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Dracula marathon

You know a person is a true friend when they say: "Why don't we have a Dracula film marathon?" Especially when it turns out that they mean not merely a day spent watching different cinematic tellings of the Dracula story, but a day spent specifically watching Hammer films. Thus it was that ms_siobhan and I got together on Easter Saturday to mainline the following:

14. Dracula (1958), dir. Terence Fisher
15. Brides of Dracula (1960), dir. Terence Fisher
16. Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966), dir. Terence Fisher

We had a brilliant and unashamedly geeky time, swapping bits of Hammer trivia and both considering it perfectly normal to discuss issues such as who exactly the someone who came along and caused Lucy to run away in Tania's account of getting lost in the first film might be. We stuffed ourselves silly with strawberries and crunchy snacks, drank vampires and laughed a very great deal at both ourselves and the films.

As for the films themselves, I am not going to try reviewing them individually yet again. Previous reviews are available at the following locations, for anyone who is interested:

Dracula - June 2008, May 2013, November 2013, January 2014, February 2014.
Brides - January 2014.
Prince - September 2010, November 2013.

But it is my habit to record all of the films which I watch each year here in this journal, and I think it's not unreasonable to say a little something about the experience of watching these three together in close succession.

For one thing, I ended up feeling that although in the past I've tended to sideline Brides on the grounds that it doesn't have Christopher Lee in it, actually it really is part of the sequence and shouldn't be omitted. For example, Prince begins with a scene which only really makes sense if you haven't skipped straight there from Dracula. The scene in Prince traces a distraught woman running through the forest as she tries to prevent the local priest and his chums from staking her recently-deceased daughter. The point turns out to be that a pre-emptive staking isn't actually necessary, because the area is free of vampires. But we never encountered any such local funeral customs in Dracula anyway. It is Brides which depicts them, by showing a similar young woman, who, as it happens, has been killed by a vampire, but is buried with a garland of garlic flowers around her neck anyway as a matter of course, before anyone establishes this for certain. Without this depiction of normal local customs, the scene in which they are challenged at the start of Prince is a lot weaker.

We also noticed that between Dracula and Prince, our Chief Vampire in Residence has quite a noticeable taste for bling. I don't think anyone can ever have watched the first film without thinking "A shiny white coffin? Seriously?", but it's more than just that. He is resurrected in Prince from dust kept in an almost equally blingin' white marble casket, and while I know it is perfectly reasonable for any person watching the following scene to train their eyes primarily on the quite extensive stretch of naked Christopher Lee chest which it affords, let's also just take a moment to notice Dracula's shirt, shall we?


Yes, that's right - all that time, under all those layers of austere black fabric, he has secretly been wearing a frilly shirt all along. Disco-Drac! But perhaps there is some perverse kind of sense in all this. After all, this is also the man who calls at least two of his servants 'Klove', despite his revulsion for garlic. It's almost like he deliberately enjoys playing around with what, from his perspective, is horrible if not actually deadly. So perhaps for him the white coffin and frilly shirt work in a similar way? They are his rejection of vampire conventionality (you know, hanging around in dank cobwebby castles full of ruin and despair), in favour of embracing what for him is truly dark and terrible - 60s / 70s kitsch. In other words, he's the inverted vampire equivalent of a great big Goth.

Well, it's a theory anyway.

Meanwhile, with ms_siobhan's equally-geeky help I worked out all sorts of minor canon and continuity issues for an enormous file which I am still gradually compiling on the ins and outs of the Hammer Draculaverse. But I'm increasingly of the opinion that those don't really belong here, but rather on some separate stand-alone blog where fellow Dracula geeks can readily find them. Setting that up, though, will I suspect have to be an 'after the Augustus conference' project.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 30th, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
"equally geeky" high praise but I fear I'm not worthy of it as I'm not that geeky really - though I can name wardrobe mistresses on Hammer films....

It was an aces day - will have to do something similar again :-)
May. 1st, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
Hello! Yes, we definitely must do it again, and in fact I think we pencilled in this Sunday for another session. I'm still definitely up for that if you are, and have 2pm noted down in my diary. Happy to have it at mine again, or come to yours - whichever you prefer.

I think we already lined up Dracula has Risen from the Grave and Vampire Circus for our play-list, but since then I've also received one of those castle films I mentioned to you before from my Lovefilm play-list. It's called Castle of the Living Dead, and you can see a trailer for it here, and a quick synopsis here.

That would put us on two Christopher Lee films and no Peter Cushing films, though, so if you want to skip the castle film and put a Cushing of your choice in its place that would seem fair to me! I can watch the castle one any time anyway.
May. 1st, 2014 11:14 pm (UTC)
We did, I'd completely forgotten in spite of my writing it in my diary - brain really is all over the place atm.
Castle of the Living Dead looks aces - quite fancy that along with Dracula Has Risen....and maybe a vampire or two whilst we watch....
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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