Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Monday, 13 June 2011

" I am ... Dracula."

There have been many Draculas come and gone on our screens, big and small, through the years, but for me the greatest incarnations of the Mighty Fanged One still are Bela Lugosi in Todd Browning's 1931 movie, and Frank Langella in John Badham's 1979 version.

Browning's 'Dracula' sticks pretty close to the novel and is fitted with wall-to-wall cliches, from the oversized hovering bat ( " Be careful, it might get in your hair" Jonathan Harker warns Mina at one point, thus forever perpetrating an urban legend that bats will get tangled in your hair ) to the Count's cheesy-and-ham accent. Love him when he tells the suitably Freud-like Van Helsing, " Your will is strong" as the professor gamely resists the dastardly bat's mind-control shenanigans. The second half of Browning's movie rather sags its way into a sort of drawing-room drama with altogether less doing and more talking, but we should bear in mind that this movie was a very early talkie and they probably got a bit carried away with the novelty. The use of matte paintings and Hollywood backlots for outdoor Transylvannia sets is still remarkable and the whole thing is undoubtedly an eerily atmospheric, pretty rockin' classic. And if you can take nothing else at all from it, at least know that Dwight Frye is as mad as bag of spanners as Renfield!

John Badham's 1979 'Dracula' is rather more of a rock video and its eponymous anti-hero a suitable rock god sort of vampire. It also takes a few more liberties with the storyline, including introducing a romance between Dracula and Lucy Westenra, but who cares about liberties? It's Frank Langella. And he's gorgeous, in a lived-in-for-a-very-long-time, crumpled and dissipated sort of way. 

Anyway, " Listen to them ... the children of the night. What music they make!" Failing being able to spend a night in a run-down, cobweb-festooned castle in some remote and craggy corner of Transylvannia with a man in a black cape and oversized canines, listening to the howls of the night's children and unexpectedly donating some of your blood, you could do worse than grab some popcorn and settle into your sofa to watch these movies back-to-back.

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