The modern legend of the vampire has its roots in the life of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler. Vlad had a reputation for being especially cruel to his enemies. He was viewed as a bloodthirsty leader willing to stop at nothing to amass power to himself.
Today’s pop culture vampires are a far cry from the real Vlad Dracula. And with each new iteration that makes it to the silver screen or television, the vampire legend grows a little more mature. We would expect nothing less of a legend that has survived for nearly 130 years.
So, which interpretation of the vampire is Hollywood’s finest? Good luck deciding on that. Below are five fascinating candidates, all of which are worthy of at least a vampire T-shirt or child’s toy.
1. Max Schreck’s Count Orlok
Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, starring Max Schreck, was one of the earliest vampire movies to come out of Hollywood. Schreck played the film’s title character, Count Orlok. The film was a loose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It was so loose, in fact, that Stoker’s estate sued the film’s maker. All but a few copies were eventually destroyed.
What makes Schreck’s interpretation of the vampire so interesting is that he did it in the silent film era. If you don’t know anything about silent films, understand this: facial expressions were extremely important. They told the story in the absence of spoken dialogue. Schreck had to terrify people with his face and body movements. He did a great job.
2. Gary Oldman’s Count Dracula
Bram Stoker’s original Dracula novel has been made into many different films. One of the worst is the 1992 film starring Gary Oldman as the main character. Critics widely panned the film due to a convoluted story line, scenes this seemed way too busy, and a lack of acting skills among some of the lesser-known actors. Perhaps that’s what makes Oldman’s performance so remarkable. He towered above most of the rest of the cast for the film’s 128 minutes.
3. Richard Roxburgh’s Count Dracula
Australian actor Richard Roxburgh brought count Dracula to life in the 2004 film Van Helsing. This particular film isn’t really about Dracula himself. It is about a self-proclaimed monster hunter and vigilante played by Hugh Jackman. It is another film that was widely panned by most critics.
Roxburgh’s portrayal of the legendary vampire brought some humanness to the character. That says something given the fact that a real vampire – if one actually exists – is anything but human. Yet Roxburgh did a particularly good job dispelling some of the mystery around the legendary character.
4. All of the Lost Boys
Fourth on our list are all of the vampires from The Lost Boys. It is one thing to make Dracula more human; it is an entirely different matter to turn him into a coven of teenagers and early twenty-somethings who somehow manage to combine the horrific concept of feeding off human blood and enjoying a good party with friends.
5. Sesame Street’s The Count
It would be hard to compile a list like this and not include The Count from PBS’ Sesame Street. The Count may never find a home at Five Dollar T-Shirts, but he has easily influenced scores of children who learned both their numbers and simple arithmetic from him. Some suspect that The Count might be a vegetarian. If so, he would be the first such vampire in the entire history of the legend.
So what do you think? Who is the most fascinating pop culture vampire in your mind?