A STAKEATTHE BOX OFFICE
guffaws. but just when Landis most
Julian Sands in Tale of a Vampire
Trevor Johnston raises the stakes and sinks his fangs into the latest vampire movies appearing over the horizon.
The undead. you just can’t keep ‘em down. What with the likes ofperky teen shocker Fright Night. biker fangfest Near Dark. would-be chic MTV caper The Lost Boys. parodic yuppie-in-peril number Vampire '5‘ Kiss and even valley girl send-up Buffy The Vampire Slayer. we haven‘t exactly been suffering a worldwide screen bloodsucker shortage over the past few years. But the news that Francis Coppola (no less) was going to be getting his teeth into a new megabudgct version of Dracula seems to have inspired box
office-minded moviemakers to start churning out 1993 movie vampire models quicker than the production line at a Translyvanian holy water bottling plant. Here's a round-up of the best and the rest.
- A visually splendid reading of the
Stoker tale. Gary ()ldham makes a
' fair stab at ol‘ Vlad 'l'he Impaler.
Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves ' singularly fail to convince as Victorian English persons. but it‘s
the expressionist overload of the stylised settings that proves the real
star of the show. A far cry from the compact confines of Bray studios where sundry Hammer classics came to life. Coppola has re-created large chunks of Eastern Europe and 19th century London under controlled conditions and the result is a spectacularly self-conscious riot of
dark shadows and rich reds. A sort of
Bram-Stoker-meets-grand-opera. it opens throughout the UK on 29 January.
TALE OF A VAMPIRE
Shimako Sato‘s British-Japanese co-production probably cost less than the catering bill on the Coppola epic. but in this case modest resources have proved little hinderance to the filmmaker‘s creative ambitions. Powered along by Julian Sands‘s knowing underplaying as a centuries-old vamp searching for his long-lost love in murky 903 London. Japan‘s first ever woman director attempts to bring inﬂuences as diverse as Ozu and Poe to the familiar iconography ofcelluloid fiendishness and offers a deliberately-paced detour from the rituals of formula moviemaking. Let’s hope her film gets a showing in Scotland sometime early next year. for it surely merits it.
As An American Werewolfln London demonstrated with no little panache. John Landis‘s take on genre flicks seems to adhere to the old adage that ‘if it's worth doing. it‘s worth overdoing‘. and his latest offering Innocent Blood sets out to do for vampirism what the earlier picture did for lycanthropy. Anne Nikita Parillaud stars as a vampire seeking out her prey on the seamier side of Pittsburgh. unwittingly infecting local mafia kingpin Robert Liffia and thus putting a whole new spin on the notion ofbeing made an offer that you can‘t refuse. It‘s a typically vigorous combo of gore and
needs a hit. UK distributors
f Warner‘s have gotten cold feet at the ‘ prospect ofcompeting with Dracula
and dropped their early March release date for the title. So keep
' watchingthis space for further
The flesh-piercing fun never ceases. for there's loads more garlic unfriendly footage in the pipeline that we should see theatrically or on
. video overthe next twelve months or ;
so. A movie bandwagon isn‘t worthy ofthe name. ofcourse. until Roger Corman has hopped on board and true to form. B-pic doycn Rog has his very own To Sleep With A Vampire already in the can and something called Dracula Rising in preparation. while Russell Mulcahy is set to direct 99 Days wherein the plucky protagonist has exactly that length of time to stop his transformation after receiving a nasty bite. and top pop personality Adam Ant lurches out ofthe ‘where are they now‘ file to star as The Reluctant Vampire. Oh yes. and if you come across a kids‘ movie called Moonrise. it‘s actually a junior chiller also known as both Grampire and My Grampa Is A Vampire. but with the one and only Al Lewis aka Grampa Munster in the leading role. All of which adds up to more vampire movies than you can shake a pointy stick at. so start stocking up on those stakes now. (TrevorJohnston)
The British premiere ofJohn Landis 's Innocent Blood takes place
. at a special horror film festi val at the
Edinburgh Film/rouse on Saturday I 6 January. The Festival also kicks
i ojfwit/t a screening of I". W. ' M urnau 's original Nosferatu. For
details see Screen Test.
An original 15th century woodcutshows I Dracula at play
I The real-lite inspiration for the infamous Count was a Wallachian prince named Vlad Dracula. who was born in Transylvania in 1431 — the same yearas Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen. Most likely brought up a
Catholic. he played a vital part in saving ('hristian Europe from the
. onslaught of the Ottoman
IThe name 'Dracula‘ comes from the Latin word ‘draco'. meaning ‘dragon'. V'lad‘s father was a member ofthe Order of the Dragon (an outfit dedicated to fighting Turks and heretics). who wore a dragon insignia on their shields. However. in Romanian ‘dracul‘ means either ‘dragon' or ‘devil'. while the suffix ‘—a' means ‘son of'.
I Vlad's nickname ‘The Impaler' comes from his favoured method of executing his enemies. Live victims were placed on top of stakes with their legs stretched wide and lied to two horses which were then sent in opposite directions. Sometimes the stake was blunted and
e List 18 December 1992 — 14 January 1993
bathed in oil so that entrails were not ruptured tooquickly.
I During his six-year reign. Prince Dracula did away with anything between 4(l.()(l(land l()().()()(lmen. women and children from all countries and religions. As well as impalement. he is known to have severed limbs. hanged. boiled. skinned. roasted and buried alive victims and been a master of various instrumentsof medieval torture.
I Vlad Dracula died not by a stake through the heart. but at the hands of a hired Turkish assassin who had posed as a servant while near Bucharest. For some time afterwards. his head was displayed on a pole in (‘onstantinopole
I There are various ways in which a human being can become a vampire. As
from another vampire' method. they can be created when a cat or similar malevolent creature jumps or ﬂies over a corpse before burial. when a corpse is buried with its mouth open or when a child is born with teeth. Suicides
as it was the only day the monsters occupied their graves and tombs. Bodies looking more than a little fresh were taken and burned.
I Rumour has it that Bram Stoker based the physical description ofhis (‘ount Dracula on the famous
actor l lenry Irving. with whom Stoker served as manager and confidant for more than 30 years. Perhaps the story had originally been intended as a play which lrving rejected.
I Conrad Veidt and Lon Chaney were Universal
and the illegitimate children of parents themselves illegitimate are also destined to join the bloodsucking undead. I In Surinam Negro belief. an ‘azeman' is a female vampire who changes shape to animal form at night to feast on human blood. However. she can be distracted by scattering the room she enters with rice. pepper or seeds as she must gather and count the grains before proceeding.
I In Greece until the 19th century. Saturday was the day to dispose ofvampires
Max Schreclt as Nosferatu (1922)
Studio's first choices for the 1931 film roleof
| Dracula. Bela Lugosi had already appeared in a successful stage version. and it is reckoned that his cinema career was saved by the film as his Hungarian accent was too strong for the talkies. Nevertheless. he only got paid a mere $3.500 for seven weeks' shooting. IA 1976 episodeot Starsky and Hutch had the buddy cop duoputting aside normal police matters to chase after a
played by John SaXon.
l l possible real-life vampire. J