Watching Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers on a Saturday night that I will never get back, I would be tempted to say no. Considering Polanski’s reputation for dark classics like The Knife in the Water, Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion I was hoping for better.
There are many films based on Dracula by Bram Stoker. Few of them closely follow the novel. Instead they are adaptions that reflect the times they were made in. One of the most noteworthy is Dracula directed by John Badham in 1979. Kate Nelligan’s Lucy is portrayed as an outspoken woman who is in control. She is no longer a passive victim. The men who are the traditional heroes of the narrative are portrayed as corrupt, incompetent and oppressive.
SPOILER ALERT: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dir: Dan Curtis, 1973, Dracula, Dir: John Badham, 1979, Bram Stoker’s Dracula Dir: Francis Ford Coppola, 1992
Everyone knows that Dracula was really Vlad the Impaler right? Well no, probably not. Stoker may have used the title Dracula, which also applied to Vlad Tepes or Vlad III or Vlad the Impaler) but “Dracula” was a title rather than the specific name of that historic figure. “Dracula” means “child of the dragon” or “devil”. Stoker had made notes that “Dracula in WALLACHIAN language means DEVIL”. But he may not have known much of the legends of Vlad the Impaler.
In 1972 Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu wrote In Search of Dracula, claiming that Stoker’s Count Dracula and Vlad the Impaler were one and the same, lending historical weight Continue reading
The post-war years saw a shift in vampire fiction – with women beginning to take more active roles than previously. The emerging women’s movement and the sexual liberation the pill brought had something to do with this. Though vampire fiction was still a long way from the point when Joss Whedon would decide to have the blonde girl in the alley fight back, it wasn’t really enough for women to be waiting around to get bitten anymore. One of the earliest examples of can be seen in the first Hammer Horror film about Dracula, directed by Terence Fisher in 1958.
In Horror of Dracula Christopher Lee’s performance as Dracula brings glamour to the role. The Count is well spoken, well dressed and his home is luxurious. Continue reading
SPOILER ALERT: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, Dir: F W Murnau 1922, Eclipse (movie and book), BtVS (Seasons One and Five), Dracula, Dir: Tod Browning, 1931
Ken Gelder observes of Dracula (and James Bond) movies that “these films each bear only a nominal relationship(s) to their literary source(s). Moreover as they begin to comprise a distinct genre, these films speak to themselves … much more than they to speak to any ‘original’ novel(s)”. Each appearance of the iconic figure of Dracula in the cinema has seen a departure from Stoker’s novel. Each time this creates new sources of reference for what a vampire or Dracula should be.
Nosferatu and the heroines willing sacrifice
Dracula’s first appearance in film in the 1922 German production Nosferatu, directed by F W Murnau, retained the monstrous characterisation of the count. He appears as a Continue reading