Vlad III "Tepes" Dracula
As we've noted previously on various portions of the site, the story of Dracula is really the story of Castlevania. As the primary antagonist of the series Dracula is inextricably tied to the events of every single game in the series. The heroes might change, the eras move on, but Dracula is the constant force, the guiding darkness through all the games. You can't have Castlevania without Dracula and, honestly, it's hard to envision Dracula at this point without thinking of the Castlevania version of the character.
It's interesting, really, because Dracula, the character, is a public domain figure. Bram Stoker's book, Dracula, made the charcater, but the copyright for that novel ran out decades ago. But even the character himself was based on a real life person, Vlad "Tepes" Dracula. That enables creators to add all kinds of history and mythology to the character, to take him any direction they want, because Dracula is free to use for all. But event then, there are very few definative versions of the charcacter, and the monster from Konami's series stands among the best.
This is because the series has run for so long, has found enough time to invest the character with story, with background, with soul (if you will). He might remain the antagonist (of the main series, at least), but he's easily the most realized and detailed character in the whole series. He benefits from the long-form storytelling, the fact that the series has been running for over three decades and over twenty-five distinct titles. Very few villains (or even versions of Dracula) have that kind of constant storytelling with a tight, maintained continuity. Dracula's whole history is available in the Castlevania series, a storyline from start to finish that fleshes him out in a way few other characters have ever been.
There are other versions of Dracula, but it's fair to say that the Castlevania version is the most detailed and most thoroughly explored of just about any version out there.
Normally in these biographies we'd go game-by-game, recounting each time a villain or hero showed up, but Dracula is a special case. There's no need to go through each game the character has been in specifically because, really, he's been in all of them. Instead we're going to track era by era and go over the major moment's in Dracula's history that formed his character. And to do that we have to start with the one game that, arguably, might not have Dracula in it at all.
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence sees hero, Leon Belmont, head to a monster infested castle to deal with the evil vampire lord Walter Bernhard who has kidnapped Leon's lady-love, Sara. He specifically knew to go to that castle because his friend, Matthias Cronqvist, led him there. Matthias served with Leon in the Crusades but, when he lost his own wife, Elisabetha, Matthias fell into a great despair. His motivation seemed to be to save Leon from the same heartache but, really, Matthias had other plans.
As it turned out, Matthias was in posession of one of two powerful totems, the Crimson Stone, and from Walter he wished to steal the other, the Ebony Stone. With these two stones Matthias could make himself into a vampire, the most powerful master vampire ever. Leon fell into his plans, too, killing Walter so Matthias could steal the stone. Fleeing the castle, Matthias swore to avenge his wife's death on all of mankind and Leon, in reaction, swore that he and his lineage would protect the world from vampires and other monsters.
What's interesting here is that, technically, Dracula isn't mentioned by name during this whole adventure. Matthias is the actual antagonist and, in the end, he gets away with his plot. It's implied that Matthias would eventually become Dracula after wandering the world, gathering power. This, of course, takes the stance that "Dracula" is but a title (one meaning "the dragon") and Matthias Cronqvist became Vlad Dracula because he was the most powerful vampire and the name sounded cool.
Of course, to believe that you have to toss out anything you know about the real Dracula, a 15th cenutry warlord (and son of Vlad Dracul), who is probably one of the most well-documented historical figures at this point (in no small part because of the novel Dracula and the fame it dumped on this already infamous historical figure). So either the real Vlad Dracula didn't exist in Castlevania continuity or Matthias killed the real Vlad Dracula and took his identity for... reasons? It's not entirely clear what the benefit would have been for Cronqvist but that's the idea put forth by Konami.
We at The Inverted Dungeon have never really been satisfied with that story. Sure, the Castlevania continuity was already shaky when you tried to line it up with actual history -- for instance, in later games it's established in the 1700s that Dracula has already been alive for 800 years which would mean he'd been born 400 years before history documents -- but we choose to root Dracula in some semblance of historical accuracy. If you're going to name the character "Vlad Dracula", we reason, you do it to tie thee character to the real, historical figure. So, instead, we choose to put forth a different theory:
Vlad Dracula really existed and, after humans burned his own wife, Lisa, at the stake for being a witch (if you want, it was because she was a healer, as established by the Castlevania anime), he turned his back on God and decided to pursue the dark arts so he could have his revenge. He'd already had his own taste of dark power, tinkering with black magics to extend his own life (becoming a vampire years earlier). Learning about another vampire in the lands, Matthias, Dracula confronted the evil lord and, after a pitched battle, took the stones and became the new Dark Lord. This at least aligns the continuity with actual history and doesn't leave too many issues to explain later... mostly.
Sonia and Trevor's Era
Sometime after Dracula's rise to power (both in-game and in history), the Belmonts came calling. It's up to you if you accept Castlevania: Legends into the continuity of the series (IGA removed it for his own reasons but we at the Inverted Dungeon see little reason for it to remain excised), but if you do put the game in continuity then that means the next vampire hunter to take on Dracula was Sonia Belmont.
As per her story, Sonia was but a teenaged girl when she learned of Dracula's existence, still coming into her power as a Belmont. She stalked to the castle to fight the vampire lord but, during her journey she had regular encounters with Alucard, Dracula's son from his first wife (or second if you count Elisabetha in your personal version of continuity), Lisa. Alucard was a half-vampire, powerful in his own right but not quite a match for his father (not yet, anyway). He helped to train Sonia so she'd be ready to take on his father... and they may have been closer than just teacher and student.
The end of Legends shows that soon after the events of the game, Sonia had a baby. The game implies that babe (the eventual Trevor Belmont), was Alucard's offspring, making a direct connection between the Dracul/Dracula/Tepes and Belmont families. Not all fans were happy with this development (but then not all fans were happy with having a female vampire hunter in the games, so maybe we should ignore those fans), but of course with Legends sitting outside of official continuity, this plot point doesn't really matter for the most part.
Whoever his parents might have been (and we at the Inverted Dungeon at least choose to keep Sonia as his mother), Trevor was the next to pick up the family's ancestral whip and take on a returned Dracula. This, of course, requires us to pause for a moment and note that Dracula dies, pretty regularly, in the continuity of the series. The two stones, Ebony and Crimson, give him a number of powers but chief among them is the ability to rise from his grave ever 100 years... or sooner if his minions cast dark magics to bring back the Dark Lord on a faster time schedule. So while Dracula was defeated by Sonia's hands, he nevertheless rose again to terrorize Wallachia (his historically-accurate home country) during Trevor's life.
Back and more powerful than before, Dracula certainly expected to best the vampire hunter easily. Instead, Trevor found a few companions to aid him in his fight: pirate Grant DaNasty, sorceress Sypha Belnades, and Dracula's own turn-coat son Alucard. Together these four were able to take on the vampire lord and, with their combined might, send the resurrected vampire back into his grave once more.
Of note, this game is called "Dracula's Curse", but that just implies the fact that Dracula's dark magic has spread across the land. Dracula didn't directly curse Trevor -- he'd save that for a later Belmont, Simon.
Still, Dracula was back in the ground and you would think that would have brought peace to Wallachia. Clearly the citizens didn't want Dracula around; the burned his wife and have regularly sent vampire hunters to his castle to take out the evil vampire. Maybe Dracula and his minions should have gotten the message. Instead, his minions, specifically a devil forgemaster, Isaac (i.e., someone that created all the demons, devils, and other nasty creatures that roamed the halls of the castle), put forth a plan to bring back the Dark Lord by using the body of another -- Hector, once a devil forgemaster who, after the fall of Dracula (in Castlevania III, retired and tried to live a life of good.
To get Hector involved and bring the devil forgemaster back to Dracula's castle, Isaac (went into the standard backstory bag of ticks and) killed Hector's wife, Rosaly (seriously, women get killed a lot in these games all to motivate their male significant others). Hector, of course, swears revenge on Isaac and follows his foe to the ends of Dracula's terrain. There he finds Trevor, also on a quest to stop the dark power that Isaac has unleash. Together the two warrior battle through to the bitter end to defat Isaac, but even in death Isaac has his last laugh as, in dying, he still has ensured the resurrection of Dracula. Reborn, Dracula prepares to once again rule the countryside... right up until he's immediately killed by Hector. Seriously, Dracula, you had to right idea centuries ago when you immediately fled and hid for a few hundred years.
What's important here is that, in continuity, this is the first time it's suggested that the powers of Dracula, his essence and his soul, can suffuse another body. This gives us another potential explanation for the Matthias Cronqvist/Vlad Dracula connundrum: maybe Dracula did exist, and maybe Matthias wasn't originally a different person, but somehow, in some battle (perhaps against Sonia?), Matthias was injured and a new host for his power was required. Dracula, being a powerful lord with his own inclination towards Dark Magic, could have served at the perfect host. This would allow both the in-game continuity and actual history to be correct at the same time. Of course, why he would change his name to Dracula afterwards isn't explained with this theory.
Also, hope you weren't looking forward to more adventures with the Devil Forgemasters as Curse of Darkness is the first and last time they're ever mentioned in the games. You can see Hector and Isaac, though, in the Castlevania anime, if you're so inclined, as that series (at least in its first two season) is set in Trevor's era of the continuity and these Devil Forgemasters play a role in the second season specifically.
After that early flurry of activity a hundred years back, Dracula lay dormant Some thought that meant the vampire was well andd truly dead, gone from this plane of existence never to return. But the Belmonts suspected otherwise. Having already seen first hand, twice over, that Dracula could be brought back from the grave, the clan of vampire hunters knew that one day he could come back. And even if he didn't some other vampire lord could rise in his stead, so they trained for the eventual next battle against darkness.
Dracula, meanwhile, must have had a lot of time to plot and plan while in his grave as, after 100 years, he arose (all on his own, like clockwork) with a larger scheme. When Christopher Belmont, heir to the vampire hunting lineage, came to the castle to take on the Dark Lord, a pitched battle was had. Christopher, though, wasn't able to fully destroy the vampire, leaving Dracula badly wounded. The Dark Lord fled his castle (instead of going down with the ship), but his scheme wasn't done just yet.
A full fifteen years passed and, in that time, Christopher settled down to have his own family to carry on the vampire hunting tradition. And that's just want Dracula wanted: Christopher's son, Soleiyu, had just reach his fifteenth birthday when he suddenly disappeared. At the same time, four new castles rose across Wallachia, each fortress filled with monsters and dangers. Suspecting Dracula was behind all of this, Christopher set off to clear the castles, find his boy, and kill the Dark Lord.
Dracula's machinations weren't done, though, as he'd made the boy into one of his vassals, a willing minion Dracula could set against the boy's father. Christopher, confronted with his mind-controlled son, was forced to fight Soleiyu in hopes of freeing the boy from his thrall. Thankfully Christopher wasn't forced to kill his son as the magic did, indeed, let go once Soleiyu was bested in combat. This then allowed CHristopher to move on to the top of the final castle where he fought Dracula for a second time, this time besting the vampire for good. Or, really, for a time...
These two games are the official version of continuity, but there are two other retellings you could check out. The first, a comic series released by IDW, was titled Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy, and it is, in a word, terrible. We don't recommend it. There's also The Castlevania Adventure: Rebirth, which is a moderized update of the original Game Boy game and is actually pretty good.
Events Outside of Continuity
Before we move on to the next official era, though, we have to touch upon two points in time that aren't reflected in the official chronology. The first event took place in 1666 AD and featured, for a second time, Sonia Belmont. Pulled into this "future" (from her perspective) during the time of the Great London Fire, she's joined by another Belmont, Victor, to take on a resurrected Dracula who is, for some reason, terrorizing England instead of Wallachia. The story of this game is known but, sadly, Castlevania: Resurrection was cancelled before it could be completed, casting Sonia back into the ether once more.
Following this is a game that actually did come out: Castlevania: Order of Shadows. This game was released in 2007 for mobile phones and was as quite decent little game in its release, flawed but fun for what it was. Starring Desmond Belmont, it featured the hero taking on an evil order bent on resurrecting Dracula (which, true to form, the accomplished, leading Desmond to battle the Dark Lord once more). While officially licensed by Konami, Order of Shadows didn't have a wide release (coming out at a time when mobile games were still a novelty in the West) and isn't considiered an official part of the Castlevania continuity.
Now, of course, we get to the big one: Simon Belmont, the hero of the first official game in the series, Castlevania and so many sequels and remakes its honestly hard to keep track. For many fans, the Castlevania series starts with Simon's adventure, whatever else the timeline of the series might dictate. He is the hero of the series as much as Dracula is the villain.
What's funny, though, is that while Simon is the guy, his first game is decidedly light on story: there's an evil vampire (Dracula, of course) in an evil castle and Simon has to go to it, armed with only a whip and the items he finds along the weapon, so he can best Dracula and save the land. It wasn't until the remakes that the story was fleshed out at all and (appropriate for this article) it was all on Dracula's side of the equation. Dead after all this time, Dracula needed a bit of a boost to get up from the grave (we hear that happens to a lot of vampires). His minions, thus, set up a dark ceremony, the Black Mass Ritual, sacrificing virgins to bring back their Dark Lord. It's through their magic that Dracula rises once more, and then the Belmont comes to the castle to muck it all up.
As in Christopher's time, though, Dracula has a plan once more. Although defeated, Dracula casts a spell on Simon (one the vampire hunter doesn't even realize is there), curse him with death in seven year's time if Dracula's corpse isn't assembled and the dark lord is brought back to life. The vampire then has his minions chop up his dead body (that's commitment to a bit, right there) so that the body parts will be hard to assemble, presumably so that Simon won't be able to pull off the task in time and will die.
Shocker, though, Simon is able to do it. He ventures across the countryside, battling all manner of foes, all so he can invade a series of decrepit mansions and find Dracula's five body parts. With these in hand, Simon then goes to the ruins of Dracula's Castle, dumps the body parts off, says a few magic words, and Dracula lives again. And then dies again because Simon is a bad ass (and Dracula totally didn't expect the hero to get this far). Oops.
And then, if you accept that Super Castlevania IV is a new game in the timeline (and not a remake of the original Castlevania), Dracula rose up again a year later, all on his own and well rested. Most fans, along with Konami's own timeline, say that SCV4 is just a remake, this despite the fact that unlike most remakes in the series SCV4 bears little resemblance to its source game. If it was a remake it's be one in name only (and not even that since it has a different name as well).
On top of that, the game opens with a shot of Dracula's grave getting blasted apart by lightning, splitting his gravestone in half. This would be the same gravestone, mind you, from the end of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, and we at the Inverted Dungeon have always thought it weird that his grave would be destroyed in one game, then rebuilt and replaced in the next (if CVII followed SCV4 and not the other way around).
If we accept SCV4 as it's own title then that means the lightning, or Dracula's own magic, brought him back to life so he could terrorize Simon one more time. Third time's the charm had to be the thought, even though it wasn't as Simon, once again, went to the castle and totally destroyed the vampire lord all over again. Clearly, going forward, Dracula was going to need ever more elaborate plans if he were going to win the day finally.
Along with Super Castlevania IV you can also explore other remakes of the original title, such as the very Metroidvania-esque Vampire Killer, the arcade-tastic Haunted Castle, and the enhanced port Castlevania for the X68000 (itself ported and remade as Castlevania Chronicles).
Juste and Richter's Era
After Dracula's triple-defeat at the hands of Simon, the vampire lord was cast to the grave for a long, long time. As with the era before, many assumed the Dark Lord was gone, removed from the mortal plane, never to be seen again. However, some odd magical machincations helped the Dracula keep one foot out of the grave, eventually allowing his resurrection once again.
It started with Just Belmont, grandson of Simon, who proved not only to be a powerful vampire hunter but also to have lantent magic abilities inherited from his great-great-many-times-over-grandmother Sypha Belnades (because Trevor and Sypha totally hooked up). Juste was expected to be a powerful and important vampire hunter if Dracula, or any other vampire hunter, were to terrorize the lands, but Juste's best friend, Maxim Kischine, resented hispal and all the power his Belmont name gave him. Heading out into the world, Maxim looked to prove himself a better hunter and warrior.
Instead, though, he became a pawn for Dracula. As noted, Dracula sometimes can take over a host and use them to regain his grip on the mortal world. When Maxim wandered into the ruins of Castlevania, Dracula did just that, embedding himself into the mind of the yound hunter, using him as a vessel for his own dark deeds. With Dracula at the wheel, Maxim raised the castle, letting the darkness of Dracula's magic pour forth across the countryside. This, in turn, brough Juste to the castle's doors so he could find out why the castle was back and, just maybe, stop the Dark Lord before he could fully resurrect.
It all lead, evenutally, to a battle between Juste and Maxim where Juste had to free his friend (who was, admittedly, acting rather crazy at this point). When Juste bested Maxim it broke the curse, freeing the friend of the dark magic. Dracula, though, had been able to regain just enough power to become a shade, a ghost with the powers and abilities of his physical form. Tied to the castle, the shade couldn't flee but Dracula expected that, now charged up with power, he'd be able to defeat Juste. He was wrong, and the vampire hunter cast the shade back to the hellish realm between worlds, hoping it would be for all eternity.
Of course, Dracula is never really gone so while his shade was cast to Hell, his spirit would once again return, one day. over fourty years after Juste battle the ghost of the dark lord, his grandson, Richter Belmont, would have to take up the challenge. Richter, just a lad in Veros who was friends with all the ladies, found his home attacked by monsters and his friends, and his fiancee Annette, kidnapped by those very same creatures of the night. With the castle on the Borgo Pass once more, Richter knew who had to be behind this attack: Dracula, once again back from the grave. Richter picked up his family's whip and charged to the castle, ready to defend his home as his ancestors had done for centuries.
Dracula, though, made sure that the journey would not be easy, and that included putting all the kidnapped ladies in perilous danger. In the case of Annette, Richter's dear love, she would even become a vampire herself if Richter didn't make sure to save her. But aiding Richter was Maria, another captured girl. This hunter in training (apparently from a distant branch of the Belmont family tree) lent her hand in the battle, giving Dracula two warriors to contend with instead of just once. Realizing defeat was imminent, then, he had his right-hand man, the dark sorcerer Shaft, prepare for the next phase of the operation.
After Richter defeated Dracula, Shaft spent the next five years building his power, all so he could capture Richter and use the Belmont's own magic to bring back the castle once more. With the castle resurrected, Dracula would be able to step out of his grave again. There was just one catch: Alucard, Dracula's (too good) no-good son, who felt the dark magic rise upon his father's resurrection, and then realized there was no hero to balance the scales. Sensing the darkness this could cause Alucard returned to the castle to find out what happened; there, he met with Maria, now seventeen and also searching for Richter. Togteher to discovered that Richter was being mind-controlled by Shaft and, with this knowledge in hand, they were able to break the spell and free Richter.
The journey wasn't over, though, as Alucard had to venture onwards into a magical inverstion of the castle, the Inverted Castle, that hung over top the original. There Alucard had to collect Dracula's five body parts (like this was a journey across Wallachia) and bring them to the center of the castle. Only then could he really take on Dracula who was, quite simply put, very disappointed in his son. Dracula's plan would have gone off flawlessly if it wasn't for his meddling son, and the time had come for the two to have it out so that Dracula could finally rule the countryside once and for all. Or not, as Alucard then wiped the floor with his father, casting the demon lord's soul back to Hell once more.
Originally released only in Japan, Rondo of Blood was only known in the West via it's SNES "enhanced" port, Castlevania: Dracula XX (using the Japanese name to avoid confusion), which was an inferior port (including the lack of a playable Maria). A proper release of Rondo wouldn't come until years later in The Dracula X Chronicles, which featured both an enhanced remake along with the original game (as a bonus unlockable) and its sequel, Symphony of the Night.
Speaking of Symphony, that game saw it's own share of remakes (since it is, hands down, the most popular game in the whole series). The first port of the game came a year after the original's release, a Japan-only disc for the Sega Saturn, Nocturne in the Moonlight (again, using the Japanese name to avoid confusion). This version featured two new areas in Dracula's castle, along with a newly playable Maria (as an unlockable). It's not much loved by fans, though, due to a number of issues with the engine.
A better port, with a different playable version of Maria would come much later as part of the Dracula X Chronicles package. And then there's Castlevania Puzzle, a "remake" of the game designed like a puzzle fighter. This one is rather odd, and only available on the iOS, so it;s doubtful most fans have checked it out.
The Era Without the Belmonts
Sometime after Richter's adventures, the Belmont clan seemingly disappeared. They hid their whip with others and faded away, entrusting that the countryside would be protected without them. This might have been fueled, in no small part, by the fact that Dracula kept coming after the Belmonts, their loved ones, friends, co-workers, and anyone else they knew in passing, so instead of giving him easy targets the Belmonts hid themselves away. Whatever the reason, others had to rise up to protect the land.
One group that immediately stepped up was the Order of Ecclesia, led by Barlowe. The goal of the Order was to find a way to stop Dracula, once and for all, so that the countryside could finally find some kind of peace. Barlowe wanted to use the power of the Dominus glyph, a powerful spell that supposedly would seal Dracula's powers permanently. Using his powerful accolyte Shanoa, Barlowe planned to cast the Dominus glyph in a ritual, but another of the Order's agents, Albus attacked the ceremony, stealing away the Dominus glyph. In the process Shanoa was also damaged, left without memories or her powers.
Albus, though, actually wasn't the evil one, that honor belonged to Barlowe. Secretly Barlowe had been working for Dracula the whole time and Dominus wasn't meant to stop Dracula but resurrect him using Shanoa as a host. Once this was revealed to Shanoa (who spent the better part of her adventure traveling the countryside to stop Albus only to learn the truth) Shanoa confronted Barlow and, after a pitched battle, killed him. But Barlowes death, of course, only served to bring Dacula back from the dead so SHanoa had to take on the Dark Lord to once again sendhim back to his final resting place (which, with the way Dracula treats it, is really more of a time share).
After the Order was dissolved (hard to have an Order when no one is leading it and no one trusts the organization anymore), other agents were required to bring Dracula back from the dead. The next to take a stab at the task was one of Dracula's on lieutenants, Carmilla, vampiress and lady of her own castle. She set to the task of using dark magics to raise the Dark Lord and was, in fact, successful. Unfortunately these magics didn't go unnoticed and, soon enough, three vampires hunters came to the castle to confront Carmilla and Dracula: Morris Baldwin and his two young apprentices, Hugh Baldwin and Nathan Graves.
Carmilla attempted to dispatch the heroes quickly, casting the apprentices into her catacombs where, presumably, they would be killed while Morris was captured so he could be used as a sacrifice for the Dark Lord. Carmilla, though, really should have double-checked to make sure the heroes were dead as, sure enough, they both survived and went off in search of the master. It was Nathan who developed the powers and skills needed to take on Dracula, using the items and magic found in Carmilla's own castle in the process. When he finally made it back to the castle center he was able to save his master and take on the Dark Lord, ruining all of Carmilla's best laid plans when he killed Dracula, once again casting the vampires soul to the ether.
By this point, Dracula was starting to get in pretty rough shape, the constant stream of being brought back from the dead and then immediately sent back putting undue wear on his body. As we already saw, sometimes he wasn't even able gain a full, physical form, being reduced to a kind of specter, a shade of his former self. At this point Dracula really needed a new host body to inhabit or he'd never regain his full form. His minions, lead by the sorceress Actrise devised a new plan: they would attempt to lure a powerful host to the castle and use their magic as the spark to grant Dracula new life. All they needed was a suitable host.
That's where one of Dracula's newest minions, a lycnathrope named Ortega, suggested using his one-time friend Cornell as the host. Ortega and Cornell had grown up in the same clan but Cornell had always been the better warrior, the better hunter. Ortega had gona off to find new power, some way to gain an edge over Cornell, and he'd come under the sway of Dracula's power. If Cornell became Dracula's pawn that would make Ortega the best warrior once again, a title he desperately craved. So Ortega kidnapped Cornell's adopted sister, Ada, and used her as the bait to drag Cornell to the castle.
Tehnically his plan worked as Cornell did, indeed, come charging to Dracula's castle to find his sister. However, Ortega was right about one thing: Cornell was the better warrior. When the two one-time friends found themselves locked in a battle to the death, it was Ortega who lost. And then, since Cornell was already at the castle, he figured he might as well go the rest of the way and finish the job, killing Dracula again. Dracula, though, still had a plan: Ada was sealed away by dark magic and the only way for Cornell to free his sister was to give up his lycnathropic powers. After besting Dracula in comabt, Cornell did just that, freeing himself of his werewolf curse (at the cost of his powers). Dracula greedily took these powers for his own, using them for the next step of his plan.
That next step was to find an even more suitable host, one that might not fight back as much as Cornell (or Maxim, or any of the other hosts he'd already tried to use). This lead Actrise and Death, over the next few years, to scour the land for children with innate magic in their souls. With the right host, and the dark magic stolen from Cornell, Dracula would be able to regain his true form. That right host proved to be the child Malus, a small, curious boy with darkness in his soul. Of course, the minions had kidnapped other children as well and, not seeing any point in letting them go, hid the children around the castle (because that's what you do when you're evil).
The missing children, coupled with Dracula's castle sitting on the mountain pass, drew a trio of heroes to the haunted edifice. The first, Henry Oldrey, has actually grown up on the grounds outside the castle before Dracula's minions returned and his dark magic spread. Years later Henry was back to his old homeland to find the missing kids and save them from Dracula's magic (which he was able to do for all but one as Malus was a lost cause). Following Henry were two vampire hunters, Reinhardt Schneider (a cousin of the Belmont clan and current holder of the ancestral whip) and Carrie Fernandez (decendant of the Belnads clan), each on their own quest to defeat Dracula once and for all.
It was Carrie, though, who had the most direct contact with Dracula as, on her quest up the castle, she stumbled across Malus repeatedly. Each time the child became stranger, darker, as Dracula's magic slowly took hold of his mind and body. In the end Carrie was unable to save Malus as Dracula subsumed him completely, regaining his full form and power. Carrie and Reinhardt had to battle the Dark Lord atop his final tower, a battle which raged as powerful magics were cast back and forth. Even at full power, though, Dracula was still no match for these two hunters and, after just finally regaining his full power again, he was defeated once more.
The Era of the Morris Clan
For a time Dracula was quiet, with nary a peep of his real magic spreading out from his castle. Weakened and near death again, Dracula hid away in his castle, avoiding the sight of man, his body slowly shriveling from the lack of blood and life. Eventually, though, he had a brilliant idea: since everyone in Wallachia knows of Dracula's existence and, any time he makes a peep, some hero comes to the castle to defeat him, then the best plan would be to leave his homeland and find a new land full of unsuspecting people to feed from.
That led Dracula to send out inquiries to England, searching for a solicitor to aid him in the purchasing of new lands. Eventually a Mr. Jonathan Harker came made the trek out to Dracula's castle to assist the lord in the final paperwork for the land purchase, granting Dracula a new estate in England. Ready for a journey that would grant him freedom away from all the pesky Belmonts and this ilk, Dracula just needed one more thing: the feed on Jonathan and regain his strength and vitality. This left Harker weakened, near death, while Dracula ventured off for new conquests and adventure.
Dracula's plan would have worked wonderfully, too (for a time it even did as he slowly fed on the unsuspecting British citizens without anyone knowing just what was really going on, blaming animal attacks instead of vampires). The problem was that one of his victims, Lucy Westenra, had three suitors -- Arthur Holmwood, John Seward, and Quincey Morris -- and of those suitors Mr. Morris was actually a vampire hunter and current protector of the Belmont legacy. Though a Texan by birth, Quincey's family decended from a distant branch of the Belmont clan, and he'd inherited the powerful ancestral whip that every Belmont had used to fight the vampires.
When Lucy fell ill from obvious, and repeated, vampire feedings, Quincey was one of the first to note the symptoms and realize what was going on (despite whatever you might have heard about Van Helsing being the expert in these matters). Leading the charge, Quincey and the men chased Dracula out of England and back to Wallachia where, during a pitched battle, Dracula was defeated. Unfortunately, Quincey, too, suffered a mortal wound. For whatever reason Quincey had brought his young child, John, on his trip (not just to seek the hand of Lucy in marriage, but then to the vampire's castle to avenger Lucy's death), and John was there to witness his father's death. This left the young boy as the sole heir to the Belmont legacy.
For the next two decades John trained alongside his friend, Eric Lecarde, to be ready if and when Dracula ever rose again. Dracula, for his part, was so far gone after yet another defeat that he needed help coming back again. That help was two-fold: first, his niece, Elizabeth Bartley, and her minions used their magic to cast the spells needed to bring back Dracula once again. But what fueld their magic was any subpar sacrifices but all the death, destruction, and darkness of the Great War. Humanity was ripping each other apart and the blackness they caused fueld the vampire lord like never before.
When Dracula's castle once again appeared on the hills of the Borgo Pass, John and Eric went to the castle. Dracula, though, wasn't there, having fled to lands abroad. This led the two heroes to track the Dark Lord all across the European continent to find and defeat the vampire and his minions. Eventually they ended up at Bartley's castle where they fought the vampiress as well as Dracula himself. Even with the darkness of WWI fueling him Dracula was still no match for the two heroes and he was defeated, yet again.
John, thought, found that he was suffering the effects of the ancestral whip as each time he used it the whip drained a bit of his life -- the whip was meant for the Belmonts and refused to let anyone wield it safely. Although Dracula had been defeated there was still darkness across Europe as the continent really didn't settle down after the Great War and, eventually, World War II broke out. Trying to fight all the demons and devils that rose up from the darkness and hate eventually took its toll as the whip finally killed John. This meant the artifact was passed on to John's son, Johnathan Morris.
Johnathan resented his legacy, blaming the whip, his father, and of course Dracula, for the fact that the elder John died so young. Johnathan grew up never wanting to be a vampire hunter, but fate had a way of changing his mind. A new vampire lord, Brauner, eventually took over Dracula's castle seeking to use the Dark Lord's own magic to fuel his plans. Johnathan had to go to the castle to save the day and, on the journey, he was joined by his friend, the mage Charlotte Aulin. These two had to fight their way through the castle, and a collection of other worlds connected via magical paintings, all so they could take on Brauner.
What none of them had been expected (because, obviously, they weren't paying attention to the history of this series) was that Dracula was just waiting for the right moment to come back. Brauner thought he'd beenm feeding on the magic of the castle, but it actually went both ways with DDracula pulling from Brauner, too, just waiting for right moment to resurrect himself fully. When Johnathan and Charlotte defeated Brauner, Dracula used the power of that death to revive himself, once again becoming the proper Dark Lord of hte castle. Johnathan and Charlotte then had to go deeper into the castle so they could fight Dracula and stop the Dark Lord once again.
Dracula, to his credit, had learned from his past defeats. When he saw two heroes come at him again he realized he needed to pair up, too. He called upon Death and, together, they formed a new, more powerful version of the Dark Lord to take on the heroes. The form was huge, and dangerous, but it just wasn't deadly enough for these two trained heroes and Johnathan and Charlotte, like all the heroes that had come before, were able to best this version of Dracula, once more casting him back to his grave.
The Time of Judgment
Sometime later, Dracula, once more revived (using the "Dracula rises every 100 years" rule, this would probably put this around 1997 AD) was pulled into a rift in time. It seems that another evil demon lord, Galamoth, wanted the Dark Lord dead. Using the powers of time magic, Galamoth plotted to completely remove Dracula from the timeline, ensuring only one true Dark Lord could exist. Of course, this would play merry hell with all of time and space, so a guardian, Aeon, sought out various "heroes" (Dracula included) who could battle each other to take on Galamoth's chosen agent, the Time Reaper, and save all of reality.
Dracula's goal was simple: defeat everyone who had ever bested him before (like Simon, Trevor, Cornell, Maria, Eric, and on and on) while in the rift and then take out the Time Reaper and ensure he'd live a long and happy unlife for the rest of his days. And while he did, indeed, get a chance to exact his revenge, killing all his old foes, the moment Dracula defeated the Time Reaper he reset the timeline. His reality was ensured, his place in the timeline secure, but all of the events of the past still happened as they always had. Dracula was content in the knowledge he could beat his worst foes but, still, history happened as it always happened. THis was good for reality, not so great for Dracula.
Based on in-game dialogue from the Time Reaper, the Dracula of Judgment had to have come from around the year 2000 AD. The Reaper comments, "it's been 1,000 years..." when speaking to Dracula, which, considering the game takes place in 12000 AD, would seem to cement the date. That said, as we'll see soon, Dracula really couldn't come into the game from anywhere earlier than 1999 AD. Since he would have naturally risen from the grave around 1997 AD, that seems the most likely time to put his character so, without further evidence to the contrary, that's the date we're using.
Dracula's Final Defeat
And then, from Dracula's perspective, things got even worse. Apparently the Belmonts had returned in the last fifty years and their hero, Julius, joined by the Catholic Church as well as Dracula's own wayward son Alucard, worked together to find a way to truly defeat Dracula once and for all. And they did, sealing the power of the Dark Lord inside an eclipse with the hopes it would be permanent.
Of course, as we fans know, this wasn't technically the end of the story. Two more games, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, would go on to detail the story of Dracula's reincarnated soul in its new host, Soma Cruz. We consider Soma to be a different enough character, though, that we're keeping all his info on his own bio page.
Alternate Versions of Dracula:
While this history covers the main series of the games, there are a few alternate titles worth mentioning, the first of which are the Kid Dracula games. Technically Dracula never shows up in the official parody titles (a version of Alucard is the lead, at least as far as fans are concerned), but the Kid does talk about how he wants to make his father (Dracula) proud of him.
As we noted above, Soma Cruz is Dracula reborn after his final, ultimate death in 1999 AD. There are other pretenders for that crown that crop up on Soma's two games -- Graham Jones, Dario Bossi, and Dmitrii Blinov -- each of which have powers similar to Dracula's own abilities. It is possible that, if any of those three had been able to defeat Soma they could have stolen his powers and become the new host for Dracula's dark magic.
Although interesting is the fact that an alternate ending for Dawn of Sorrow shows what would happen if Soma were to give into his dark powers and fully become Dracula. In this version of events Soma goes totally bad and it's up to the heroes of the game to battle him (as he fights just like Dracula). It's a great little mode and an interesting alternate history for the series (the only time we can think of where the series ever crafted this kind of alternate narrative).
And then, eventually, Konami published the Lords of Shadow sub-series. Dracula does appear in these games as well, but not in the form you might first expect. The hero is Gabriel Belmont, a vampire hunter plagued by darkness, and over the course of his adventure he eventually gives in more and more to his darker side before, eventually, becoming a vampire lord and, of all things, adopting the name Dracula. Gabriel has his own history so we're keeping his biographical information over on his own page (instead of recouting it here).
Fighting Against Dracula:
Dracula has shown up in so many games that it'll take us a while to recount all of his battles. We will note, though, that most of his fights follow the pattern established by the first Castlevania: Dracula will teleport in randomly around the screen, chucking fireballs at the player. They will have to jump and duck the fireballs, attacking Dracula in his head (his only weak spot). Once enough damage is dealt, Dracula will then reveal his demonic form (a strange, blue demon referred to, by the fans, as "Cookie Monster" in this first game) which will jump around the screen, spitting fireballs at the hero. Once this form is dead, the battle is won. From this point forward, unless we state otherwise, expect the phases of the battle to go like this for the rest of the games (for instance, the Chronicles version of this fight is exactly the same, just prettier, with the one additional that Drac can drop firey acid when his demon form jumps into the sky).
The first port of the original game, Vampire Killer, changed up the battle just a little. THe opening section is the same, with the hero dodging fireballs as Dracula teleports around. But instead of a "Cookie Monster", Dracula possesses a giant painting of himself that fills the screen. The player will have to guide Simon up to the top edges of the screen (jumping on bricks at the border) while avoiding the bats Dracula spits out, so they can then jump off the top brick and whip the crystal at the top of Dracula's head. It's a long, slow battle and super annoying.
Castlevania II is the first game to avoid the usual pattern. There's no teleporting, no demon; instead, the shade of Dracula, freshly revived, will split into four and these four shades will rotate around the screen for Simon to attack. They'll also throw our rings, like spinning scythes, aimed at Simon that the hero will have to avoid. The fight, honestly, feels more like a battle with the Grim Reaper than a propepr DDracula fight.
The next revision of the original title, Haunted Castle, is a more traditional fight. Dracula will teleport (in a cloud of bats) back and forth across the room, throwing swords (instead of fireballs). Oddly, this version of Dracula will fly up and the player will have to wait for him to float down before they can attack him. Helpfully, though, any part of Dracula can be damaged. Once enough damage is dealt, Dracula will transform into a giant, demonic head, and float his way onto the screen, spitting fireballs. This form is very easy to stun-lock and, really, this whole battle is the easiest we've seen so far from the demon lord.
The Castlevania Adventure puts a nice spin on the formula, giving a room with multiple platforms that Dracula can teleport to, whereupon he'll throw our waves of fireballs in the cardinal directions. Once damaged enough, Drac will transform into a Giant Bat and flay back and forth across the room, occasionally shooting out smaller bats. This battle can be tough if you have to get close to Dracula but Christopher could gain a fireball that would shoot from his whip -- so long as you have this power-up, Dracula is beyond easy.
In comparison, Castlevania III has a very lengthy and hard-fought battle. It starts as you'd expect, with Dracula teleporting, although this time he casts fire pillars instead of fireballs; two will come out around the hero, with a third spraying up underneath Trevor, forcing him to dodge out of the way in time. For his second phase, Dracula turns into a giant collection of demonic heads that will float around the room, dropping blood tears (as if they were Carmilla). Each head will have to be defeated before the form is dead. Finally, for a third form, Dracula becomes a hulking demon, filling the room. Trevor will have to use the moving platforms to gain access to Dracula's head (still the only weak point) while dodging lasers that shoot from Dracula's hands.
Belmont's Revenge has a similar setup to The Castlevania Adventure, with Dracula teleporting to various platforms around the room. Here he'll shoot out spirals of hellfire orbs before teleporting. This phase will take a while, depending on how quickly you can layer on damage, but it's Dracula's only form this time around making it a fairly easy fight.
For Super Castlevania IV, Dracula assumes a multi-phase approach. He starts by shooting out fireballs after each teleport, but then upgrades to droping fiery heads on Simon, before finally converting over to casting down powerful (and devastating) lightning. The one benefit of this version of the boss is that, unlike in previous games, all three phases of the fight have a single health bar so once it's depleted, Dracula is gone for good. Helpfully, too, this is the only form of Dracula that will, from time to time, drop food for the hero, making this fight substantially easier than it could have been otherwise.
In Rondo of Blood, Dracula opens with his standard formula; when he teleports in, if he opens the far side of his cape he'll throw his usual fireballs. Added in is that he can also open the near side of his cap and shoot out two hellfire orbs. As always, his head is his weak spot in this form. The back half of the fight is exactly as you'd expect, with another "Cookie Monster" battle. Occasionally, though, the beast can shoot out a giant blue fireball that quickly goes across the screen. Overall, though, this fight isn't too bad at all once you know what you're doing.
Bloodlines has one of the easiest first forms yet, as Dracula is up to his usual tricks. What makes it so easy is that, firstly, his teleportation animation is very long, giving the player plenty of time to get out of the way of contact damage. Then, if they're quick, they can hit Drac in the head before he can shoot out his fireballs, and that will stun him and send him back to teleporting. Done right, you never even have to worry about damage. His second form is also pretty easy, taking a page from the second official title by giving Dracula a specter form. Here he'll move around the room and either duplicate into multiple copies and cast down pillars of damaging energy (the original copy doesn't have a pillar so that's the safe spot) or throw our magic orbs that will travel along the sides and bottom of the screen (and have to be dodged).
His "Cookie Monster" is a lengthy fight in and of itself. He starts in his blue form and will hover towards the player, spitting out scythes that will explode when they hit the floor. Here, it's best to hit Dracula, sending him bouncing to the side of the screen before he can cast his scythes -- if you then run to the opposite side, you'll avoidd all the damage. He'll eventually switch to a red form where he'll fly around the room, shooting out a curving line of fireballs that have to be jumped over (or dodged) to avoid damage. Then comes his grey form which will bounce along the floor, chucking bones every time its hit. This battle takes forever, but it's really just the "Red Cookie Monster" that's the scary part of the fight.
The Dracula XX fight takes a page from Rondo, with Dracula teleporting around casting both fireballs and hellfire orbs. The trick here is that Dracula's room is much bigger than in other games (two screens long) with a lot of death pits; Richter will have to be kept out of the pits while jumping from pillar to pillar, chasing Dracula to wherever he teleports. It can be a lengthy opening phase. His "Cookie Monster", though, is absolutely brutal. He'll bounce up in the air, shooting out three waves of fireballs down at the player -- one hit will send Richter cascading into a pit, killing him instantly. After that, once Dracula lands, he'll shoot out a blue wave of force across the screen (duck this to avoid it). You basically have to play this fight perfectly to survive the second phase at all.
Dracula's fight in Symphony of the Night has a lot going on. It's one phase, on a loop, with the demonic form of Drac taking swipes with his big hands at Alucard. Then he'll swoop into the distance and shoot a orb of force at Alucard. He'll then swoop back in and each of his demonic heads will attack Alucard in turn before all three will cast a triangular spell that will shoot little energy triangles at the hero. Then repeat it all again and again until the battle is over. With the right gear, though, this fight is stupidly simple as Alucard can end up a walking talk very quickly in this game.
Legends takes a page from the previous Game Boy games with Dracula teleporting around a room with various platforms the player can use to reach him. After appearing, Dracula will shoot out five hellfire orbs towards the player. He'll be kind enough to stand around for a bit after (so you can layer on the damage) and any part of him can be hit here. The "Cookie Monster" here looks like an absolute abomination, huge and icky, and it fills the screen, with only the head as the weak point. Thankfully the head teleports around the room, and once you pay attention you'll realize it's on a fixed pattern, going to the same spots over and over. Just let the head warp in, shoot out its eight hellfire orbs (cardinal directions) and then you can smack it down until the boss is defeated.
The Malus Dracula gets a 3D arena to work with in Castlevania 64 and he does put it to good use, teleporting all over the arena. He'll beam in and throw out fireballs, but he can also shoot our rings of force (one at head height, one acorss the floor), and bring up a fire pillar around him. Curiously, this is another form of Dracula that can, occasionally, drop food. The demonic form looks like the "Cookie Monster" attached to a centepede, but this form of the boss is actually not very mobile. He'll spit out fireballs if the player is far away and swipe at the ground if the player gets closer, all before shooting out a double wave of force to try and damage the player. Once dmaaged enough he'll also throw out fire snakes that will chase after the hero. You can get in close to do damage, but if you've been saving up your hearts and have a ranged sub-weapon, it's much easier just to take out the demon from farther away.
Legacy of Darkness has the same kind of first phase, with a "Dracula" shooting fireballs and waves of force as he teleports around the room. Then, for the demonic phase, Dracula will swipe at the player before opening his weak point (his chest). After a bit he'll fly back and throw fireballs, icicles, and bone snakes (all which act more or less the same) at the player, before repeating the process.
Dracula in Circle of the Moon starts out as expected, teleporting around the room and throwing out bats (in place of hellfire). The demon form is odd look, like a version of himself with tentacles, plus a giant eye in the middle of his body (that acts as his hitbox). He'll cast meteors down on the hero, then move to the top side of the screen and cast waves of force across it, but transforming into bats as they fly around, protecting the eye. It's a very weird battle, and can be quite lengthy to complete.
After defeating Maxim, Dracula's Wraith will appear, but while he might look a little different this is the same old fight, with the ghost teleporting around, casting fire and hellfire. Then, for his final phase, he'll transform into a giant skull with a tentacle whipping around. Occasionally it'll also shoot a beam out of it's eye socket.
When Dracula is resurrected in Curse of Darkness, you'll have to battle him in a fight that, really, isn't that different from the last couple of 3D arena fights we've had with him. He'll teleport, then cast a spell that causes spikes to rise from the ground behind Hector, chasing him around for a time. Then Drac will fly around for a bit, shooting out pink hellfire orbs before teleporting again. And, occasionally, when he's feeling pissy, he'll summon a fire pillar around him to blast intense damage at the player. For his demonic form, he can fly around the arena shooting out an intense laser at the player. He can also bum rush the floating platform, smashing the ground in an attempt to hit the hero. He'll also slash horizontally and vertically at the platform, leaving trails of blood vapor behind that will damage the hero further. Past the halfway mark (when the first of his two health bars is depleted) he can resort to a "limit break" set of moves where he'll fly back, shooting our a wave of electric force and homing magic missiles.
Portrait of Ruin has one of the more interesting Dracula fights. Drac himself is bog-standard at this point, teleporting around the room, throing out fireballs and hellfire. Sometimes he can do a dash attack at the player, flying at them in a cloud of bats. He'd be simple on his own, but the twist is that Death is in the battle as well, dive bombing the hero and, occasionally, splitting into copies that all vertically attack together (kind of like Drac's second form in Bloodlines).
Deal enough damage and they'll go into their "limit break" mode, with Death throwing out waves of scythes and Dracula scattering hellfire everywhere. Dodging this part of the battle can be quite difficult. Finally, Death and Dracula will merge into a single beast, which will fly around, pounding thr ground where you stand. it can also summon waves of falling fireballs, as well as Death's scythe that it will throw around the room (down, slight angle-up, and steep angle-up). At times, too, the demon can stand in the middle of the room and send its wings out the edges, where they'll wrap across and try and grab the hero from both sides.
The battle in Order of Shadows, by comparison, is vastly less interesting. Dracula will teleport, shoot hellfire, and summon meteors that will strike the ground and explode in a cascade of sparks. He can also cast a lightning pillar to the ground that will stick around for a bit, damaging the hero if they get too close. Drac wouldn't be that hard in this game, though, were it not for the fact that the controls in the game are very muddy and slow; honestly, you fight the game more than you fight Dracula.
The first two phases of the battle in Dracula X Chronicles are the same as in Rondo. But a third phases is added in this remake where dracula will fly around the room casting a rain of blood and a wave of bats. He can also pull out a wolf transformation and dash at the hero. He can also summon a fire pillar, slashes of damage, and drop hellfire on the player. Then he'll transform into bats, move around the room (damaging the hero) before reforming. It's a lengthy and complex fight.
For Order of Ecclesia, Dracula got a bit of an upgrade to his attacks. They're still the same -- fireballs, hellfire, and missiles from the sky, but he gets to summon more of them, and do it frequently, leading to a lot of missile spam on the screen. Eventually he'll get more aggresive, changing his phase. Here he can kick at the hero (with a wave of force), summon a cascade of bats, call forth wolves to dash at the player, and he'll try to dash at the player to catch them and steal their energy (because he's a vampire). And he can still summon the magic missiles, and this time they'll home on the player's position. This is a difficult fight with a lot going on in both phases.
In the Castlevania Adventure: Rebirth, Chris has to face a more traditional Drac fight (instead of the unusual ones he faced before). Dracula will teleport and call forth hellfire, then when he turns into the demon he'll jump around, dropping magic missiles, or stand still and breath fire. It's in the third phase that things change up. Here, Dracula will be a stationary demonic skull, shooting lightning down from the sky and casting exploding fire on the floor. Do enough damage and its jaw will break, leading it to cast lightning orbs, ooze spheres, rolling eyeballs, and exploding fireballs, at Chris.
Harmony of Dissonance features a traditional Dracula fight, the first phase of which has him doing all his usual tricks -- fireballs, hellfire, and fire pillars. Then he'll turn into his demon, jumping around casting magic missiles and spitting fire. But he also gained the ability to summon homing ghosts and the breath a powerful beam of force. Then, when you beat this, he'll take his weird from from Symphony, which will try to grab at the player to deal damage. It can also cast an area blast that will shoot explosive beams out towards the edges of the room, and it can cast a fireball that causes a wave of fire to move to each side. Plus it can still summon it's weird triangle attack. Honestly, this version of Dracula is so much harder than the games it originally spawned from.
Playing as Dracula:
Dracula is easily the most powerful playable character in Castlevania: Judgment. His attacks -- everything you'd expect from fireballs to hellfire to demonic meggiddo -- deal a gnarly amount of damage while be surprisingly easy to pull off. Plus he can teleport all over the arenas (again, like you'd expect), making him a tough, powerful, unpredictable warrior. It takes a lot to unlock him in the game but once you get him it's so worth it.
Dracula in Popular Culture:
There's no easy way to recount all the places Dracula has show up over the years. He's easily one of the most adapted figures in pop-culture (right up there with Sherlock Holmes and Jesus). So instead of making a thorough dive through his pop-culture (which, if you want that, we suggest heading over to the Horror Cinema section), we'll just pick out a few of his major highlights.
The first work to adapt Dracula to film wasn't even an official release. Instead it came from the German director F. W. Murnau and was titled Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. This silent film, rightly held up as a classic of its era, renamed all the characters from Bram Stoker's novel to try and avoid copyright issues. The story, though, is so similar to the novel (read: exactly the same) that Stoker sued for the rights to, and all money made from, Nosferatu, and won.
The next major adaptation came from Universal Studios and is another film held up as a classic. Based on Bram Stoker's own stageplay adaptation of the novel, Dracula starred Bela Lugosi in the title role. While the actor is great as the vampire, the rest of the movie hasn't aged all that well (although the Spanish version of the same script, Dràcula, is phenomenal). Unviersal would go on to milk the Dracula character for years after the success of this film.
Hammer Studio was the next to pick up the torch with their own adaptation of Dracula (titled "The Horror of Dracula" when released in the States). This version featured Christopher Lee as a very imposing version of Dracula, while also being much more free and creative when adapting the story. This version is really very good, and naturally it launched it's own series of films that came after.
There are any number of other adaptations that came in the years to follow, but we feel we would be remiss if we didn't highlight one more, the 1979 Dracula. This one also came from Universal, featuring Frank Langella in the title role, and it is probably one of the best Dracula films out there. If you only see one version we strongly encourage you check out this one.