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The Dracula Page
This page was designed to accompany discussion of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula. Link here to sites and contemplate items of related interest; send suggestions, additions, and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org: no garlic wreaths (please put G.M. Baxter's Dracula Page in the subject line). The lists below are highly selective; annotations may not travel as fast as the dead, but keep watching....
- Dracula's Home Page and its Mirror Site: Even the Count has one, maintained by Elizabeth Miller, formerly at Memorial University in Newfoundland, now based in Toronto; link to information on the English and Transylvanian settings of the novel, films, other novels, and historical background. The Transylvanian Society of Dracula is now linked to Elizabeth's beautifully redesigned site.
- Dracula (2006): Here's the PBS site for this recent BBC refunctioning of Stoker's tale, with Marc Warren (Alan Bleasdale's Oliver Twist) and Sophia Myles (Underworld, also Oliver Twist).
- Dracula Blogged: You knew this had to happen, and when it starts up again even if you've gone through all the entries by then, you'll check it every day.
Visit The Internet Movie Database for
more information on films and film personnel mentioned on this page.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula: 1992; dir. Francis Ford Coppola,
with Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Sadie
Frost, Richard E. Grant, and Tom Waits. Faithful to the structure if not
exactly the spirit of the novel, this casts the Count as a vengeful
Romanian knight undone by the reincarnation of his lost love. Oldman is
more impressive in fright-wig, red robe and stiletto nails as the old
vampire than as the long-haired, sentimental young prince, but plays the
part to the hilt all the way, and so has the perfect adversary in Hopkins.
Everything about this grandly overheated romantic drama looks wonderful,
especially Eiko Ishioka's symbolic costumes, and bear in mind that Coppola
uses fairly old film techniques and shot the whole thing on a
soundstage. The soundtrack is excellent.
- Nosferatu: 1979; dir. Werner Herzog, with Klaus Kinski,
Isabelle Adjani, and Bruno Ganz. This seems to take a lot of liberties,
transposing the Lucy and Mina characters, eliminating the suitors,
synthesizing the Seward and Van Helsing figures, and shifting the locale
from England to the Netherlands. But Herzog's homage to F.W. Murnau's
landmark 1922 Nosferatu (both films influenced Coppola's version)
is a breathtakingly gorgeous movie, at once eerie, erotic and darkly
humorous while staying faithful to two elements of the text: the
mysterious otherness of the vampire, and his lack of romantic power over
the mortals. There's a scene in which Lucy wanders through a plague-ridden
town that's straight out of a Brueghel painting. Kinski is a worthy
successor to Max Schreck; he invests his hideous count with horror,
pathos, and even a weird sort of humour and majesty. Ganz and Adjani are
creepily gorgeous as the doomed couple: at odds with their sunny little
house, they seem more like your neighbours in a suburb designed by Edgar
Allan Poe. The ending is a jolt! The text changes reflect Murnau's original film, which altered the setting and some story elements, renamed
the Count and took its title from a word possibly meaning "undead" though more likely meaning "plague" or "plague-bearer" (the relationship between Murnau's film and Stoker's estate is chronicled in David J. Skal's book Hollywood Gothic). See the Herzog
film in German with subtitles if possible (the dvd has both English and
German versions); almost everyone, especially Ganz and Adjani, speaks more
naturally in this one.
- Dracula: 1979; dir. John Badham, with Frank Langella,
Kate Nelligan, Laurence Olivier, Trevor Eve, Donald Pleasance, Jan
Francis, and Tony Haygarth. I blush to admit it, but I read the novel
because of this movie, which makes some unfortunate changes to the plot,
but intriguingly pits Dracula as Byronic antihero against a strong-willed
feminist Lucy (the heroines' names are swapped and several relationships
redefined, so that the sickly Mina is Van Helsing's daughter, and Lucy is
Jack Seward's daughter; the only non-Dracula suitor is Jonathan Harker,
Lucy's fiancé). The coastal locations are stunningly photographed,
and Langella looks great in black.
- Count Dracula: 1977; BBC TV
2-part series (4 hours in total), with Louis Jourdan, Judi Bowker, Frank
Finlay, Susan Penhaglion and Jack Shephard. This has fairly cheap
production values, but is well-acted, appropriately creepy and
atmospheric, and faithful to the original novel.
- Horror of Dracula: 1958; dir. Terence Fisher, with
Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Michael Gough. All right, so I wasn't
impressed with Dracula turning into what appears to be dust at the end,
but this is arch British theatrical horror acting at its best. You might
know Cushing better as the tight-lipped and sarcastic Grand Moff Tarkin in
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Gough as Alfred in the
Batman movies 1989-97; Lee is still going strong past 80, recently providing
magnificent turns in Gormenghast, Lord of the Rings, and
the second and third films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
- Dracula: 1931; dir. Tod Browning, with Bela Lugosi,
Dwight Frye, and Helen Chandler. This film put Dracula in evening clothes,
defined his Transylvanian accent, and popularized him in the 20th century
imagination. Those of you who might think this rather quaint, and who
might only think of Lugosi as the dignified yet pathetic figure Martin
Landau played in Tim Burton's Ed Wood should go back and have a
look at this: it has its undeniably chilling moments, especially at the
Other Vampire Movies
- Shadow of the Vampire: 2000; dir. E. Elias Merhige, with John
Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack, Aden
Gillett, Eddie Izzard, Ronan Vibert. A gorgeously scored and photographed film, which
takes on the story of the filming of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (see
above), and proposes that Max Schreck's eccentricities (only appearing in
character, only filming at night) weren't just method acting, while
addressing the way that both film and the vampire myth deal with a desire
for immortality and an escape from "reality."
- Interview with the Vampire: 1995; dir. Stephen Frears,
with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea,
and Christian Slater. As gorgeous in its own way as Coppola's film, this
might be quite jarring to fans of Anne Rice's novel but grows on you.
Pitt finds the nobility and ambiguity in Louis, and Cruise the sardonic
humour and the pain, in Lestat; Dunst is a revelation in the difficult
role of the child-vampire Claudia.
- Underworld: 2003; dir. Len Wiseman, with Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Shane Brolly, and Sophia Myles. This stylish and cleverly referential, post-Matrix fantasy presents a centuries old feud between vampires (slickly decadent Goths and leather-clad high-tech warriors) and lycans, or werewolves (scruffy tunnel-dwellers with their own strategies and agenda), carried out in contemporary Budapest (with location filming). Watch the extended version simply because it provides more backstory and so the motivations of the characters are clearer earlier on; a sequel, Evolution appeared in 2006 and while it has its moments, it lacks the presence of the great Nighy, and frankly it reboots too much of the plot unnecessarily, and it's clearly shot in Vancouver not Budapest, though at least it's short.
- Van Helsing: 2004; dir. Stephen Sommers, with Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, and David Wenham. It took me a while to get to this one, I'd been told such bad things about it. And it's too long and too busy and too uncertain of its aims, but it's really a very entertaining spin on the old "monster movies", with several stalwarts of the genre (Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Wolf Man, and of course Dracula) pitted against the titular hunter, an amnesiac immortal who works for some shady branch of the Vatican, the beautiful and very resourceful last surviving member of a Transylvanian family bound to Dracula's curse, and a young friar, not yet a monk, with an arsenal of gadgets that would make James Bond's mouth water. Don't think about it too much and just relish the great set pieces, and the wonderful costumes and effects.
- Tale of a Vampire: 1992; dir. Shimako Sato, with Julian
Sands, Suzanna Hamilton, and Kenneth Cranham. A quietly creepy, impressive
little film about a shy, scholarly vampire and the brash, defensive young
woman who befriends him. The conceit is that she's the image of Edgar
Allan Poe's teenaged bride, and just who is that mysterious man in the
black hat hanging out at the library of the occult?
- The Hunger: 1983; dir. Tom Scott, with Catherine
Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. Visually elegant, if emotionally
cold, but undeniably striking, this tale of the mid-80s New York demimonde
never uses the term vampire; John and Miriam Blaylock smoke cigarettes,
drink tea, wear neutral colours and tolerate daylight, though they do need
blood to survive. Also, only one at any given time seems actually to be
immortal. Seminal British post-punk Goth band Bauhaus performs "Bela Lugosi's Dead" during the opening sequence.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 1992; dir. Fran Kuzui, with
Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Luke Perry, Rutger Hauer and Paul
Reubens (Pee Wee Herman). Not perhaps as meaningful as the current TV
spinoff, but a smart teen flick with elements of satire, and a cast to die
- The Lost Boys: 1987; dir. Joel Schumacher, with Jason
Patric, Keifer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Corey Haim, Edward Herrmann, and
Jami Gertz. Some elements of trendy cleverness and a good soundtrack
featuring Echo and the Bunnymen's cover of the Doors' People are Strange;
Sutherland, Wiest and Herrmann are all good: otherwise, completely
forgettable, except as a veiled spoof of Peter Pan.
- House of Dark Shadows: 1970; dir. Dan Curtis, with
Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Grayson Hall, John Karlen, Thayer
David, Nancy Barrett and Joan Bennett. Some details of this don't bear
very close inspection (are those silver crosses the police brandish
standard issue?), but this is a well-paced and actually quite scary
chiller which makes good use of its autumn setting at an old New England
mansion, as well as its talented cast, even when they're not acting
particularly well. Frid's melancholic splendour is intact from the TV
series though he actually seems to be enjoying himself here. Please, someone, release this on dvd!
- Love at First Bite: 1979; dir. Stan Dragoti, with
George Hamilton, Richard Benjamin, Susan St. James, and Arte Johnson.
You'll hate yourself in the morning, but this has such moments as the good
count's riposte to the villagers driving him out of Transylvania, and
Johnson's Renfield, a lover of rats paralleled in his devotion only by Crispin Glover's Dwight Frye-esque Willard.
- Vampire's Kiss: 1989; dir. Robert Bierman, with Nicolas
Cage, Jennifer Beals, Maria Conchito Alonso, and Elizabeth Ashley. All
right: as a vampire movie, this is in the eye of the beholder, because
arguably overstrung yuppie literary agent Cage never really becomes one of
the undead: he just thinks he does after a particularly bizarre encounter
with singles-bar pickup Beals. One of the strangest, and perhaps most apt,
metaphors for the work/sex ethic of the 1980s; watch this to see why Cage
became famous not for the stuff he does now, but for things like Wild
Vampire Novels: Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles
- Interview with the Vampire
- The Vampire Lestat
- Queen of the Damned
- Tale of the Body Thief
- Memnoch the Devil
- Vittorio the Vampire
- The Vampire Armand
- Blood and Gold
- Blackwood Farm
- Blood Canticle
The Original TV Vampires
- Dark Shadows: The cult-item bargain-basement goth soap
of the 1960s, which introduced Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins, the
guilt-ridden but still dangerous vampire, freed from his coffin by a
handyman at a spooky old mansion in New England. The smouldering,
black-eyelinered Grayson Hall played the doctor who tries to make him
mortal when she isn't avenging herself on him for pursuing a younger woman
(Kathryn Leigh Scott) who resembles his long-lost bride. Frid was, like
Leonard Nimoy, one of the unlikeliest male cult icons of 1960s TV: a
40-something stage actor with a sonorous voice, a haircut that might best
be called Napoleonic Mod, lean craggy features and sad dark eyes. Remade
unsuccessfully around 1990 with Ben Cross and Barbara Steele: this new
version predated the late-90s vogue for fantasy TV and was cancelled
unresolved, though it really did have its moments.
- Forever Knight: Canadian series (with Geraint Wyn
Davies, Nigel Bennett, Catherine Disher, and Deborah Duchene) about a
13th-century vampire atoning for his sins by fighting crime in Toronto: on
the night shift, of course. He is assisted by a sympathetic pathologist,
Natalie Lambert, who befriends and attempts to "cure" him, but Toronto is
also now home to his longtime companions, the beautiful Janette, now owner
of a nightclub called the Raven, and master vampire LaCroix, host of an
all-night radio show: he'd have Howard Stern for lunch. This show at
first split the Barnabas Collins type (rather as Anne Rice did with Louis
and Lestat), so that the guilt and the desire to be human were housed in
Nick Knight, while the malevolence and deviousness were transferred to
LaCroix, though the two began to mesh and merge as the series progressed
to its tragic conclusion. Budget limitations and constant threats of
cancellation meant the show had to remake itself every year, which got in
the way of story arc development, though the various history flashbacks
did much to establish convincing backstories and complex motivations for
the vampires. Overly talky and an uncomfortable mix of genres by times,
but with some wonderful episodes, and very well acted by a cast with a
great dynamic. Some notable Canadian actors, such as Colm Feore
(Trudeau, Titus, The Red Violin, Thirty-two Short
Films about Glenn Gould), did guest spots.
- The Little Vampire: Inexpensive-looking but quite
nicely plotted series about a little boy who befriends a vampire named
Rudiger, and discovers a world of vampires who get to choose the age and
appearance they'll hold through eternity. Now a feature film with Richard
E. Grant and Alice Krige as the little vampire's parents.
Music to Read Dracula By
- Bauhaus: the entire collection but especially Bela Lugosi's Dead (undead, undead,
undead), sung in Peter Murphy's ravishingly sepulchral baritone
- The Cure: Robert Smith dons the cape and fangs for the Why
Can't I Be You? video by these masters of melancholy
- Siouxsie and the Banshees: the inspiration of a generation of
- Soft Cell: How could I forget Martin, Marc Almond and Dave Ball's tribute to George Romero's 1977 cult horror film about a boy who at least believes he is a vampire and acts accordingly. I used to play this, several times, every Hallowe'en. It's on The Art of Falling Apart, that most gothic of their records; if you get a chance, watch their superbly compelling performance of it as the middle encore on the 2001 Live in Milan reunion-tour dvd.
- Depeche Mode: especially Black Celebrations and
- Concrete Blonde: especially Bloodletting, whose title
track was inspired by Anne Rice (as was Sting's Moon Over Bourbon
Street on Dream of the Blue Turtles)
- Echo and the Bunnymen: especially Ocean Rain, and its
tracks Nocturnal Me and The Killing Moon
- Alice Cooper: check out Love It To Death for The Ballad
of Dwight Frye, an ode to one of the more memorable Renfields on film,
though the one in Herzog's Nosferatu gives him a run for the money
in the mad laugh department
- Lost Highway: All right, this soundtrack to David
Lynch's film is stretching it, but it is produced by Trent Reznor, and
Nine Inch Nails' video for The Perfect Drug is so obviously inspired by
Bram Stoker's Dracula, even to the absinthe bottle. Tracks by NIN,
David Bowie, Rammstein, the Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson and Lou
Reed, so full of edgy angst and melancholy: leave your nightlight
- The Art of Darkness: This makes a clever literary pun
in its title, and is a surprisingly lively collection of 1980s and 90s
techno-gloom by such goths and industrials as the aforementioned Nine Inch
Nails, Marilyn Manson, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Sisters of Mercy, Peter
Murphy, Skinny Puppy, etc. etc. Put on your purple lipstick and black nail
polish, and play this at your Hallowe'en party.
Copyright Gisèle M. Baxter 1996-2008. All rights
Last updated on 10 February 2008.