A Brief History of Dracula on the Big Screen

Dracula

A new version of Dracula premieres on NBC tonight, and advance clips look quite promising. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (The Tudors) stars as the legendary bloodsucker, posing as an American entrepreneur in 19th century London who wants to bring "modern science" to Victorian society. Secretly, however, he is plotting revenge, a clever plan that goes awry when he spies a woman who looks just like his dead wife. Will he succeed in exacting vengeance against those who have wronged him?

Bram Stoker's Dracula has been enacted dozens of times on the big screen. Here's a recap of the most notable actors to play the role.

Dracula

Bela Lugosi, Dracula (1931)

The most familiar (and the most parodied) is undoubtedly the Hungarian actor, who brought greast mystery and menace to the character, but never said, 'I vant to suck your blood.' When offered wine, however, he responds, "I never drink… wine."

Horror of Dracula

Christopher Lee, Horror of Dracula (1958)

Playing opposite Peter Cushing as Doctor Von Helsing, the foreboding Christopher Lee imbued Dracula with great drama and fantastically scary eyes in this handsome production for British studio Hammer. Lee memorably reprised his role in 1965's Dracula: Prince of Darkness, expressing a snarling attitude even without any dialogue (?!), though his later appearances as the character were far more rudimentary, at best.

Blood for Dracula

Udo Kier, Blood for Dracula (1974)

Paul Morrissey's revisionist version featured Udo Kier as a very ill Dracula who needs blood from a virgin in order to survive. It's gross, perverted and, as it happens, quite funny for those with a certain sick sense of humor. Kier looks to be from another world.

Love at First Bite

George Hamilton, Love at First Bite (1979)

No joke was too old or too cheap for this spoof, which counterintuitively starred the famously tan-happy George Hamilton as a very pale vampire in New York City.

Dracula

Frank Langella, Dracula (1979)

That same year, Frank Langella reclaimed the role with a powerful, seductive interpretation of the classic lady-killer, pursued by ailing Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

As sumptuously directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Gary Oldman's Dracula had a crazy sense of fashion, hair borrowed from Princess Leia, and a voice that sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Hotel Transylvania

Adam Sandler, Hotel Transylvania (2012)

A completely different image of Dracula emerges in Gendy Tartakovsky's animated version, with Adam Sandler voicing the old vampire bat as an overly protective father who worries about his daughter dating a human.

Tune in tonight -- 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central) -- right after the third season premiere of Grimm to find out what kind of Dracula we'll be seeing this season!

 

 

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