"You were really living it mannn…."
Dracula, Van Helsing, and the cunningly named Johnny Alucard get their groove on, Daddio, in Hammer’s 50% excruciating / 50% wonderful ‘Dracula AD 1972’.
"You were really living it mannn…."
These two prints of mine will be appearing in True Blood this coming Sunday. Probably obscured by a lampshade, or an HBO ident, but hey, I’ll take that. I don’t watch the show myself, but apparently they’re going to be on the walls of Ginger’s apartment. That probably means something to someone…
Bela Lugosi as the Count from Tod Browing’s soporific ‘Dracula’ for Universal. A pudgy, odd looking Hungarian hams it up with a load of flat dialogue to great acclaim. Compared with any of Universal’s horror output of the 30s, the original Dracula is a distinctly creaky affair. The reissued version with a Phillip Glass score improves the experience of watching it greatly, but the real fun can be found in the Spanish language version shot on the same sets by Universal. Infinitely superior.
Lugosi’s Count remains an iconic image though, despite him only appearing (officially) as Dracula once more on film, in the knockabout and really quite enjoyable ‘Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein’.
Hmm, I uploaded the last one so late, and blearily eyed that I didn’t spot that the file had written with corrupted clipping path information…and let me tell you, there’s nothing more painful than a corrupted clipping path.
If Terence Fisher brought atmosphere to the Hammer Dracula franchise, then Freddie Francis delivered style, even in the face of such a wafer thin script as ‘Risen from the Grave’. Flying in the face of perceived wisdom as usual, I rather like ‘Risen’. It has its faults by the truck load, saddled with one of those terribly tedious romances that plagued the scripts of Tony Hinds/John Elder. Dracula lurks in a damp cellar to little effect or point, and occasionally nips out for some rooftop action, or to take part in the worlds slowest horse-drawn carriage chase. However, despite all of it’s obvious, pointy-out-like-a-sore-thumb shortcomings, it does look grand. The production design is pretty impressive, with Hammer based at Pinewood for this sequel. James Bernard turns in a raucous, rattling score that’s as full blooded (sorry) as the onscreen misdemeanours.
Michael Ripper is Michael Ripper, and that’s always worth a thumbs up, while Veronica Carlson is simply gorgeous, and the two of them go some way to making up for Barry Andrews as Paul. He’s a clumsy atheist. Two words that seldom go together when sketching out your lead character. Oh well, when it’s good it’s great, and when it’s bad it commits no worse a sin than just being a bit slow and boring.
Sit it next to ‘Scars’ and it’s frankly amazing, but lacks the slightly more cerebral (within reason) touch of ‘Taste the Blood of’. It doesn’t have the brooding atmosphere of Fisher’s three films in the cycle, but it’s solid stuff, rendered very good to look at by the skilled behind the camera crew.
Contrary to the rest of the civilised world, I have a massive soft spot for Badham’s 1979 retelling of ‘Dracula’. Stylish and elegant, with a rousing score by John Williams, it undeniably suffers from the mis-step of casting Olivier as Van Helsing, and the fact it’s based on the hoary old Balderston and Deane stage version. It’s rather unevenly paced, but it’s got atmosphere by the bucket load, and the production design is gorgeous, easily trumping Coppola’s flawed and stodgy movie. Langella is pitch perfect as a more romanticised count, but his best moment is easily the chilling stare he gives, after scaling the asylum walls, while picking the lead out from a window frame to gain access to Lucy.