Since we’re recently shared with you the funniest depictions of Hitler in popular culture, it was about time we’ve also put together a list of the best depictions of another historical villain, Dracula. Well, to clarify things a bit, the historical figure of Vlad ?epe? upon which the fantastic character of Dracula is based wasn’t actually a villain, at least for the standards of his time. But the phantasy representation of him in Bram Stocker’s original novel and all the subsequent versions of his tale that followed all kind of depict Dracula like a villain.
There are a few stories that want to cast him in a somewhat positive light, of course, portraying him like the tortured hero that is noble and means to fight his impulses the best he can, and a few love stories thrown into the mix contribute inevitably to this romantic idea. With all these somewhat conflicting ideas projected upon the image of Dracula, the character has become quite a complex figure in popular culture. Vampires are a very popular topic in movies and shows (perhaps only recently bested by zombies), precisely because of this cocktail of danger, cruelty, lust, good looks and a touch of romanticism. As much as we enjoy the concept of vampires, let’s not forget that Dracula was the daddy of them all. Let’s see what the top 5 depictions of Dracula might be.
1. Bela Lugosi (1931)
Whether you may prefer a more romanticized version of Dracula or not, Bela Lugosi is still the first name that pops to mind when you think of the best movie depictions of Dracula. If you try to re-watch it now, it may not seem a big deal for our modern taste, which is trained to like more contemporary forms of entertainment, of course, but the movie is still valuable and unique. Moreover, if you try to put the movie in context and compare it with other movies of its era, you’ll see that it was actually pretty dark and quite creepy, for the time, while also exhibiting a great deal of Lugosi’s macho-like charm.
2. Gary Oldman (1992)
If it’s about my personal tastes, I would have put this one first, because it was quite the romantic version of the story and I have to admit I have a soft spot for it. Especially since Gary Oldman was in such good company: with a cast including Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins, how could a movie be anything less than a masterpiece? Small chance. If you share my weakness for romanced-up vampire stories and haven’t seen the film yet, please do. Check out the “river princess” scene for extra emotional goose-bumps.
3. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (2013)
Ok, so this wasn’t a movie per se, but a series of ten episodes, and it’s still so fresh it couldn’t be counted among the classics. Yes, but the portrayal was also great because, first of all, Jonathan Rhys Meyers has a charm and a madness that few can match, and second of all because all of the romanticized reasons described at the number 2 above. Plus, the series is seriously lustier than any of the movies; perhaps that’s not great art and just great entertainment, but as long it’s great it doesn’t matter.
4. Klaus Kinski (1979)
Ok, no more fluffy romanticized or lusty stuff. This is a seriously disturbing and creepy portrayal of Dracula in a seriously disturbing and creepy movie (Nosferatu the Vampyre). If you’re a true horror fan, this one’s for you.
5. Max Schreck (1922)
Another great actor in another Nosferatu movie, Max Schreck is brilliant (again, for his time) in how he manages to play a believable blood-hungry corpse withered but still menacing, that may have been around for hundreds of years up to the point in which he may not even remember how it is to be human. It’s less creepy than the previous version, but a list of the best depictions of Dracula wouldn’t be complete without him.