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Before Twilight, Before True Love, Vampires Were Once Heartstoppers, Not Heartthrobs

Twilight, Before True Love, Vampires Were Once Heartstoppers, Not Heartthrobs” width=”560″/>
These days, it can be easy to forget that vampires weren’t always the darkly mysterious, come-hither creatures that dominate pop culture in the modern age. (See: Twilight‘s Robert Pattinson, True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer and so on). Once upon a time, the fanged ones were more heartstoppers than heartthrobs. And and in no corner of the vampire-movie kingdom was that more true than for Draculas past. Count-for-the-ages Béla Lugosi had the dark part down, that’s for sure, but he was hardly the type to get tween girls a-twittering. His seductive powers were more in the hypnotize-the-life-out-of-you realm. Not his fault! Before Lugosi’s debut in Dracula (1931), the only real representation of vampires on the big screen came courtesy of famed silent-film auteur F.W. Murnau.

For his film Nosferatu, Murnau did up the titular character (Max Schreck) up in claw hands, corpse makeup and creepy rodent teeth. Not exactly Facebook-friendly.

Fast-forward to 1979, when not one but two new Count Draculas entered the popular consciousness: George Hamilton as the campy Count in the hit spoof Love At First Bite, and Frank Langella in Dracula (1979). Langella, for one, took the character so far away from its sickly origins that his open-shirted Dracula positively glowed with suave, eighties virility. He didn’t even have fangs! Which to certain horror obsessives might have seemed like a travesty. That said, most must have liked what they saw, as evidenced by the fact that we’ve had a veritable parade of sex-machine Draculas dominating the screen ever since: Gary Oldman seducing Winona in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a wind-blown Gerard Butler in Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000, Dominic Purcell’s romancing-slash-slaying of Parker Posey in Blade: Trinity, as “Drake”, to name just a few. And happily for those with fang fetishes, a quick perusal of porny recent straight-to-video movies (The Sexy Adventures of Van Helsing, anyone?) suggests the trend is in no earthly danger of letting up any time soon.

Click here for a full schedule of Dracula (1979) on AMC.

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