Dracula Through The Ages


Count Dracula has been scaring people for centuries.  Many different artists who have taken their turn portraying the world’s most famous vampire.  Below is a small selection of portraits of Dracula through the ages:

1560

1897

1931

1931

1931

1943

1957

1968

1970

1970

1979

1979

1987

1992

1992

2005

2014

Music Video of the Day: Dracula by MOANA (2018, dir by Luna Laure)


For today’s music video of the day, we have yet another song called Dracula.  However, as you can tell by looking at the lyrics, this song actually has some connection to everyone’s favorite vampire (or, at the very least, the legend of everyone’s favorite vampire):

Her
She was a dancer
Feel
As the girl she twirls off the edge of her paper-thin world

The “I”
Give to the Master
Mirror, mirror
Can you tell one from the other?
Strange
I offer my veins
Feel
As the girl she twirls off the edge of her paper-thin world

Oh in the night
When Dracula comes to fill your soul
To atone, confess
My one true weakness
My Dracula, Count Dracula

Her
She was a dancer
(First I must appease my thirst)
Feels
Good you know as the girl she twirls off the edge of her world

Oh in the night
When Dracula comes to fill your soul
To atone, confess
My one true weakness
My Dracula, Count Dracula

Oh in the night
When Dracula comes to fill your soul
To atone, confess
My one true weakness
My Dracula, Count Dracula

According to singer Moana Mayatrix, “I’d say it’s not directly about vampires but more so an exploration of vampire mythology and the allure of the dark side, much like being seduced by a Bram Stoker character.”

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Dracula by Vondelpark (2012, dir by ????)


It’s debatable whether or not this song from Vondelpark is actually about the Lord of the Vampires but I imagine he’d appreciate it.  Myself, I love the atmospheric, dream-like feel of both the song and the video.  Just listening to this puts me into another world.

Sadly, Vondelpark is no more.  They broke up in 2016.  But Dracula lives forever.

Enjoy!

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Tod Browning Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director is Tod Browning, who started his career during the silent era, ended it in the sound era, and was responsible for some of the most important horror and suspense films of both!

4 Shots From 4 Films

West of Zanzibar (1928, dir by Tod Browning)

Dracula (1931, dir by Tod Browning)

Freaks (1932, dir by Tod Browning)

Mark of the Vampire (1935, dir by Tod Browning)

 

Horror Film Review: Dracula (dir by John Badham)


I have to admit that, when I first sat down to watch the 1979 version of Dracula, I wasn’t expecting much.  I hadn’t even heard of the film until I came across it on Encore and, when I considered that it was made in 1979, I immediately assumed it would be a disco Dracula film.

And, let’s be honest — a disco Dracula film sounds kinda fun.  But still, it’s Halloween.  Dracula is an icon of horror.  And somehow, the idea of watching disco Dracula just was not appealing.  It would be appealing in November or September.  BUT THIS IS OCTOBER!

Well, despite my misgivings, I watched the film and I quickly discovered that it wasn’t a disco Dracula at all.  This Dracula takes place in 1913 and there’s actually very little about it that would lead you to suspect that it had been made in the 1970s.  Instead, it feels more like a tribute to the colorful and lushly erotic Dracula films that Hammer produced in the 60s.  Except, oddly, the Hammer films were far more bloody than the 1979 version.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  There’s a few gory scenes in 1979’s Dracula.  Towards the end of the film, there’s a rather bloody impaling.  Dracula graphically breaks another character’s neck as we watch.  But, even with those scenes in mind, the 1979 Dracula feels oddly restrained at times.

In this version of Dracula, the title character is played by a youngish Frank Langella.  I have to admit that it was a bit odd to see Langella playing someone other than a corrupt authority figure.  Dare I say it, Langella is almost sexy in this film and his somewhat feral features are perfect for a character who considers wolves to be “the children of the night.”  Langella’s performance falls between the haughty charm of Bela Lugosi and the animalistic fury of Christopher Lee.  And while Langella’s performance never quite reaches the heights of those two actors, he’s still effectively cast.

As for the film itself, it starts with a shipwreck near a local asylum.  One of the passengers on that ship is the charming but mysterious Count Dracula.  Dracula introduces himself to the head of the asylum, Dr. Jack Seward (Donald Pleasence, stealing almost every scene in which he appears).  There’s an immediate attraction between Dracula and Seward’s daughter, Lucy (Kate Nelligan).  That does not amuse Lucy’s fiancee, Jonathan Harker (Trevor Eve, who is perhaps the whiniest Harker in film history).

Meanwhile, Lucy’s best friend, Mina (Jan Francis), has been taken ill and it might have something to do with the two puncture marks on her neck.  After Mina dies, her father (played by Laurence Olivier) comes to investigate.  Her father’s name?  Abraham Van Helsing.

As I said, I was not expecting much from this version of Dracula so I was actually pleasantly surprised during the first hour of the film.  This version gets off to a nice start, with director John Badham giving us a mix of lush romanticism and gothic moodiness.  I’ve already talked about Langella’s performance but  Donald Pleasence and Laurence Olivier also distinguish themselves.  It’s obvious that these veteran performers enjoyed playing opposite each other and there’s a lot of pleasure to be found from watching Pleasence and Olivier compete to see who can steal the most scenes.

Unfortunately, after that strong first hour, Dracula slows down.  Once Seward and Van Helsing know that Dracula is a vampire, the whole movie becomes about finding excuses for them to not do anything about it.  The final 40 minutes feel almost like filler and, at one point, you’re required to believe that an elderly man, who has been seriously wounded, could still find the strength to swing a hook into a much stronger person’s back.

In the end, the 1979 Dracula is more of an intriguing oddity than a definitive version.

Horror Film Review: Dracula’s Daughter (dir by Lambert Hillyer)


draculas_doughter_original_poster_1936

Did you know that Dracula had a daughter!?

Well, Bram Stoker might disagree but, according to Universal Studios, he did.  Her name was Countess Marya Zaleska and, as played by Gloria Holden, she is the title character in 1936’s Dracula’s Daughter!  Like her father, the Countess was also a vampire.  The film never gets into just how she became a vampire.  Was she born a vampire or, far more disturbingly, was she once a mortal who turned into a vampire by her own father?  The film doesn’t tell us but it does establish early on that she hates being one of the undead.  Unlike her father, she struggles with her urge to drink blood.  When she discovers that Dracula has been staked, she and her servant, Sandor (Irving Pichel), steal the body from the morgue and burn it.  The Countess thinks that this will cure her of her urges.

Sadly, it does no such thing.

So, what’s a reluctant, 20th century vampire to do?  Well, she can always go to a psychiatrist and hope that science can somehow break the curse.  She ends up as a patient of Dr. Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger).  By coincidence, Dr. Garth has another famous patient — Dr. Edward Von Helsing.  (That’s right, they changed the “van” to a “von” in Dracula’s Daughter.  Despite the name change, Edward van Sloan returns to play the veteran vampire hunter.)

Von Helsing in on trial, accused of murdering Dracula in the previous film.  Oddly enough, nobody mentions Renfield who, seeing as how we’re told Dracula’s Daughter starts exactly where Dracula left off, would have been found dead in the crypt as well.  Even stranger, no one steps forward to defend Von Helsing.  Dr. Seward, Mina, Johnathan Harker?  Forget about them.  Not a single one is to be found while Von Helsing is accused of murder.

Bastards.

Fortunately, Von Helsing has a defense!  Since Dracula was already dead and had been for 500 years, Von Helsing could not have killed him.  Helping him out with this defense is Dr. Garth…

Meanwhile, the Countess tries to resist the urge to attack every woman that she sees.  She pours her frustrations out into painting.  One night, Sandor brings the Countess a new model, a beautiful young woman named Lil (Nan Grey).  The Countess orders Lil to undress and then, after staring at her, gives into her urges and attacks…

If you’re thinking that there’s a subtext here, that’s because there is.  (In fact, Universal’s tagline for the film was, “Save the women of London from Dracula’s Daughter!”)  Perhaps even more so than in Dracula, Dracula’s Daughter uses vampirism as a metaphor for forbidden sex.  When the Countess stares at Lil and, later, when she prepares to bite the neck of Dr. Garth’s fiancée, she is embodying the hysterical fears of a puritanical society.  When she unsuccessfully seeks a cure for her vampirism, we’re reminded that, in the 1930s, psychiatry classified homosexuality as being a mental illness.  When the Countess struggles with her urge to drink blood, she is a stand-in for everyone who has struggled with their sexuality.

Gloria Holden plays the Countess as being as much a victim as a victimizer.  Whereas Bela Lugosi turned Dracula into the epitome of evil, Gloria Holden gives a performance that is full of ambiguity.  In fact, she at times seems to be so tortured by her vampiric state that, when she finally fully embraces the fact that she’s a vampire, you have to cheer a little.  At least she’s finally being honest with herself!  At least she’s no longer making apologies or allowing society to punish her for being who she is.  Was Countess Zaleska the first reluctant vampire in film history?  I’m not sure but Holden’s performance undoubtedly set the bar by which all other self-loathing vampires should be judged.

Dracula’s Daughter holds up surprisingly well.  It’s definitely one to look for during this Halloween season.