Dracula is without question the most vampire of all time and has been presented in dozens of horror films, television programs, comic books and video games across the globe. The character was first envisioned by Irish author Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel, Dracula. The titular antagonist, Dracula, was in fact based upon a 15th century Wallachian prince named Vlad Ţepeş III, also known as Vlad the Impaler. The first cinematic representation of Dracula was in the unauthorized 1922 silent film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens by F. W. Murnau. The role of Dracula was played by German actor Max Schreck. Since this film was never approved by the Stoker estate, later versions of the film have changed the character's name to Count Orlok. Since then, the character has been presented in various films played by a wide range of actors such as Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, Christopher Lee, Udo Kier, Gary Oldman and many, many more.
Count Dracula is a vampire that through a deal with the devil has existed for centuries, also the character is of Transylvanian nobleman birthright and is a practitioner of sorcery. The character has claimed to be of Szelsky origin and related to Atilla the Hun.
Dracula maintains residence in a ruined castle in the Carpathian mountains near The Borgo Pass, situated in far Eastern Europe which has becomew quite a popular setting for the character.
Nearly a decade after the release of Nosferatu, Universal developed a remake (Dracula) starring Bela Lugosi, that would turn him from a minority silent film artist to one of the greatest film stars of all time. Dracula was released on the February 3, 1931 and marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Horror, the period in which films with sound revolutionized the horror genre and some of the greatest horror monsters of all time made their eternal mark on film history.
Dracula (1931)Universal released Dracula on the February 3, 1931. The highlight of this film was not only that it was the first motion picture widely distributed with sound, but also because it introduced seasoned screen and stage actor, Bela Lugosi, who had previously starred in the stage adaptation of the same name.
Below is a scene from the original Dracula in which the count encounters Van Helsing. On Walpurgis night, Renfield (Dwight Frye), a British solicitor, travels to The Borgo Pass (residence of Dracula), where he is met by the Count's coachman, who takes him to the local town along with several other people who travel with him, but soon the other residents of the carriage begin to grow fearful and as they notice the sunset, they order the driver to stop. The residents arrive safely at the town before sundown. Renfield insists on arriving at the Count's castle, but the residents of the town beg him to stay at the inn. Renfield refuses and Dracula’s coach driver takes Renfield to the Count's castle, where he is baffled by the site of the decaying castle and by the display of wildlife & cobwebs before being greeted by Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi). Renfield is guided to the main sitting room by Dracula to discuss the terms of Dracula’s purchase of Carfax Abbey. Later in the evening, Dracula and Renfield retire, but little does Renfield know that Dracula was going to hypnotize him into being his slave. The two then set sail for England and bring with them the unspeakable horror of Dracula.
After Bela Lugosi left Universal Studios briefly, only one actor was chosen to play the part of Dracula, John Carradine, who portrayed more true to the novel, Dracula, who reflected a British accent and a more sympathetic personality seeking to end his vampirism. Some fans were disappointed for the disappearance of Bela Lugosi, however they enjoyed Carradine's performance. His performance lasted through The House of Frankenstein and The House of Dracula. While the 40's was a quiet year for Dracula after the first film, a sequel, Dracula's Daughter, was made starring Gloria Holden. Nearly a decade later, a second sequel was made called Son of Dracula, in which Lon Chaney, Jr. stars as Count Alucard, the son of Dracula. However, one comedy horror film starring two globally acclaimed comedians, Abott and Costello, would be released in 1948 and would mark the second and last appearance of the greatest Dracula of all time.
Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was released theatrically in 1948 and marked the final Dracula appearance of Bela Lugosi it also marked the end of the first half of the twentieth centuries Gothic horror as afterwards horror in the United States would be largely dominated by Sci-fi horror films such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Chick Young and Wilbur Grey are two baggage boys at the La Mirada hotel Florida, but when Wilbur accidentally mishandles two crates belonging to MacDougal's House of Horrors' museum Mr MacDougal orders that the two deliver the crates personally to an insurance agent, but not before bragging to Wilburs girlfriend that both the crates contain the remains of the original Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the body of the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange). And after that the two set off for Transylvania not knowing what crazy misadventures the two will experience.
End of the Golden Age
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein marked the end of the Golden age of horror films and would give Dracula a decade long rest before he would appear again.
A decade after Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was released and the horror genre seemed all but swept away by the global wave of B-movie sci-fi films Hammer a studio in England was responsible for reviving the then hard to find genre of gothic horror and reviving it with the use of realistic blood, motion picture colour, and explicit violence. But the Hammer series of Dracula was popular not only for these revolutionary factors but for the appearance of the man now widely considered as the second greatest Dracula of all time: Christopher Lee.
27 years after the original Dracula opened in theatres Hammer released their version of the classic Universal monster Dracula which was very highly acclaimed for the onscreen performance of Christopher Lee, the film marked the beginning of a long series of Dracula Gothic Horror films from the late 1950s to the early 1970s
Young Jonathan Harker arrives at Castle Dracula posing as a librarian he is startled to find a young woman rushing up to him stating that she is a prisoner under Count Dracula she begs for his help in escaping until she runs away moments before the count (Christopher Lee) appears. The count politely greets Mr Harker before guiding him to his room and stating, "I have to go out and I will not be back until after sundown tommorow", before leaving Dracula and Harker browse several pictures of Harkers fiancee Lucy. After that Dracula leaves the room and locks Harker in. Whilst in his room Harker opens his bag and states his true intentions in his journal, he's here to kill Count Dracula.
The Massive success of Dracula gave rise to a popular audience and a market for Dracula Sequels, Brides of Dracula was the first attempt at a sequel and oddly didn't include the Count at all, but rather his Possessed Brides. Brides of Dracula however did not live up to expectations and in 1966 Christopher Lee reprised his role of Count Dracula in the 1966 Gothic Horror Dracula Prince of Darkness. Dracula prince of Darkness was quite highly rate amongst Dracula fans for it's use of vivid imagery including the pseudo-Eucharistic ritual that resurrects Dracula, the staking of Barbara Shelley and the Count's demise in the icy waters of his moat, a memorable sequence acted mainly by stuntman Eddie Powell.
However over time Christopher Lee was increasingly unsatisfied with the lack of imagination in the latter Dracula films such as Scars of Dracula or Taste the blood of Dracula and after The Satanic Rites of Dracula left Hammer thus ending the Hammer era and ending the greatest years of Dracula.
Only three years after The Satanic rights of Dracula was released the BBC made another version of Count Dracula only this time in the television format however this version was more faithful to the novel than any other adaptation that had appeared previously and unlike previous adaptations he was portrayed as being a very young even seductive male. However there were no true horror films including Dracula during the latter half of the 70's and it wouldn't be till 1987 that Dracula would again be widely recognised along with several other Universal monsters in the Monster Squad.However Dracula would finely be given the chance to have a film to himself again in Bram Stokers Dracula.
Bram Stokers Dracula34 years after Hammers Dracula 1958 acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola directed and released his modern remake of the classic tale starring Gary Oldman as Count Dracula it would be Draculas first globally successful film since Hammers take on the tale and began the process of drawing Dracula back into the popular culture. The title of the movie also drew attention to Bram Stroker's original novel, and short stories, which are now in public domain and available online to read for free.
Unlike previous Dracula films it begins with a prologue scene where Vlad III the Impaler fights for Romania as a knight in the Order of the Dragon. He defeats a massive Turkish invasion in 1462. Upon returning home, he finds his beloved wife Elisabeta (Ryder) dead, having committed suicide upon hearing the false reports of his death in battle. Enraged at his wife being eternally damned as a suicide, Dracula desecrates his chapel and renounces God, declaring that he will rise from the grave to avenge Elisabeta with all the powers of darkness. Four centuries later in the year 1897 Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) travels to Castle Dracula in Transylvania to discuss the terms of the purchase of Carfax Abbey in England the Counts newest real estate purchase. At Castle Dracula the atmosphere is very bizarre almost as if there were something at work, for instane shadows that move by themselves and rooms full of unnatural objects. After meeting with the count (Gary Oldman)a pale and wrinkled old man wearing dashing red robes discuss the terms of the purchase and sign the real estate papers, afterwards the count is seen carresing a picture of Harkers Fiancee Mina Murray the reincarnation of his long dead wife Elisabeta. And after a dramatic confrontation between Harker Dracula and his brides sets sail for England on the Demeter and leaves Harker at the mercy of his bloodthirsty and insatiable brides who leave him drained and too weak to escape.
The film was quite highly praised for both the performance of its cast and the visionary filming technique it used. However the film was dismissed by die hard fans of Dracula for it's extremely noticeable and drastic plot changes for instance: In the film Dracula rapes Lucy, in the book he doesn't, the film plot centres around the love between Mina and Dracula, whereas in the book there is no romance at all between the two characters. Francis Ford Coppola recewived generally negative reviews from people who watched the film because of this.
Bram Stokers Dracula amongst other things was appreciated for it's alternate forms of the title character which were the forms of a bat and a wolf but both were more anthropomorphic than previous films. The forms also played a vital role in the overall plot due to the fact that they were used Frequently in the film.
To the side of this section is a trailer of Bram Stokers Dracula which highlights all the forms of Dracula and also highlights some of his many supernatural powers.
Van Helsing was the most recent attempt at portraying Dracula and while strictly not entirely a horror film it has quite a promising personality for Dracula and has pleased many fans of Dracula worldwide. The film recreated the sort of personality of Bela Lugosi seen in the original Dracula more than 83 years before, and even successfully made a chilling Hungarian accent like the one used by Bela Lugosi in the original. It also established the fact that Dracula cannot be killed by traditional vampire hunting methods such as holy water or even the stake, but that the count can only be killed by a Werewolf.
The film begins in 1887 at the castle of Henry Frankenstein who has brought his monster to life, however his triumph is cut short when an angry mob infiltrates castle Frankenstein. The action then returns to the castle where it is revealed that he has been aided in his experiments by his deformed assistant Ygor and the legendary Count Dracula, who later reveales that he helped Frankenstein create his creature for his own purposes and kills the doctor just as the monster wakes up and throws a large object at the count causing him to fly into the fireplace of the laboratory. The Frankenstein monster heads to the Winmill with his fathers corpse where the villagers chase him and set the windmill on fire.Where the Monster seems destroyed and Dracula stairs in dissapontment not knowing if he can begin his plan.
The film received a generally very posotive response from movie fans for renergising the character of Dracula, and revitalising the character of Dracula to show to a modern audience and for the performance of Richard Roxburgh as the count.The film was very popular in both the United States and Europe and had a cast of mixed ethnic backgrounds.
Parodies and references in popular culture
The character of Dracula has been parodied and referenced to several times in fact the number of films with reference to Dracula is so far 649. For instance the plot for the 1995 comedy Dracula dead and loving it takes much of its plot and humour from scenes from Dracula movies throughout the years and was released three years after bram Stokers Dracula