VLAD III, Voivode of Wallachia, order of the "Dracul", in Folklore he became a "Nosferatu (Vamyr)", author Bram Stoker made him legendary, and in motion pictures he frightened many a movie goer around the world.
This is a look at who "Dracula" really was, the novel that made that name famous, and some of the motion pictures that brought him to undead life, based, in different degrees, upon the novel.
VLAD THE IMPALER (A Brief History)
Below one of the few paintings, circa 1560, made of Vlad Țepes, or Vlad Drăculea
Vlad Tepes was the second son of Vlad II, Dracul (Vlad the Dragon), ruler of Wallachia, now part of Romania, located north of the Lower Danube, and south of the Southern Carpathian Mountain range.
He was probably born in 1431, after his father settled in Transylvania, now a part of Romania, to the east and south Transylvania's natural borders are the Carpathian Mountains, to the west the border is the Apuseni Mountains, and the northern border is Hungry.
The title "Dracul" comes from being a member of "Societas Draconistarum (Society of the Dragonists)" and receiving "The Order of the Dragon". This monarchist society was founded in 1408, and owed its allegiance to "The Holy Roman Empire".
In 1442 both Vlad and his younger brother, Radu cel Frumos were held prisoners of the Ottomans (The Turks) to permit their father to have the Sultan's help in regaining his throne. Their imprisonment lasted for five-years and is the main cause of Vlad's hatred for the Ottoman Empire.
After the death of both his father and elder brother, Vlad Tepes became Vlad III. Diplomatic reports refer to him as "Dracula", and two remaining letters, from the 1470's, have Vlad signing them either "Dragula", or "Drakula". However, is formal signature was Wladislus Dragwlya.
After overthrowing Vladislus II, no relation, Vlad III first ruled Wallachia, but only between October to November 1448, after which Vladislus II returned to power and Vlad Dracula went into exile in Moldavia.
On July 22 1456, leading a small army with Hungarian assistance, Vlad entered Wallachia and was intercepted by Vladislus II's and his men. It was decided that a fight to the death in single combat between Vlad Dracula and Vladislus II would settle the question of who was the true Voivode, Vlad Dracula won.
Below is a circa 1506, fresco of Vladislus II.
Vlad III's second reign lasted into July 1462, when a massive Ottoman army led by Vlad's younger brother Radu Bey invaded Wallachia.
What the name of Vlad III's first wife remains unknown, just as her death is confused by legend. The main story has a woodland archer sending an arrow into Vlad's room with a message that his brother and the Ottoman army are approaching. As the castle is being surrounded by Vlad's younger brother and the Wallachian Janissary. Rather than be taken prisoner, Vlad's first wife jumped from the castle's tower into the Arges river and downed.
Below is a picture of the ruins of Poenari Castle, the home of Vlad III.
Later, Vlad III fled to Transylvania with his army and created a scorched earth policy. When Radu Bey's Ottoman army reached the city of Targoviste. They found 20,000 Ottoman's impaled on stakes either dead or dying.
In November 1462, Vlad Dracula met with the Hungarian-Croatia King, Matthias Corvinus, who recognized Vlad as the rightful ruler of Wallachia, but did not want to assist him in regaining his throne. Which would have meant going to war against the Ottoman Empire.
Instead, Corvinus had one of his Czech commanders, John Jiskra of Brandy's capture Vlad and imprison him.
The stories about Vlad Dracula's cruelty started with Matthias Corvinus, and his ally, the papal legate, Nicholas of Modrus. The papal legate wrote Pope Pius II about what Corvinus told him about Vlad III, and Pope Pius II included them in his own 1464 commentaries as truth.
Additionally, there were German, the most brutal tales, Slavic, and of course Ottoman (Turkish) stories about the mass murders carried out by Vlad III.
Vlad Dracula's final reign lasted from the Summer of 1476 until his death in either December 1476, or just before, or during a battle with the Ottoman's that ended on January 10, 1477, with his entire army killed.
The place of his burial is still unknown and, to date, archeologists hunt for it. Some scholars have placed Vlad III's burial site as in the "Church of the Virgin Mary", at the "Snagov Monastery", just 15-miles north of Bucharest, the capital city of Romania. Others, now state his body is in the "Piazza Santa Maria la Nova" graveyard, in Naples, Italy.
In Romania, Vlad Dracula is considered a national hero over his defense of the homeland against the Ottoman Empire.
ABRAHAM "BRAM" STOKER AND "COUNT DRACULA"
The first written story by Bram Stoker, was "The Crystal Cup", published in 1872. However, of interest to this article in Bram Stoker's 1890 novel, "The Snake's Pass", considered the precursor of "Dracula". The website, "Good Reads":
describes the novel:
Arthur Severn, a young Englishman on holiday in the west of Ireland, is forced by a storm to stop for the night in a mysterious village, where he hears the legend of "The Snake's Pass." Long ago, it is said, St. Patrick battled the King of the Snakes, who hid his crown of gold and jewels in the hills near the village. But it is not only legend that haunts the town. The figure of the demonic money-lender Black Murdock looms over the village, as he searches for the lost treasure while manipulating the townsfolk to his own evil ends. Even more threatening than Murdock is the shifting bog, personified as a baneful "carpet of death," which will swallow up anything -- and anyone -- in its path. Art and his friend Dick will brave the dangers of the bog to seek out the treasure, but the sinister machinations of Murdock will lead to a deadly conclusion! Featuring a slow accumulation of terror worthy of Le Fanu,
DRACULA published on May 26, 1897
The following are Bram Stoker's words, as his "Count Dracula" describes his family history and that of Transylvania: https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/345/pg345-images.html
Midnight.—I have had a long talk with the Count. I asked him a few questions on Transylvania history, and he warmed up to the subject wonderfully. In his speaking of things and people, and especially of battles, he spoke as if he had been present at them all. This he afterwards explained by saying that to a boyar the pride of his house and name is his own pride, that their glory is his glory, that their fate is his fate. Whenever he spoke of his house he always said “we,” and spoke almost in the plural, like a king speaking. I wish I could put down all he said exactly as he said it, for to me it was most fascinating. It seemed to have in it a whole history of the country. He grew excited as he spoke, and walked about the room pulling his great white moustache and grasping anything on which he laid his hands as though he would crush it by main strength. One thing he said which I shall put down as nearly as I can; for it tells in its way the story of his race:—
“We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin gave them, which their Berserkers displayed to such fell intent on the seaboards of Europe, ay, and of Asia and Africa too, till the peoples thought that the were-wolves themselves had come. Here, too, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame, till the dying peoples held that in their veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with the devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or what witch was ever so great as Attila, whose blood is in these veins?” He held up his arms. “Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race; that we were proud; that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back? Is it strange that when Arpad and his legions swept through the Hungarian fatherland he found us here when he reached the frontier; that the Honfoglalas was completed there? And when the Hungarian flood swept eastward, the Szekelys were claimed as kindred by the victorious Magyars, and to us for centuries was trusted the guarding of the frontier of Turkey-land; ay, and more than that, endless duty of the frontier guard, for, as the Turks say, ‘water sleeps, and enemy is sleepless.’ Who more gladly than we throughout the Four Nations received the ‘bloody sword,’ or at its warlike call flocked quicker to the standard of the King? When was redeemed that great shame of my nation, the shame of Cassova, when the flags of the Wallach and the Magyar went down beneath the Crescent? Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed! Woe was it that his own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them! Was it not this Dracula, indeed, who inspired that other of his race who in a later age again and again brought his forces over the great river into Turkey-land; who, when he was beaten back, came again, and again, and again, though he had to come alone from the bloody field where his troops were being slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph! They said that he thought only of himself. Bah! what good are peasants without a leader? Where ends the war without a brain and heart to conduct it? Again, when, after the battle of Mohács, we threw off the Hungarian yoke, we of the Dracula blood were amongst their leaders, for our spirit would not brook that we were not free. Ah, young sir, the Szekelys—and the Dracula as their heart’s blood, their brains, and their swords—can boast a record that mushroom growths like the Hapsburgs and the Romanoffs can never reach. The warlike days are over. Blood is too precious a thing in these days of dishonourable peace; and the glories of the great races are as a tale that is told.
The idea that Bram Stoker based "Count Dracula" upon Vlad Tepes, didn't start until sixty-one-years after the novel was published. Lauren Davis in her October 21, 2014 article on the website, "GIZMODO", writes:
Dracula scholar Elizabeth Miller's book Dracula: Sense and Nonsense provides a fascinating history of Dracula scholarship as Miller debunks many of theories and misconceptions about the work that have since become accepted "fact." The tone of the book is exasperated, but that in no way detracts from Miller's careful parsing of fact and speculation. Miller notes that the notion of Vlad III as the model for Count Dracula emerged in 1958, with Basil Kirtley, who asserted that, without question, the biography that Abraham Van Helsing gives for the fictional Count Dracula is that of the Wallachian voivode. Similar claims are echoed by Maurice Richardson, Harry Ludlam, and Grigore Nandris.
To my reader, the late Elizabeth Miller, was the recognized worldwide authority on Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", bar none.
The most often used argument against "Dracula" being Vlad Tepes.
Is that at the time he wrote the novel, Bram Stoker had no idea Vlad Dracul even existed, until he was told about him. That person may have been someone reading the pre-published work, probably for the publishing house as was normal.
Which would point to Stoker's manuscript being modified after hearing about the Wallachian Prince, information that gave Stoker a name for his vampire count.
This idea is supported by the following excerpt from the website "Irish Central". That states the original title for the novel was "THE UNDEAD", and not "DRACULA".
Was Dracula based on an Irish horror story?
Yet there have been arguments against this idea, some critics suggest that it was impossible that Stoker based his horror fiction on Prince Vlad the Impaler and that the real connection and inspiration for Dracula may be closer to home.
What’s more, what may come as a surprise is that Ireland does have an affinity for that bloodsucking entity, vampire. There are several elements that may have contributed to Stoker’s imagination for the novel.
For example, a number of factors from Stoker’s childhood in Ireland may have inspired the writer’s early imagination to the idea of blood-sucking. Bram was an extremely sickly child, though it is very unclear what his illness was, and why he had a sudden recovery when he was seven years old.
However, it was quite common at the time in Ireland of the 1840s to bleed a sickly patient, and it is likely young Bram was bled as an attempt to cure his ailment. So, the story goes, with Stoker’s vivid writer’s imagination he recycled these memories of being bled into a story about vampires.
His mother was another considerable influence on Stoker as a child. Charlotte Blake (1818-1901) was born in Sligo and was a prominent proponent of women’s rights. She had lived through Famine years and regaled young Bram with stories of destructive effects on humanity with accounts of skeletal people walking countryside, effectively, living dead. Interestingly, Stoker’s original manuscript was in fact titled "The Undead."
This is a look at a group of motion pictures based directly upon that 1897 novel, but not necessarily, as I said in my opening, the actual written story.
Supposedly there was a 1920 Russian film entitled "Дракула (Drakula)", but nothing associated with the movie is known to exist and there appears no proof it did.
The known screenplay was based upon Bram Stoker's novel, co-written by Karoly Lajthay, and Mano Kertesz Kaminer.
Below Michael Curtiz circa the 1920's:
Above, Paul Askonas as "Drakula" and Margit Lux as "Mary".
The director was "F. W. Murnau (Fredrich Wilhelm Murau)", who had changed his name from Fredrich Wilhelm Plumpee. His second motion picture as a director was the lost film, 1919's, "Satanas (Satan)", a three part drama horror mystery, with the second part loosely based upon French author Victor Hugo's, "La Fin de Satan (The End of Satan)", and features Conrad Veidt as "Lucifer". In 1926, Murnau came to the United States and joined "Fox Film Corporation". In 1927, Murnau directed the silent feature, "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans", starring Janet Gaynor and George O'Brien. That romantic drama is considered one of the all-time great silent motion pictures.
Galeen's early life is somewhat of a mystery, he was a Austrian-Hungarian. It is more than possible he changed his last name to avoid antisemitism. Prior to the First World War, Henrik Galeen moved to Germany and became the assistant to Max Reinhardt, still recognized as the most prominent German-language-director of the early 20th-Century. Reinhardt was also Jewish and had changed his name from Maximillian Goldmann.
Because this was an unauthorized use of Bram Stoker's novel, the names were changed and incidents were reworked in the screenplay.
In December 2000, the motion picture "Shadow of the Vampire", starring John Malkovich as "Murnau", and William Defoe as "Schreck", was released. In this horror comedy about the making of 1922's, "Nosferatu", Greta Schroeder was portrayed as a great German actress.
"Hutter" just passes off the warnings about the count as local superstition and takes a coach from the inn to meet the counts. A strange looking driver awaits "Hutter", and he is taken on a perilous mountain road ride to Castle Orlok.
The coach arrives and "Thomas Hutter" meets "Count Orlok".
Concerned for "Ellen", "Harding" gets "Professor Sievers", played by Gustav Botz"Ellen", and with his nurse, the three go to "Mrs. Hutter". Suddenly, "Ellen" shouts out her husband's name and apparently can see him in "Count Orlok's" castle.
Hours later, "Orlok" loads boxes of his native soil on a coach, gets in the last one, and the coach departs for the sea port. The boxes are taken on board a schooner named "The Empusa". While "Thomas Hutter", who had been trapped within the castle, finally escapes, but after having the count feeding on him is very weak and ends up in a hospital.
Meanwhile, on "The Empusa", "Count Orlok" feeds on the sailors. In Wisborg, "Professor Sievers", played by John Gottowt, now has an insane "Herr Knock" as a patient in his asylum and seems to be reacting to the coming of the count.
Released from the hospital, "Hutter" realizes "The Empusa" is about to reach Wisborg. On the same day both "Hutter" and "Orlok" arrive, but the vampire has to wait until dark to sneak off the schooner with a coffin and enters the house across the street from the "Hutter's".
At his home, "Thomas Hutter" shows his wife the book about the vampires and tells his story. Now people start to die as a plague moves through Wisborg.
"Ellen Hutter" has read her husband's book and discovered that a vampire can be defeated if a pure-hearted woman distracts him by her beauty. During the night, she opens her window to invite "Orlok" in, but faints. "Thomas" is at her side, not knowing her plan, and he revives his wife and she sends him for "Professor Bulwer". "Count Orlok" arrives and "Ellen" keeps him occupied by feeding on her, before her husband returns with "Bulwer", the cock crows, the sun comes up, and "Count Orlok" vanishes.
Bram Stoker had died on April 20, 1912 and his wife Florence was the executrix of his estate. She wasn't unaware of the existence of Murnau's "Nosferatu", until someone sent her a program from a lavish cinematic event with full orchestra for the film. That event had taken place in Berlin, and the program stated the motion picture was based upon her husband's novel, "Dracula".
Florence Stoker's reaction was to start a lawsuit against the film company, "Prana Film", for unauthorized use of her husband's work. The reason for the suit was publicly stated, by Florence, as not getting authorization to use the work and pay the estate for that permission. Not publicly known at the time, was that Florence Stoker was having major financial problems and the money would clear them.
In July 1925, the estate won their case and part of the ruling required that all copies of the motion picture and negatives were to be destroyed. Copies of the film in different lengths still would turn-up in both New York City and Detroit, in 1929.
On January 17, 1979, in France, was the first showing of German director Werner Herzog's, authorized by the Bram Stoker Estate, remake of the 1922, "Nosferatu". The West German and French production was entitled, "Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu: The Phantom of the Night)". The motion picture starred German character actor Klaus Kinski in the title role of "Count Dracula", seen below with Isabelle Adjani portraying "Lucy Harker".
THE UNIVERSAL STUDIO'S "DRACULA"
In 1931, "Universal Pictures" filmed both an English language and Spanish language version of Bram Stoker's novel. The films were not based directly upon Stoker's work, but a 1924 play, by playwright Hamilton Deane, who had been given permission by the Stoker Estate to adapt the novel. Deane's play was revised in 1927, by John L. Balderston, who co-wrote this picture’s screenplay. For a more detailed look on the play, see the 1979, “Dracula”, below.
article about Balderston, who also worked on 1931's,
"Frankenstein", 1935's, "Bride of Frankenstein", 1932's,
"The Mummy", " and 1936's, "Dracula's
"John L. Balderston: Writing Classic Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction Screenplays", my be read at:
It was the procedure in the 1930's, if a foreign language version of a motion picture was needed. A complete foreign language cast and crew were brought in to film the same motion picture in that language. In the case of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", the English language version was filmed during the daylight hours, and the Spanish language version, on the same sets and with the same script, during nighttime hours.
Besides the aforementioned Deane and Balderston, the studio required an additional seven-writers to turn the 1927 play into the English language screenplay. The Spanish screenplay basically just needed to add Baltasar Fernandez Cue to translate the English language into the Spanish language.
The Two Directors:
The Spanish language version was assigned by the studio to the non-Spanish speaking director George Melford. Melford started directing silent films in 1911, when his last picture was completed in 1946, George Medford had directed 231 motion pictures.
Bela Lugosi portrayed "Count Dracula". Lugosi had starred in the Deane and Balderston stage play in London and on Broadway, but wasn't considered for the role in the motion picture and had to fight the studio for the part. Lugosi refused to use the studio's make-up artist Jack P. Pierce, who created Boris Karloff's "Frankenstein" make-up the same year as this picture, and did his own. My article, "Jack P. Pierce the Man Who Created Monsters", will be found at:
Bela Lugosi had just been in the Jeanette McDonald and Reginald Denny musical, 1930's, "Oh, for a Man!".
Carlos Villarias portrayed "Conde Dracula". Born in Spain, this was Villarias's fourteenth feature film since 1917.
Helen Chandler portrayed "Mina Seward". Chandler was a popular New York stage actress, but her transition to films didn't work well. For her eleven-year-career, between 1927 and 1938, she made only 27-feature films. She returned to the legitimate stage, but became an alcoholic and spent time starting in 1940, in and out of a sanitarium, in 1950, while smoking in bed, she fell asleep and started a fire that badly burned her face.
Lupita Tovar portrayed "Eva Seward". Tovar started acting in 1929, but on October 31, 1932, married talent agent Paul Kohner and basically retired.
David Manners portrayed "John Harker". Manners started on-screen acting in 1929, but appeared on the legitimate stage in both London and Broadway in the First World War drama, "Journey's End". He came to the United States for that Broadway production with the original London stage director, James Whale, and his original stage co-star, Colin Clive. The three would make the 1930 motion picture version of "Journey's End".
Barry Norton portrayed "Juan Harker". Argentinian Norton started on-screen acting in Douglas Fairbanks', 1926, "The Black Pirate". In 1927, he was a ballroom dancer in F.W. Murnau's, "Sunrise", and worked switching between Spanish and English language films until 1956 and his 227th role.
Dwight Frye portrayed "Renfield". The
same year as this feature film, Frye appeared in both the original film versions of "The Maltese Falcon", and "Frankenstein". Later, his career included 1933's, "The Vampire Bat", and two nonrecognizable roles in both 1933's, "The Invisible
Man", and 1935's, "The Bride of
Frankenstein". You may read my article, "Dwight
Frye: Overlooked Horror Icon", at:
Pablo Alvarez Rubio portrayed "Renfield". Like his American counterpart, Madrid born Rubio was an outstanding character actor, who had supporting roles in only 54 motion pictures between 1923 and 1974.
Jose Soriano Viosca portrayed "Dr. Seward". Between 1930 and 1932, Viosca appeared in 12-Spanish language motion pictures.
Above, Carla Laemmle, the niece of Carl Laemmle, founder of "Universal Pictures", falls into the lap of actor Dwight Frye. Below, she falls into the lap of Pablo Alvarez Rubio.
"Renfield" is a solicitor going to Castle Dracula in Transylvania to get the count to sign documents to Carfax Abbey in England. His coach arrives at an Inn and "Renfield" wants to go on to the Borgo Pass to meet "Count Dracula's" coach. At the inn he is warned about the danger at the castle and an old woman gives him a crucifix to protect "Renfield" from the implied count.
I don't drink---wine!
Next, "Renfield" cuts his finger and the blood brings "Dracula" to the point of almost attacking him, but the count sees the crucifix the old woman gave the other, and moves back.
"Mina/Eva" sees "Dracula" from her bedroom window, runs downstairs, and into the garden to him. There he bites her on the neck and she falls to the ground, where the maid will find her.
"Renfield" escapes his cell and tells "Van Helsing" and "Steward" that he has been promised thousands of rats full of blood by "Dracula", to fix it so the count could enter sanitorium and "Mina/Eva's" bedroom there.
"Dracula" enters the "Seward" parlor and tells "Van Helsing" that "Mina/Eva" is now his and the professor should leave and return to his home country. The professor promises the count he will search Carfax Abbey and destroy him. "Dracula" attempts to hypnotize the professor, but "Van Helsing" takes a crucifix from his pocket, shows it to "Dracula", who turns away from the sight of the holy object, and leaves.
There were several vampire movies made between this picture and the next I want to speak too. However, even with two "Universal Pictures" features in the 1940's with John Carradine as "Baron Latos" aka: "Count Dracula". Not one motion picture was made based upon the actual Bram Stoker novel until the two dueling versions in May 1958.
DRACULA aka: HORROR OF DRACULA premiered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 8, 1958
The original British title was "Dracula", but for the United States release by "Universal International Pictures", and purposely to avoid confusion with the 1931 motion picture, the title was "Horror of Dracula".
In 1957, British film company "Hammer Pictures" released the first Technicolor version of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's, "Frankenstein", as "The Curse of Frankenstein". The studio would go on to remake "The Mummy" and "The Wolf Man", like "Dracula", also in Technicolor. My article, "Universal Pictures Horror Films Reimagined By Hammer Films", will frighten you at:
This motion picture was directed by Terence Fisher. Among his films for Hammer prior to this feature are the reimagining of Mary Shelley in 1953's, "Four Sided Triangle", the same years science fiction, "Spaceways", and the aforementioned, 1957, "The Curse of Frankenstein". Later in 1958, Fisher did the direct sequel to "Curse of Frankenstein", "The Revenge of Frankenstein", and in 1959, he directed "The Mummy".
The screenplay was based directly upon the Bram Stoker novel and written by Jimmy Sangster. Some of his films include 1956's, "X-the Unknown", 1957's, "The Curse of Frankenstein", 1958's, "The Revenge of Frankenstein", the non-Dracula, 1958's, "Blood of the Vampire", 1959's, "Jack the Ripper", 1959's, "The Mummy", and without Dracula, 1960's, "The Brides of Dracula".
Jimmy Sangster had created a tight family grouping that would be attacked by "Count Dracula". It was his hope that this would make the audience more concerned about their futures. Of course, "Professor Van Helsing" remained, but he changed that character into a true vampire hunter.
Peter Cushing portrayed "Doctor Van Helsing". Cushing started on-screen acting in 1939, in 1954, he was one of the villains in Alan Ladd's, "The Black Knight", the same year Cushing was "Winston Smith" in a live BBC Broadcast of George Orwell's, "1984". He was another villain in Richard Burton and Fredric March's excellent, 1956, "Alexander the Great", and was "Baron Frankenstein", in 1957's, "The Curse of Frankenstein" and 1958's, "Revenge of Frankenstein".
Christopher Lee portrayed "Count Dracula". Lee started on-screen acting in 1946, and in 1951, played a Spanish Captain in the Gregory Peck version of C.S. Forester's "Captain Horatio Hornblower", and in 1952, played a Spanish Military Attaché in Burt Lancaster's, "The Crimson Pirate". in 1956, he provided the voice of "Nectenabus" in "Alexander the Great", and in 1957, was "The Creature", in "The Curse of Frankenstein", and in 1959, "The Mummy".
In 1865, "Jonathan Harker", played by John Van Eyssen, arrives at Castle Dracula, in Klausenberg, Transylvania, to take-up his post of librarian.
"Harker" enters the castle and it appears as if there is no one in it. As he looks around, he finds a supper set out for him with a note of apology for not being there to greet him from "Dracula".
As "Harker" is eating his meal, a beautiful young woman, played by Valerie Gaunt, appears behind him and claims to be a prisoner of the count.
The count shows "Jonathan Harker" to his room. There he sees a photo of "Jonathan's" fiancée "Lucy Holmwood".
"Dr. Van Helsing" arrives at a Klausenburg inn looking for "Harker", but no one wants to speak to him. Outside, as he leaves, the innkeeper's daughter hands "Van Helsing" "Harker's Journal", that her father had found outside the castle.
"Arthur Holmwood" does not believe the vampire talk of "Dr. Van Helsing" and the doctor gives "Arthur" "Jonathan's" journal to read.
The following day, "Arthur" and "Van Helsing" return and go to the undertaker to see if they can locate "Dracula's" coffin. The two return to the house, and "Arthur" starts to give his wife a small gold crucifix to wear, but it burns her hand and she faints, revealing she is turning into a vampire.
"Van Helsing" and "Arthur" now chase a coach being driven by the count and containing "Mina". The two rescuers arrive at Castle Dracula to witness the count attempting to bury "Mina" alive. "Dracula" run into the castle and "Arthur" goes to his wife who is under the count's spell.
Inside the castle "Van Helsing" and the "Count Dracula" fight, but the doctor notices sunlight coming through the window, jumps onto the drapes causing the sunlight to shine on the count's legs, pining him to the floor, and "Dr. Van Helsing" forms two large candle sticks into a crucifix.
THE RETURN OF DRACULA premiered on May 21, 1958 in Los Angeles, California
The motion picture was directed by Paul Landres, a solid television director since 1951, with multiple episodes of shows such as "Boston Blackie", "The Lone Ranger", "The Cisco Kid", "Ramar of the Jungle", "Mr. and Mrs. North", and "Adventures of the Falcon". Landres had just directed Kenneth Tobey, John Beal, and Coleen Gray in 1957's, "The Vampire", and Arthur Franz and Kathleen Crowley, in 1958's, "The Flame Barrier".
In 1934, Francis Lederer purchased a large rancho in the San Fernando Valley bordering the Simi Valley. Today, we know his ranch as the city of Canoga Park.
Norma Eberhardt portrayed Rachel Mayberry (the Mina Murray role)". Although a television actress, Norma Eberhardt co-starred with a young Mike Connors, and Mary Murphy, in director/actor Paul Henreid's film-noir crime drama, 1958's, "Live Fast, Die Young".
John Wengraf portrays "John Meierman the Van Helsing role). Wengraf started acting in his native Austria in 1922, and left with the rise of Adolph Hitler. Among his more memorable roles were "Count Franz Von Papen" in the James Mason and Michael Rennie true spy story, 1952's, "5 Fingers", "Dr. Zeitman" in Ivan Tor's, 1953, 3-D, science fiction, "GOG", and "Sermaine", in director Stanley Kramer's, 1957, "The Pride and the Passion", starring Gary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren.
Virginia Vincent portrayed "Jennie Blake the "Lucy Westerna role). Vincent's on-screen roles began in 1950, like Norma Eberhart, she was primarily a television actress. However, Virginia Vincent had 7th billing as "Sue", in 1957's, "The Helen Morgan Story", starring Ann Blyth, Paul Newman, and Richard Carlson. In 1958, Vincent co-starred with Susan Hayward and Simon Oakland, in "I Want to Live".
Fielder not only had to reduce the novel's scope and characters as Sangster did, but she couldn't make her screenplay a period piece because of costs. Fielder used a Los Angles cemetery, the always popular Bronson Caves, and Brush Canyon in Griffith Park as the main locations for her screenplay. Along with the Heritage Square Museum, all within minutes of each other to keep the production costs down. One choice she made was to turn the horror story into a film-noir horror story.
However, Pat Fielder started her story in a Transylvanian cemetery as vampire investigator "John Meierman" and his associates attempt to trap "Count Dracula" in his tomb, but when they open the coffin, it's empty.
After "Rachel" finishes her shift, "Dracula" appears in "Jennie's" room and offers to give the blind young woman her sight back. Then the count bites "Jennie" on the neck and feeds.
That same night, "Rachel" asks "Cousin Bellac" to attend a Halloween party the next evening, but he declines. She brings up his isolation from his American family, but "Bellac/Dracula" remains evasive. Later that evening, while reading a book, "Rachel" feels unnaturally sleepy and has a nightmare.
In her nightmare an evil "Cousin Bellac" appears and asks her to remove the crucifix pendent around "Jennie's" neck and "Bellac/Dracula" offers "Rachel Mayberry" eternal life.
"Rachel" still wants her cousin to attend the Halloween party and goes up to his room to ask one more time. However, she discovers some art work by "Dracula", one is of a dead "Jennie Blake", but another is of herself in a coffin.
"Rachel" turns to leave the bedroom, but "Dracula" is there without being reflected in the mirror.
Meanwhile, a picture taken of "Cora" with "Bellac", strangely shows her, but not her cousin whom she had her arms around.
"Tim" arrives at the mineshaft, he attempts to get the now out of her trance and hysterical "Rachel", away from the mineshaft, but "Dracula" blocks them. "Dracula" attempts to hypnotize "Tim", but taking "Rachel's" crucifix, "Tim" forces the vampire to back-up.
The motion picture had three main titles depending upon where it was released. The German title was:
NACHTS, WENN DRACULA ERWACHT (AT NIGHT, WHEN DRACULA AWAKES) premiering in West Germany on April 3, 1970
BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA released first, of course, in Ireland on June 30, 1972
German writer Erich Krohenke adapted Bram Stoker's novel into a story outline for filming that reinstated Dracula's ability to turn into a vampire bat.
Writer Dietmar Behnke, took the screenplay and turned it into German dialogue and acting directions. Milo G. Cuccia and Carlo Fadda, did the same for the Italian version, and Jesus Franco wrote the Spanish version of his and Finocchi's screenplay.
The Cast and Note the Names of Their Roles:
Christopher Lee portrayed "Count Dracula". The London born, Shakespearian trained actor, had just appeared in the Charlton Heston and Jason Robards, 1970, filmed version of William Shakespeare's, "Julius Caesar". Lee would follow this "Dracula" with another Hammer Films "Dracula", 1970's, "Taste the Blood of Dracula".
Jesus Franco had no problem directing Christopher Lee as he spoke fluent German, Italian, and Castilian Spanish. In fact, he spoke his own lines in all three film versions. My article, "CHRISTOPHER LEE: Foreign Language Motion Pictures 1959 to 1970", may be read at:
Frederick Williams portrayed "Jonathan Harker". Munich born Williams had just starred in a 13-part, 1968 to 1969, West German television mini-series, "La kermesse des brigrands", he would follow this feature film with 1971's, "Der Teufel kam aus Akasava".
Soledad Miranda portrayed "Lucy Westerna". Spanish actress and very popular pop-singer Miranda, also used the names Susann Korda, and Susan Korday. Soledad Miranda had just been seen in the made-for-television musical drama, 1970's, "Lola la piconera", and followed this motion picture with Jesus Franco's, 1970, French and Spanish, horror crime drama, "Les cauchermars naissent la nuit (Nightmares are Born at Night)".
Jack Taylor portrayed "Quincy Morris". Oregon City, Oregon born American actor Taylor had just co-starred with Maria Rohm in Jesus Franco's, 1970, "De Sade 70". He would follow this film with Franco's, "Nightmares are Born at Night".
Paul Muller portrayed "Dr. John 'Jack' Seward". Swiss actor Muller had just been seen in the 1970, American movie, "Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You". He would follow this picture with Jesus Franco's, 1970, "Nightmares are Born at Night".
From all appearances this should have been an excellent version of Bram Stoker's novel, but as the "New York Times" film critic Robert Firsching wrote, on February 26, 2008, looking back at the movie:
This doggedly faithful adaptation is, plodding and dull. Even Christopher Lee (in an uncharacteristically weak performance as Dracula), Klaus Kinski (as the mad Renfield), and seven credited screenwriters cannot make this confused, distant film worthwhile. Franco appears as a servant to Professor Van Helsing (Herbert Lom), and though certainly literate, the film nevertheless fails as both horror and drama
Another problem, as the above stills help to show, are the costumes designed by Maria Luisa Panaro. Stoker's novel takes place in Transylvania and, mainly, Victorian England, but all of Panaro's costumes no not look English, but very Spanish.
Which brings me to the sets and locations. Both the production design and art direction was by Berlin born, Karl Schneider, and the set decoration was by Italian Emilo Zaga, 1965's, "Planet of the Vampires". However, all three are shown in the film credits as created by the non-existent, "American", George O'Brown. A trick to make European audiences think the movie they're watching was made in the United States. On the film, Jesus Franco, even in Spain, is billed as Jess Franco.
As to those locations, all the sets look like Barcelona, Spain, and not London, England, adding with the costumes to a distraction for viewer familiar with Stoker's novel.
While the scenes of "Renfield" were filmed at "Tirrenia Studios", Tuscany, Italy.
The Augusto Finocchi and Jesus Franco Screenplay:
"Harker" is taken to the castle and the door is opened by "Count Dracula", himself, who greets "Harker" and asks that he enter of his own free will.
The count has prepared a meal for "Jonathan" and as he eats, the two go over the documents necessary for "Dracula" to take possession of Carfax Abbey. It is during this sequence that the monologue on the history of the “Szekelys” is given.
"Dracula" escorts "Harker" to his bedroom and he discovers that the count does not cast a reflection in the mirror. Later, "Jonathan Harker" goes to sleep and awakes in an ancient crypt with three vampire women around him. "Dracula" enters, orders the three to leave him alone, and gives them a baby to feed upon. Morning comes, and "Jonathan" believes he had a nightmare, except for the two puncture wounds on his neck that say otherwise.
"Jonathan Harker" now realizes he is a prisoner of "Count Dracula", and attempts to escape by going out of his bedroom window and using the climbing vines to reach the ground. Looking around the outside of the castle, "Harker" enters the tower, and finds the crypt with the three vampire brides and the count in their coffins. In panic, he runs out of the crypt and blindly goes up the tower steps, jumping out of a window into a river below it.
"Jonathan Harker" wakes up in a psychiatric hospital in London owned by "Dr. Van Helsing" and run by "Dr. Seward". His story is considered fantastic, that is, until "Van Helsing" sees the two puncture marks on "Jonathan". At the hospital are "Jonathan's" fiancée "Mina Murray" and her best friend "Lucy Westerna".
"Mina" is helping the two doctor's taking care of "Jonathan".
Unbeknown, is that "Count Dracula" has followed "Jonathan" to London, and is in Carfax Abbey. By drinking blood, he is becoming younger and stronger. Now, the count starts to feed off of "Lucy", who is becoming weaker, and of concern to everyone else.
"Lucy's" wealthy American fiancé, "Quincy Morris", has joined "Dr. Van Helsing", and "Dr. Seward" by giving blood in an attempt to save "Lucy" from the vampire.
"Lucy" dies and is placed in the family crypt, but then stories of a woman in white attacking children is reported and one little girl dies. "Dr. Van Helsing", "Dr. Seward", and "Quincy Morris", now await "Lucy", follow her into the crypt and drive a stake through "Lucy's" heart and decapitate her.
The screenplay was by Richard Matheson, the writer of both the novels and screenplays for "The Incredible Shrinking Man", "I Am Legend", "The Legend of Hell House". Along with multiple Roger Corman, Edgar Allan Poe screenplays. My article, "Richard Matheson: The Screenplays and Treatments", is ready to be read at:
Note the Matheson Character Names:
Jack Palance portrayed "Count Dracula/Vlad the Impaler". Palance had just co-starred with George C. Scott, Faye Dunaway, and Sir John Mills in director Stanley Kramer's, 1973, "Oklahoma Crude". He would follow this feature with the British horror movie, 1974's, "Craze", co-starring with Diana Dors.
Simon Ward portrayed "Arthur Holmwood". Ward had just portrayed "The Duke of Buckingham", in director Richard Lesters's, 1973, first half of French author Alexander Dumas', "The Three Musketeers", starring Oliver Reed, Rachel Welsch, and Richard Chamberlain. He followed this feature with the second part of Lester's long comedic version of Dumas, 1974's, "The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge", adding Faye Dunaway, Charlton Heston, and Michael York to the piece. Both are a must for my readers to see.
Richard Matheson's Screenplay:
The screenplay opens in Bistritz, Hungary, in May 1897, as "Jonathan Harker" makes an entry in his journal and then arrives at an inn in Transylvania. There, "Jonathan" finds the local peasants frightened when he mentions needing to travel to the Borgo pass to meet a carriage from "Count Dracula" that evening.
"Van Helsing" starts to suspect what is happening, and that night, "Lucy" walks out of her home. She is found the next morning drained of blood.
"Mina" tells "Van Helsing" about what she read in the newspaper about the ghost ship, "Demeter". Along with "Jonathan's" trip to Transylvania to meet "Count Dracula" to sell him Carfax Abbey. From "Mina's" clues, "Van Helsing" and "Holmwood", now go in search of the boxes of earth and locate all but one.
The vampire hunters return to the hotel that "Mina" is staying. They walk-in on "Dracula" forcing her to drink his blood from a self-inflicted cut across his chest.
All that they love, all that is theirs, HE WILL TAKE!
Before the two men can react, "Dracula" leaves..
The hunt for "Dracula" starts with "Van Helsing" hypnotizing "Mina", because by the bond of blood, "Mina Murray" sees through the eyes of "Dracula" and knows where he's going. However, the reverse is also true.
"Arthur" and "Van Helsing" arrive at Castle Dracula, locate the vampire brides and drives stakes through their hearts.
Next, now a vampire, "Jonathan Harker" attacks the two hunters and during the struggle is knocked into a pit of spikes and destroyed. "Holmwood" and "Van Helsing" now go in search of "Dracula", but only find an empty coffin.
Armed with crucifixes, the two find the count and a battle begins against the vampire's great strength and ability to turn into a wolf.
"Van Helsing" knowing the time of day, pulls down the curtain exposing the vampire to the sun, "Dracula" is weakened and almost not moving. "Van Helsing" takes a spear and pushes it through the vampire's heart.
"Dracula" is left before the portrait of Vlad Tepes and his wife, "Maria". As a text scrolls across the screen speaking to a great warlord who lived in the area of Hungry and Transylvania. How it is said that he learned how to conqueror death---adding, that that legend has never been disproven by anyone.
Between Dan Curtis and Francis Ford Coppola there was a stage play:
On October 20, 1977, at the "Martin Beck Theatre", on Broadway, a revival of the 1927 revision, by John L. Balderston, of the 1924 play, "Dracula", by Hamilton Deane, opened.
DRACULA released July 13, 1979
The screenplay is credited as being based upon Bram Stoker's, 1897 novel, and both the Hamilton Deane original 1924 play, and John L. Balderston's, 1927, revision.
In 1924, Hamilton Deane had his play open as:
Jonathan Harker and Dr. Seward discuss the condition of Harker’s wife, Mina. She has had bad dreams and grows pale and weak. Dr. Seward has sent for Professor Van Helsing. They also talk about Harkers' extravagant new neighbor, Count Dracula. Harker helped him to buy property in London, including Carfax Abbey, next door to both the Harkers’ residence and to Dr. Seward’s asylum.
While, John Balderston changed the Deane play for American audiences and his version opens as:
John Harker visits his fiancée, Lucy Seward, at the sanatorium run by her father, Doctor Seward. Abraham Van Helsing arrives to help with Lucy's case. Seward tells Van Helsing about Mina Weston, a friend of Lucy's who complained about bad dreams and had two small marks on her throat, then wasted away and died. R. M. Renfield, a lunatic patient who has been eating insects, enters and asks to be sent away to save his soul.
Frank Langella portrayed "Dracula". Besides the revival of the play, Langella was basically appearing on television and, in 1974, starred in a made-for-television remake of "The Mark of Zorro".
Donald Pleasence portrayed "Dr. Jack Steward". Pleasence had just been seen in the forgotten, 1979, "Good Luck, Miss Wycoff", and would follow this picture, co-starring with Christopher Lee, in the equally forgotten, 1979, "Jaguar Lives!". In 1981, the British actor would rejoin director John Carpenter for both "Escape from New York", and "Halloween II".
Kate Nelligan portrayed "Lucy Seward". Canadian actress Nelligan was seen in both British and Canadian television dramas.
Trevor Eve portrayed "Jonathan Harker". British actor Eve was appearing mainly on the BBC and ITV in dramas and adventures.
Jan Francis portrayed "Mina Van Helsing". Francis also was a British television actress.
Tony Haygarth portrayed "Milo Renfield". British character actor Haygarth kept the casting in place, as he was also a television actor.
Unlike the previous versions of "Dracula". The screenplay, sets, costumes, and the way the feature is filmed. Plus, Frank Langella's performance, make John Badham's version of Bram Stoker, both overtly Sexual and a true Gothic Horror story, that earned the picture an "R" rating
The year has been moved to 1913, a storm is lashing the port town of Whitby, as the "Demeter" arrives from Transylvania and runs aground with a blood drained captain, no crew, and boxes of earth.
At a loss for the cause of "Mina's" death, "Dr. Seward" calls her father, "Professor Van Helsing". W ho immediately suspects what might have caused his daughter's death, a vampire. "Van Helsing" starts to worry what fate may have overtaken his daughter and meets with "Jack Seward". The two investigate their common suspicions and go to "Mina's" coffin. The coffin has rough chew marks on it and is empty. Other information led the two men to a old mine and the ghostly vampire "Mina Van Helsing". They have no choice but to destroy "Mina", leaving a distressed father with an aim to find and destroy the main vampire.
"Van Helsing" and "Harker" are in pursuit of "Dracula" and "Lucy" and are able to board the same ship his coffin is in. The ship sets sail, "Van Helsing" and "Harker" go below decks and find "Dracula" sleeping with "Lucy" in his coffin.
"Van Helsing" prepares to drive a stake into "Dracula's" heart, but "Lucy", awakes, loudly protests, waking the count. A struggle takes place and the stake impales "Van Helsing", not the count, giving the professor a fatal wound. "Dracula" turns on "Harker", but the weakened "Van Helsing" is able to throw a rope with a hook at the count's back and it takes hold. The rope is tied to the ship's rigging and "Jonathan" hoists "Dracula" up into the rigging and the sun's rays burn his body.
BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA premiered in Hollywood, California, on November 10, 1992
This screenplay was written by co-producer, James V. Hart. Prior to this feature, Hart wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's, 1991, "Hook". He next wrote the, 1994, 47-minute television-pilot for the non-picked-up "Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins".
Not only did Francis Ford Coppola take the title from the Dan Curtis production for his "definitive version" of Bram Stoker's novel, but also Richard Matheson's original idea that "Count Dracula", and "Vlad the Impaler", are the same person and that he has found his long-lost wife reincarnated. Something you will not actually find within the Stoker novel.
Quoting film critic, Andy Marx, January 26, 1992, ten-months prior to this picture's release, on the "Los Angeles Times" website:
Director Francis Ford Coppola wants to make it quite clear that his Dracula movie is unlike any other Dracula movie. He’s calling it “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” and claims it is the only film version offers the complete story from the 1897 Stoker novel of the vampire count, which has been made into scores of movies through the years.
Gary Oldman portrayed "Count Dracula/Vlad the Impaler". He was previously seen as "Lee Harvey Oswald", in director Olivier Stone's, 1991, "JFK", and followed this picture with 1993's, "True Romance", co-starring with Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer. Brad Pitt, and Christopher Walken.
The motion picture's look and gothic story are impressive, but the opening of the film is not in the novel. It's a more dramatic variation of the flashback from Richard Matheson's screenplay. The ending of the picture is also not the novel's, the Spanish version had it almost correct, and there are other changes from Bram Stoker's written words in "Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula".
At a Transylvanian Inn, "Harker" is warned about going to Castle Dracula, but still takes a coach to the Borgo Pass and meets the count's coach.
"Harker" is met at the castle's door by "Dracula" who invites him to enter of his own free will.
The hunters split up, "Van Helsing" and "Mina" go for Castle Dracula, the others pursue the gypsies transporting "Dracula". That night, "Van Helsing" and "Mina" are approached by her "Vampire Sisters", but before "Mina" can drink "Van Helsing's" blood, he places a communion wafer on her forehead, leaving a protective mark. He now creates a ring of fire protecting "Mina" and himself from the brides and the following morning, "Professor Van Helsing" destroys "The Brides of Dracula".