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Monday, 26 October 2015

Dracula - The Prince of D̶a̶r̶k̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ Halloween #MonsterMondays 23

Welcome to this week's Monster Monday - for the run up to Halloween I am doing classic monsters and today I have chosen the suavest monster on the block - of course, Dracula.
Monster Mondays posts may be fiction, film reviews, book reviews or me waxing lyrical about a particular monster. Monsters can be paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy or even simply human. So basically, anything monster goes. I also invite anyone who would like to, to join in with their own post. (See end for details).
Dracula - The Prince of Darkness Halloween
Christopher Lee in Hammer's Dracula (1958)
Dracula is possibly the most famous vampire there is and he has been filmed in so many incarnations and been used in so many books that it's hard to remember what the original story actually is. No, really, I have seen so many film adaptations of Dracula and it's so long ago that I read the book, that I honestly can't remember what is book canon a la Stoker and what is from all the movies.
Bela Lugosi in Universal's Dracula (1931)
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It is Bela Lugosi we have to thank for cementing the idea that Dracula wears a tuxedo and cape into the minds of the populous, but it was actually started in the play, adapted by Hamilton Deane, for the London stage and played by Raymond Huntley (source Smithsonian,com). In the book he is said to wear black and when he de-ages he is not the beautiful man we often see on screen these days.

The story of Dracula is very much full of repressed sexuality and the vampire's ability to bring it out. It is easy to see, since he is the most famous vampire, why vampires have become associated with sex. In many vampire legends, vampires are unclean, decaying dead things that return to suck the life from the living, but Dracula makes becoming undead seem so much more palatable.

I have two favourite adaptations of Dracula:

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Gary Oldman as Dracula (1992)
I remember when this film came out and I loved it from the moment I first saw it in the cinema. It's incredibly beautiful to begin with and I love the choices Francis Ford Coppola made for the plot and the direction of the characters. Yes, Keanu Reeves is one of the most wooden Jonathan Harkers ever (not one of his finest roles in MHO), but I still love him in it and Gary Oldman is simply wonderful.

There is no denying that this one's all about sex as well as blood. I love Lucy especially and the way her death scene is filmed it utterly magnificent. There are a few points in the movie where I do laugh for the wrong reasons, but it's so beautiful I can forgive it those.

Dracula (1979)
Frank Langella as Dracula (1979)
I love this film, even though I do want to brain some of the characters repeatedly. This is the first version of Dracula I remember seeing and the one I didn't get to see the end of for a very long time. I'm sure some of you will have heard me mention the whole screaming incident. When we first tried to watch this it was on TV and Soph and I could not have been more than 9 or 10 and when Dracula comes down the outside of the house and flicks at the lead in the window with his fingers, Soph started screaming and refused to stop until it was turned off. It was years later I finally got to see it.

The story in this one has been messed around with a lot, but I think it still works. It's Lucy who is seduced and taken over, rather than Mina, who takes Lucy's role from the book, succumbing to the curse of the vampire after she dies. Mina's vampire form is possibly the most horrific thing in the entire movie.
Jan Francis as Mina Harker, Dracula (1979)
That image of her has stuck with me ever since I finally managed to reach that point in the film.

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Trevor Eve is the most annoying Jonathan Harker ever and I spend most of the movie wanting to brain him with something heavy, but Sir Laurence Olivier is fantastic as Abraham Van Helsing and Kate Helligan gives a great performance as independent Lucy Westenra.

I finally upgraded my copy of this to blu-ray, so I can see all the lovely details.

Other honourable mentions go to Dracula 2000 and Dracula Untold, both of which I also love and of course to the great Christopher Lee in all the Hammer films. How one man can dominate a film mostly by just standing there is amazing.

The fact that one character can have so many incarnations and spark so many spin-off ideas is brilliant. From The Drak Pack to Jonathan Rhys Myers in the 2013 series of Dracula there are so many version of this iconic character. This has to say something for the legend. Good luck to all you wearers of fake fangs and satin cloaks this Halloween, I hope you have a great time.

Which is your favourite version of Dracula?

The Share a Scare Halloween Blog Hop will run on the 31st October as you would expect, and there is still time to sign up.

Have something a little bit scary to share? All bloggers, authors and artists welcome. Just click the link to see all the details:

Authors might also be interested in this blog hop. The Trick-or-Treat blog hop is run by the lovely Patricia Lynne and the idea is to give away free books to trick-or-treaters visiting your blog.

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