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The greatest ever Draculas, ranked

We’ve ranked the 17 greatest Dracula depictions of all time in film & TV, so cover up that throat, top up your holy water, and grab your crucifix & stake.

The greatest ever Draculas, ranked

On May 26th, Dracula Day demanded that people celebrate the quintessential spellbinding genius of Dracula in his many forms. Historic and iconic, the classic monster has led countless stories since the late 1800s and continues to enchant and terrify horror fans to this day.

Naturally, the best way celebrate is to throw on any one of the hundreds of movies or TV shows featuring the charismatic Duke of Darkness and to help you do that, we’ve ranked the 17 greatest Dracula depictions of all time in film & TV. Cover up that throat, top up your holy water supplies, and keep your crucifix & stake close to you at all times, won’t you?

17. Richard Roxburgh: Van Helsing (2016)

We’re sure that Stephen Sommers’s reimagining of the iconic vampire hunter (Hugh Jackman) has its fans, but we’re of the opinion it sucks harder than one of Dracula’s many brides. Roxburgh’s depiction of the iconic movie monster leaves a lot to be desired.

16. Luke Evans: Dracula Untold (2014)

An origin story about Dracula is an intriguing prospect, but sadly Gary Shore’s 15th-century set drama lacks bite and Evans (Beauty and the Beast) isn’t anywhere near charming enough to depict the batty Vlad III.

15. Howie D: “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) (1997)

Yep, you’ve read that correctly! Joseph Kahn’s iconic music video for the Backstreet Boys’ biggest hit actually offered a fairly brilliant depiction of the Prince of Darkness. Fight us.

14. Adam Sandler: Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Depending on how you feel about defanging Dracula into a family-friendly character and the acting charms of Sandler in general, this particular depiction could be hit or miss. Personally, we think it’s pretty cute and a nice safe way to get kids into horror, but is it good for grown ups too? Absolutely not.

13. Rudolph Martin: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2001)

Imagine our disappointment as nerdy teenage goths eager to finally check out what happens between the world’s sassiest vampire slayer and the MVP of blood sucking and finding nothing but some cheerless one liners. “Buffy vs. Dracula” should have been a classic showdown between two titans, but instead it got us down about our fave show.

12. David Jason: Count Duckula (1988)

The quirky British animated cult classic follows a vegetarian vampire duck who was accidentally resurrected using Tomato Ketchup instead of unholy blood. If for nothing else, the show’s theme tune and intro (below) is one of the greatest known to humanity.

11. Leslie Nielsen: Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

Mel Brooks’s horror parody has great gory fun playing with all the most familiar genre tropes of Dracula movies and Nielsen (Forbidden Planet) actually cuts it as a pretty terrific clumsy Count on the hunt for fresh blood in London.

10. Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Dracula (2013)

The short-lived NBC series actually offered one of the better Dracula depictions of recent years, with Meyers perfectly balancing the diabolical nature of the blood sucker alongside his irresistible charms and occasionally tortured nature.

9. John Carradine: House of Dracula (1945)

David Carradine’s Dad brings some serious class and dignity to the role and makes the Count appear more haunting than demonic. His gaunt face and deep prickly voice bring dimensions to the character that are genuinely chilling.

8. Duncan Regehr: The Monster Squad (1987)

The classic Shane Black (The Nice Guys) & Fred Dekker’s (Night of the Creeps) film gave us a Dracula who was a little cheap and goofy looking yet also seriously sinister and witty, making a serious lasting impact on every kid who has the pleasure to watch it to this day.

7. William Marshall: Blacula (1972)

The classic Blaxploitation movie has campy, goofy beats, but when it takes the horror seriously, Blacula is actually one of the best & most singular depictions of Dracula ever brought to screen. Even when the story is at its most ludicrous, Marshall (Scream Blacula Scream) maintains a quiet dread and gives the role gravity and intrigue.  

6. Gary Oldman: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Francis Ford Coppola’s “faithful” adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel isn’t actually all that faithful to the source material and is packed full of flaws (Keanu Reeves, we love you – but holy shit that British accent is some next-level terrible.), but Oldman’s portrayal of the lead character isn’t one of them. The iconic actor brings passion and depth to the role, most evident during his scenes opposite Mina (Winona Ryder).

5. Max Schreck: Nosferatu (1922)

Though not directly a Dracula adaptation, F.W. Murnau caused enough controversy that it had ripped off Stoker’s story that courts demanded every print be destroyed (which thankfully for all of us didn’t quite work out). The film remains one of the creepiest and most powerful Dracula films ever made.

4. Klaus Kinski: Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Controversial, but we’re actually of the opinion Werner Herzog’s remake of Murnau’s movie (starring his noted frenemy Kinski in the lead role) is actually better than the original. Kinski (Aguirre, the Wrath of God) is absolutely terrifying as the blood-slurping monster, but also disturbingly alluring, playing the role with his usual levels of psychosis and dread.

3. Frank Langella: Dracula (1979)

There’s no classy way to put this so we’re just going to come right out with it: Langella (Masters of the Universe) is the sexiest Dracula of them all, bringing an unparalleled sense of lusty abandon to the rule that makes us to want to seriously neck the Count ourselves.

2. Bela Lugosi: Dracula (1931)

In what is an otherwise fairly unremarkable movie, Lugosi (The Black Cat) really makes the role his own and brings an enchanting sense of drama to his performance with little more than his bewitching gaze. Lugosi’s Dracula has an unusual but powerful presence that has yet to be matched by any other depiction of the creature of the night.

1. Christopher Lee: Horror of Dracula (1958)

Hammer Horror’s legendary portrayal of the toothy icon is absolutely spellbinding thanks to Lee’s phenomenal performance in the role. In his hands, the character straddles the boundaries between animal and human, the macabre and the sexy, and the cunning and the damned, bringing an old spirit to the role that nevertheless felt young and frisky, yet utterly harrowing.

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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co

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