Dracula On The Screen

Who is the best Dracula?

  • Bela Lugosi

    Votes: 7 20.6%
  • Christopher Lee

    Votes: 15 44.1%
  • Frank Langella

    Votes: 3 8.8%
  • Jack Palance

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Louis Jordain

    Votes: 1 2.9%
  • Gary Oldman

    Votes: 3 8.8%
  • David Niven

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Udo Kier

    Votes: 1 2.9%
  • George Hamilton

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Somebody not on this list

    Votes: 4 11.8%

  • Total voters
    34

Yithian

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In the standard cinematic adaptations, the homoerotic theme is most developed in the scene where the vampire sucks the blood from a small cut on his young visitor's hand. Kinsky and Schreck linger over the act in a manner which underlines the act as a sexual pass.
I always took the blood-sucking to be a double metaphor: Dracula feeds on both men and women: the men he emasculates, the women he steals from under the protection of their men-folk, cuckolding them and creating progeny of his own kind

The point, though, is that this loss of masculine and sexual potency was in turn a metaphor for loss of prestige, loss of racial purity and loss of Empire. (See degeneracy: the mood of the 1890s, Nordau, Weber et als).

I always found it interesting that Dracula's passage to Britain is onboard the Demeter. The crew do not know the nature of their cargo, though it haunts and stalks them. And what is the dark underbelly of lofty Greek philosophy, the part left out of the school-room editions? Homosexuality and pederasty. And what of the Eleusian Mysteries, dedicated to Demter and Persephone? They sought--it is believed--to elevate Man to the status of Godhead: the highest presumption, which can only bring a fall...

Bundle all these anxieties up into some kind of monstrously foreign ball and then stake the fucker: make everybody feel better and let them all get some sleep.

Actually, as you should all have recalled, Dracula is not staked--he dies from being simultaneously decapitated by Harker's kukri and stabbed through the heart by Morris's Bowie knife. And what is that? The British Empire with its fiercely loyal Gurkhas, and the wealth and vitality of the New World built on Anglo-Saxon foundations (Jim Bowie, incidentally, being a very interesting figure).

Painting Dracula as simply a 'sexy monster' rather sells the story cheap.

Great book.

Very topical.
 

Ogdred Weary

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I always took the blood-sucking to be a double metaphor: Dracula feeds on both men and women: the men he emasculates, the women he steals from under the protection of their men-folk, cuckolding them and creating progeny of his own kind

The point, though, is that this loss of masculine and sexual potency was in turn a metaphor for loss of prestige, loss of racial purity and loss of Empire. (See degeneracy: the mood of the 1890s, Nordau, Weber et als).

I always found it interesting that Dracula's passage to Britain is onboard the Demeter. The crew do not know the nature of their cargo, though it haunts and stalks them. And what is the dark underbelly of lofty Greek philosophy, the part left out of the school-room editions? Homosexuality and pederasty. And what of the Eleusian Mysteries, dedicated to Demter and Persephone? They sought--it is believed--to elevate Man to the status of Godhead: the highest presumption, which can only bring a fall...

Bundle all these anxieties up into some kind of monstrously foreign ball and then stake the fucker: make everybody feel better and let them all get some sleep.

Actually, as you should all have recalled, Dracula is not staked--he dies from being simultaneously decapitated by Harker's kukri and stabbed through the heart by Morris's Bowie knife. And what is that? The British Empire with its fiercely loyal Gurkhas, and the wealth and vitality of the New World built on Anglo-Saxon foundations (Jim Bowie, incidentally, being a very interesting figure).

Painting Dracula as simply a 'sexy monster' rather sells the story cheap.

Great book.

Very topical.
I agree with you here on the anxieties around empire and "dirty foreigners" as well the manifold sexual elements within the text, Lucy cold be said to represent the threatening "new woman" and is correspondingly punished by firstly contracting an STD: vampirism, before being punished again and for the final time by the male representatives of empire when she is staked. Rereading the scene where she's dispatched was shocking, it's deeply prurient and the men breaking into her tomb has the overtones of conspired gang-rape, there's even an observation that some of the candle drips onto her opened term the effluvia describes as "sperm", presumably a tallow candle made from sperm whale blubber.

I don't know how conscious Stoker was of all this stuff, I don't know how widely the term "sperm" was in the sense we now use it, in the 1890s. He may have been, unconsciously or semi-consciously channelling contemporary fears. You also have the degenerate foreigner buying up British land. It's apparently his best novel and the only really god one and the one he spent the most time on.

Whatever may be contained within the novel and it's effects on culture I found it lacklustre and dated to read, many sections seemed to be tedious melodrama with characters each taking turns in having breakdowns and being comforted by the others. It's a hell of a lot better than Frankenstein though, my God that's dull, again, despite it's cultural importance.
 

Yithian

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Lucy was the cheerleader!

The trick is to read a bunch of other popular novels from the 1890s and then read Dracula.

It's shocking in as much as the kind of material you cite is conveyed in the most traditional epistolary tradition.

In fact, and it's so undergratuatey that I hesitate to point it out, the novel itself was a form of writing that was beset by anxieties concerning its role and legitimacy. The epistolary form (originating in the fifteen century onward but coming of age in the eighteenth) was itself a methodical attempt to silence the concerns over the validity of 'popular fiction' and non-verse in general.

Now that's either a big coincidence or Stoker being immensely clever.

I'd like to think the latter.
 

Yithian

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Just to add: there are two versions of Frankenstein and the earlier (1818) text kicks the arse off the longer and later version.

See also: Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.
 

Ogdred Weary

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Lucy was the cheerleader!

The trick is to read a bunch of other popular novels from the 1890s and then read Dracula.

It's shocking in as much as the kind of material you cite is conveyed in the most traditional epistolary tradition.
I think the only other "popular fiction" novel from the 1890s that I've read is Richard Marsh's The Beetle, which is shockingly similar in it's themes and even it;s plot, to Dracula.

I'm sorry I don't follow you with "It's shocking in as much as the kind of material you cite is conveyed in the most traditional epistolary tradition.", do you mean that other books have sexual material in epistolary form, or only Dracula?

I had thought that "The Novel" was more or less an established, respectable cultural artefact by 1890? At least those from the likes of Henry James etc? Dracula straddles the somewhat artificial "Litfic/Popfic" divide.

I think the version of Frankenstein I've read is the original 1818 text, again, whatever it's import; the actual experience of reading it was mostly, if not entirely dreadful for me, and not "dreadful" in any Gothic sense either.
 

Yithian

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I'm sorry I don't follow you with "It's shocking in as much as the kind of material you cite is conveyed in the most traditional epistolary tradition.", do you mean that other books have sexual material in epistolary form, or only Dracula?
I meant that it's the juxtaposition. The reader would start off in familiar territory and be taken to eroticism and beheadings.

Imagine opening a poetry collection bound in Morocco with gilt titles and discovering by page twenty that the verse is adapted from porno scripts.

I had thought that "The Novel" was more or less an established, respectable cultural artefact by 1890? At least those from the likes of Henry James etc? Dracula straddles the somewhat artificial "Litfic/Popfic" divide.
Yes, it certainly was. By then, in fact, although not an anachronism, epistolary novels were rather old-fashioned. Which leads one to believe that there was a distinct purpose for writing one.

I meant to suggest that the theme of his epistolary novel (anxiety defeated) was the very purpose the epistolary novel had originally been created to carry out: to defeat anxiety over the propriety and validity of fiction for entertainment.

It's like my killing a cockroach by crushing it beneath a book on pest control.

Very 'meta'.
 

JamesWhitehead

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This thread has been up for over fifteen years, presumably with the poll as printed. A now-anonymous poster referred to an error in the poll but somewhat obliquely in only the second post*. Even Timble did not spot the error in a post, which also referred to Blacula.

Black entertainer Louis Jordan, 1908-1975, however, never played a vampire!

French-born Louis Jourdan, 1921-2015, starred in a Dracula made-for-tv in 1977.


*"Open the Door, Richard!" was a black vaudeville routine which inspired a song. Jordan recorded it in 1947. :cooll:

Jourdan, on stage and in film, gravitated towards sexually-ambiguous rôles, such as the servant in The Paradine Case. He had made his debut as Gide's Immoralist. Some gossip seems to surround his private-life but there is no smoking-gun for the tribe of posthumous "outers!"
 
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Yithian

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This thread has been up for over fifteen years, presumably with the poll as printed. A now-anonymous poster referred to an error in the poll but somewhat obliquely in only the second post*. Even Timble did not spot the error in a post, which also referred to Blacula.

Black entertainer Louis Jordan, 1908-1975, however, never played a vampire!

French-born Louis Jourdan, 1921-2015, starred in a Dracula made-for-tv in 1977.


*"Open the Door, Richard!" was a black vaudeville routine which inspired a song. Jordan recorded it in 1947. :cooll:
Now corrected.

Sharp eyes.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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Has anyone else read Kim Newman's Anno Dracula alternative history series?
 

Ogdred Weary

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I meant that it's the juxtaposition. The reader would start off in familiar territory and be taken to eroticism and beheadings.

Imagine opening a poetry collection bound in Morocco with gilt titles and discovering by page twenty that the verse is adapted from porno scripts.



Yes, it certainly was. By then, in fact, although not an anachronism, epistolary novels were rather old-fashioned. Which leads one to believe that there was a distinct purpose for writing one.

I meant to suggest that the theme of his epistolary novel (anxiety defeated) was the very purpose the epistolary novel had originally been created to carry out: to defeat anxiety over the propriety and validity of fiction for entertainment.

It's like my killing a cockroach by crushing it beneath a book on pest control.

Very 'meta'.
I thought the juxtaposition was for verisimilitude, given the OTT supernatural nature of the plot- factual documentation of a supernatural phenomenon, a little like modern "found footage" horror. It makes sense too, that Stoker would mine an established literary format for similar reasons. Despite the epistolary form being almost antique at that point, it makes innovative use of it in that the forms in which the text is written - a newspaper article, Mina typing on her typewriter, a transcript of a voice recording etc as well as the traditional dairies and letters, a modern "spin" on the form.
 

GNC

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Let's not forget Bram the Man wrote a horror story called The Lair of the White Worm, if you want an insight into his sexuality (and accidentally revealing too much about it).

Re: Anno Dracula, there's a new volume out now, set in Japan.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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Let's not forget Bram the Man wrote a horror story called The Lair of the White Worm, if you want an insight into his sexuality (and accidentally revealing too much about it).

Re: Anno Dracula, there's a new volume out now, set in Japan.
There is, and a very good recent comic book series too.
 

dejanmikic

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Rereading the scene where she's dispatched was shocking, it's deeply prurient and the men breaking into her tomb has the overtones of conspired gang-rape
hmmm and it just occured to me now that ...... then she re-appears carrying the child... what does that say? Anti-abortion? Even if raped, women should carry/give birth?

I sometimes scare myself with my thoughts haha
 

JamesWhitehead

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Published in 1897, Dracula was kitted-out in a yellow dust-jacket, typical of the naughty-nineties and the decadent school that had treated The Yellow Book as its Bible. It does not seem especially to have shocked reviewers or those who read it at the time.

That "decadence" as a fashion can be very misleading, however: it is said that after the Wilde trials, authors reined-in on content which previously no one could name. It also tends to cover the traces of what Victorians were really reading in the era(s) of Dickens and George Eliot.

The most popular author of Dickens' time was George Reynolds, whose Mysteries of London "was almost certainly the most widely read single work of fiction in mid-nineteenth century Britain, and attracted more readers than did the novels of Dickens, Bulwer-Lytton or Trollope."

Mysteries of London.

Reynolds was. supposedly, concerned with the contrast between the debaucheries of the rich and the squalor of the poor but his narrative lingers pornographically on maidens in extreme peril. Conceived as a serial, no instalment was complete without rape, torture or lurid crimes, fearful enough, without much need for the supernatural. It tends to become monotonous, which makes the case for those who claim such fare is desensitizing.

Modern politics drives readers to identify with the victims of the depicted atrocities, though the victims tend to arrive for these bloodsports wholesale, like fresh meat on wagons. It is just a step away from de Sade's concept of art. I don't think we live in a more sensitive age, however: the urge to dwell on pain has just switched sides. :chain:
 
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Yithian

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Published in 1897, Dracula was kitted-out in a yellow dust-jacket, typical of the naughty-nineties and the decadent school that had treated The Yellow Book as its Bible. It does not seem especially to have shocked reviewers or those who read it at the time.
One of my favourites (for being pretty overdone) of the contemporary reviews is this:

Screenshot 2019-11-05 at 22.36.25.png
Screenshot 2019-11-05 at 22.36.36.png

Source (including other reviews):
https://books.google.co.kr/books?id...IsBHbH2BFUQ6AEwAnoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
 

ramonmercado

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New BBC adaptation of Dracula.

Dracula has never discerned between men and women in matters of his own gruesome taste.

But a new BBC adaptation asks whether the cosmopolitan vampire desired more than the blood of both sexes. The series suggests that the Eatern European aristocrat may have sex with men in a nod to theorised gay undertones of the original Victorian novel. Characters open the BBC retelling of Bram Stoker’s gothic masterwork by interrogating a guest recently returned from the Count’s castle, asking if he was given a “contagion” by having “intercourse” with the blood-sucking villain.

“I think horror should be transgressive,” said writer Mark Gatiss, who brought Sherlock Holmes to the BBC. “Horror over time becomes quite cosy. I think horror should not be cosy.”

Despite the immediately sexual context of the series, co-writer Steven Moffat claimed viewers should delete their dating apps if they see Dracula’s actions as lustful.

The new iteration echos theories that Irish author Stoker, who was friends with Oscar Wilde, a wit convicted for his sexuality, and who also wrote impassioned letters to poet Walt Whitman about being a “wife to his soul”, was himself a closeted homosexual. A private man, married to a former love interest of Wilde, little is known about Stoker’s life beyond the 1897 epistolary novel which ensured his lasting fame.

This has been reworked in a BBC period adaptation airing on New Year’s Day, which hints at the sexual habits of the centuries-old vampire, equipped once again with his hallmark cape and castle, and finds laughs with a character writers originally dubbed “Atheist Nun”.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/12/new-bbc-horror-suggests-dracula-did-bite-male-victims/
 

GNC

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Hey, naked Dracula! Tonight's Moffat and Gatiss Drac was reminiscent of The League of Gentlemen's Dracula, there was a lot of Herr Lipp in him. I could imagine him beckoning Harker over and telling him "I made you come with just one finger!" or something similar.

A bit drawn out, an hour per episode would have been fine, but they embraced the horror with gusto and Claes Bang certainly made his mark (not just on the necks). Surprisingly religious, but that's the Hammer influence.

Anyway, I shall be tuning in tomorrow, I approve of this version - Dracula is such a brilliant idea that it can be twisted into all sorts of interesting shapes.
 

GNC

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Found it :) going to watch now ..... Good something decent to watch on to for a change
Great! Let us know what you thought - episodes 2 & 3 on Thursday and Friday!
 

ChasFink

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Just saw this thread for the first time. I voted for Lugosi, possibly because of my age and love of the Universal series in general. Lee comes in a close second. Langella is also a contender if one considers his Broadway performance - I saw him shortly before he left the show - but that movie was pretty crappy, and he wasn't quite the same on screen.

Of course, none of them quite captures Stoker's Dracula - although Dafoe (not actually playing Dracula) came very close.
 

Tribble

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Two other TV Draculas of great note, sadly missing from the list :

Rudolf Martin (he reappears in the Buffy comics)

"Stoker and his damnable book. Manservant, remind me to urinate on his grave."

Dracula1.jpg

And Al Lewis...

AlLewis.jpg
 

GNC

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Just saw this thread for the first time. I voted for Lugosi, possibly because of my age and love of the Universal series in general. Lee comes in a close second. Langella is also a contender if one considers his Broadway performance - I saw him shortly before he left the show - but that movie was pretty crappy, and he wasn't quite the same on screen.

Of course, none of them quite captures Stoker's Dracula - although Dafoe (not actually playing Dracula) came very close.
There was a Lugosi reference in the first episode of the latest Dracula - "I never drink... wine!" Also references to The Shining and the Exorcist, among others.
 

GNC

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Dialled back the jokes in tonight's middle episode, quite effectively too. I suppose this was the Nosferatu one, with the emphasis on the ship. No spoilers, but judging by the short trailer tomorrow's could see the Count calling himself Johnny Alucard!
 
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