Top Ten Versions of Dracula (afros and bad make-up included)
Yes, there are ten different versions of Dracula in movies—or at least ten different takes on the same character, most of which I like. Some of them have a lot of appeal, and some of them are just hilarious. Sometimes, you just have to go with it and enjoy a fancy pants Dracula or puffy shirt Dracula for what it is–entertainment. Are these entertaining?
10. Blacula (1972) – This blaxploitation movie is hilarious, with the 70s jive music and colorful wardrobe to go with it. The title character is played by William Marshall, who was known more for his television work than his movie roles, but he must have been doing something right, because this movie raked in the cash and put out a sequel to do the same. It’s surprising to me that audiences liked this trashy movie, but maybe it captured something about society at that time.
9. Dracula 2000 (2000) – This movie is new-age schlock pretending to be the next best thing. It is pretty funny how bad this movie is, and I used to see this movie at the rental store all the time when I was younger. It was made by Dimension Films, who also brought the Scary Movie franchise to the screen. This movie tries to explain Dracula’s background as a religious metaphor, and it doesn’t work for me, although I do love a good metaphor. The movie likes to explain stuff, and never really embraces being a horror movie.
8. Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary (2002) – This deserves a place here because it’s so weird. It’s a silent movie, done in black & white, and everybody likes dancing and jumping around. It’s also a ballet, with lots of people spinning around together. I really hated it because it’s artsy crap that tries too hard.
7. Shadow of the Vampire (2000) – This tries to insert weirdness into the original filming of Nosferatu, since I guess that movie was strange, or something. I’m not sure why they decided to a movie about a movie crew filming a movie, but it is way over-the-top. Of course, the best part is every scene John Malkovich is in, and he hams it up like a champ. The guy is a brutish director trying to bully everybody and capture a vampire legend. I think he does a good job, at least as far as camp goes.
6. Dracula’s Daughter (1936) – I guess technically this shouldn’t make the list because Dracula isn’t in it, but it relies on the Dracula mythos, so I’ll go with it. Besides, I like this movie, and it does a great job of delivering something different, unlike some of these others on the list. Gloria Holden as Dracula’s Daughter is pretty darn creepy, if you ask me.
5. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) – This remake to Nosferatu is literally a remake, instead of an indirect sorta-remake like Shadow of the Vampire, and it has that same creepy tone. The title character is pretty awesome. Klaus Kinski does a great job as the title character, though he is always groping the women. Hands off, pal!
4. Monster Squad (1987) – I used to watch this movie when I was a kid, and it’s still pretty entertaining. It’s not much of a horror movie, and it’s got a lot of dumb comedy. It does have Dracula AND Van Helsing, so you can’t go wrong there, but it’s not serious at all. Duncan Regehr plays Dracula like a combination of an overly eccentric Christopher Lee and an overly stoic Bela Lugosi, all combined into one. Pretty bad. Loosen up, Count!
3. Dracula (1931) – The original Dracula is still one of the best Dracula movies ever made, and it’s only at number three because I get to be selective. There’s other Dracula movies I pop in even before this one, mostly because it feels heavy in places, and slow. However, most of the lines in this movie are iconic and the other characters are good.
2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – This movie is simply great, and it all flows together perfectly. It’s like a fantasy, a bloody horror movie, and a redemption story all in one. Gary Oldman plays Dracula like a tragic hero, who just wants his one, true love, so you’ve got to root for him because of that. His eccentric overacting is the best part and the visuals by Francis Ford Coppola make this one of the most stunning Dracula movies ever made.
1. Horror of Dracula (1958) – If we’re talking about legendary, then this one is the best, and does everything right. Christopher Lee is perfect as Dracula, and Peter Cushing makes a great Van Helsing. This is the Dracula movie I play most often, because it’s not as heavy as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and it’s much better paced than Lugosi’s Dracula. I think the best thing about this movie is that it knows what it is: a kickass horror movie. All of the vampire tropes are here and Christopher Lee defines the aristocratic badass like nobody else. It works on so many levels, even as an allegory. I like that!