Count Dracula, Bram Stoker’s vile creature of the night, has appeared in over two-hundred films.. with some dating back to the early 1920s. However, none of these portrayals would match the icon-defining performance of Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931). While Lugosi may not have been the first to play the character on the silver screen, his portrayal, and the success of Dracula (1931), would go on to form the basis of many copycat Count Vampires for generations to come.
Dracula will always be number one in our hearts, but here at Nightmare on Film Street we want to honor the runner-ups—the second tier Counts whose castles may not always have perfectly positioned mood lightening; the Counts who may still be lurking in the night in search of a bride-to-be. These Counts stand tall, yet they remain in the Shadow of a Vampire. Here are the Top 10 Vampires inspired by Dracula.
10. Count Duckula (Count Duckula, 1988)
The little known Count Duckula made his debut as villain on Danger Mouse, before graduating to his own Nickelodeon series that played the vampire mythology as a joke. Count Duckula was a vegetarian who often complained about being forced to live a vampire’s lifestyle.
9. Barnabas Collins (Dark Shadows, 1966)
It’s no secret that Dracula was Dan Curtis’s original inspiration for Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid). Barnabas shares many of the same abilities as Dracula from the Lugosi film—he would transform into a bat, he could not walk in daylight, and would often hypnotize his intended victims. Barnabas also transformed drifter Willie Loomis into his Renfield type character, while constantly pursuing young Victoria Winters. Interesting fact: Curtis finally made his Dracula project in 1974 staring Jack Palance as Dracula, with a script by Richard Matheson. Barnabas became a pop-culture icon, whose popularity remains strong to this day.
8. Count Chocula (1971)
Since 1971, for many children everywhere, their first introduction to Dracula didn’t come from the silver screen. It came from their cereals bowls. Count Chocula drew inspiration from Dracula in both design and voice with Larry Kenney doing his best Bela Lugosi impersonation in commercials. Forty-eight-years after his debut, Count Chocula continues to rise from the grave every September.
7. Maximillian (Vampire in Brooklyn, 1995)
Maximillian, The Dracula inspired vampire played by Eddie Murphy in Wes Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), has plenty of influences found in classic Dracula lore. He arrives in New York on a ship of the dead, creates a Renfield like character in Julius, and is looking for a love interest in the NYPD Detective who is secretly the Dhampir daughter of a vampire from his Caribbean island. Maximillian, like Blacula, also exists in the same universe as Count Dracula.
6. Count Yorga (Count Yorga, Vampire, 1970)
While many of vampires on this list take inspiration from Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Count Yorga, played by Robert Quarry, in 1970’s Count Yorga, Vampire follows the Christopher Lee model of the Character. Yorga matches Lee’s Dracula charisma and even out does his viscousness. Seriously, go watch Count Yorga, Vampire.
5. Count Von Count (Sesame Street, 1969)
If Count Chocula wasn’t the first to introduce kids to the Dracula myth, it was everyone’s favorite numbers obsessed vampire, Count Von Count. Debuting in a Burt and Ernie sketch in 1972, the count was portrayed as villainous in his first several years on Sesame Street. He would often enter scenes in true Lugosi style, with his cape covering all but his eyes. At times, he would use hypnotic powers on other non-suspecting muppets who would interrupt his counting.
4. Jerry Dandrige (Fright Night, 1985)
While it may not be evident by looking at Dandrige, his motives and persona are Dracula inspired. Dandrige moves from town to town to feed, has a faithful Renfield-type servant, and discovers a potential reincarnation of a long lost love. Dandrige was the perfect modern-day Dracula. It is disappointing that we never saw Chris Sarandon get to sink his teeth into the iconic role.
3. Kurt Barlow (Salem’s Lot, 1979, 2004)
Barlow is the one vampire featured on this list to draw inspiration from Dracula (King’s novel, 2004 movie) and one of Dracula’s most famously inspired vampires, Nosferatu’s Count Orlok. Depending on which incarnation of Barlow you’ve seen, this pick will either have you smiling or scratching your head. King’s novel features a Barlow who was more in line with previous versions of Count Dracula. His Barlow is manipulative, evil hiding in plain sight. To some, this is far scarier than a traditional monster. This version of Barlow was played to perfection by Rutger Hauer in the 2004 Salem’s Lot television Movie.
2. Blacula (Blacula, 1972)
Blacula, portrayed by William Marshall, tells the story of Prince Mamuwalde, who is sent from an African nation to ask Dracula for help in stopping slave trading. Mamuwalde is instead betrayed by Dracula. He is transformed into a vampire and imprisoned in a coffin, but not before the Count himself gives him the mocking name of Blacula. Blacula is a character that was meant to be an exploitation version of Dracula; and, like the Count, Blacula believes that Tina is the reincarnation of his deceased wife, Luva. The movie plays out similarly to the many Dracula films of old, with Tina falling for Blacula as he cuts a swath of death across Los Angeles.
1. Count Orlok (Nosferatu, 1922)
Count Orlok is easily the most famous and infamous Dracula-inspired vampire. 1922’s Nosferatu went on to inspire legions of copycat vampires on its own, but the original 1922 film owes its inspiration to Stoker’s novel. The film is actually so entrenched in Stoker’s story, that the Stoker estate sued (and won) to have all copies of the film destroyed. Thankfully, a few prints remained. Count Orlok is essentially an extreme interpretation of Dracula. Gone is the romance and the wonder. What’s left is a hideous killing machine. Nosferatu is a true nightmarish horror classic that should be watched by everyone.