If you’ve read the book, as any self-respecting vampire fan has, then you know that the Dracula in that novel doesn’t look a whole lot like the Draculas of the movies. Gary Oldman was made to look like Vlad the Impaler, which I loved, and Christopher Lee sported the Vlad facial hair once or twice. The cinematic version that most closely resembles the description of the character from the novel is the one played by Joseph Carradine in such films as HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF DRACULA, and BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA—and I always found Carradine’s Dracula the least interesting. Why is that? Is it the mustache?
More often than not—much more often—Dracula is presented without the mustache. Or, if he has facial hair, it’s a goatee or beard, like Gary Oldman. The latest version of the Count, portrayed by actor Claes Bang, is as clean-shaven as any Dracula who has come before. When it comes to putting the character on film, the mustache just doesn’t work. Is it that it takes away from the fangs when we see them? That seems unlikely, since Bela Lugosi as Dracula never showed his fangs. I theorize that having a clean-shaven Dracula lends the suggestion of his living in the present day, even when the “present day” of a movie is set in what is for us the past, whereas seeing him with a mustache suggests the past of the character, perhaps before he became a vampire. But it could be as simple as him having no mustache allows the audience a better look at his face. And again, Dracula may not wear a mustache because Bela Lugosi didn’t wear a mustache, and Lugosi set the standard for what the character is supposed to look like.