Ranking Dracula’s Best Performances in Movies and TV

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12. Jack Palance in Dracula (1974)

Jack Palance portrays Vlad Tepes as a sensitive rebel with a taste for revenge to accompany his bloodlust. Yes, it hisses, growls and bares its fangs, but does not bite until bitten. Then he can trash a grave like an Orson Welles drop Citizen Kane. Palance cuts a fine figure in a black-on-black ensemble, complete with a midnight cape blanket. This fits him best with the picturesque nocturnal gardens, gates and arches where he most often appears.

Dracula (1974) director Dan Curtis was no stranger to vampires, inventing the gothic soap opera with dark shadows, which he followed up with a series of TV movies based on classic horror novels. Written by Richard Matheson, screenwriter of The night tracker, Dracula condenses Stoker’s novel into a tragic romance, with a love story that transcends death. In the Curtis version, Lucy (Fiona Lewis) is the reincarnation of Dracula’s lost wife, to whom he offers eternal life and the promise of better nights. It’s only after she’s been staked that he sets his sights on Mina and those responsible for the tragedy. The Impaler is impaled in this tale, and the irony is not lost on the audience.

George Hamilton as Dracula in Love at First Bite

11. George Hamilton in Love at First Bite (1979)

Another night-flying character, George Hamilton seems too tanned to play a bloodthirsty reanimated corpse. Its Count Vladimir Dracula never drinks…wine, smokes…shit, and has been walking around like a butler for 700 years. But without him, Transylvania would be as exciting as Bucharest on a Monday night. His people have tortured and murdered innocent peasants to clear the land, which makes it their own. So when the communist government of Romania converts Dracula’s castle into a gymnasium camp in director Stan Dragoti’s film Love at first bite (1979), Dracula and his cockroach-eating minion, Renfield (Artie Johnson) book accommodation in New York.

Hamilton’s Dracula is a blast, both actor and character, who loves everything America has to offer, colorful discos, versatile sex clubs and easily robbed blood banks. Richard Benjamin plays Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg, a distant relative of Dr. Van Helsing, as a schmendrick psychologist who can’t keep his horror tradition straight. He shoots Dracula with three silver bullets, which only work on werewolves, and wields a Star of David, rather than a crucifix, at the town’s undead. The mysterious vampire is still a romantic at heart, and when he turns Susan Saint James’ Cindy Sondheim into a creature of the night, he swears no quickies, still longies and an eternity to sleep.

Carlos Villarias as Dracula

10. Carlos Villarias in Dracula (1931)

While Bela Lugosi was writing cinematic history from day to Dracula in 1931, Carlos Villarias put a steamy Latin twist on it after hours. The Spanish version of the horror classic was shot on the same sets after the American version closed for the night. Blood on a budget. It’s a vampiric tradition.

Carlos Villarias is an interesting parallel with Lugosi. Romantic, vigorous, his eyes undress all the women he comes into contact with. He wants to suck on something, but a neck would have to do in his early thirties.

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