Bram Stoker has put us on the map. Like it or not for the average foreigner who hears about Romania, Dracula is among the first words that come to mind – well let’s face it, we have to explain that Transylvania belongs to Romania and it’s not a Dark Age looking country where wolves howl at the moon and gypsies roam around catering to the whims of a pale looking Count.
Many articles have been written on the movies inspired by the book and a lot of movies have been made about Dracula. From tales of horror to comedies and beyond.
Dracula is a charming character, sex and danger all rolled into the body of a gentlemen with the deadly skills of a predator.
As a Romanian I looked for a small glimpse of historical accuracy – especially in the flashback sections – and when the situation called for it, I chuckled at the way some actors gave their best and spoke Romanian – let me tell you, from where I stand, Russian is a child’s play for a thespian, give him or her to say something in Romanian and then you’ll see the language chops kicking in (case and point Bram Stoker’s Dracula).
This year at Brasov is the first edition of Dracula Film Festival and it’s great opportunity to mix movies and the Romanian flavor for culture, fun and using the name Dracula for something much better than carved wooden statues of Vlad the Impaler.
And speaking of movies, I decided to scratch the back of my head and come with my own particular brand of Dracula movies/TV shows choices.
Since Halloween is upon us, I might delight you with my personal selection of All Hallow’s Eve movies marathon – trust me, it’s an eclectic list and only the brave will survive it.
Bela Lugosi – Dracula (1931)
Not the first adaptation of *the book* but Bela put on the cape, whispered “I never drink wine” and entered into movie eternity with his slicked and dashing Count. Back in the day, this was the Ian Somerhalder of sexiness and it was done as good as the studios and regulations of the time allowed it. Let’s face it, it would take a few good decades until Dracula would flash some skin and indulge into the sweet flesh of innocent victims. Bela Lugosi set the standards and those were some high standards.
Christopher Lee – Horror of Dracula (1958)
Before Lord of the Rings, Christopher Lee had a hobby, well let’s face it when his eyes went red and the fangs would pop up, you’d start praying to the deity of your choice. Lee loved the role of Dracula or he was a masochist because his list of movies include a good chunk of revivals of the Count. We’re stepping into the territory of the count with British manner, charms and deadly skills, a combo Christopher Lee rose to new heights. Chapeau, good Sir.
Frank Langella – Dracula (1979)
Frank Langella is the actor who can surprise a movie rookie. Check is filmography, he even attempted a Sherlock Holmes movie. He did Dracula as well, I might not be the biggest fan of his interpretation but he tried and had Lawrence Oliver as Van Helsing as a foil and the results is now a cult movie for the fans. It’s a must if you want to compare the various interpretations of the Count.
Gary Oldman – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
“Sangele este viata si va fi si viata mea.” Gary Oldman spoke Romanian together with Anthony Hopkins and I swear I didn’t need to check the subtitles when they did it, I did that when Winona Ryder decided she could do it – please never try it again. Romantic, Gothic, sexy, tragic, Oldman understood he had an anti-hero in his hands and surrendered to the script and sentiments. It might feel a little too much at times but it took a few steps from the conservative acting until then and freed the character to new heights. You’ve had sex, you’ve had romance, you had anger and rage, sadness and ambition and you had an actor who knew what to do to the character, made him charming and conquered the audiences. That’s not easy in a world of movie heroes who save the day and for me if a man is willing to gave up his soul, embrace damnation and accept blood cravings just to get back to his long lost love, I say Mina, he’s a keeper, the Hell with Jonathan. Pick the Romanian dude!
Jeffrey Meek – Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Darkness Invisible (1999)
Boys and girls brace yourselves ! Hercules had a buddy, his name was Vlad and he was from Dacia. Yes, you guessed after you might have had the shake of your life. Jeffrey Meek was a Dacian Prince and a vampire. And the look is a mix of bondage and porn star villain with a ton of leather, an impossible accent and a story that can beat any insane twist Scary Movie can come up with. Don’t look for historical accuracy, we’re in Hercules universe where Odin, Thor, Caesar and Vlad the Impaler live in the day and age and might have shared a cup of wine instead of a cappuccino. It’s your afternoon laugh and giggles and for some this paragraph might come as a crazy discovery from a dear beloved show.
Gerard Butler – Dracula 2000 (2000)
Gerard Butler was a young actor who tried various auditions. One day he got this role of Dracula and Wes Craven being the inventive man that he is, decided to add a twist to the old story. Now if you’re into a bit of Biblical mess with a handsome Scottish actor, this is the movie for you and do try to avoid the sequels that sprung like mushroom after a rainy day, they’ve lost touch with the essential if we can put it lightly. At times you might feel you’re slipping into Anne Rice’s New Orleans, you’re not wrong, it happens a lot but what matters is you get Gerard Butler mostly without his shirt on and that’s a good bargain if you’re not going after an Oscar performance.
Rudolf Martin – “Buffy vs. Dracula” (2000) & “Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula”(2000)
Rudolf Martin is special. He liked the part of Dracula so much he went for it twice. In the movie “Dark Prince” and in Buffy. Of course Spike had something to object about the Count. Good for him, nice lad that he is. Now “Dark Prince” tried what few to none movies attempted, mix the tale of Dracula with the history of Vlad the Impaler and here is the catch, this movie is not that bad in its struggles. It was a tragic romance between Vlad and Lidia, it has sibling rivalry and dear God, imagine the beauty of Vlad versus Radu in this cinematic age filled with brother against brother. There’s even a brush with literature at the end of this movie, quoting from Mihai Eminescu’s “Scrisoarea a III-a”. The problem is the movie had big sights but little money to spare. In the long list of Vlad meets Dracula, the Dark Prince actually can beat to a punch Bram Stoker’s Dracula when it comes to the good mix of horror tale and history but it wasn’t enough.
Then came Buffy…and…we can say we delved into the bubbly fun of your average monster of the week in Sunnydale. Yer, Rudolf Martin goes full throttle on Buffy’s banter. He’s charming, sensual, cape or no cape, he’s no Edward Cullen thank the Heavens and puts on a good show. In still hope for a Spike and Dracula reunion, those two would give some witty dialogues.
Marius Bodochi – “Vlad Nemuritorul” (2002)
Here is the mother of all tales. Romania actually gave in and a made a movie about Vlad Dracula. Complete with sword fights and a feeling Interview with a vampire has been used one too many times. Also the fact that Bodochi’s voice was dubbed by Marcel Iures’ wasn’t a clever touch to save the poor job of the script but there were some seeds of a plot that could have been used and dare I say I will campaign for a TV show about Vlad the Impaler with a vampire touch. If Suleyman’s tale of love and war conquers audiences imagine, sex, vampire, politics and occult groups bent on erasing the true facts of history. Well NBC took notice and they have the Order of Dracul in their brand new Dracula show. What are we waiting for ?
Richard Roxburgh – Van Helsing (2004)
Hugh Jackman was Gabriel Van Helsing and Richard Roxburgh was the Count in a quirky, full of bumps and bruises tale of lost siblings, lost memory and lost time in a theater but for the fun and games, Roxburgh put on a show, he made us laugh, he made us raise an eyebrow when it came about the way his hair would stay in place even if the burning flames of Hell would hit him. Over the top and with no substance and it was a shame because there was something inside the story that could have been explored.
Marc Warren – BBC’s Dracula (2006)
Before we remember Marc Warren from Hustle and Mad Dogs, let’s take a walk down memory lane and find the good man in a BBC adaptation of Dracula. A classical approach to the story with bite and charm but not enough thrills to keep you captivated and motivated to follow the movie to its very end. For better or worse, the Brits know their Dracula just as much as they know their Shakespeare. I’m looking at you Sebastian Stan, you Romanian handsome devil, show your skills and makes us proud.
When The Tudors meet fangs. Jonathan Rhys Meyers jumps from the suit of one sexy hunk into another by the name of Alexander Grayson also know as Vlad the Impaler. Now look and behold the next clever step from Gary Oldman’s Dracula. This one is oozing sex and can actually beat CW’s The Vampire Diaries because NBC can show flesh and they’re not cheap. When he’s not plotting revenge and using a blade with the same skills as Duncan MacLeod, Alexander smiles and flirts and makes good use of the English accent down to the very last syllable uttered before his hands vanished up high Lady Jane’ skirt. Do watch this show, it might bring heat between the sheets.
The next Dracula to grace the big screen will be Luke Evans alongside with Dominic Cooper in the revamped project Dracula Untold, scheduled for release next year.
Until then, Halloween is upon us and Dracula Film Festival is ready to begin next week.