Originally Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (German)
Director F.W. Murnau; writer Henrik Galeen; featuring Max Shreck
English version: director Tod Browning; writers Hamilton Deane, John L. Balderston; variably featuring Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan.
Spanish version: director George Melford; writ. Hamilton Deane, John L. Balderston, Baltasar Fernández Cué; featuring Carlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Pablo Álvarez Rubio
Three films variably featuring Gloria Holden, Otto Kruger, Edward Van Sloan, Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Paige, John Carradine, Onslow Stevens, Glenn Strange
Also called Dracula
Director Terence Fisher; writer Jimmy Sangster; featuring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough
Three films variably featuring Peter Cushing, David Peel, Yvonne Monlaur, Martita Hunt, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson
Director John Badham; writer Hamilton Deane, John L. Balderston, W.D. Richter; featuring Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasance, Kate Nelligan
The Dracula spoofs (1979–1995)
Two films. 1979: director Stan Dragoti, featuring George Hamilton, Richard Benjamin. 1995: director Mel Brooks, featuring Leslie Neilsen, Steve Weber, Mel Brooks, Harvey Korman
Also called Dracula
Director Francis Ford Coppola; writer Jame V. Hart; featuring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes, Tom Waits
Director E. Elias Merhige; writer Steven Katz; featuring John Malkovich, Willem Defoe, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes
Director Patrick Lussier; writer Joel Soission, Lussier; featuring Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Jeri Ryan
Director Bill Eagles; writer Stewart Harcourt; featuring Marc Warren, David Suchet, Sophia Myles
George Hamilton is the first and best of the funny Draculas.
Dracula, you kill me
Given he's such an iconic figure in literature and cinema, it took long enough for the Dracula parodies to start appearing. There was Bela Lugosi poking fun at his image as one of the villains in 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, (1948), but that hardly counts—so to speak.
Finally in 1979 we get the first sustained take-off on the Dracula legend. And for me it's the best and funniest. It's Love at First Bite(1979), a surprise hit in which George Hamilton plays Dracula for laughs. (Not to be confused with the 15-minute short with the same title by the Three Stooges, which has nothing to do with vampires and is even stupider and also funny in a slapstick way.)
Hamilton is terrific and shows great comic timing in the role. The oily vampire is forced out of Romania when his castle is turned into a gymnasium, and he comes to New York to raid blood banks and woo Susan Saint James (later co-starring in TV's MacMillan and Wife) to become his bride. Comic actor Arte Johnson is his Renfield and everyman Richard Benjamin is a Van Helsing descendant who has changed his name to Rosenberg to start a career as a psychiatrist.
Very funny in a throwback kind of way. Biggest in-joke: how does night-stalking Dracula get the tan that Hamilton famously sports?
Disco-dancing Dracula (George Hamilton and Susan Saint James) in Love at First Bite.
Hamilton has been trying to get a sequel to Love at First Bite—Love at Second Bite?—off the ground ever since, most recently being reported as hoping to update the story into the Twilight era.
Dracula, you're such a dope
Not quite as successful is Mel Brooks's Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), starring Leslie Nielson. Brooks had earlier struck comic gold with his monster spoof Young Frankenstein but this companion piece was dismissed by critics.
Leslie Neilsen as goofy Dracula
Dead and Loving It is a straight-ahead spoof of the original story, possibly inspired by Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, a few years earlier. And it's not as dismal as claimed by critics, who were perhaps expecting something more outlandish than an old-fashioned parody.
Neilson is his usual goofy self, perhaps putting even more into his comic acting for Brooks here than he usually does.
If you like slapstick and obvious humour (I admit I do), you'll enjoy Dracula: Dead and Loving It. If not, you really don't need to see this.
Except maybe to help you stop taking Dracula too seriously.