?If someone asks you to picture Dracula in your mind, you have a pretty good idea of what he looks like. Tuxedo, cape, widow’s peak, little medallion that looks like he won 2nd prize at an art show. He’s pretty much going to look like Bela Lugosi, who defined the image of the character (and a lot more) in the classic Universal horror movie Dracula in 1931. But not all version of the best-known vampire in the world look like Bela… although they probably should. It’s almost like a law of the universe: the farther you get from the Bela Lugosi image, the worse your Dracula is going to be.
That rule hasn’t stopped television, literature, and film from going off on weird tangents and tweaking the standard Dracula to all hell. Never maliciously, but often softening the greatest vampire of all time into something so alien from the template that we just shake our heads and wonder why. Here are 11 versions of Dracula from movies, TV series and more, who would probably be better off just being staked… or at the very least, named something different.
11) Morgan Freeman in The Electric Company
Yes, that Morgan Freeman. The one we associate with dramatic voiceover. While he played numerous characters on the educational show The Electric Company, he makes this list for the times he played the black Count Dracula. Dressed in the tuxedo and cape, he spoke lovingly about his favorite words. In fact, one of his favorite words, “casket,” doubled as a bath tub so we get a wonderful clip of half-naked Morgan Freeman (still wearing his Dracula sash) bathing in a coffin. Pretty odd stuff for a kids’ show.
10) Assisted Living Dracula from Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Bless you, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, for providing us enough stuff going on in the background to keep us re-watching over and over. Assisted Living Dracula was a 1-minute short that appeared briefly on a background television in season 1. In it, an elderly bed-ridden Dracula is fed applesauce by a nurse, uses an adjustable bed to dramatically lower himself into sleeping position, and then disintegrate when the nurse wheels him outside for the day. Luckily, the whole short was hidden on the DVD, and it’s out on the internet.
9) Count Dracula from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy mixed it up with the crown prince of vampirism in season 5, but he was really nothing to write home about. The difference between Drac and the usual vampires she fought was that he was more Euro-trashy and less feral. On the whole, what could have been the be-all-end-all of Buffy fights ended up being a one-off episode. When all is said and done, most of us would have been happy with the regular vampire uglys that the Scooby Gang battled. Oh, and don’t get me started on the fact that he’s shown up in the season eight comic book. Seriously, every Buffy character ever is getting a second chance in that clusterfuck.
8) Count Drakeula from DuckTales
I forgot about this one until just recently, but he’s pretty goofy. In one of the later episodes of the first season of DuckTales, Scrooge opens a convention center in Duckburg. His first convention is “Monsters Unanimous,” a meeting of 50 or so of filmdom’s famous creatures, led by the flamboyant Count Drakeula. His Eastern European accent puts Borat’s to shame and you miss half of his dialogue; the other half is him saying “Blah!” a lot. In reality, Count Drakeula looks much more like Halloween John Waters than the Transylvanian Count. And before you start bitching about Count Duckula not being on this list, Duckula ia very clearly his own character, and Drakeula is just a stupid duck-version of Dracula. Big difference.
7) Leslie Nielsen in Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Dear God, this was a bad film. So bad, in fact, that it ended Mel Brooks’s directing career (don’t worry, he’s since found other work). It’s a spoof of the popular Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola, “spoof” translating into “goofy slapstick and weak jokes.” Nielsen is lost in his portrayal of the inept Count, relying more on his large wig to get a laugh rather than the delivery or the script. Mr. Nielsen, what have you done with yourself?
6) Udo Kier in Blood for Dracula
Better known as Andy Warhol’s Dracula, the oddball artist had very little to do with the actual filming of this low-budget gore/sex fest. Like many art films of the time, Blood for Dracula is a bad film mixed with gratuitous nudity, with competent actor Kier in the middle of it. His Dracula is all about sex, and really the only thing Kier brings to the role is a European accent. Once you make Dracula only about finding virgins to devour, it moves sufficiently far away from the Stoker book. Although it really does feel like a college thesis film, Kier went on from this to become one of the towering heroes of horror films, especially vampire flicks.
5) The Animaniacs‘ Dracula
Admittedly, any time anyone goes up against the Warner Brothers (and sister), he’s going to look like a fool. Not only is Dracula mistaken as Amish, he’s locked out of his own castle, hit with a bat, has his teeth brushed against his will (then removed), forced to attend a slumber party, wears make-up, and is sawed in half.
4) Dracula 2000
When you’re making a vampire movie, I understand the allure of basing it on a previous vampire concept. If anything Dracula makes money, why not slap the Dark Master’s name on your vampire flick and draw in those fans? In the case of Dracula 2000, there really would be no harm in coming up with a new vampire. Instead, the classic Stoker baddie is brought back in the form of long-haired Gerard Butler who’s really Judas Iscariot who tried to kill himself but failed and then became a vampire. Lame enough for you?
3) George Hamilton in Love at First Bite
As far as parodies go, 1979’s Love at First Bite, is still funny all these years later. Will the same be said of Disaster Movie? Probably not. George Hamilton’s Dracula is dropped into 1970s New York City, and predictably bumbles around like an uppity foreign tourist. He’s nearly thwarted by a psychiatrist wielding a Star of David and falls in love with Susan St. James, better known as “Kate” from Kate and Allie, ot the hottest of sexy ladies, even by ’70s standards. Even more lame is Dracula’s Renfield, played by Arte Johnson, who is extremely, extremely annoying (like he is in everything). Supposedly Hamilton’s working on a sequel, which is fine by me.
2) The Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula Dracula
Poor John Carradine. If anyone’s name is forever linked with shitty rip-off movies, it’s John Carradine. Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula is, by all standards, a massive embarrassment. Carradine is over-the-hill at 60 and plays his Dracula like, well, a 60 year old man doing this for a paycheck. Billy the Kid, instead of being a mad-dog killer, is a romantic Western hero. It’s hard to take it seriously, although it was meant to be. Carradine played Dracula a handful of times, but wheezing through this was a career low.
1) Dracula from Blade Trinity
Forget all the Bela Lugosi Dracula images. If you believe Blade Trinity, the Transylvanian Count was a bodybuilder with a short neck. If you fail to make this leap when the film starts, you will not be able to take the rest of the movie seriously. All the romance of Dracula has dried up, and you’re left with a vampire who would rather drink protein shakes and work his thighs than bite someone’s head off. Dominic Purcell may be a fine actor (works perfectly in Prison Break), but as Dracula? Not since John Wayne played Ghengis Khan…