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Dracula

Watching the 1970s "Dracula" starring Frank Langella and I've seen it before, but I never noticed these blatant continuity errors before. You know how vampires can't be reflected in mirrors? Well, they've established that here in a scene where Van Helsing finally confronts Dracula because he knows what he is, after he enters a room and can't be seen in the mirror. Dracula throws a lamp and breaks the mirror -- and then seconds later, we see it intact again because now Dr. Van Helsing is reflected in it.

And then to prove that Mina (in this film, they switch Mina and Lucy's names - why I have no idea), is a vampire now, Van Helsing holds a mirror over her face. Not to show if there's breath there, as they used to do, but to show that she has no reflection. And she hasn't. But earlier, when he went to prove she'd risen from the dead, he's alerted to her presence when he sees her reflected in a puddle. OY!

As for my favorite Dracula film, I kind of have issues with all of them. In the original, Bela is just so cheesy. (He's more menacing in White Zombie for example), but their Renfield is awesomely creepy. Then the '60s Hammer ones starring Christopher Lee are big on boobs and lurid color and not so much on the scares or atmosphere. The Coppola Dracula has its moments, but as a movie it's a mess. Plus, you cast Gary Oldman and he spends 80% of his sceentime as Dracula as an old, desiccated version of himself, or a wolf or a bat-man? Urgh. And of course, the horror that is Keanu and Winona trying to act with British accents. And as much as I love Tom Waits, I'm not fond of his Renfield. But the score for that film is one of my all-time fames and I really wish I had it!

One of my favorite aspects of the story of Dracula is the terror of the crew of the ship on which he crosses to America, as he picks them off one by one. FInally, the ship arrives with the entire crew dead and the captain having tied himself to the wheel. Awesome image. Hats off, Bram Stoker! The Langella version does a nice job with that, as I recall. (Missed that part of it today.)

If you want a good laugh, I suggest Love at First Bite starring George Hamilton as Dracula, who comes to NYC looking for love. Arte "Laugh In" Johnson is his Renfield and well, it may be incredibly silly but I've always found it really funny.

And for the trippiest vampire story ever, check out Lair of the White Worm by Ken Russell, based on an obscure book by Bram Stoker which I'd LOVE to read. It concerns an ancient pagan cult and lots of snakes and about a million phallic jokes and of course, that wry British humor firmly tongue in cheek throughout. And it's got Hugh Grant, in the one film he *never* talks about, I think he's that embarrassed about it.

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
kerfect
Oct. 29th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC)
There was a Vlad Dracula documentory on a few years back. They tried to make it as a film. It had some weak spots, but I'd have to say that it was one of my favorits. There was something just so basicly tragic about it, it broke my heart.
halfdutch
Oct. 29th, 2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
I did like the whole Vlad backstory of the Coppola Dracula, so yeah, that sounds interesting.
rogueapprentice
Oct. 29th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC)
Did you ever see "Shadow of the Vampire"? (I think that's what it was called) My hubby thought it was friggin' BRILLIANT, and I just didn't get it. You know, the one with John Malkovich in it?
halfdutch
Oct. 29th, 2005 06:19 pm (UTC)
I did see that and it was kind of a disappointment. I'm with you! I've seen both the silent Nosferatu and the '70s German remake (obviously, i like vampire films!) and the idea of him being a real vampire is great, but they really didn't do enough with it and also - eh on the pacing. Willem Dafoe was fantastic, however.
rogueapprentice
Oct. 29th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC)
Usually, I'm a fan of all things vampire, but I can't actually thing of a movie that really knocked my socks off...I guess Interview came the closest.

Shadow had some moments that I really liked, but yeah, maybe you're right, maybe it was the pacing. It definitely wasn't worth going to the theater to see.
halfdutch
Oct. 30th, 2005 09:27 pm (UTC)
Interview is good, despite some of the worst miscasting in the history of movies. Brad's all wrong for Louis (IMO - I always pictured someone more like Rupert Everett) and a Spanish guy playing a French guy and an Irish guy playing a Spanish guy and of course short, stockyTom Cruise playing someone who's supposed to be tall and angular and blond and androgynous. But he did OK.

Still, I do enjoy the film. Shadow of the Vampire though - bleah. An interesting failure.
philomel
Oct. 29th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC)
The scariest part of Coppola's is when Mina has to kiss the bloody, decaying Count. *grins* I remember loving that when it came out, but I don't think I've seen it in maybe five or more years. The cinematography, score and Gary were enough to do it for me. Keanu wasn't quite as bad in that, IMHO, as he was in Much Ado About Nothing (gah, wooden!).

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on Nosferatu and Shadow of the Vampire--sure, not Dracula films in name, but variations (or a variation on a variation).
halfdutch
Oct. 29th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
ICON! Too perfect! ;-D

Yeah, having Old!Dracula for big chunks of the Coppola film was a real turnoff. I like my Draculas sexy or completely horrific. I can watch the film over and over but the parts that are bad are SO bad, unfortunately. And it did give us the wonderful Simpsons parody!

I have seen Nosferatu (both versions) and I'm an admirer. I love classic horror so, yeah! It's just iconic isn't it? But Shadow of the Vampire didn't really do it for me. Great premise, great casting, but the execution kind of fizzled. And once Eddie Izzard was gone, the life just went out of it. ;-)



philomel
Oct. 29th, 2005 06:52 pm (UTC)
'Twas made by lapetiteflower. Gorey love. :)

Ack, forgot there was more than one Nosferatu. Schreck (and I bet I'm spelling that incorrectly, but I'm too lazy to care right now!) was one of the creepiest screen vampires ever.

*nods* I think there were too many loose threads in Shadow (see? lazy), and probably too much self-consciousness. I remember listening to the commentary and thinking that the director might as well have said, "Hey, look how clever we are here!" Visually, it was lovely. And I adore Malkovich and Dafoe... and Eddie, naturally. Definitely lost interest after he was gone too.
halfdutch
Oct. 30th, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC)
First off, sorry I had to bail on IM just now (or, rather an hour and a half ago, heh, long phone call!) I'm going to try to wrap up that thing I mentioned. ;D Thanks for the vote of confidence.

I remember listening to the commentary and thinking that the director might as well have said, "Hey, look how clever we are here!"

That's always a turnoff. Which is why some of that really self-conscious, oh-so-clever stuff like Wes Anderson isn't always for me. It's like black comedy or satire - very hard to pull off.
demonqueen666
Oct. 29th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
I think my favorite funny vampire movie of all time is Dracula, Dead And Loving It. But then, how could you not love a movie starring both Leslie Nielson and Mel Brooks??
halfdutch
Oct. 30th, 2005 09:28 pm (UTC)
You know, I've never seen that one. ;-D Eddie Murphy did a vampire spoof film too, but that's supposed to be terrible. And I've never liked him, so not on my must-see list, LOL.

My favorite Mel Brooks film is Young Frankenstein - the absolute best horror parody of all time. Even funnier when you've seen all the films it's sending up. ;-D
demonqueen666
Oct. 30th, 2005 10:30 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, Young Frankenstein is the best ever. Dead and Loving It may not be *quite* as funny, but I definitely think it's a movie everyone should see at least once, so...go see it ;)
lukesaysno
Oct. 30th, 2005 04:06 am (UTC)
i saw the original i believe. 1920-ish and van helsing.

and i wrote an research paper about the sexuality of the female vampires and how it represented the "new woman" and how bram stoker was using them to critize the "new woman"
halfdutch
Oct. 30th, 2005 09:29 pm (UTC)
Vampirism has always been a metaphor for sex - the seduction, the unholiness of it, LOL. Which must be why they're eternally so appealing ;-D (Ooops and I've just made a pun, haven't I?)
wicked_goddess
Oct. 30th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed the Coppola version, but yeah, every time Keanu is on screen it looses all credibility. Still it's gorgeous to look at.

I read Lair of the White Worm a long time ago. It's good, but not as good as my absolute favorite Stoker book, The Jewel of Seven Stars. That was made into a really lame Hammer film (I can't remember the name of it though) but I would love to see a good film adaption of that one.
halfdutch
Oct. 30th, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC)
Individual scenes in the Coppola one are great, but the story and pacing (and certain acting *cough*) are really a mess.

Ah - Hammer films can be *very* lame, unless you're in the mood for camp. And even then, sometimes not.
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