The History and Legacy of the Early Dracula Movies

As one of the most memorable horror movie characters of all time, Count Dracula has become firmly embedded in popular culture. How much of this comes down to the original Dracula movies, and what is his impact on other parts of the entertainment industry in current times?

The History and Legacy of the Early Dracula Movies
The History and Legacy of the Early Dracula Movies

The Effect of Dracula on Other Genres

The mysterious Count has now seen in so many other parts of popular culture that it is easy to forget that he started out as a character in a book and then reached wider audiences in a 1930s movie.

If we look at other types of entertainment, we can find theater musicals, radio shows, operas, and ballets all about the vampire. On TV, the Count has turned up on shows ranging from Doctor Who to The Brady Bunch and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sesame Street features Count Von Count as one of its longest-running characters.

The timeless thrill of trying to defeat this legendary villain has also led to the creation of numerous video games featuring him, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula from Psygnosis in 1993 and the popular series of games from Index+ that began with 1999’s Dracula: Resurrection.

A look at the Genesiscasino site reveals that the vampire has also made the transition to video slots, with DraculaTM from NetEnt including him as the highest-paying symbol. The Immortal Romance game from Microgaming doesn’t show Dracula himself, but the gothic, vampire theme is clearly based on his legacy.

The First Horror Movies

The first appearance of the famous Count came in the 1897 novel titled Dracula, by Bram Stoker, which established many of the horror genre’s classic themes. The first horror movies came out at the end of the 19th century too, including Le Manoir du Diable and The X-Ray Fiend. Dracula was probably first seen on the big screen in Hungary or Russia in the early 1920s, although both of the versions filmed here are now considered to be completely lost.

The 1930s saw horror movies move into the mainstream, as Frankenstein and Dracula were both brought to the big screen by Universal Pictures. Dracula came out in 1931 and was based on the 1924 stage play of the same name, as well as the book. In this version, Bela Lugosi played the main character in an iconic performance that is still widely regarded as being the definitive version.

The First Horror Movies

How Dracula Has Influenced the Movie Industry

There have been many different versions of Dracula since then, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992 and 2014´s Dracula Untold, as well as comedy versions and ensemble films featuring other monsters. Yet, it is the 1931 movie about the blood-sucking vampire that remains the first horror movie that comes to mind for many people.

Dracula 2012 is an Indian horror movie based on this chilling character that was released in 2013 in the Malayalam language. Directed by Vinayan and starring Sudheer Sukumaran and  Prabhu, this movie received generally negative reviews but was still dubbed into English and Hindi for a wider audience.

Sherlock Holmes is the only character to have more films about him than Dracula. Yet, it is also possible to see the vampire’s influence on many other movies that don’t feature him or even mention his name.

A brief look at the many vampire movies that have been hit over the years gives us an idea of the impact that the original 1931 movie has had. Most lists of the best vampire movies include diverse films such as The Lost Boys from 1987 and 1994’s Interview with the Vampire. Yet, the 1931 classic is almost always near the top of the list.

The Twilight Saga featuring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson grossed more than $3.3 billion over five installments. 2012’s Hotel Transylvania was an animated movie based on the idea of Dracula running a creepy hotel in his homeland. It was a huge success at the box office, earning $358 million from a budget of $85 million and leading to a series of spin-offs.

It seems that the legacy of Dracula will continue, as our interest in everything related to vampires shows no sign of waning. Yet, it is remarkable that our main image of the Count is still based on the character played by Bela Lugosi almost a century ago.

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