I love vampires, as we all do. I love the many different interpretations of them, including their many strengths and weakness. What’s great about vampires is the old school films that many of us grew up loving, especially late at night or on Halloween. One of the most famous vampires in history is Count Dracula. He has been portrayed by many different actors and he has also been portrayed as being a decayed corpse as seen in Nosferatu, which is a German silent film and is actually the first film to represent Dracula. Inspired by Vlad III the Impaler, Dracula was a novel originally written by Bram Stoker, and became his most famous work with its immediate success.
Count Orlok is actually the first portrayal of Dracula in the 1922 German silent film, Nosferatu. Instead of him being represented as a suave, good looking, and debonair person, he was depicted as how many vampires were seen in those days, which is a immortalized decayed corpse who feeds off the blood of living creatures. Like the story goes, Count Orlok lives in a decrepit castle somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. He sleeps in unhallowed soil, which he carries with him in order to regain his strength. He is unable to sleep in any other type of soil.
What I love about Count Orlok is the fact that it is Dracula being seen as a creepy looking monstrous corpse instead of a handsome man. It added to the creepy feeling that you should get when you’re watching a horror movie, and even though Nosferatu was a silent film, it still had me on the edge of my seat, like any other horror film. This was the first time you see a vampire being killed by sunlight. Before then, vampires could tolerate it, but barely. It irritated them, but it didn’t kill them. Still, having Nosferatu/Count Orlok killed in this way, I think, is what helped paved the way for allowing more ways on how to kill a vampire.
This is the portrayal of Dracula that we’ve all come to know and love. The famous actor Bela Lugosi made this role the most famous in the original 1931 film Dracula, which is why you see people mimicking Dracula the very same way Bela Lugosi did. This film was very much like Nosferatu, except in this case, Dracula was seen as how he was depicted in the book, handsome, suave, and mysterious.
In the book he actually has pointed ears and a hooked nose, but isn’t a decayed corpse by any means. He is of Szekely nationality, and also lives in a decrepit castle in the Carpathian Mountains. What I love about Dracula is that he has knowledge of the dark arts and has a great amount of supernatural power, as well as the ability to shape-shift into a bat, a werewolf/large dog, or even fog. Like all vampires, he can be killed in the usual way, a stake through the heart (wooden or iron), holy water, or wild roses. He can’t be killed in the sunlight as seen in Nosferatu.
Count Dracula is also known for being able to have telepathic abilities, connecting his mind to certain people. This could be beneficial or not, depending on the case, which makes him even more intriguing. As in the book, and earlier representation in Nosferatu, Dracula can only sleep in his unhallowed Transylvanian soil in order to regain his strength. There lies a great weakness, because sleeping in any other type of soil won’t allow him to remain strong. A perfect defense against an infamous killer.
Blacula – Prince Mamuwalde:
In 1972, blaxploitation films were at its highest and blaxploitation horror films were in great demand. Blacula was created, and represented by the actor, William Marshall. What made this film so unique, is an African prince, known as Prince Mamuwalde, was on a mission to stop the slave trade, and thought he finally found ally in Count Dracula, realizing too late that it was a trap to imprison him and turn him into a vampire, all in Dracula’s castle (which isn’t decrepit in this film) in Transylvania. Dracula cursed him and gave him the name Blacula, which was a play on Mamuwalde being black and Dracula displaying dominance over him and his wife Luva. Like Dracula, Blacula is extremely handsome, debonair, and even walks around in a cloak/cape similar to Dracula as well.
Blacula became known as being more deadlier than Dracula himself because of all of the chaos he caused after waking up in modern day Los Angeles (after two homosexual interior designers purchased his coffin in Transylvania and brought it to LA), with the ability to interact telepathically with “Tina” who was very reminiscent of Prince Mamuwalde’s wife, Luva. He can also shape-shift into a bat. One of the things I love about this movie, that also added to its uniqueness, is the age old story about a long lost love that was found again many years later as a reincarnation. This is yet another thing that made the story entirely different from the Dracula movies. In fact, the only thing similar was the name.
When Blacula died by sunlight, he was brought back in the sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, starring Pam Grier, by the use of voodoo, which didn’t do so well to viewers. Nonetheless, Blacula will always be one of favorite vampires of all time.