Abbot and Costello, Andy Muschietti, Andy Warol, Bela Lugosi, Bram Stoker, Dracula, Frank Langella, FW Murnau, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, It, Max Shreck, Nosferatu, Pennywise, roman polanski, Salem's Lot, Stephen King, Universal, Werner Herzog, Wes Craven, Willem Defoe
Ever since Max Schreck transformed into Count Orlock in the now infamous silent film, Nosferatu, directed by F.W.Murnau in 1922, the subject of Bram Stoker’s Dracula has graced the screens across the ages.
Like the titular character from one of Gothic literature’s finest creations, Dracula seems to be eternal, forever gracing the celluloid art form, whist adapting and transitioning across the years.
With the latest news coming from geek tyrant that It director, Andy Muschietti and Bram Stoker’s Great Grand Nephew teaming up for a project involving the prince of darkness as a prequel, entitled Dracul, I thought I’d take a quick snapshot of this enigmatic character and what draws us to him year-on-year.
Notably, it would be Universal who would elevate Stoker’s creation into the limelight with Tod Browning’s Dracula on 1931.
Starring Bela Lugosi, who’s interpretation would be the catapult for the look and feel that his character would bring to the screen and would initiate a further four sequels before Abbott and Costello turned his image into a comical adaptation.
It would take a further 10 years before a production company would bring Count Dracula back into the darkness with Hammer Films 1958 version starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Hammer would use their new-found success and blood red recipe to push the Dracula series into a total of 9 films, with the afore-mentioned Lee appearing in 7 of these movies. Interestingly Dracula wouldn’t appear in their first sequel, Brides of Dracula directed by Terence Fisher.
During this time, numerous other production companies would try their hand at the subject matter, including Blood of Dracula, an attempt from producer Herman Cohen to repeat the success of I Was A Teenage Werewolf, the latter would appear in the It Mini Series made in 1990 as it was the height of pop culture Stateside during the 50’s and would see the Loser’s Club watch it at the cinema.
As the Hammer recipe grew stale, Roman Polanski would inject some much-needed zest with The Fearless Vampire Killers in 1967 and a blatant parody of the British film company’s vision.
Following this Jesus Franco would add some Spanish flavour with Count Dracula in 1970, starring Christopher Lee again in the titular role, before Blaxploitation movement would see an African prince lured into the land of the dead in Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream before Andy Warhol would dabble as well introducing his own visual style with Blood for Dracula in 1974.
Five years later, Universal would try to re-invent the fable and bring some much-needed sex appeal and casting Frank Langella as Dracula.
This also coincided with another version of Nosferatu coming to the screen, directed by the enigmatic Klaus Kinski entitled, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, and has its own cult following as a result.
A brief interlude in the comedy realm would see Duncan Regehr take on Dracula in The Monster Squad, which comes across as a haunted version of The Goonies.
And then, he would pretty much stay dormant until, he would be moulded once more for Francis Ford Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins, in the early 90’s.
Mel Brooks would craft his comedic touch with Dracula, Dead and Loving It by 1995 and starring Leslie Nielsen, before the shouldn’t be comical, but tragically is, Dracula 2000, presented by Wes Craven and starring Gerard Butler.
It’s only saving grace during this timeframe is the simply brilliant, Shadow of the Vampire, a quirky portrayal of the making of Nosferatu that would depict actor Max Shreck as a real-life vampire, awesomely played by Willem Defoe.
By the mid-2000’s Count Dracula would find himself morphed into the Stephen Sommers universe with Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman, a movie, which in my mind is probably best forgotten.
Another film director auteur would try his hand at the subject in 2013, when Dario Argento would provide us with Dracula 3D, but would be pale in comparison to his earlier work.
The last time, we saw Dracula grace our screens would be in the under-whelming Dracula: Untold starring Luke Evans, which left us wondering if there was life still in this age-old tale?
This may all disappear in the coming years, if Muschietti and Dacre Stoker’s project sees the light of day.
Dacre Stoker has delved into the world of his lineage before with his novel, Dracula, the Un-dead, so he is no stranger to the subject, and one can already see comparisons with Stephen King’s creation Pennywise. A character that feeds on the fear of the innocence.
Stephen King would also seek inspiration from the Count in his own tale, Salem’s Lot, so it certainly bodes well with the announcement of this latest pairing.
I for one can’t wait to see how they re-vamp Dracula for a modern audience that will horrify and delight the masses.
Bring it on.
- Paul Farrell