Count Dracula is definitely the most famous vampire of all time. Bram Stoker created this gothic horror novel way back in 1897. This blood-sucking vampire became a prototype for many subsequent novels on the vampire topic. The story written by the Irish novelist goes about Count Dracula’s attempts to move from Transylvania to England. He does it mainly to spread his curse and find new victims for bloodsucking. The ending of the novel was later removed where it is written that the Dracula’s castle crumbles and is destroyed after his death.
There are several versions of Dracula that were filmed due to the success of Hammer films starring Christopher Lee as Count Dracula. But none achieved the level of fearsome characterization of the vampire by Christopher Lee. Lee appeared as the vampire in 10 films during the 1960s and 70s, and seven of them were directed by Hammer. Most of these films were successful and that epitomized Lee in the title role. Peter Cushing played Van Helsing, the vampire slayer in most of these films.
The success of these films inspired several other actors and directors to try their hand at different versions the Bram Stoker novel. But no one ever reached the height that Christopher Lee did. I have seen one of the earlier versions called Count Dracula which is a British film that still sends a shiver up my spine. It is made very simply with realistic sets and still is terrifying. Christopher Lee was an accomplished actor and played many other memorable roles. James Bond fans would immediately point to The Man with the Golden Gun.
Several other attempts were made after the Hammer films especially in the seventies to create the same magic. But the Dracula depicted in these films did not come close to the chilling portrayal by Lee in Hammer films. Bela Lugosi who played the Dracula in 1931 was a good competitor but others not really. Gary Oldman in the much-discussed Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992 created a lot of hype but he just wasn’t as menacing as Lee. Some took a whimsical look at the story by telling it as a comedy, musical or an animation film. There was also an opera take on the novel. But to the diehard fans of Dracula, the Christopher Lee versions remain the ones to enjoy and cherish. Several versions have been made till date and some are planned in coming years. Let’s see!