Bram Stoker's Dracula is the epitome of a gothic horror story. With its creepy castles, jagged mountains, eerie atmosphere and nest of vampires, it matches all the criteria for classic horror. Still, it would be nothing without the main man himself, one of the most-adapted characters of all time: Count Dracula.
Since his debut in the original novel, Dracula has appeared in all manner of media. With so many versions of the infamous vampire out there, it's hard to narrow down which do him justice, but that doesn't mean we won't try. Here are 10 of the best, most unique and memorable versions of Dracula ever seen on screens.
10 Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania)
Who knew Adam Sandler would make a good vampire? Definitely not the most book-accurate version on our list, but there's just something so infectious and endearing about Sandler's Dracula we love. The right mix of kooky and spooky, we were definitely under this vampire's spell.
Hotel Transylvania's version of Dracula harkens back to old monster clichés, but so does the rest of the movie. With Sandler's comedic stylings behind the animation and movement of the character, it makes for a very enjoyable (though less haunting) version of the famous vampire. Seriously, how could we deny that fanged face?
9 Leslie Nielsen (Dracula: Dead and Loving It)
If you enjoyed the antics and humor of Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein, think of Dracula: Dead and Loving It as its successor. Definitely not the most serious version of Dracula, but it might very well be the bloodiest version on our list. This film is a black comedy through and through, and it'd be incomplete without Leslie Nielsen.
Nielsen's Dracula mixes the classic with the parody. Trying to stay in character but being completely self-aware, his version of Dracula hits every vampire cliché in the book, but does it shamelessly. Is he the perfect Dracula? No, but he is one of the most entertaining.
8 Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Sometimes the world doesn't need another hero. Sometimes, what it needs is a monster. In his version of Dracula, Luke Evans definitely gives us a little bit of both. This fantasy-infused version of Dracula's origins sees a young Vlad the Impaler take up the mantle of vampire to defeat the invading Ottoman Empire.
Though this version takes several liberties with the source material, it is interesting to see Dracula portrayed as a supernatural superhero of sorts. He uses swarms of bats, an insatiable bloodlust, and other superhuman abilities to defeat his enemies, which is always cool to watch.
7 Gerard Butler (Dracula 2000)
Before he dined in hell with the Spartans, he dined on the flesh of the living as Wes Craven's Dracula in Dracula 2000. This version sees Count Dracula enter the 21st century, and though the film itself is definitely not the greatest vampire movie, Gerard Butler's performance is worth at least one watch.
Yes, the film is hokey, it checks all the stereotypical boxes for vampire movies, and aside from Dracula's origins, it doesn't do much original, but Butler's performance is brilliantly so over-the-top he chews more scenery than he does necks. If you're looking for a standard horror shlock-fest with some fun performances, give this one a try.
6 Frank Langella (Dracula)
Speaking of over-the-top actors, we have to give props to Frank Langella's portrayal from the 1979 Dracula. Though this adaptation stays closer to the source material than some others on our list, it's highly romanticized, standard vampire fare. However, Langella's performance definitely stands out from the rest of the cast.
Langella's Dracula is pleasant, charming, and has a persona Bela Lugosi could be proud of. With his billowing black cape and thick accent, he embodies every classic version of the Count. Even the way he enters the room harkens back to classic portrayals of the character. It's a criminally underrated film that all Drac fans need to see.
5 Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu The Vampyre)
Though this obscure, terrifying film is technically a remake of 1922's Nosferatu, the original movie was heavily based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, so it kind of balances out. Though this version takes place in Germany rather than foggy London, it's still considered one of the more well-regarded versions, partially due to Klaus Kinski's Dracula.
Kinski's Dracula definitely takes inspiration from Count Orlock of Nosferatu, but at the same time is frightening and original. He's gaunt, pale, and more bat-like than most versions. He practically pops off the screen and makes our skin crawl. We've got to give this guy props for originality.
4 Graham McTavish (Castlevania)
One of the most visually stunning versions of the character has to be the Dracula that appears in the Netflix Castlevania series. This is a monster Bram Stoker would be proud of. He's the classic embodiment of the gothic villain, but a passionate and sympathetic creature at the same time. Graham McTavish's vocal portrayal is the icing on the cake.
McTavish gives a strange ancient element to the character. Dracula is not pure evil, but has seen too much cruelty from humankind. We hear the tiredness and defeat behind the malice, which drives him to do his evil deeds. Definitely a magnificent performance.
3 Bela Lugosi (Dracula)
We can't have a Dracula list without the man who started it all, the legendary Bela Lugosi. Though not the first actor to assume the role, he's definitely the one everyone can identify and associate with the name Dracula. He practically invented the role and made it a household name.
The thick Hungarian accent, the hypnotic gaze, and that long black cape would forever be associated with the character, all thanks to Lugosi's performance. Along with our next member of the list, Lugosi is perhaps the most famous incarnation of Dracula.
2 Christopher Lee (Various)
Bela Lugosi may have "invented" the role of Dracula, but Christopher Lee perfected it. There is probably no other actor that has played the king of vampires as well, or as many times, as this guy has. Lee's Dracula can be suave and sophisticated, but can also be a bloodthirsty monster, as Dracula should always be.
With over eight films under his cape, Lee's Dracula was the biggest horror icon of the '50s and early '60s. From Horror of Dracula to The Satanic Rites of Dracula, he held the title for longer than any other actor before him. We absolutely had to give him a high spot on our list.
1 Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker's Dracula)
We debated giving the top spot to either Lugosi or Oldman, but it's this one that takes the cake. Francis Ford Coppola's version, though very romanticized, was a lavish production definitely worthy of its awards, but we're here to talk about its Dracula.
Gary Oldman's Dracula takes as much from Vlad the Impaler as he does from the novel. He's definitely more sympathetic than most versions, but he's still a monster deep down. From the transformations to the distinguished performance, he is definitely one of our favorite versions of the character.