Renfield Puts Nicolas Cage In The Dracula Club With Three Other Oscar Winners

The countless portrayals of Count Dracula over the course of film history became even more varied during the 1970’s. Frank Langella closed that decade with what is considered one of the most effective performances of the king of vampires to date in 1979’s “Dracula.” Before that, actors David Niven and Jack Palance took their turn to don the cape in two wildly different performances. 

Winning the Oscar for 1958’s “Separate Tables,” Niven has famously said, “Actors don’t retire. They just get offered fewer roles.” By the time the role of Dracula came his way in 1974’s “Vampira,” the offers were probably starting to dry up a little. Director Clive Donner’s bizarre vampire comedy plays like a 42nd street grindhouse film, with very mixed results. Longing for his long lost lover, Vampira (Vanessa Graves), Dracula takes the blood of Playboy playmates to resurrect her, which turns her into a dark-skinned woman. In a failed attempt at social commentary about interracial relationships, Dracula ends up turning Black at the end of the film, forcing Niven to appear in Blackface, an extremely regrettable choice. 

Also in 1974, Jack Palance (Oscar winner for “City Slickers”) gave a fairly drab and uninspired performance in the ABC TV movie “Dracula.” Richard Matheson (“I Am Legend’) adapted Bram Stoker’s work to return the legend to its roots. The result is seeped in melodrama and Palance is sleep-walking through most of it, sadly.

Winning Best Actor for “Darkest Hour,” Gary Oldman’s heartbreaking performance as the Count in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is clearly the best out of all the Oscar recipients to date. Co-star Cary Elwes recently told The Hollywood Reporter that Oldman actually slept in a coffin every night during shooting.

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