Yes, I know this is blasphemy to many horror fans. Bela Lugosi is the first and to many the best Dracula/vampire actor. He set the standard by which all others are judged. He also created the archetype of what vampires are like. Lugosi gave Dracula and vampires a widow's peak hair, arching eyebrows, a tux and a thick Hungarian accent. He moved spoke slowly and moved silently into his victim's room (Dark Shadow's star Johnathan Frid described Lugosi's Dracula as "like ballet"). The truth is Lugosi only played Dracula in two films, but played vampires in a hand full of other movies.
Lee tends to be scarier thanks to special effects and the sexual overtones. However, what may have caused Lugosi scariness to diminish may have nothing to do with Lee and the folks at Hammer Studios. The blame for Lugosi losing his fear factor could be laid at the feet of both General Mills and Sesame Street.