Archive for the dracula Category

Halloween Countdown: New Dracula and Frankenstein

Posted in dracula, halloween countdown on 10/16/2012 by vincentstark

The BBC audio drama department are world famous for the quality of their productions and a new series of The Gothic Nightmare will be of interest to readers of this blog. The series promises new versions of both Dracula and Frankenstein  – Dracula started this week and episode one can be listened to HERE

Credits

Author
Bram Stoker
Count Dracula
Nicky Henson
Dr Seward
Charles Edwards
Renfield
Don Gilet
Jonathan Harker
Michael Shelford
Mina Murray
Ellie Kendrick
Lucy Westenra
Scarlett Brookes
Dr Van Helsing
John Dougall
Arthur
Joe Sims
Landlord’s Wife
Christine Absalom
Driver
Robert Blythe
Simmons
Patrick Brennan
Vampiress
Sarah Thom
Vampiress
Ellie Crook
Vampiress
Stephanie Racine
Child
Harper Bone
Singer
Adriana Festeu
Director
Jessica Dromgoole
Writer
Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Halloween Countdown – the great directors: Terence Fisher

Posted in dracula, halloween, halloween countdown, halloween movies, HAMMER FILMS, Uncategorized on 10/11/2012 by vincentstark

Terence Fisher is the most famous of the Hammer films directors – he started off directing low budget thrillers such as Colonel Bogey, Stolen Face and Four Sided Triangle and it wasn’t until he helmed Hammer’s first full colour gothic horror, The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 that he became a superstar. The movie starred Peter Cushing as the devious Baron Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the sympathetic though horrifying creature. Fisher collaborated with screenwriter, Jimmy Sangster and with producer, Anthony Hinds they became a team that would go onto rule horror cinema for a great many years. They followed up Frankenstein with the even more successful, The Horror of Dracula (1958) which gave is arguably the finest ever screen Dracula.
Fisher’s style can be traced back to the old Saturday Morning cliffhangers that were so popular in the cinema when he was growing up – his sense of pacing is legendary and his films, particularly those done for Hammer, are provide real edge of the seat viewing. In the same year as Horror of Dracula, Fisher also directed  The Revenge of Frankenstein which saw Cushing return as the baron and this time he is a true evil character, driven by his own selfish needs. And then in 1960 Fisher returned to Dracula, this time without Lee for The Brides of Dracula – this time the film made the eroticism, which was evident in The Horror of Dracula, much more explicit. Again the movie is an energetic romp with a widely inventive climax in which Cushing, bitten by a vampire, cauterizes the wound himself before tackling the vampire. The film remains great fun but suffered without Lee as Fisher was pleased when Lee returned as Dracula for Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

 

Given their subject matter and lurid approach, Fisher’s films, though commercially successful, were largely dismissed by critics during his career. It is only in recent years that Fisher has become recognised as an auter  in his own right. His films are characterised by a blend of fairy-tale, myth and sexuality. They may have drawn heavily on Christian themes, and there is usually a hero who defeats the powers of darkness by a combination of faith and reason.

 

Fisher worked on a production line basis, often directing three films in a year, but no matter how flimsy the material his sense of style, pacing and use of bold saturated colours always resulted in an enjoyable picture. Many of the Fisher directed Hammer movies are classics – The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, The Curse of the Werewolf are all movies that feature the Fisher trademarks. During the mid-Sixties Fisher was offered directing duties on the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice but he refused and instead remained with Hammer Pictures. And although he continued to work solidly for the rest of the decade he would never recapture the glory of the early films he made for Hammer.

 

 

 

 

 

Dracula has risen from the page

Posted in dracula on 09/24/2012 by vincentstark

Comic book Horror – Dracula has risen from the page

Bram Stoker’s Dracula has long been a part of popular culture -as well as the books, we’ve had the movies, the comics, the computer games, the action figures, the cartoons and practically everything else. The count’s image has been used to promote everything from sweets to aftershave and much more besides.

When I was a kid there was a UK Marvel comic called, Dracula Lives which was very popular. It was produced in the standard UK size and used reprint material from the varied US based Dracula comics. This was 1974,I was nine years old, and the neck sucker was very hot news largely due to the hugely popular Hammer movies that often played on late night television.



The UK Dracula Lives was a great success and ran for 87 issues. If I remember correctly it was launched at the same time as The Planet of the Apes comic. Eventually when Dracula Lives’s sales began to dwindle it was merged into the Planet of the Apes title to become the rather oddly titled, Planet of the Apes and Dracula Lives.

. The modern Marvel version of Dracula was created by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan in Tomb of Dracula #1 (1972). He wasn’t exactly the count of Stoker’s novels nor the Hammer films. The stories were fantastical which was something Marvel have always done well – a synopsis –
In the 20th century, Dracula was returned to vampiric life by Clifton Graves. Dracula then first met and clashes with Frank Drake. He soon first encountered an adult Rachel van Helsing. Not long after that, he renewed his enmity with Quincy Harker.[ He recounted his first clashes with Cagliostro and Solomon Kane. He later battled the Werewolf. He eventually had his first contemporary encounter with his daughter Lilith. Not long after that, he clashed with the N’Garai demons.

Dracula encountered numerous opponents in the 20th century, including Quincy Harker and Rachel van Helsing, the descendants of his enemies described by Stoker, vampire hunter Blade, his only known living descendant Frank Drake. Just before World War I, he was responsible for transforming Lord John Falsworth into Baron Blood.
Doctor Strange destroyed Dracula and all of Earth’s vampires by casting the Montesi Formula.

Over the years Marvel’s Dracula has been pitched against everyone from the X-Men to Spiderman. Marvel’s rivals, DC have also used their own version of the character. But it seems that every other comic publisher have used the Dracula character at one time or another –  One of the more unique versions came in Image’s
Sword of Dracula. The series focuses on a group of UN connected commandos called the Polidorium. The series is created by writer Jason Henderson and includes a round-robin group of artists, including Greg Scott, Terry Pallot, and James Fry (as William Belk). Matt Webb colored one issue of the second volume.

In the series, vampires are allegories for terrorists, with Dracula presented as “the Osama Bin Laden of vampires” and a war criminal. The comic also gives Dracula more enhanced powers, including the ability to control human blood with his mind, and even make buildings and weapons out of “bloodwood,” or mind-controlled blood.

Variations on the theme though are nothing new and in the 1960’s Dell Comics tried to reinvent Dracula as a superhero but the comic was not successful and folded after only three issues. Dracula is a modern day direct descendant of the original Count Dracula now working as a medical researcher in the old family castle in Transylvania where, due to his experiments to develop a cure for brain damage using a serum developed from bat blood, he accidentally gains strange “vampire”-like powers including the ability to turn into a bat and superhuman sight and hearing. He decides to embark on a superhero career in order to redeem his family name, developing his body through diet and exercise to the peak of physical perfection and designing himself his own distinctive crimson-cowled purple costume with a bat-shaped gold belt buckle, after which he vows to fight evil and superstition in all its forms.

And so in this post Twilight world where vampires have been reduced to teenage playthings, is there still room for Dracula…the greatest vampire of them all?

You bet

Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula and Dracula Lives are available in collected graphic novels going under the title of  The Essential Tomb of Dracula. Five volumes are currently available

Dracula V Dracula

Posted in dracula, hammer books, HAMMER FILMS, hammer horror, hammer horrors, Uncategorized, universal creature features, universal monster marathon on 08/06/2012 by vincentstark

There have been many movie versions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but the two versions of the story that remain most iconic are those made by Universal and Hammer and both have their fans with each camp claiming one is better than the other. Bela Lugosi played Dracula in Universal’s famous 1931 version and Christopher Lee took the part for Hammer’s full colour update of Bram Stoker’s original novel, and fans are also divided over which actor is the definitive Dracula.
The fact is that both films are such classics that it is futile to argue that one is better than the other, because each have their strengths and weaknesses. And although I prefer Christopher Lee in the role, it must be said that Lee’s performance took much from Lugosi’s earlier work and indeed no matter which actor takes the role, and no matter how hard they try and stamp the role with their own personality, there will always be something of Lugosi in their version of the character.  Everything about Lugosi’s performance is carried forward in each and every version of the story since – his looks, his manner, the way the character dresses and the way he used his eyes to suggest some kind of hypnotic influence.

Christopher Lee was a much more menacing character in Hammer’s version but the film benefited from a relaxed censorship system and full colour. When Lugosi’s version was made colour was still a long way off, and indeed sound was only just starting to make an impact. Indeed the opening lines in Universal’s Dracula, spoken by Carla Laemmle are the first words ever spoken in a  Dracula movie. It is worth noting that when Dracula was released not all cinemas had been fitted to provide sound and a silent version of the movie was also released.

 

Incredibly Lugosi wasn’t first choice to play Dracula, indeed the actor wasn’t even in the running and Lon Chaney was the actor originally cast but his death from cancer meant the studio had to find another actor. Paul Muni, Conrad Veidt and Ian Keith (who?) were all considered before Lugosi was cast for the small fee of $3,500.
It is true that Hammer’s version is easier to watch than Universals, but that doesn’t hide the fact that Lugosi’s Dracula remains an important cinematic landmark.

Lee made more Dracula films than Lugosi’s and became the character for an entire generation, but it is only his first Horror of Dracula that can stand comparison with Lugosi’s iconic movie.

So which is best? Well, dude you need to see them both.

Drac’s in good company

Posted in dracula on 07/25/2012 by vincentstark

I picked up this model yesterday – it is part of the Universal Monsters collection from Diamond Select and just the thing needed to darken up my study while I work on the final stages of book two of The Dead Walked.

It also makes a nice addition to my collection- yeah I know, Geek City.

Horror Icons – Dracula

Posted in bram stoker, dracula, Uncategorized, vampires on 01/25/2012 by vincentstark

Back in the day, before Twlight that is, the vampire was a figure of pure terror. There was nothing nice and cuddly about the vampire and they weren’t portrayed on screen by gangly teenagers either. Right from the silent age when  Max Schreck camped it up in (the German Bram Stoker rip- off )Nosferatu. the bloodsucking fiends have been a favorite of horror cinema and if there is one vampire that stands out amongst them all, it is Dracula – created in the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker the character has become world famous and there have been film versions, both official and unofficial, from virtually every country with a film industry – we’ve had Mexican Draculas, Swedish Draculas and Draculas of all other nationalities, the character’s popped up on television, on stage, in comics, books, video games and cartoons. The character has been used to sell everything from motor cars to ice lollies, as well as everything else or so it would seem.

Dracula is truly ubiquitous –  to Western audiences the most famous movie versions of the character are Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, but many other actors have made their stamp on the role over the years. Gary Oldman, John Carradine, George Hamilton and Jack Palance are just a few of the names from a list that would fill several blog posts such as this.

Here at Scary Motherfucker we have seen a lot of Dracula movies over the years and we have our own favorites – Christopher Lee is, to my mind, the best ever screen Dracula but there are many people who think that Lugosi was the definitive version – it matters not which actor you prefer in the role and there are people who prefer one or other of the actors who have taken the role – even Louis Jourdan has his fans.  For Dracula is one of those books that everyone knows, even those who have never read the book and I must confess to not being able to get through the whole book myself, finding it snail paced and filled with too much needless detail – I read a lot of classic novels from the same period but I don’t find Dracula that engagingly written. I’ve read it to an extent but tend to skip large sections, though I’ve always got the basic meat of the story and nothing can take away the fact that Bram Stoker created not only an iconic character but one that has defined the entire vampire genre.

Here are some of the actors who have played Dracula

Max Schreck, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott, Jack Palance, Udo Kier, Jonathan Massey, Frank Langella, Louis Jourdan, Klaus Kinski, Duncan Regehr, Stefan Lindahl, Gary Oldman, Leslie Nielsen, Gerard Butler, Patrick Bergin, Dominic Purcell, Richard Roxburgh, Marc Warren and Keith-Lee Castle.
22 actors have played dracula. They are Max Schreck, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott, Jack Palance, Udo Kier, Jonathan Massey, Frank Langella, Louis Jourdan, Klaus Kinski, Duncan Regehr, Stefan Lindahl, Gary Oldman, Leslie Nielsen, Gerard Butler, Patrick Bergin, Dominic Purcell, Richard Roxburgh, Marc Warren ,Keith-Lee Castle,Rutger Hauer ,David Niven and John Forbes Robertson

The cape, the blazing eyes, the slicked back hair is more often than not the blueprint for any visual representation of the character, as are the impeccable manners and suave appearance. Stoker’s Dracula was a gentleman of his time, one that could operate with ease on any level of society and during the period that the novel was written the class system was very clearly defined.

Yep if any horror character deserves iconic status then it is Dracula

Recommended Dracula movies

Dracula – the original 1931 classic directed by Todd Browning with Lugosi is the title role.

The Horror of Dracula – Hammer’s 1958 classic saw Christopher Lee take his first and best stab at the role.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness – Christopher Lee returned to the role in the 1960’s for this Hammer sequel and although not as effective as his first Dracula movie it is still fangtastic.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula – this lavish production is far better than its reputation suggests.

 

Dracula’s Spawn

Posted in bram stoker, dracula on 01/19/2012 by vincentstark

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker‘s death, the Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced the nominees for the “Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award.”

A winner will be revealed at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet at World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah in March.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is proud to announce it will present the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet in 2012. The Banquet will be held at World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City on 31 March next year.

The Award will mark the Centenary of Bram Stoker’s passing in 1912. Stoker was the author of the iconic novel, Dracula and HWA is giving this special Award in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Family Estate.

A Jury, chaired by Leslie S. Klinger, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Dracula, has been appointed, including Jo Fletcher, Ron Breznay, James Dorr, and Linda Addison. The Jury will shortly call for recommendations for possible nominees from members of the Horror Writers Association.

HWA President Rocky Wood said, “HWA is proud to present our iconic Award on the centenary of Bram Stoker’s passing and pleased to be doing so in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Family Estate. While Stoker’s novel is undoubtedly the most influential of all vampire fiction, we look forward to recognizing the vampire novel that has had the greatest impact since publication of Dracula.”

The Jury will determine six nominees for the Award and select the overall winner. The nominees will be announced in late January 2012. To qualify, a work must have been originally published in any language during the years 1912-2011, but must have been published in English as well. Although there are numerous excellent series of vampire fiction, the Jury will select a single book, not a body of work.

Works originally published in serialised form and later collected in book form will be considered as well as those published originally in periodicals or as books. There is no minimum word count for qualification, although short stories will not be considered.

 

Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award Nominees

The Soft Whisper of the Dead by Charles L. Grant
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is now in the public domain and can be downloaded as a free eBook HERE