Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Dracula, from then to now.

Listen to them, Children of the night
What music they make.

Well this ought to capture at least some peoples attention, who does not like Dracula???
Horror fans, old grandpas and young teenage girls who apparently is so thirsty for some vampire goodiness that they succumb to the all hated, and to be frank, all dreadful Twilight

I love Dracula, and the two of us goes back a long time. Though he would not be my classic monster obsession number one, that honour goes to a completely other individual... or erhmm.. individuals I guess... maybe... we will talk about that later.

So, Dracula was originally a novel written by author Bram Stocker all the way back in 1897, unlike other books that have given life to pop culture figures I have talked about, Phantom of the opera, The Scarlet Pimpernel and so on. this book does not disappoint and is actually a good exiting read, despite its old age. its a creepy stalker horror book where the danger is everywhere and the characters must always fear for loosing their sanity as that is exactly what is happening for other people around them. cool.

okay, this thing have a lot, and I mean a lot of adaptations, I have seen a lot through my young life, and thus is naturally not going to cover all of them, just them I find the best or most important. Or have played a part through my personal life.. hey! my blog, my choices.

One of the most known and influential early versions of this movie is the 1922 German exspretionalistic silent "Nosferatu"
This movie is great, its creepy and good looking and even today is pretty scary. if you have the right copy. Like the old silent Phantom of the opera, there are several copies of this on the marked, and if your going to watch it, make sure you get a copy with a good soundtrack, not the free versions around the internet, a copy with a good soundtrack, the viewing experience will be totally different.
The movie follows the book pretty faithful, and is the closets to have the same mood as the book, also its the Dracula character closets to him in the book as he is not a sexy vampire, but just plain ugly and creepy. what a delight.

The Dracula mental imprint I guess everyone have would be the Bella Lugosi black and white movie from 1931, simply called Dracula.
Its a fun movie to sit through, all though it probably wont blow your mind away its still pretty cool to watch this early stuff that created today's clich├ęs, and with few effects it creates its creepy atmosphere with the characters and dialogue, especially all the scenes with Renfield is nuts and creepy. Dracula himself comes off as a creepy eccentric dude, and kind of demands the screen when he is in the room, he is a focus stealer. And the movie is worth checking out, if not for anything else, then its cultural influence on all Draculas and Vampires to come, and it's James Rolf's favourite old universal horror picture :D

The movie had several sequels, but does are only worth checking out for people who are either great Dracula fans, or great fans of the old monster movies. Bella Lugosi isn't even in any of them.

In 1958 Hammer productions made their first Dracula movie with Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Hellsing.
The movie had 7 sequels by the Hammer company, all with Christopher lee back, 8 sequels if you count "The Legend of the 7 golden vampires" which doesn't have Lee back as Dracula, but instead Cushing as Van Hellsing.
Now, changes are they either you would watch all of these movies or non of them, so I am just going to talk about them as a whole. these movies are great fun, its really campy B movies when it works, and that is how I personally like it. Its not afraid of using lots of a blood and gore and other cheap scary effects, and on the same time maintain the creepy atmosphere of a person telling a horror story in the middle of a thunder filled dark night. Differently worth checking out, though some of the movies kind of fall flat with to little Dracula and to little gore, others thankfully hit it spot on.

In 1979 two really awesome versions of Dracula was released.
The first one was just plain oll "Dracula" with Frank Langella in the title character.
This movie is really overlooked as it is really awesome. its dead sexy, creepy and disturbing a really exiting tale of Dracula and a girls obsession with him, it really paints to picture of a romance I can deal with when regarding Dracula, and Frank Langella is a sexy bastard, he really knows how to handle that cape as well. visually stunning, horror is in order and even romance for the ladies. what more could you ask. Its differently one of my favourite Dracula movies.

The German "Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht" is at least, if not more an overlooked movie.
God dammit is this movie creepy and scary, it creeps the hell out of me.
Its more a remake of the old silent Nosferatu movie than anything else, and it is just as creepy, if not creepier. the guy playing the Nosferatu looks just as creepy and scarring as the one in the silent movie, and the movie is really just plain grotesque, there is nothing romantic about this, nor really campy over the top, just really scary. And it's fully on purpose that its so uncomfortable creepy to watch, yet it's so hypnotic that you can't really look away, I don't think I have seen another movie quite like it. really worth checking out.

In 1992, Francis Ford Corpella directed "Bram Stokers Dracula"
For me, this is to much an adventure romance, and to little a dracula horror. I know a lot of people who really lovea it, I just don't. It seems a bit to bland and over romanticised for my liking, and to little a dracula movie. Anyhow, if I want monster heartfelt drenching romance I go see a Phantom of the opera movie. Gary Oldman does a fine job as Dracula I guess. Keanu Reeves is his own wooden self as Jonathan Harker, this movie just doesn't say me that much to me.
And it's just such a shame that the title is "Bram Stokers Dracula" when it's the version the least faithful to the novel of all the above mentioned. No kidding. its like going to cinema expecting "Dracula" but getting "Tristan and Isolde" instead. both are fine stories, I just wanted Dracula and not the romantic sweety pie story of the ages.

In 1995 Mel Brooks made the parody "Dracula Dead and loving it" parodying all the classic Dracula movies. people seems to really hate this movie, I think its okay. The thing just is, that it kind of disappoints, I can imagine when people saw it the first time they were expecting another "Young Frankenstein" which is not only a brilliant spoof, but also maintains a sense of class and style, plus obvious love for the franchise its based on.
This spoof is just that, a spoof, and its fine, I know people complain its vulgar and gross, but so are all the classic Mel Brooks films, even "Young Frankenstein" which is filled with vulgar jokes. And I rather take this movie any day than another "Scary movie" though should I pick any Dracula movie... There are to many other Dracula movies doing a far better job, to me even want to watch this over and over.

In 2000 there was made "Dracula 2000" which is basically Dracula in a modern setting as the movie takes place in the same year as it had release date.
What can I say? its a fun bloody movie, made with love of its origins and that's that.
Its not overwhelming, its not movie altering but its great fun. and that in itself is kind of great.

And that's that. well Dracula have appeared in other movies since then in such things as "The league of Extraordinary gentlemen" which everyone already knows is a shitty movie, and "Van Hellsing" which everybody says is a shitty movie, but I find to be quite entertaining really, come on what did you expect of a monster mash up? it pretty much delivers everything I would personally expect.

And of cause its only a matter of time before yet another blockbuster movie will be made about the dude, plus he keeps popping up everywhere! children's cartoons, televisions serials, spoof and serious movies, Commercial for breakfast serial, comic books. he is everywhere, probably the most well known character in the world. and that is kind of awesome.

1 comment:

  1. I have to point out you use stills from the 1979 Nosferatu film for both entries - that's Klaus Kinski not Max Schreck in the first picture!