With Renfield, the movie about Dracula’s finest lackey, finally out, it only feels right that we take yet another deep dive into all things Dracula. After our Season of the Count, we feel uniquely (read: arrogantly) qualified to rank and rate some of the best and worst cinematic Draculas – though this list is far from exhaustive, it represents what we’ve actually seen and feel remotely informed to comment on, and it is very much open to your contributions on the Draculae we didn’t cover in the comments! From worst to best, let’s talk about (some) of the most iconic cinematic Counts.
Thomas Kretschmann – Dracula 3D
It’s hard to believe that a director like Dario Argento could make a movie as bad as this, but he did, and he took Thomas Kreschmann down with him. I despite this self-serious and pompous take on Dracula, and Krestchmann can’t do much to avoid drowning in the dreadful script and appalling effects. Stay a swarm of flies next time, seriously.
Dominic Purcell – Blade: Trinity
A hilarious bit of miscasting: Dracula, the svelte, romantic, hero of sensuality, and Blade: Trinity decided to cast the bigger one from Prison Break. I love Dominic Purcell deeply, but he’s so wrong for this role it’s almost funny. He’s not the worst just for sheer novelty value, but that’s really all that’s keeping him from the bottom.
Luke Evans – Dracula Untold
A pe-Dracula Dracula, Luke Evans can’t bring enough to this role to spice it up. This is a gritty Dracula, so we’re already off to a bad start in my book, but Evan commits the cardinal sin of making it boring, too. There’s next to nothing to say about this wannabe-Crow version of the Count, and that’s a dreadful insult.
John Carradine – House of Dracula
I love John Carradine, I really do, but his Dracula turn has just never sparked for me. I can appreciate some of the gravitas and skill he brings to it, but this early crossover effort from Universal isn’t his best work by a long shot. It’s not terrible, but I miss the deftness of some of his other roles here.
Gerard Butler – Dracula 2000
Do you remember when we stuck “2000” on the end of everything to make it sound modern and fresh 2000? I sure d0 2000. Okay, enough of that – though we are stans of Big Ger on this blog, he’s not a great Dracula, even though he’s giving it his best. The most interesting thing about this is
how fucking hot he is the Judas twist at the end, and the performance, while not dreadful, is far from fruitful.
Paul Naschy – Count Dracula’s Great Love
As I wrote during my Season of the Count series, I have real soft spot for this softcore Spanish sequel to Dracula; Paul Naschy plays Dracula as a true romantic in a way that I feel captures his essence in pop culture really well. Naschy is Spain’s premier monster movie actor for a reason, and this is, for me, the jewel in his crown.
Richard Roxburgh – Van Helsing
Now, there’s nothing about Van Helsing that’s good, in the classic sense, but I do think it’s an enormous amount of fun – and a major part of that is Richard Roxburgh’s Dracula. It’s over-the-top, it’s fun, it’s primo daft Dracula, and this is a version of the Count I always really enjoy.
Bela Lugosi – Universal’s Dracula
The iconic, the one, the only. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula is still probably the most singularly recognizable version of the character to date. Every other version has been influenced by this one, and with good reason: Lugosi is outstanding in the role, simmering with menace, even if it does look a bit old-fashioned by today’s standards.
Gary Oldman – Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Now, speaking of silly version of the Count. Much like the rest of the movie, Oldman’s take on the role is a handsome, sweeping, gothic mess, and I think it’s utterly brilliant. His utter commitment to the bit is transcendentally good, his mixture of sex appeal and crawling around walls (same difference, really) as confusing as they are compelling. It’s camp, darling!
Max Shreck – Nosferatu
If there’s a perfect horror version of Dracula, it’s Max Shreck’s surreal, unsettling turn in Nosferatu. Nearly a century later, it’s a testament to Shreck’s performance that it still stands up as well as it does. There’s something almost elemental in how freaky his version of Dracula is, and he still makes my skin crawl here.
Christopher Lee – Hammer Horror’s Dracula
You just can’t top this performance,
though I wouldn’t mind being topped by this version of Dracula. Lee brings an extraordinary and character-defining blend of sensuality and animalistic threat to his hypnotic turns as the Count, a truly perfect and enduring take on the role that everyone since has been trying to match.
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By Lou MacGregor and Kevin Boyle
(header image via The Vampire Source)
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