Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dracula

I love good horror movies. I like campy ones too and I'd rather see a bad horror flick than a bad any other kind. Buckets of blood don't do it for me alone. I want it to make me look around corners and be jumpy for a while.

Some monsters never scared me, like Frankenstein, who I always believed got a bad break, and the Mummy moved so slowly, how did he ever catch anyone. But both those films were eerie and scared me even if the monsters didn't.
Lon Chaney's Wolfman was cool because although he seemed to always lose his shoes, he kept his shirt and pants on while darting around under the full moon. Maybe it was his man-creature thing that scared me. But the one that kept me up nights was always Dracula.

Nosferatu - 1922 Starring Max Schreck, Directed by F. W. Murnau. The first and the probably the best and certainly the eeriest. The Count was called Orlok not Dracula because they could not secure the rights to the novel.

Although, part of the film’s charm is due to the fact that it is the first
adaptation of the novel, thus free from any comparison and clich├ęs. Count Orlok is fearsomely tall, slender, pale, and bald. Instead of the typical vampire fangs now seen on every depiction of a vampire, his fangs are more like those of a rodent, right in the middle, and his ears are large and pointy like a bat’s. Max Schreck, who plays the part, plays it to perfection. His wide-eyed stares and inhuman posture make the look work.

The film, however, exceeds mostly in the visual department. In shooting the dank crypts of the film, director F.W. Murnau and expressionist cinematographer Fritz Wagner, photograph many startling images. It is not only Orloc’s movement, but the photography, lighting and the special effects that add so much to the visual element. When the driver is riding upon a carriage through a forest to Orloc’s estate, a negative of the picture is shown, creating an eerie, other worldly effect, and that is what the film is all about for me. It not only scare us, it creates an almost dreamlike mood, haunting us with its atmosphere and images.

Dracula - 1931 Bela Lugosi. This is the classic Dracula. Bela with his stiff but commanding hypnotic style is what we came for many years to think the Count was like. Lugosi was always eerie and spooky. Don't worry Bela, Ed Wood is coming to get you.



Horror of Dracula - 1958. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. This one goes astray of the Stoker novel but it works. It's more of a mystery than you'd expect with this well known story. Peter Cushing's Dr. Van Helsing and Lee as the Count are top notch, very different from Lugosi's deliberate characterization. Really scary and good story telling. Hammer Films made several other Dracula films with either Lee, Cushing or both during the 60's and early 70's.


Trivia- The set that was Dracula's castle in this movie is now a hotel in the Scottish Highlands and the internal decor is still very much the same.

On several occasions, Christopher Lee complained about the contact lenses he had to wear for the shock scenes. Not only they were quite painful, but he could not see a thing. While running towards the vampire woman for instance, he even ran too far past the camera on the first take.


Blackula - 1972 William Marshal, Denise Nicholas, Vonetta McGee. The Count starts out in Africa this time and ends up in Los Angeles. Stereotypical Blackploitaionisms and all, it is scary. Singer Ketty Lester (Love Letters) has a hospital scene that I remember scared me pretty good. William Marshall's voice and cape action makes it worth the time.



Nosferatu - 1979 Starring Klaus Kinski. He is now Count Dracula and still scariest looking and although I like the original better, this is a good one.

Dracula - 1979 Frank Langella, Lawrence Olivier, Donald Pleasance. Great cast and production. Langella is smooth, not my favorite Dracula but believably blood thirsty and worth the popcorn.



Love at First Bite - 1979 George Hamilton, Susan St. James, Richard Benjamin. The Count gets evicted from his Transylvania home and ends up in New York City. A fun romantic-comedy vampire flick. Party over here!

Bram Stokers Dracula - 1992 Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. I saw this one yesterday. This Dracula's appearance goes back and forth between modern and Nosferatu. Dracula searches for his true love and finds her descendant. Sensual, scary and bloody but somewhat slow moving and obvious. "You'll be safe here". Yeah right.

Gary Oldman



Dracula 2000 - Jonny Lee Miller, Omar Epps and Jeri Ryan. The vampire gets locked in a castle/office complex. Ok, it's got Jeri Ryan.

Dracula: Pages From A Virgin Diary - 2002. Wei-Qiang Zhang, Tara Birtwhistle. An honest artsy attempt to tell the Dracula story thru ballet. Honest.

VLAD - 2003. Billy Zane. Four college students go to Romania in search of Drac's castle to research material for their theses. Nuff said.

4 comments:

Alex said...

Blacula?????

You win.

Hands down.

jackie said...

Youv'e never seen that one? It was pretty good and a novelty of course for a vampire flick.

Dustin said...

I have never seen Balckula but I have heard it is fun. Unfortunately, it is not avaialable on Netflix...maybe I will try the library.

One movie I will suggest for your collection is Leprechaun. It is scary and funny at the same time. Basically an ancient Leprechaun finds himself in the 1990s and is trying to retrieve his pot of gold but the shananigans he has t go through to get it is both amusing and scary at times.

jackie said...

I love little scary characters. Dolls and clowns scare the hookey out of me. Leprechaun sounds good, I'll get check it out for sure.