Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hollywood's Dracula War

Until 1992, this budding horror fiend's diet of Dracula films was abundant with Universal's output in the '30s and '40s and Hammer's vibrant, sexual revival in the '60s and '70s (I was never a fan of the John Badham version in '79 with Frank Langella). Then Francis Ford Coppola came along with Bram Stoker's Dracula, amplifying the sex and violence and introducing audiences to the back story of Vlad the Impaler (aka Vlad Dracul or Vlad Tepes), the man who inspired the Dracula legend.

In this bloody, creature-filled, hyper-stylized fever dream of an adaptation, Vlad is a knight in the Order of the Dragon who fights against the Turks and returns home to find that his woman has killed herself over some misinformation. He freaks out and renounces God. Stabs a cross (which bleeds). Says he'll avenge her death by defying his own, furthermore, when he returns from the grave he'll have "all the powers of darkness." Hence the whole drinking blood, crawling walls, sleeping in a coffin, shape shifting thing that follows… But prior to Coppola's version, written by James V. Hart, the Vlad/Dracula-as-we've-always-known-him connection was never fully realized except for in a 1975 documentary called In Search of Dracula in which Christopher Lee played Vlad. Yes, Lee, Hammer’s regal and deadly Dracula.

read on on Shock till you drop