Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Reprise » A Blood Sucking Movie Character Survey

As October gets into full gear, with Halloween baring down upon us and the trend of late centered upon vampires (holiday or not), I guess it was time to compose a seasonal post like this. Having watched Mr. Coppola’s Bram Stroker’s Dracula a number of times now, didn’t hurt the idea either. Or, a few years ago having read and participated in blogger Dennis Cozzalio’s grand Halloween post: SINISTER SHADOWS OF LIGHT AND PRINT: Goose-pimply Halloween Reads and The Horrors of L.A. Repertory Cinema.

Because of him, I was alerted to an old weekend showing, at the Alex Theatre in nearby Glendale, which screened a film that will be part of a duo post come the 31st. Robert Wise’s grand haunted house film adaptation of the Shirley Jackson’s novel, The Haunting of Hill HouseThe Haunting (1963) remains one of those unnerving little black & white film gems that slowly, but surely, will creep you the Hell out by the time the final credits arrive.

Like The Innocents (1961), which was based on Henry James’ The Turning of the Screw, it has quiet scare power. One that does not require the need to gross the viewer out — thank you James Wan for bringing that back. As he’s done before with the blog RADIATOR HEAVEN, my colleague J.D. is once again spotlighting a wonderful October mix of appropriate movie reviews through to the eve of All Saints Day. When he takes the time to interest me in such hair-raising gems like Silent Hill, you know my gratitude remains well-earned.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes…vampires. You can’t turn on any broadcast channel of late without catching something on the legendary creatures. Be it the already acclaimed True Blood on HBO, the CW‘s Vampire Diaries (which others have tried to convince me is worth it, but has still not intrigued me), or the movie trailers for vampire films released almost yearly. I am planning on finally watching Daybreakers (2009), based on a recommendation from author John Kenneth Muir, though.

Bram_Stoker

Even the great Mexican director of the best movie in that entire series (Blade II), Guillermo Del Toro (along with Chuck Hogan), wrote a novel trilogy on said creatures of the night. Okay, I get it. People love this stuff. And since I’ve already covered what I consider was the decades old impetus for the current spate of modern blood sucking goodness flowing about, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, I guess I have to go further back to the beginning.

The classic 1897 novel by Bram Stoker that started this obsession, Dracula.

The author may not have invented the vampire, but he did make the subject popular. I was sucked in and introduced to this character as a child. During the 60s, while watching the 1931 Universal Pictures version by Tod Browning during one of those monster movie programs that populated the weekends of old. Squishing myself, out of fright, into my grandmother’s front room chair while watching. I even put together one of those Dracula model kits directly from that experience.

Despite that, I didn’t read the original novel until somewhere during the 80s. Better late than never. Hell, the fact that NBC is about to release yet another retelling of this classic tale should dispel any notion this has grown tiresome among Bram Stoker’s or vampire fans.

I still find the book enthralling because very few of the popular Dracula film versions I’d seen through the years follow entirely most of the aspects in the novel’s storyline. Case in point, ask yourself the following:

“Who killed Dracula in the tale?”

Dracula 1958If you just watched the movies, you’re likely to answer Dr. Van Helsing. With either a stake through the blood-thirsty villain’s heart or by using daylight to destroy the fiend. This is why I make the case for reading this novel here and now by stating [hover over to reveal spoiler text].

Kudos should be given out to the writer James V. Hart and director Coppola for including this in the 1992 retelling. See? Dusty old novels may not have the gore of today’s bestsellers, but they definitely had the grit. With that said, let’s get on to this movie character survey.

Halloween Movie Poll

Might as well do my very first poll on this blog by reprising this timely subject from years past. I’ll ask you to name your favorite actor and movie for each of the classic characters listed below from any of the Dracula films you’ve seen. I’ve limited this to the six roles most likely found in the motion picture renderings of the tale. The Rules of the Survey are relatively simple:

  1. You can mix and match actors/roles from different films — you’re not limited to naming a set of characters from one movie. But, you can if you want. Since there are over 160 such versions out there among TV and film — second only to the character of Sherlock Holmes (according to Wikipedia) — you can splurge and have at it.
  2. What you shouldn’t include — any vampire film that does not have Dracula or any the primary characters from the novel. So, no VampFright NightNear DarkFrom Dust Till DawnThe Night FlierVampyros LesbosInnocent BloodInterview With A Vampire, The Night Stalker or The Lost Boys. As fun as those are, along with others, let’s stick with the characters Bram Stoker came up with over a century ago for this probe, shall we?

Please leave your answers in the poll on the following page, and/or in the comment section. I’ll post my picks, along with the survey results, on Halloween Eve. Thank you for participating.

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32 Responses to “Reprise » A Blood Sucking Movie Character Survey”

  1. Cavershamragu

    Well this was great fun Michael, thanks very much, though I’m afraid that my love for the Coppola and Hammer versions pretty much dictated all my responses –

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  2. jackdeth72

    Good one, Michael!

    I still enjoy ‘Near Dark’. Early Mrs. Cameron at her gritty, dusty, low budget best! Also like the 1979 take on ‘Dracula’ as an ABC made for TV movie with Frank Langella as the Count. And Sir Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing. A very moody and atmospheric piece!

    If you have the time, and for the woman’s and Lady Bathory perspective. Look for a small film from 1971, ‘Daughters of Darkness’. Shot on the Belgian coast and holds strictly to the Lady’s rules for survival. Very cool stuff, indeed.

    What?… No ‘Buffy, the Vampire Slayer’? Or ‘The Fearless Vampire Hunters’?
    They’re always god for a laugh.

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    • le0pard13

      John Badham’s was a moody film adaptation of the stage play, indeed. And I certainly do remember the ‘Daughters of Darkness’! One of the most memorable from the 70s ;-). Many thanks, Kevin.

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    • le0pard13

      Please, do write-in for your favorites, ckckred. The silent film Nosferatu could be argued as counting. I’m pretty sure they changed names and the story since it wasn’t an authorized adaptation of Stoker’s novel. Please vote, and pass the survey around to your friends. The more, the merrier ;-). Thanks, my friend.

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  3. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop

    My votes are cast! Nice post Michael. I really loved reading Dracula. It’s pretty long but it’s so absorbing and there’s loads in there that I didn’t realise was vampire folklore and has now either been ignored or completely changed.

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    • le0pard13

      Thank you very kindly for participating, Chris. Bram Stoker’s novel is one of the all-time greats, and I encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to give it a go. For those who have, I’ve not found one who was disappointed in the read :-).

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  4. 70srichard

    It has been years but I remember liking Jack Palance in the 1970s TV version of Dracula. So other than Bella Himself I’ll nominate Jack.

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  5. Sal Soul-Pilot Gomez

    I am and have always been fascinated with Frank Langella’s overtly sexual turn as Count Dracula. His turn in the role always felt right in that this “demon of the Night”. The ultimate night stalker.

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  6. jackdeth72

    Hi, Christian and Michael.

    I missed out on Jack Palance as Dracula. Though, I do remember he was an intriguing and more than serviceable ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’. Again, via an earlier, 1968 ABC made for TV film. Very good and moody, lusty and violent on Hyde’s part, period piece and live stage play!

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    • le0pard13

      I remember both of those TV-movies with Palance. He was wonderful in each of his stints portraying these memorable literary characters. Thanks, Kevin :-).

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  7. Steven Hart

    I’m not the first to say this, but Christopher Lee’s portrayal of a very intelligent being that takes great pleasure in wreaking havoc on humans is the Dracula to beat, in my book. Lugosi’s performance is too locked up in the stagebound Balderston (sp?) play, which was the basis for the original movie.

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  8. Damian

    MY picks are a little unorthodox, Rob.

    My favorite Dracula is actually Gerard Butler from DRACULA 2000 and my favorite Van Helsing is Christopher Plummer from the same film.

    Told ya. 🙂

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    • ruth

      Gary Oldman in Bram Stroker’s Dracula is perhaps one of the best portrayal but for guilty pleasure sake, I do love Gerry Butler’s sexy portrayal as Prince of Darkness. I mean vampires are supposed to be sexy and he’s certainly captured that dark, tortured soul (literally) persona beautifully. I like Plummer as Van Helsing as well, wish he had a bigger role though.

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    • le0pard13

      You’re right, of course. B&W film does produce a distinct feel for scary film. Can’t go wrong with that choice either, my friend. Many thanks for participating in the movie survey.

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