Monday 26 February 2018

Points of view - on gothic horror and Dracula - Ramblings part 1 - 12- exc. Price

My favourite adap of Dracula is the 1981 BBC radio serial Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula, Timothy West as Watson. Interesting how it dovetails Holmes and Watson into the mystery.

My favourite Dracula film - well I think the best Hammer Dracula is Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), followed by AD (1972). I like the opening of the Monster Squad (1987) and Duncan Regehr is magnificent, but the kids are a bit annoying. I like Horror of Dracula (1958), but I feel Mina and Lucy are a little miscast, i.e. they already feel like housewives. And MichaelGough I think has a little bit too little to do, he's a bit lost as the wet Harker-type romantic lead. It is weird how they shift roles between characters, and it is a bit too much of a drawing room drama, but it comes to life with the little cameos of Bayldon, Malleson, Woodbridge, etc. and there's real energy in the chase bits, but Dracula should be a chase, and the plot feels slowed down.
Lugosi (1931) is unsurpassable, that and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) the best Universals.
Also Love at First Bite (1979) is great, especially Arte Johnson's Renfield, which spawned a bunch of laughless but almost loveably terrible vampire spoofs, Nocturna, Mama Dracula (1980 - which escalates into a vampire variety show, and has a nice Roy Budd soundtrack but thinks "Peter von Blood" is a funny name, when the overrated Dr. Blood's Coffin already had a Peter Blood),  and of course Young Frankenstein spawned Son of Dracula (1974), the Harry Nilsson musical with Ringo as Merlin and set in a future with the Channel Tunnel, and despite Freddie Jones' Frankenstein is quite rubbish, descending into a vampire Sextette, complete with Ringo and Keith Moon.
Nosferatu 1979 isn't great, the Louis Jourdan one is a little overlong and flouncy though Jourdan has presence.
Blacula (1973) is fun, the sequel a bit of a stretch. The Langella one (1979) is dreadful, even though it has some nice design at the beginning, the Whitby bits are fun but then it goes downhill.
Francis Ford Dracula's Bram Stoker's Coppola (1992) is well-designed in parts, but it mostly looks like a  horribly anachronistic FMV videogame. Hopkins tries his best, but has to go panto due to lack of material. Oldman is unspeakable, and Keanu looks like Dash X from Eerie, Indiana when he gets grey hair. Tom Waits is fun.

I prefer period horror when it is rooted in Victoriana. I'm not a fan of Poe or Mittel-Europe. Per Price I kind of like House of Wax and The Fly (not so much the sequels/remakes - Return of the Fly is sort of the Fly if it were an Outer Limits ep), but I massively prefer Vincent's British films. Because often in the AIP Corman films, the cast apart from Price aren't good, until they bring in Lorre, Hazel Court, Karloff, Barbara Steele too, but they dub her. I'm not quite a Poe fan. Masque of the Red Death's good though it lags, Tomb of Ligeia I can't stand but The Premature Burial I like because of the whole Molly Malone thing, but the Poes are usually boring,they feel like cheap US sitcoms or western shows. Especially The Raven - which is almost an episode of Bewitched.

 I prefer the 70s gothic, run-down Britain, even the 20s dieselpunk of the Phibes films.I like the Night of the Demon-type supernatural menace infringing on the mundane - not hauntings, I find them samey though sometimes they can almost be rewarding i.e. Full Circle, despite Farrow.

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