The story of Dracula is a classic tale that has been adapted time and time again for the movie and television screen. Some of these versions attempt to follow the novel, while others take great liberties and change it up. Here are a few of the best and some of the others. Please tell me what you think of these if you have seen them.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
“When Dracula leaves the captive Jonathan Harker and Transylvania for London in search of Mina Harker -- the spitting image of Dracula's long-dead wife, Elisabeta -- obsessed vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing sets out to end the madness. Francis Ford Coppola's resurrection of Bram Stoker's novel won three Academy Awards for its eye-popping makeup and production design” (from Netflix)
This movie has a very well known cast – Winona Ryder is Mina Harker, Keanu Reeves is Jonathan Harker, Anthony Hopkins is Van Helsing, and Gary Oldman is Dracula and is directed by the famous Francis Ford Coppola. I watched this one after finishing reading Dracula in Love by Karen Essex to try and get a sense of what the original story is like. This story sticks to the Bram Stoker novel pretty well (from what I understand), although it opens with the story of Dracula being Vlad the Impaler, and has some essence of the love story from Essex’ novel.
“Bela Lugosi turns in a landmark horror performance in this 1931 adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel. Revisit Transylvania for the eerie mood created by spectacular cinematography and Lugosi's oft-copied take on the infamous Dracula. Dwight Frye as Renfield also helps define the grotesque and sniveling sidekick role” (from Netflix).
I think that this is the earliest Dracula movie out there and possibly one of the best known. I think that this is a must see for any Dracula fan out there. Bela Lugosi plays his defining role of Dracula and is how most people envision the Count, thanks to his portrayal.
Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002)
“Director Guy Maddin exquisitely captures the sound and the fury (not to mention the grace) of this classic story about a count with a thirst for blood, as told through ballet. This black-and-white, silent-movie rendering of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Bram Stoker adaptation stars dancers Zhang Wei-Qiang, Tara Birtwhistle, David Moroni, Cindy Marie Small and Johnny A. Wright” (from Netflix).
I have not seen this one, but it is an interesting take on this novel and has gotten decent viewer reviews. This is the tale of Dracula based on Stoker’s novel as seen through the art of ballet. Could certainly make for an interesting adaptation.
Dracula 2000 (2000)
“Wes Craven produces this reinvention of Bram Stoker's classic horror story. After breaking into a high-security vault, a team of thieves discovers an ancient crypt that holds none other than the corpse of Dracula. Freed from a century of confinement, the fanged count travels to New Orleans so he can quench his thirst for blood -- and find the woman who holds the key to world domination and eternal life. Gerard Butler and Jeri Ryan star” (from Netflix).
This is a new telling of Stoker’s novel – in a much more modern sense – though I don’t think that it sticks to Stoker’s tale very well. Directed by Wes Craven and starring Gerard Butler as Dracula.
“Many horror-film fanatics call F.W. Murnau's silent German classic starring Max Schreck -- who sports grotesque makeup that transforms him into a symbol of pestilence and decay -- the scariest Dracula adaptation ever. The chilling tale kicks off when a real estate agent (Gustav von Wangenheim) begins conducting business with eerie Count Orlok (Schreck), who goes on a rampage when he becomes obsessed with the man's comely wife (Greta Schröder)” (from Netflix).
Karen Essex mentioned this movie in her interview so I thought I would want to check out this one. This is a silent movie (which I always find to be so interesting) and is based on Dracula without being exactly like Dracula. Oh, I forgot to mention it’s in German and I have no idea about subtitles – but being as it is a silent movie, hopefully not a lot to be translated.
The first three movies are currently available on Netflix Instant play. Check them out if they pique your interest. There are many, many other Dracula movies out there that I did not consider for this piece. Any others that you have seen and would recommend?
Make sure you stop by at Lions and Men for the first part of a two part interview with Karen Essex, author of Dracula in Love.
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