In an age when cheesy vampire movies abound, two vampire roles stand out as the best: Max Schreck as Graf Orlok in F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) and Gary Oldman as Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992).
Both movies are based on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, and both actors bring different qualities to the characters. Schreck's Graf Orlock is your basic vampire: pale, big teeth, ugly, and terrifying. Schreck brings out all of Orlock's more frightening qualities. His appearance (pale skin, pointy ears, blackened eyes, and sharp teeth) is the stuff nightmares are made of. Schreck actually looks like the Dracula that was described in Stoker's book. There is no wonder why there was a rumor that Schreck was really a vampire.
Oldman's Dracula, however, is slightly different. Though he has his ugly appearance when visited by Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves), he appears as a handsome foreign prince to Mina (Winona Ryder), Harker's wife. Schreck's Orlock did not have the ability to change his appearance so drastically, nor did Schreck show the softer side of the character. Oldman's Dracula had cared for a woman before becoming a vampire, and seems to care about Mina (whom he sees as a reincarnation of the woman he loved) at the end. Oldman's Dracula is not wholly evil as Schreck's Orlock was.
However, the two characters have things in common as well. Both Dracula and Orlock have the same power over women (they send them into a trance-like state). Both have the ability to move quickly from place to place and can change shapes. Both have a creepy castle, in which they keep their respective Harkers (Reeves for Oldman and Gustav von Wangenheim for Schreck) in captivity. Both enchant the lovely Mina (Ryder and Greta Schröder, whose character is called Nina).
So, who is the better of the two? If fright is what you are going for, it is Schreck's Orlock all the way (whose movie more closely adheres to the book). If you are more into being able to sympathize somewhat with Dracula, go for Oldman's movie.
"Dracula (1992)." The Internet Movie Database. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103874/).