There can be only one. Some may think vampires are a dying breed in horror, and I mostly agree with that. But the fact is, vampires are a strong presence on the island, fortified by their rich history. They are the thing of legends and superstition, which is what makes them scary. Folklore and stories whispered across campfires are eerie and creepy. Sure, vampires may spend most of their time nowadays in action films or (gasp!) teen romances, but there are still vampires out there keeping horror afloat.
And why not start with the vampire to end all vampires? Dracula. When the word vampire is muttered on the street, I guarantee you 99.9% of people immediately think of Count Dracula. Throughout the years, a slew of Dracula films popped up in horror, but this was the original. Starring Bela Lugosi (frequent Dracula portrayer) as the count and featuring his nemesis, Van Helsing, Dracula tells the tale of the original vampire.
New in town, Count Dracula meets the lovely Mina and begins to prey on her. Professor Van Helsing and others investigate recent happenings and deduce vampires are to blame. There isn’t much story to Dracula, but this film is rich in vampire knowledge. The pieces we remember today are all in this film and it’s a real treat to watch.
While this film isn’t one to keep you up at night or stop you from walking alone in the dark, it is creepy. The Count is not a cheery looking fellow, and his demeanor and costume are unsettling. Plus, there’s the whole blood-sucking thing. While some may not see this as horrifying as zombies who chew apart humans, sucking someone’s blood is pretty damn gross. And find me the person (other than Bella) who would love for a vampire to bear down on their neck and drain the life from them. Plus, Dracula sleeps in a coffin, turns into a bat and resides in a castle full of cobwebs and a harem of women he consistently feeds from. There’s nothing chipper about that and it’s damn creepy.
The best part of this film is that it’s basically Vampire 101. The audience learns everything they need to know about the creature, which will come in handy as films after it copy pieces or even create their own... sparkle. Vampires hate garlic and don’t have a reflection. They turn into bats or even wolves, which makes them dislike wolfsbane. They only come out at night and sleep during the day because they can’t go out in the sun. A stake through the heart kills them. And they thirst for blood. All the time. Each of these facts make watching Dracula a fun little adventure and the black and white graphics give the viewer the creeps.
I know, I know, it’s been too long since we’ve seen a truly terrifying vampire up on the big screen. Some may say vampires are legends of horror past, destined to disappear from film entirely. And maybe this is true. But the vampires left on horror island, the Count and Nosferatu and a few others are holding it down for their species. Looking to watch a horror film rich in superstition and folklore, one that’s far older and wiser than Jigsaw? Give vampires a shot - there’s a reason townspeople speak of them at a whisper and Van Helsing dedicates his life to destroying them.
If you liked Dracula, you might also like Let the Right One In, Let Me In and Cronos.