Archive for Dracula

Brides of Dracula

Posted in Dracula, Vampires with tags , on 20 November, 2008 by Cavan

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‘The Most Evil Dracula of All’

‘He feeds his unearthly desires on youth and beauty… As he turns a girls’ school into a Chamber of Horrors!’

Director Terence Fisher
Writer Jimmy Sangster, Peter Bryan and Edward Percy

Stars Peter Cushing (Doctor Van Helsing) Martita Hunt (Baroness Meinster) Yvonne Monlaur (Marianne) Freda Jackson (Greta) David Peel (Baron Meinster)

Certificate X
Year 1960

Dastardly Plot
Old Drac is dead but his vampires still haunt Transylvania (no wonder they can never get tourists). However this doesn’t stop French school-teacher Marianne Danielle from taking a position at a Transylvanian girl’s school (yup, clever career move there girlie.) Of course, this being Transylvania before you know it her pesky coachman’s done a bunk leaving her no choice but to take shelter at the nearest spooky castle, the guest of an even creepier Baroness. But why does the Baroness keep her son, who every one believes is dead, chained up in the castle? And will Marianne be stupid enough to fall for his charms and his bizarre hair and free him? 
Well, what do you think? Thanks heavens Dr Van Helsing has been called in for a spot of vampire-busting. Well, who else are you going to call? 

Vicious Verdict
OK, first of all it has to be said that the title is ever so misleading. Dracula doesn’t appear in this film. Yup, he’s mentioned repeatedly but at this point in Hammer’s history Christopher Lee’s bloodsucker was definately out for the count. 

Bizarelly this fatal flaw in its marketing doesn’t hurt the film at all. Quite the opposite in fact. You’ve got no time to miss old fang-features as the spell of the Brides washes over you. In fact, I would say (and this is where I commit heresy) that this is actually a better film. 

First up, it’s genuially creepy at points. The Baroness herself sets the skin crawling far more than Christopher Lee’s slightly wooden performance in Dracula (whoops, there goes that heresy again) and the idea of padlocks just dropping off a victims coffin is actually more unnerving than it deserves to be. And the cackling, insane Greta calling through the fresh earth, talking a newly-vamped member of the undead how to claw out of the grave is wonderfully disturbing.

Then there’s the pathos of new vamp on the block, Baron Meinster’s mother plea for Van Helsing to put her out of her misery and the shocking extent of the Baron’s vengeance on old Helsing (Did anyone actually see that coming when they first watched the film?). OK, so the resolution of Van Helsing’s fate makes no sense but at least it makes no sense with plenty of shocks and winces. Yes, the blood may be redder than ketchup but the violence is gritty and looks like it would hurt. 

As with many of the Hammer classics the plot is a little on the thin side and full of holes (for example, if the Baron can transform into a highly-unconvincing bat why couldn’t he do this to escape his mother’s chains?) but the shortcomings can be forgiven for the sheer style of the piece. 

Terrifying Trivia 

  • The pressbook for the film offered the following advice for cinema managers – ” Make sure that at all performamces of The Brides of Dracula you have nurses or St John’s men prominently patrolling your theatre. Rig up a First-Aid Station near the entrance fully stocked with smelling salts, aspirin and sal volatile…”
  • The original script was entitled ‘Dracula and the Damned. ‘ 
  • The climax of the film was originally have the baron destroyed by a swarm of bats. This was abandoned as too expensive but would be recycled three years later for the climax of Kiss of the Vampire

 

High Points 
Greta and the ‘birth’ of a new vampire by the grave, the Baron’s revenge on Van Helsing and the good Doctor’s brave return from the brink of death, the gruesome makeup after Van Helsing gives the Baron a little facewash with holy water.

Low Points 
Unconvincing villagers, even more unconvincing bats, the ‘Brides’ bizarre foundation – do the undead forget how to apply make-up?

Skulls out of Five

4skulls-784643

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Dear Vlad

Posted in Dracula with tags on 14 November, 2008 by Cavan

180px-vladtepes-756616Things you will never see in newspapers # 1:

Vlad the Impaler stands in for the Sun’s agony aunt Dear Deidre…

Dear Vlad, I have been in a good relationship for three years but have recently found out that boyfield has been cheating on me what should I do?

You poor baby. He’s obviously a rotter. I would suggest that you insert a sharpened pole through, say, his side or rectum, you can then plant your cheating pig of a boyfriend as a washing line pole in the back garden. 

Of course if you really want him to suffer you can insert the stake so that it avoids immediate death and will function as a plug to prevent extreme blood loss. his agony will be prolonged for many hours. 

For more help phone my HOW TO IMPALE YOUR CHEATING PARTNER helpline. 

I played a practical joke on my boyfriend to prove that looks are only skin deep. But now it’s backfired and I’m scared it will end our relationship. 

It started when I was teasing him about how he hates ginger hair. When he was away one weekend I dyed my hair red. 

I thought he’d see the funny side but he was furious. He said he’d be embarrassed to go out with me and I should dye my hair back. But I feel the truth came out that night. I am still ginger and want him to prove he loves me for who I am, not how I look. Am I being over-sensitive? 

No, of course you’re not being over-sensitive. Why not teach him that he shoudn’t be so shallow by nailing a red wig to his head? I’m sure he’ll be more sensitive after that. If all else fails, you can always impale him…

For more help phone my HANGING YOUR INSENSITIVE LOVER FROM A RUSTY SPEAR helpline.

Dear Vlad, My flatmate has bought a gerbil. I can’t stand small furry animals. What should I do…

Have you tried impaling the little fella?

Dracula Meets The Wolfman # 1

Posted in Comics, Dracula, Werewolves with tags , , , on 31 October, 2008 by Cavan

“How similar love and hunger are. Both make a man want. And both Man will kill for.”

Any fan of 1970s fantasy art knows the name Frank Frazetta. His covers for Tarzan and Conan are legendary, but while I’m no fan of sword ‘n’ sorcery, I love both his sci-fi pulp covers and his dabblings in classic horror. Take Dracula meets the Wolf Man for example. Originally appeared on the cover to Creepy #7, which hit the newsstand in 1965, its a wonderfully gothic compostition, complete with ruined cathedral and graveyard. I used to have a dog-eared poster of this on my wall when I was a kid so was very excited when I saw this one-shot from Image.

This is one of the recent run of comics that attempts to tell the story behind the picture. Writing duties fall to 30 Days of Night‘s Steve Niles with art by Francesco Francavilla. Sounds good so far. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. The story is minimal and hardly world shattering; Drac needs to drink the blood of a virgin and is about to sink the old fangs in when her lover, a Loups Garoux pops up and they have a wrestle. And that’s about it. The climax is a bit of a cop-out and the abrupt ending irritates rather than leaves you gagging for more. 

This a comic that relies on nostalgia and buckets of atmosphere to save a razor-thin story and it almost pulls it off. Unfortuanately, almost isn’t enough. If it didn’t have Frank Frazetta’s name connected to it, Dracula Meets The Wolfman would be dismissed as an instantly forgettable and ultimately disappointingly unoriginal rehash. 

1 (out of 5) Tana Leaves

Mad Monster Merchandise: Soaky Mummy

Posted in Mad Monster Merchandise with tags , , , , , , on 10 October, 2008 by Cavan

How cool are these? This terrifying quartet (which I found here) of 10 inch bubble-bath containers, or soakies, were released in 1963 by Colgate-Palmolive in the States. Obviously in Mummy Month our attention turns to the plastic Kharis, complete with most un-Universal blood splatters (and even a little bit of the red-stuff on the lips – and I don’t mean lipstick), but you’ve got to love that Frankenstein who looks about 17! And how freaky are Wolfie’s eyes.

Anyway, check your loft in case you’ve got any of these babies. Individually they can raise $100 (58 quid-ish) but together the fiendish four went for $728 (£420) in a Denver auction in 2005. Suddenly I don’t think I’m going to throw away my black Dalek bubble bath from last Chrimbo!

Dracula sequel on the way

Posted in Dracula, News, Vampires with tags on 7 October, 2008 by Cavan

 

To take a break from Mummies for a minute, it looks like we’re going to get a sequel to Dracula. So what? After all, how many Drac movies have we seen since 1931? And how many books have featured the continuing misadventures of the Lord of the Damned? Well, Dracula: The Undead, due to be published in October 2009 is the first Dracula spin-off officially authorised by the Stoker estate since the Bela Lugosi Universal flick. 

The book is to be written by old Abraham’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker alongside Dracula expert and historian Ian Holt. The duo have poured over Stoker’s original notes, discovering characters and plots planned for the original novel, but dropped at the last minute. Even The Undead was the original title for Bram’s novel, which was changed to Dracula by his publisher. 

Holt is also writing a screenplay of the story alongside Alexander Galant for a Jan De Bont movie which goes in front of the cameras next June.