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Media Essays: A Vampiric Comparison Part 2


Title Card

Written by Captain Conroy


Author’s Note: Some readers may find the images in this post disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.


Continued from Part 1.


The Vampiric Comparison continues with my next two candidates.


Candidate 3:

Leslie Nielsen's Dracula

Name: Leslie Nielsen

Nationality: Canadian

Height: 6’1

First Played Dracula: Dracula: Dead And Loving It (1995)

Birthdate/Deathdate: 11th February 1926 – 28th November 2010 – Aged 84 Years


Things get a little different here on this essay as if you know Leslie Nielsen very well – you’ll know doubt know that he was a well-known comedy actor, particularly spoof comedy being his area of expertise – so it will come as no surprise whatsoever that his Dracula is a spoof Dracula. Which I might add funnily enough was not only directed by Mel Brooks but it came two years after Robin Hood Men In Tights which Brooks had also directed. Men In Tights in itself is a hilarious piece of work, but how well did Brooks and Nielsen bring a gothic spoof on our favourite vampire? Let’s find out.


So to kick-start – the story of Dead And Loving It is very simple, it takes a lot of its inspiration from the Bela Lugosi movie which a some healthy Easter eggs and cues from other Dracula movies like The Horror Of Dracula. The film features Thomas Renfield played by Peter MacNicol coming to see Dracula about the purchase of Carfax Abbey – if only Renfield knew what awaited him later in the film. :D Naturally he goes some of the way by coach – which they’re desperate to get to the village before sun down as that’s of course Dracula’s time and he has to walk the rest of the way. And when he sees Dracula…

Dracula's comedic fall

Dracula proceeds to fall down the stairs after slipping on bat poo while introducing himself, and then he gets up like nothing happened. And yet despite the prior warnings, Renfield notices nothing odd about his appearance or his behaviour. But of course he wouldn’t suspect a thing from the cape, to any sharp nails he may have, his eccentric hair…

Dracula's wig

Oh yes, that’s right – that was just a wig. Forget I said that. This is played for laughs at least twice in the movie – which adds on to presentation which we shall cover in due time as of course we shall discuss the performance first.

As mentioned earlier, Leslie Nielsen was a well-known comedy actor and especially spoof comedy was where it shined for him. I believe he even became known as the king of spoof comedy. And naturally if anyone was going to play a comedic Dracula it was easily going to be Nielsen and I’m so glad he was casted. Nielsen was absolutely perfect for what this kind of movie this was. He played the role seriously but yet pulled off any gags he did so perfectly adding to how good he was as an actor. My personal favourite gags were whenever he tried hypnotising anyone and it kept going wrong.


He kept sending Renfield to sleep, he made an assistant in the theatre forget what to tell Dr. Seward due to his poor choice of words and these two screenshots demonstrate the funniest time this gag was executed when he tried hypnotising two people at once. He particularly wanted Mina but he had to hypnotise the maid to distract her – but the maid kept doing everything he said and when he tried giving them separate orders that only went so well too. It was such a hilarious piece of work and from the gags alone in the movie I feel so sorry for Mel Brooks that this movie ended his directing days.


But yet there are times where Nielsen’s Dracula acts perfectly refined and cultured such as the scene where he first introduces himself to Dr. Seward after his fail hypnotism attempt. And he can go so flawlessly between Dracula’s refined side and his comedic side in any instant of a split second. He played the hypnosis scene seriously but when the assistant forgot the message and asked him a second time if she could help, he mocks her in a high voice repeating what she said. And when she does deliver the message after all, that face he makes is wildly funny.

Dracula's comical expression.

Yeah – NOW she choose to deliver the message. You might want to work on those hypnosis skills Drac.


So all in all Leslie Nielsen was the utmost perfect candidate to play Dracula for this movie being a nice healthy mixture of serious, dignified and funny all at once. All the while in the movie it helped that he had a very smooth voice that is very pleasant to listen to and it helped for some of Dracula’s more dignified scene and for some of the most comedic segments such as when he dreams about being out in the daylight – or as he called it, a Daymare.


And now for presentation – as I say there was the wig that was played for comedic effect. But what about the rest of his look?

Leslie's costume

He wears a very similar costume to Lugosi – that being the three piece suit consisting of a tailcoat with matching trousers, a white waistcoat and of course the footwear is black too. Much like Lugosi he has a ring, a medallion and much like Lugosi he wears the collar to his cape flipped up. While Lugosi had taupe, Nielsen had the red lining because I assume that it’s a familiar visual representation of vampires and as it’s spoof material – I guess audiences like going in knowing what they know. But on the whole they gave Nielsen a wonderful cape to wear – it’s not the longest of any Dracula ever, but it certainly is played to a very good effect as it really flows and it shows during scenes when he’s dancing and the scene when he came to break Renfield out of his cell.

Cape swish

I mean look at that, that cannot be faulted at all. As of now that is one of my favourite cape swishes I have seen in a movie. And it really tops off the whole costume so nicely – and as I say, it’s something audiences are familiar with and the especially pulled it off so well for this movie.


And as far as lasting impressions go – well, interestingly enough I did get to see a part of the movie twice but the problem was I never got to finish it. Now that I have been able to finish it as I got the DVD yesterday at the time of writing, it’s been so satisfying to finally finish the movie as in my humble opinion, this movie is a hilarious piece of work which honours Dracula so well without ruining anything about him. The gags and Nielsen’s performance really made this Dracula for me and I personally believe the movie deserves more recognition and so does this Dracula. If you get the chance, buy the DVD and watch it – you’ll be in for a good laugh with this Dracula. Whoever would have thought a comedic Dracula could have been pulled off so well?

Hotel Transylvania Dracula

Well… naturally some pull it off better than others. (Just stick to Dead And Loving It)


Candidate 4:

Claes Bang

Name: Claes Bang

Nationality: Danish

Height: 6’4

First Played Dracula: Dracula (2020)

Birthdate: 28th April 1967 – Age 56 years at the time of writing


And now last but certainly not least on this list, we have Danish actor Claes Bang who was brought on board to be the title character for the 2020 miniseries released by the BBC which ran for three episodes. This series was created by none other than Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss who not only have done lots of work on Doctor Who between them but they also created Sherlock. First Sherlock now Dracula – any other classic pieces of literature they’d like to adapt next? The Pickwick Papers perhaps? But of course given they adapted Sherlock well enough and making it work in the modern age – how do they fair on Dracula? Well, that’s an interesting story by itself.


So with Claes Bang’s Dracula, we start as traditional as things can get as we open up with Jonathan Harker on his way to Castle Dracula to meet the Count as he wishes to purchase Carfax Abbey. Despite things being all that they seemed, Jonathan was in every sense of the word a prisoner to Dracula and Dracula gradually fed off from him. Jonathan did manage to escape but it came at a cost as he wound up in Sister Agatha Van Helsing’s custody and Dracula wound up killing the entire sisterhood except for Mina with wolves under his command. This is at least episode one – which also sees Dracula start off as a very old man.

Old Dracula

Which pays nice homage to the original novel as apparently Dracula was never described as an attractive man. But of course as he drinks Jonathan’s blood, Jonathan becomes weaker and more dishevelled while Dracula begins to look younger and more healthy as a result of drinking fresh blood.

Young Dracula

Like so. Funny what vampires can do eh? I believe Gary Oldman’s Dracula did this as well so for those who are fans of that movie, that’ll be a nice homage for you. But of course appearances can be deceiving as he may look like a charming handsome man but we all know what a bloodthirsty monster he is, which we shall cover a little more on later.

Next up is episode two my personal favourite of the miniseries which sees Dracula embarking on a voyage to England aboard the Demeter. However he does not make himself scarce during the day and come out only at night, keeping out of the sunlight and of course being active at night, he travels openly with the passengers and crew and gradually picks them off one by one.

Dracula's glare

Yes, spoiler alert says no-one, dressed like that, there’s the murderer of the passengers. And then there’s episode three where… well… erm…

Dracula with an iPad

Episode three follows on from his adventures aboard the Demeter and he winds up in modern day England after emerging from his coffin after 123 years. And needless to say, that only went so well. And before we go any further, out of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss which one of those two crackpots thought Dracula should have smartphones and tablets? Me personally I bet it was Moffat’s idea, but let’s not point fingers without knowing the full facts, we must carry on. Of course though, not everything is bad about it which we’ll cover later there’s a bit more to cover first.


As far as performances go, Claes was very clearly enjoying himself. His Dracula is a very messed up individual. Naturally he has to drink blood to survive, but in his case – I’m sure it hasn’t been done before but his lust for blood is an outright addiction – similar to how we ourselves can get addicted to drugs. But that’s not all – this Dracula isn’t afraid to get brutally violent as well. Sometimes when he needs too and other times just because he can – in episode one alone he took a sword and decapitated the lead nun – saying how she was clearing her throat and he thinks it’s better now.

Dracula with a nun's head

That is pretty messed up – but if that’s not enough, he even throws the head to the rest asking who’s next, clearly hoping someone would catch the head and after that he does say before killing all the nuns how they could choose to be torn apart by him or the wolves claiming to be undead – not unreasonable.


And the creepiest part still is that Claes’ Dracula is enjoying every minute of it. This is someone who is clearly evil and enjoys himself while he’s doing it. So the bottom line is that he is not just surviving by drinking blood, but this is someone who does some very despicable things, he knows he does very despicable things but he just doesn’t care. He relishes in his sadistic bloodthirsty activities – presenting himself in every sense of the word as TV Tropes might say, a magnificent b******. This made more serious in the sense that this is a Dracula who knows how to survive and is quite the Chessmaster, whenever Van Helsing scores against him, he manages to claw it back – constantly one step ahead of her.

And that brings us to the brides of Dracula. This version takes three brides at a time and more often than not – it’s alright for him but not for them. His brides are ones he especially chooses with care and it does not matter to him if they are man or woman, he’ll just take them all without consent. Then again vampires can’t be picky about consent – and in Lucy’s case in this miniseries, she outright succumbs to him as Dracula naturally savours her until eventually drinking her dry.

Creepy Dracula

No doubt most of you know that vampires are capable of shapeshifting – Claes’ Dracula is most certainly a master of disguise taking on the form of bats, wolves and even what remained of Jonathan Harker by wearing his skin.



Er? Did this Dracula just turn into a Slitheen? But that’ll bring us more onto presentation more or less.

Naked Dracula

Of course this is in this day and age the visual effects of this miniseries were nothing short of spectacular – the blood and injuries look so real and particularly the scene where he climbs out of a wolf’s body was pretty damn gross. That of course though is what good visual effects do – they should make you feel that way, but for god’s sake why is he naked?!

Naked Dracula 2

Did they just have an unsettling thing for a naked Dracula? Like seriously guys, vampires can change their image without having to expose their machinery for a whole nun convent to see (so to speak in this instance) But I can overlook that as the rest of the presentation of Claes’ Dracula is very well done. From the clothes he wears you can tell that he’s fabulously wealthy. From how he looked as an old man to how he looked as a younger man.

Dracula's fancy costume

Like so – quite the man of wealth and taste eh? I myself may be naturally a sucker for them by nature but I especially love the cape, this cape is a black floor-length piece much like Christopher Lee’s. He tends to wear the collar folded down but there is at least one scene where he wears it up. And I especially love the red lining. I’m not fully sure what that lining is – but I can say with a great amount of certainty that the lining is crushed velvet. Claes himself even described in a video how that cape is an immense piece of cloth on your back. More interesting still is when you watch episode one – it looks like the cape was Jonathan’s to start with.

Jonathan Harker with a cape

As demonstrated here – it’s just that he’s closed it up a little bit more. But after Jonathan becomes so weak, I guess he won’t need it anymore. And now for present day Dracula.

Dracula in a suit

This what I meant by at least not everything was bad – they at least still had the decency to do Dracula up nicely wearing suits and shirts – it fits for Dracula in the modern day. He wears three piece or two piece suits and in one scene he wears presumably (due to the lighting in the scene) a black trench coat with red lining which says a nice homage to the infamous cape and puts a nice modern spin on such a classic character. There is at least a few scenes he is wearing casual clothing but thankfully he is mostly in the suits and at least they didn’t make him wear jeans.


And funny I show that picture because that brings us down to one of the most eyebrow-raising things about Claes’ Dracula. As you see from that picture – he was exposed to the sunlight after Van Helsing pulled the curtains down in front of him in a similar way to Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing did to Christopher Lee’s Dracula. But that didn’t actually finish him off. Instead, Van Helsing said how Dracula had allowed himself to believe that what the legends say about stakes, crosses, garlic etc. was true so he can hide from what he sees himself as unworthy of – society as he is greatly ashamed of the prospect that he fears death. News flash Moffat and Gatiss – VAMPIRES. DON’T. WORK. THAT. WAY! Honestly don’t you start pulling off Stephanie Myer, it was bad enough that she wrote for vampires and didn’t know a thing about them. So what finishes Dracula off instead is that he drinks Van Helsing’s blood which is contaminated as a result of her having cancer and he dies that way.

Dracula and Van Helsing

I could be under-educated, but since when was this an established fact about vampires? If they drink blood from cancer victims the blood is poisonous to them? I have never ever heard that before and even if it is true this is the first I’m hearing of it – and even then if it is true I personally don’t take it with much credibility. No wonder when it came to me and this miniseries personally, I liked episode one and episode two being my favourite as mentioned earlier, but episode three was when things very quickly fell flat on its face. And between you and me I’m quite sure Bram Stoker wouldn’t be massively impressed by this either if he saw it.


So in conclusion to Claes’ entry – he was one fantastic Dracula and I absolutely love how clearly absorbed he was in the role making it his own. But he just did not have the best source material to work with. Especially episode three – shocking. When it also comes down to it – I personally believe the miniseries might have benefited from being more spread out into more episodes or a movie as the run time for each episode is over an hour long and it feels like it can drag a bit. But all in all, I’m happy to especially re-watch episode two and episode one is fine enough but I shan’t be in any hurry to rewatch episode three. Despite this, this miniseries was a great introduction to Claes Bang for me as I had never herald of him prior to being made aware of this miniseries when trailers started coming online.


So that draws this essay to a close. I hope you all enjoyed reading through me comparing four different Draculas – I know I myself have really enjoyed writing this essay as well as re-watching some of these productions as well as watching one for the first time in order to prepare for this essay. But you may ask yourself of course there’s lots of other Draculas out there so would there be any other Draculas I would like to check out in the future? Well yes – even if it’s not much like a traditional one – I would like to see Dracula Untold in the future.

Dracula Untold poster

This movie focuses on Dracula’s origins and his alleged basis – Vlad the Impaler and of course has the fabulously talented Luke Evans in the title role. And that is still to this day one of the coolest film posters I have ever seen. And Gary Oldman’s Dracula would be another good one to check out at some point.

Bram Stoker's Dracula poster

I’ve been led to believe that this version is a pretty faithful adaptation of the book and of course I am very much familiar with Gary Oldman – such a class actor and he will make a flawless Dracula easily.


And if there’s any I wouldn’t want to see – well, not much that I’m aware. At most I’ve seen Hotel Transylvania 1 – but I was never interested enough to check out the others. It’s not to say the first film is bad – it’s just good for a bit of a laugh if not much else. However it would have worked better if the movie was a pilot for a TV series and the series followed if the film was successful. However it did get one later and I’ve been told that no-one really liked it. And the not many people seem to like the other films as well as that’s a no for me.

But that’s that one from me – I hope you enjoyed reading this once again and if you liked this essay – feel free to see my other blogpost on here:



You can also check out my YouTube channels and Instagram pages via the links:



And I’ll be sure to see you next time I decide to contribute a blogpost.


This essay is dedicated to the following:

Bela Lugosi Christopher Lee Leslie Nielsen

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2 Comments


Jacob Coad
Jacob Coad
Jul 27, 2023

Nielsen really did a good job doing a comedic Dracula spoof. :)


Also…MOFFAT!

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Guest
Jul 27, 2023

Interesting, Leslie Neilson was good at being the comically serious but had the moments to go all hilarious. I love his works so I’ll have to find the film.


As for the one Steven Moffat did, I’m gonna guess a lot of the mistakes made here was by Moffatm wether it’s ego or trying to be funny but failing miserably. He disrespected the Classic Doctors espescially the First. Thoigh i think the weakness to sunlight was only a latter thing to the history of vampires as their origins are a bit different, which I recommend you best go for the wiki.


Yet this was good, well done,

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