "It is difficult to think of anybody who could quite match the performance in the vampire part of Bela Lugosi, even to the faint flavor of foreign speech that fits so neatly."
In 1922, Max Schreck was the chilling, grotesque creature of the night that gave Dracula a more demonic than human vibe. While based on Bram Stoker’s book, Schreck’s performance lacked the flamboyance of many other portrayals (in a very good way). Without his creepy, animalistic take on Count Orlok’s character, Nosferatu may not have become the highly influential silent film that it is.
Also Rankedsee more on Nosferatu
The worst thing about this film would have to be Keanu Reeves attempting a British accent as Jonathan Harker. Gary Oldman as Dracula, however, was masterful. The 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the more popular versions with modern audiences. The film was romance-heavy, but there was also gore, action, and nudity to appease the masses. Gary Oldman was everything Dracula could and should be: frightening, unpredictable, seductive, and in many ways, tragic.
Also Rankedsee more on Bram Stoker's Dracula
Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Dracula has been described as the most seductive of them all. As the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes states of Lee’s performance, "Trading gore for grandeur, Horror of Dracula marks an impressive turn for inveterate Christopher Lee as the titular vampire, and a typical Hammer mood that makes aristocracy quite sexy."
While he’s no Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee’s screen presence is undeniable and this role gave him much deserved fame. The film, while eerie in atmosphere, lacked gore - which could be considered a huge plus for the more sophisticated genre fans. The film was well-received as a whole; critics and viewers seem to agree that the charisma and sex appeal Lee gave Dracula is still unrivaled to this very day.
#22 on The Best Old Horror Movies
#19 on The Best 50s Monster Moviessee more on Horror of Dracula
The 2014 re-imagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula created a new back story for Vlad the Impaler. Luke Evans portrays Dracula as a war hero and prince who chooses to become a vampire in order to protect his family. It was a box office success and Evans's performance received plenty of praise, as did the story. As far as the characterization of the legendary vampire goes, the reviews were mixed.
#8 on The Best Dracula Moviessee more on Dracula Untold
When it comes to the comedic attempts at Dracula, Leslie Nielsen takes the win in Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Nielsen’s count is clumsily charming, sincere, and manages to successfully poke fun at the many Dracula tropes. The critics hated it, the reviews were overwhelmingly negative, but it has developed a cult fanbase since its initial release.
#11 on The Best Dracula Moviessee more on Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Klaus Kinski was credited with the most unnerving performance as Renfield back in 1970. Then he gave a deeply disturbing performance as Dracula himself, in Werner Herzog’s version of the tale of the legendary dark prince.
Herzog went above and beyond to recapture the original Nosferatu's deeply unsettling feel and successfully crafted what many feel is the most scary Dracula film of all time. Klaus Kinski’s performance can be described as intense, terrifying, and far more raw and realistic than most. There’s nothing seductive here: Kinski depicts the same sad, cursed, blood-craving creature as seen in the original Nosferatu.
#29 on The Best '70s Horror Moviessee more on Nosferatu the Vampyre
Count Dracula, 1970
Christopher Lee returned to adapt Dracula for the silver screen in 1970. This take on the great undead was far darker than Lee's 1958 performance in Horror Of Dracula. In fact, some have argued Lee's Count Dracula is the creepiest of all time (although most of that creepiness can be credited to the silent yet disturbing role of Renfield, played by Klaus Kinski). This adaptation of the book was the first to use reversed aging, showing Dracula as an older man who becomes younger as he feeds.