Good evening, my children of the night. Ah, what sweet comments you make. Welcome to yet another Dash 10s. I am…Dash Jordan. Come freely, and do leave here some of the happiness that you bring. Tonight, we shall cross oceans of time to find ten of the greatest film performances…of what, you may ask? Of one of the greatest villains in all of fiction, of course. Who? Oh, he is a man of many names. But, you may more-fondly know him as…Count Dracula. So, which actor has played The Prince Of Darkness with the most bite? Ha ha ha ha ha! Bite…the most bite!…BITE!
Shut up, Meatwad! Anyways, I can’t wait any longer. Dracula is one of my personal favorites, and is also one of the first faces many of us think of when we think of Halloween. Now prepare yourselves, foolish mortals…this is the Top Ten Draculas! Let’s get crackin’!
#10-Richard Roxburgh(Van Helsing)
I already know what most, if not, all of you are thinking…How dare I consider Richard Roxburgh a good enough actor to play The Count, especially in such a cheap and horrible movie?!? Truth be told, I actually don’t hate director Stephen Sommers’ 2004 action-adventure flick. In fact, I friggin’ enjoy the hell out of that movie. Sure it had its flaws, but I knew what I was in for when watching this movie. It was fun, schlocky, it had great action and it was a Universal Monster Mash starring Hugh Jackman. In other words, it was Wolverine versus Dracula, The Vampire Brides, Frankenstein’s Monster & The Wolf Man! This movie was like an event, and I still enjoy it to this day. As far as Richard Roxburgh’s performance? Come on, we’ve had sillier Draculas in the past. But for a movie like ‘Van Helsing’, it works perfectly.
Who else but Roxburgh could pull off the image of Dracula dancing to the heartbeat of a dying man? To me, this guy brought the perfect blend of devilish charm, eccentric campiness and violent ruthlessness. If any of you are looking for campy action or are too squeamish for the more intense and bloody portrayals of Bram Stoker’s legendary monster, this Dracula is the perfect way to introduce the character. Trust me, you’ll have a blast.
#9-Gerard Butler(Dracula 2000)
Yes, with a title like ‘Dracula 2000’, I ended up avoiding this movie like the plague. When I finally did end up watching this movie…it didn’t impress me all that much. But what did impress me was Gerard Butler’s performance as Dracula. Much like Richard Roxburgh’s performance in ‘Van Helsing’, it was an entertainingly silly performance that worked for an even sillier movie. But what makes Butler’s take on The Count stand out more that Roxburgh’s is that it’s taken a little more seriously. Not to mention the fact that they added a few awesome touches to an already complex character. Let’s just say this particular Dracula’s backstory is of “biblical proportions”.
What really makes Butler’s Dracula stand out is the fact that they made this version the reincarnation of Judas…Yes, that Judas. The same Judas who betrayed Jesus Christ for a few pieces of silver is now a bloodsucking Lord Of Darkness with a weakness to holy water, crosses and silver. It’s this change that adds just a little bit more originality and creativity to the main antagonist of this unintentionally-funny 2000 film. Oh, not to mention there’s probably a few Gerard Butler fangirls who will crucify me if I don’t include him in this list so…you’re very welcome, psychos.
#8-Peter Stormare(The Batman vs. Dracula)
Wait, wait, wait, wait…I didn’t say just “live-action” performances, now did I? Also, I’m pretty sure this is MY Top Ten. Yes, I may be cheating a little bit. I also just like to clarify that I wasn’t a huge fan of the mid to late 2000s “The Batman” cartoon, I was always more partial to “Batman: The Animated Series” from the 90s…yes, there is a difference. One thing I’ve always found a bit more entertaining about the new cartoon however were the fights. They were so fast-paced and beautifully animated. So when I heard that there was a direct-to-DVD movie where Batman fights Dracula, how could I resist? What we got here is an animated feature that was slightly darker from any of the normal episodes of the show, which I instantly liked. Of course, what stood out to me the most was not The Dark Knight, but the ORIGINAL Dark Knight himself…then, I found out who voiced him. None other than the criminally-underrated Peter Stormare. You know, that creepy bastard with the weird face who’s in EVERY MOVIE EVER!
See, now you guys recognize him. Just remember this guy’s face and then go look up his filmography…every movie you like, he’s in it. As far as his performance, Stormare proved that his face isn’t the only thing that’s creepy as he brings that extra creep factor to the role, as well as a bit of regalness that The Count has not had in awhile…but that’s just me. In my opinion, Peter Stormare’s voice was a much-needed reminder that not even The Batman, can “out-bat” Dracula.
#7-Udo Kier(Andy Warhol’s Blood For Dracula)
You think you know strange? You don’t know Andy Warhol. Here, we have a movie that’s just as strange as the man himself who also serves as the film’s producer. This time, German actor Udo Kier dons the cape and fangs. At first glance, this could be seen as yet another unintentionally-funny Dracula movie. Which, to be fair…parts of it is a little funny.
But through further examination, not only is it a very artsy and risque take on Dracula, but it’s also one of the few times we see Dracula as less of a Dark Prince and more of a sympathetic creature. This version of Dracula instead seeks the blood of virgins, because drinking blood from anyone who isn’t a virgin can kill him. So for the majority of the movie, we see The Count suffering and starving which can be a bit depressing depending on who you talk to. Not to mention that the film is also branded with the infamous X-rating, which makes ‘Blood For Dracula’ one of the bloodiest and sexiest entries on this list. I know, so much blood in every other Vampire movie but THIS one gets the X-rating. I wonder why…
Normally, I wouldn’t care. But, the blood and violence in this movie is really is graphic and I just can’t bring myself to show anymore clips; in fear that I would scare off or upset some of my more squeamish readers. Because I care…whimps.
This is definitely one portrayal of Dracula I personally don’t hear about too often when people discuss their favorites. Especially in the post-‘Twilight’ and ‘Vampire Academy’ world we live in today, where teenage girls and single mothers only care about a Vampire’s sex appeal rather than his backstory, personality and motivations. Well ladies, why don’t you try and give this movie a watch? I like to think that women back in 1979 were just like today’s women…except Frank Langella can act.
There may have been different portrayals of The Count before and after Langella, but I personally believe that the man was able to hold his own in the role. In this romanticized retelling of the Bram Stoker classic, we see a more subtle, smooth and seductive side of Dracula. Obviously, there have been lots of actors who’ve showcased Dracula’s power of seduction and hypnotism. However, Frank Langella was one of the very few actors who even when he does use his dark powers on a beautiful girl…he almost doesn’t need to.
Yeah, no…Sorry Frankie. Only ‘Countess Dracula’ herself, Ingrid Pitt, can seduce me like that.
…hmm, is it too late to donate some blood for that resurrection?
#5-Klaus Kinski(Nosferatu The Vampyre)
Interesting flick, this one. Only the Germans can make Dracula look like a giant rat-looking creepster and get away with it…twice. Now, Some people might consider this cheating since this film, while beautifully shot and well acted, is more of a remake of the Silent film ‘Nosferatu’ directed by F.W. Murnau. While ‘Nosferatu’ is a classic, it is also deemed as an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel since the studio couldn’t acquire the rights. However, there is something that separates this 1979 Werner Herzog-directed remake from the 1922 original, aside from the inclusion of color and the ability to speak. In ‘Nosferatu’, the monster’s name is Count Orlok. While in ‘Nosferatu The Vampyre’, he’s actually called Count Dracula; which makes this variation of the character perfectly eligible for this list.
Much like Max Schreck’s Count Orlok from the original, actor Klaus Kinski delivers the same unsettling performance as an otherworldly and grotesque monster rather than the dark and sophisticated prince that most of us are more familiar with. Most other actors who’ve played Dracula may have haunted some of our dreams, but it’s Klaus Kinski’s Dracula that makes most of us think twice before walking toward a shadow.
#4-Louis Jourdan(Count Dracula TV Movie)
For years, I’ve always thought that Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ from 1992 was one of, if not the most faithful, adaptation of the original novel. Oh man, was I ever wrong. You see, kids? Even I can admit when I’m wrong. You can thank the BBC for giving us a much more faithful retelling back in 1977, which I wouldn’t be surprised to find if Coppola had lifted a few elements from. Great production value for its time and fantastic acting. I’ve always heard good things about this adaptation. But what truly made me all the more curious upon viewing was the casting of the late Louis Jourdan as Count Dracula.
I think what makes this portrayal stand out more to most people is the fact that this famous French actor pretty much plays Dracula as a Bond villain. Which makes perfect sense seeing as how in a few years, Jourdan would end up playing Kamal Khan; the main antagonist of the 1983 James Bond film ‘Octopussy’…stop snickering!
Anyways, the truly awesome thing about Jourdan’s performance is that he never and I mean, never loses his temper. We’ve seen Dracula get angry or frustrated before, but we hardly ever get to see Dracula stay cool-headed and polite. This guy can tear your heart out and eat it in front of your children, and would STILL tuck them into bed! He is that cool! Mr. Jourdan, wherever you are, you have earned a spot in my Big Four of Draculas. Please, make yourself comfortable.
#3-Christopher Lee(Hammer Horror’s Dracula films)
We’ve seen Dracula as a monster, a ladies man, a mastermind and sometimes, we’ve even seen him as a joke. Then, Hammer Film Productions came along and made Dracula an undeniable badass played by an equally badass actor. Now, let us all praise and thank the great Sir Christopher Lee for this bounty of awesomeness we are about to receive. Starred in over 200 films, appeared as Dracula in seven Hammer-produced films, was a descendant of Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire, was a Flight Lieutenant of the Royal Air Force during WWII, was a step-cousin of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, actually met ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ author J.R.R. Tolkien, could speak six languages, was a world champion fencer, sang Opera and was also in his own Heavy Metal band…during his 90s! Sir Christopher Lee was a beast!
Lee was one of the most significant horror actors of all time, and was also played the Father Of All Vampires the most amount of times. Even starring in a few non-Hammer Dracula films. But, it’s his time with Hammer that he is arguably most-remembered for. Lee played Dracula as an silent killing machine, never finding the need to say a single word. But when Lee does speak, what we hear is one of the deepest and most powerful voices ever heard on film. Long live Sir Christopher Lee.
#2-Gary Oldman(Bram Stoker’s Dracula)
As the tagline of the film suggests, “Love Never Dies”. So how can you blame me when I say that I friggin’ love this movie. Not only is the 1992 adaptation one of my favorite films of all time, but this was also the very first Dracula movie I’ve seen growing up. Not only is this one of the more faithful versions of the Bram Stoker story. ‘Count Dracula’ starring Louis Jourdan may have been closer to the source material, but what Francis Ford Coppola’s vision had over the 1977 TV Movie is sheer style. Not to mention, one of the best casts I’ve seen in any Dracula movie; lead by one of the greatest and most versatile actors of all time, Gary Oldman.
Proof that the man can literally play anything. This is the same English actor who nearly lost his natural accent while preparing for a role. Most actors try to bring at least one or two familiar personality traits, but Gary Oldman brought every traits associated with The Count. He’s the eccentric old man, the diabolical mastermind, the blood-thirsty monster, the vengeful warrior and the romantic prince all in one. You want to hate this villain, but you find yourself rooting for him in certain moments. He does horrible things to people, but you also feel sorry for him. THAT is what Dracula is supposed to be like. Of course, how can I talk about this movie and this performance without mentioning the antagonist’s origin. In case you haven’t figured out that this film is more of a bloody-love story, this particular Dracula blends in with the legend of real-life historical figure Vlad Tepes a.k.a. Vlad The Impaler, which was also Bram Stoker’s inspiration for the Dracula character to begin with. There’s no denying it, this version of Dracula is by far one of the best and is played by one of my all-time favorite actors…But, there’s still one more spot left on this list. Who could possibly beat my own childhood out of the #1 spot?
Louis Jourdan may have been the most faithful Dracula, Sir Christopher Lee may have been the most intense Dracula and Gary Oldman may have been my first Dracula…Hell, every actor in this list played amazing Draculas in their own right. But, Bela Legosi is the reason why actors want to play Dracula. In Universal Pictures’ near-perfect 1931 Tod Browning film, The Hungarian Horror Legend is what made Dracula an icon. From other films and television, to costumes, video games and even breakfast cereals, there is always some reference or mention of Legosi’s fantastic performance.
To say that Legosi’s take on Dracula had been an inspiration is a complete understatement. If it wasn’t for the Hungarian actor, there’s a surefire chance that the Dracula franchise wouldn’t have had as much of a cultural impact as it does today. Without this Universal classic and this performance, there’s no telling how the Horror genre would’ve turned out back in the 1930s.
A bit of an obvious choice, sure. Until you take everything this film has done into consideration. Look at everything Bela Legosi has done for the Sound Era of filmmaking, for Universal Pictures, the other Universal Monsters, and countless other Dracula films afterwards. Every one may have their first Dracula or their own personal favorite Dracula…but in the end, everyone can agree that Bela Legosi IS Dracula.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think there’s still a few women out there who want to kill me because I didn’t put Gerard Butler in the #1 spot. Until next time, Gotta Dash!
Written by Shane Moose
Videos & Photos:
Van Helsing(owned by Universal Pictures)
Dracula 2000(owned by Miramax Films & Dimension Films)
The Batman vs. Dracula(owned by Warner Home Video, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)
Andy Warhol’s Blood For Dracula(owned by Bryanston Distributing, Andy Warhol Presentation & Yanne et Rassam)
Dracula(1979)(owned by Universal Pictures & The Mirisch Corporation)
Nosferatu The Vampyre(owned by 20th Century Fox, Werner Herzog Filmproduktion & Gaumont)
Count Dracula(TV Movie)(owned by BBC)
Horror Of Dracula(owned by Hammer Film Productions & Universal-International)
Dracula: Prince Of Darkness(owned by Hammer Film Productions, 20th Century Fox & Seven Arts)
Dracula Has Risen From The Grave(owned by Hammer Film Productions, Warner Bros.-Seven Arts & Warner-Pathe)
Taste The Blood Of Dracula(owned by Hammer Film Productions, Warner Bros. & Warner-Pathe)
Scars Of Dracula(owned by Hammer Film Productions, Hammer Studios, 20th Century Fox, MGM-EMI & EMI Films)
Dracula A.D. 1972(owned by Hammer Film Productions & Columbia-Warner Distributors)
The Satanic Rites Of Dracula(owned by Hammer Film Productions & Warner Bros. Pictures)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula(owned by Columbia Pictures, American Zoetrope & Osiris Films)
Dracula(1931)(owned by Universal Pictures)
Aqua Teen Hunger Force(owned by Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Williams Street, Awesome Inc. & Radical Axis)
Dogma(owned by Lionsgate & View Askew Productions)
Constantine(owned by Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, The Donners’ Company, Weed Road Pictures, Batfilm Productions, Vertigo & 3 Arts Entertainment)
The Vampire Lovers(owned by Hammer Film Productions, American International Pictures, MGM & Fantale Films)
The Is The End(owned by Columbia Pictures, Point Grey Pictures & Mandate Pictures)
The Office(U.S. Version)(owned by NBCUniversal Television Distribution, Universal Television, Shine America & Deedle-Dee Productions)