Most Influential Dracula Films

Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the most well known and most dramatic Gothic Horror novels in the history of literature. After Bram Stoker's widow (who would not allow to screen the novel) died and Dracula went into public domain, there has been a vast number of attempts to reproduce the written classic on the movie screen, but only a few of them achieved the success of the the version filmed by F.W. Murnau. Described below are four most notable works with their cast (compared to Stoker's novel) and crew listed for the most scrupulous film lovers.

Dracula motif
Dracula motif | Source

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)

F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) - such is the original title of the film - is by far one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema. Despite numerous troubles that the crew faced while working on the film and after, its copies were preserved, restored and are now available to the public. Copyright problems at those times made the film creators change the names of the characters and locations and exclude some personalities from the script (for example, professor Van Helsing is not present in the movie and scenes with Lucy were excluded). Budget limitations also did not allow to complete the film the way it could have been done, but the film was nevertheless finished and survived until nowadays.

Murnau's Nosferatu is truly one of the scariest horror films ever made: with numerous cinematic effects used, scenes and shots featuring Count Orlok's pointed ears and non-blinking eyes can scare even the most experienced filmgoer.

Main Characters of "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens" (1922)

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Character  
Performed by  
Graf Orlok
Max Schreck
Hutter
Gustav von Wangenheim
Ellen
Greta Schroeder
Knock, ein Häusermakler
Alexander Granach

"Nosferatu" (1922) crew

Director
F.W. Murnau
Producer
Albin Grau
Cinematographer
F.A. Wagner
Screenplay
Henrik Galeen
Music
various artists

"Dracula" (1931)

Tod Browning's Dracula, filmed in 1931, was at that time the first authorized screening of the novel. Unlike Murnau's film, it was shot almost entirely in the studio with all decorations built from scratch. However, the artificial set design did not ruin the movie: on the opposite, it gave it a specific atmosphere, especially for the scenes in the castle, a sort of feeling of a Gothic play performed on theater stage. But filming in studios with built set design was a norm for Hollywood films in 1930s, considering the time, the sets create the right mood. Just like any theater performance, the film's happenings are based mostly on dialogues, rather than actions of the characters or supporting musical score (e.g. the constant verbal battle between Dracula and Van Helsing, where most of the important information is revealed). A definite must see, this film made Bela Lugosi, a Hungarian actor, a film star of his generation.

Screenshot from "Internet Archive" of the movie Dracula (1931)
Screenshot from "Internet Archive" of the movie Dracula (1931) | Source

Main Characters of "Dracula" (1931)

Character
Performed by
Dracula
Bela Lugosi
Mina
Helen Chandler
John Harker
David Manners
Renfield
Dwight Frye
Van Helsing
Edward Van Sloan

"Dracula" (1931) crew

Director
Tod Browning
Producer
Tod Browning, Carl Laemmle Jr.
Cinematographer
Karl Freund
Screen Play
Garrett Fort
Screenshot from "Internet Archive" of the movie Dracula (1958)
Screenshot from "Internet Archive" of the movie Dracula (1958) | Source

"Horror of Dracula" (1958)

This British version of Dracula has a lot of deviations from Bram Stoker's novel, but still it remains one of the most well known films made based on the story. The script was written so wisely that despite the numerous changes in characters and locations, the core of the story remains the same as it was written by Stoker. In any case, this role of Cristopher Lee as Dracula is one of the most famous ones. All the sets created for the film nicely reproduce the atmosphere of the dark fairy tale; it was only Francis Ford Coppola who managed to recreate similar atmospheres in his version of the story.

Main Characters of "Horror of Dracula" (1958)

Character
Performed by
Dr. Abraham van Helsing
Peter Cushing
Count Dracula
Christopher Lee
Arthur Holmwood
Michael Gough
Carol Marsh
Lucy Holmwood
Melissa Stribling
Mina Holmwood

"Horror of Dracula" (1958) crew

Director
Terence Fisher
Producer
Anthony Hinds
Cinematographer
Jack Asher
Screen Play
Jimmy Sangster
Music
James Bernard

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979)

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979) is a later German production. Very beautifully shot, it represents a remake of the first Nosferatu. Being able to use the original names of Bram Stoker's characters, Werner Herzog nevertheless tried to recreate Murna's version by keeping similar narrative structure and even repeating Nosferatu's (1922) most famous shots. Like the earlier original, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht is a slow paced and picturesque description of the cold world of a lonely vampire; there is not too many words coming from Nosferatu's mouth, but what we hear represents a more dramatic character of a sinister creature. From the very first sequence, shot somewhere in gloomy Mexican catacombs, up until the final shot of a lonely horseman running into the distance, the film looks like a sequence of paintings with every shot beautifully mastered.

Main Characters of "Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht" (1979)

Character
Performed by
Count Dracula
Klaus Kinski
Jonathan Harker
Bruno Ganz
Lucy Harker
Isabelle Adjani
Doctor Van Helsing
Walter Ladengast
Renfield
Roland Topor

"Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht" (1979) crew

Director
Werner Herzog
Producer
Werner Herzog
Cinematographer
Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein
Screen Play
Werner Herzog
Music
Popol Vuh

Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (1992)

The version of Dracula filmed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992 is more than just a fairytale: it is a romantic journey throughout unvisited mountain landscapes and gloomy forests. The vampire represented here is a lonely hero with equal amounts of good and evil in his deeds: he ruins Lucy's life with no regret, but cries about Mina (who resembles his dead mistress), standing in the middle of a dark room lit by hundreds of candles. This is the only version where some parts of the story are revealed through diaries and letters written by characters, just like it was meant to be in the novel. But this is by no means a flaw - it adds more magic to the ethereal atmosphere of the film. Doctor Van Helsing, performed by Anthony Hopkins is one of the most brilliant appearances: the professor is highly educated, yet his cynical behavior is far ahead of its time. A true masterpiece of romantic horror.

Main Characters of "Dracula" (1992)

Character
Performed by
Dracula
Gary Oldman
Mina / Elisabeta
Winona Ryder
Jonathan Harker
Keanu Reeves
Professor Abraham Van Helsing
Anthony Hopkins

"Dracula" (1992) crew

Director
Francis Ford Coppola
Producers
Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Fuchs, Charles Mulvehill
Cinematographer
Michael Ballhaus
Screen Play
James V. Hart
Music
Wojciech Kilar

Which of the three movies you find the most interesting?

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Bram Stoker's most famous novel "Dracula" (1897)

 

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