Monday, June 29, 2009

Dracula (1931)

Dracula is a classic 1931 horror film directed by Tod Browning
and starring Béla Lugosi as the title character. The film was
produced by Universal Pictures Co. Inc. and is based on the stage
play of the same name by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston,
which in turn is based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.


On Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night), Renfield (Dwight Frye) goes
to the Borgo Pass where he is met by Count Dracula's coach. The
next day, Renfield and Dracula (Bela Lugosi) take 'the Vesta' to
England. Ship arrives in Whitby harbor in a storm, captain lashed
to boat, everyone dead, Renfield mad. Renfield is taken to Dr Jack
Seward (Herbert Bunston)'s sanitarium near London. Newspaper
clipping notes Renfield's strange desire to eat small living things.

Dracula arrives in London. He goes to a play where he is introduced
to Dr Seward, daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), Lucy Weston (Frances
Dade) and John Harker (David Manners). Dracula announces he has
taken Carfax Abbey which adjoins the Sanatorium. Shortly thereafter,
Lucy dies of blood loss. Professor Von Helsing arrives to examine her.
At the same time, Dracula visits, and Van Helsing notes no reflection
in mirror. While Van Helsing, Seward and Harker discuss vampires,
Dracula summons Mina outside. She is found in a faint on the lawn.


Bram Stoker's novel had already been filmed without permission as
Nosferatu in 1922 by expressionist German film maker F. W. Murnau.
Enthusiastic young Hollywood producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. also saw
the box office potential in Stoker's gothic chiller. Unlike the German
counterpart, this would be a fully authorized version, since Murnau's
film had fallen under the wrath of Stoker's widow, who had tried to
destroy all prints of Nosferatu. He intended it would be a spectacle
to rival the lavish Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the

Like those films, Laemmle insisted it must star Lon Chaney, despite
Chaney being under contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Tod
Browning was then approached to direct this new Universal epic.
Browning, incidentally, had already directed Chaney as a (fake)
vampire in the lost 1927 silent movie London after Midnight.
However, a number of factors would limit Laemmle's plans:
Firstly, Chaney himself, who had been diagnosed with throat
cancer in 1928, had succumbed to his terminal illness.

Furthermore, studio financial difficulties, coupled with the onset
of the Great Depression, caused a drastic reduction in budget,
forcing Laemmle to look at a cheaper alternative, which meant
several grand scenes that closely followed the Stoker storyline
had to be abandoned.

Already a huge hit on Broadway, the tried and tested Deane/
Balderston Dracula play would become the blueprint as the
production gained momentum. However, the question of who
should play the Count remained. This would fall to the then
current broadway Dracula, Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, but
not without controversy. Originally, Laemmle stated he was
not at all interested in Lugosi, in spite of the warm reviews
his stage portrayal had received, and instead sought to hire
other actors, including Paul Muni, Chester Morris, Ian Keith,
John Wray, Joseph Schildkraut, Arthur Edmund Carewe and
stage actor William Courtney. Against the tide of studio
opinion, Lugosi lobbied hard and ultimately won the
executives over, thanks in part to him accepting a salary far
less than his co-stars. The eerie speech pattern of Lugosi's
Dracula was said to have resulted from the fact that Lugosi
did not speak English, and therefore had to learn and speak
his lines phonetically. This is a bit of an urban legend.

While it was true Lugosi did not speak English at the time of
his first English-language play in 1919 and had learned his
lines to that play in this manner, by the time of Dracula Lugosi
spoke English as well as he ever would. Lugosi's speech pattern
would be imitated countless times by other Dracula portrayers,
most often in an exaggerated or comical way.

According to numerous accounts, the production is alleged to
have been a mostly disorganized affair, with the usually meticulous
Tod Browning leaving cinematographer Karl Freund to take over
during much of the shoot. Moreover, the despondent Browning would
simply tear out of the script pages that he felt were redundant; such
was his seeming contempt for the screenplay. It is possible, however,
given that Browning had originally intended Dracula as collaboration
between him and Lon Chaney, his apparent lack of interest on the set
was due to losing his friend and original leading man, rather than any
actual aversion to the subject matter.

>>Cinematic process:

The film/negative format used in the creation of this film was
35 mm. The cinematographic process used was the Spherical
film format.

This film represents an interesting transition from silent to
"talkie" films. The use of special effects is limited to fog,
lighting, and large flexible (rubber?) bats (although the poor
condition of the print makes it hard to see the wires).

Dracula's transition from bat to person is done off-camera,
though this subtracts surprisingly little from the dramatic effect.
The film also employs extended periods of silence and character
close-ups for dramatic effect.

The actors' speaking parts are usually brief explanatory and
narrative segments (i.e., story-telling versus chatting), much like
the dialogue paragraphs flashed on the screen during silent films.
In fact, one criticism is that the actors' performance style belongs
to the silent era.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Tomb of Dracula #1

Tomb of Dracula #1 - April 1972

Story - Gerry Conway
Art - Gene Colan
Inks - Gene Colan
Colours - L. Kindzierski
Cover - Neal Adams

Officially credited for the entire story, Gerry Conway worked on
a plot by Stan Lee (uncredited) and a subsequent script by Roy
Thomas (also uncredited) and quintessentially supplied the
dialogues. This team effort gave a fast-paced start to the story
of how the Lord of Vampires is resurrected.

Virtually broke, former millionaire Frank Drake ventures to
Transylvania together with his fiancee Jeanie and long-time
friend Clifton Graves after learning that he is a descendant of
the legendary Count Dracula and thus the inheritor of the
ancestral castle. Their scheme is to make a fortune by
refurbishing the alleged vampire count's estate and opening
it as a tourist attraction.

However, Graves plans to lure his somewhat naive companion
into the castle and then dispose of him, leaving himself in sole
possession of the lucrative business of running the castle.
Things quickly start to go anything but the way they were
planned once the trio actually reaches Castle Dracula. Separated
from the others, Graves falls through a rotting floorboard and
finds himself in an underground chamber, face to face with a
coffin containing a dust-covered skeleton with a wooden
stake protruding from between its ribs. Graves mocks the
superstitious locals - who undoubtedly desecrated the grave
of their former lord - by removing the stake and casting it
aside before he leaves in search of his companions - unaware
that, in the damp darkness of the tomb, Dracula has risen again...

The kick-off script was cleverly penned and used Bram Stoker's
plot from the novel as part of its background storyline, but opened
with the reanimation of the vampire in modern times, thus bringing
the story and its cast up to date and into a timeframe which Marvel
was much more familiar with than would have been the case with
the late 19th century.

The link between the original novel Dracula and the first issue of
Marvel's new comic book title was forged by introducing the last
living descendant of Dracula, an American named Frank Drake. At
the same time, Stoker's book itself becomes a link, as the existence
of this literary work is not ignored or denied (as could well have been
the case - none of the Universal or Hammer Dracula movies make a
direct reference to Stoker's novel within their storylines) but rather
portrayed as a grand misconception: the book is not, as everybody
thinks, a work of fiction, but rather an account of actual events.
This - fairly intriguing - approach was in fact hinged on the
standard logic of the Marvel Universe: if a well known fictional
character appears in a Marvel comic book, then this character is no
longer considered to be fictional, but rather a real entity - in which
case any fictional work on said character must be a form of factual
eye witness report. This way of handling the likes of Dracula or the
Frankenstein Monster has its roots in Stan Lee's very early conception
that Marvel comic books about superheroes were to be perceived as
being published in a New York City which was populated by these very
same superheroes.

Dracula: The Un-Dead

Dracula The Un-Dead, by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt, is
the sequel to Bram Stoker's classic novel Dracula, written
by his direct descendant.

Bram Stoker's Dracula is the prototypical horror novel, an
inspiration for the world's seemingly limitless fascination
with vampires. Though many have tried to replicate Stoker's
horror classic-in books, television shows, and movies-only
the 1931 Bela Lugosi film bore the Stoker family's support.
Until now.

Dracula The Un-Dead is a bone-chilling sequel based on
Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot
threads excised from the original edition. Written with the
blessing and cooperation of the Stoker family, Dracula The
Un-Dead begins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula
"crumbled into dust." Van Helsing's protégé, Dr. Jack Seward,
is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping
out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey
Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law
school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the
troubled production of "Dracula," directed and produced
by Bram Stoker himself.

The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents'
terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he
experiences evil in a way he had never imagined. One by
one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a
quarter-century ago is being hunted down. Could it be that
Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge?
Or is their another force at work whose relentless purpose is to
destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula?

Dracula The Un-Dead is deeply researched, rich in character,
thrills and scares, and lovingly crafted as both an extension and
celebration of one of the most classic popular novels in literature.

More Info:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Scream #10

Cover: Sebastia Boada (Oct. 1974)

Notes: The frontispiece carries an ad for an upcoming
25-page Poe adaptation by Hewetson & Cesar Lopez.
At least part of it was drawn, since a page is reproduced
here {see also The Horror-Mood Odyssey} but if completed,
it never saw print. ‘Tales Out Of Hell’ was continued from
Nightmare #19. The ‘Saga Of The Victims’ skipped an issue
to allow Suso to catch up on his deadlines. Best story would
be ‘The Stranger Is The Vampire’ although it is hampered by
lackluster art, while Jose Martin Sauri has the best art honors
on ‘My Flesh Crawls’.

More Info:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dracula (1931)

Después de recibir en su castillo al agente de fincas
Renfield y convertirlo en un loco, Drácula se traslada
a Londres, donde ejercerá su poder de fascinación
vampírica sobre la hermosa Mina...

Ficha Técnica

Director: Tod Browning
Productor: Carl Laemmle Jr. para Universal
Guión: Garret Fort y Dudley Murphy [y Louis Bromfield,
Louis Stevens], según la obra teatral de Hamilton Deane
y John L. Baldestone basada en la novela de Bram Stoker
Fotografía: Karl Freund
Música: Piotr Tchaikovski, Franz Schubert y Richard Wagner,
adaptada por Maurice Pivar
Efectos especiales: Jack Pierce (maquillajes), John P. Fulton
(pinturas matte)
Montaje: Milton Carruth

Intérpretes: Bela Lugosi (Drácula), Helen Chandler (Mina
Seward), Dwight Frye (Renfield), David Manners (Jonathan
Harker), Herbert Bunston (Dr. Jack Seward), Edward Van
Sloan (Dr. Abraham Van Helsing), Frances Dade (Lucy Weston),
Charles K. Gerard (Martin), Joan Standing (doncella), Michael
Visaroff, Moon Carroll, Josephine Vélez, Donald Murphy, Carla
Laemmle, Tod Browning...

Nacionalidad y año: USA 1931
Duración y datos técnicos: 80 min. B/N 1.38:1.

The Vampyre (1819)

John William Polidori (7 September 1795 – 24 August 1821) was
an Italian-English physician and writer, known for his associations
with the Romantic movement and credited by some as the creator
of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. His most successful work
was the 1819 short story, The Vampyre, the first vampire story in
English. Although originally and erroneously accredited to Lord
Byron, both Byron and Polidori affirmed that the story is Polidori's.

"The Vampyre" is a short story written by Polidori and
is a progenitor of the romantic vampire genre of fantasy fiction.
The work is described by Christopher Frayling as "the first story
successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a
coherent literary genre."


-Lord Ruthven—a suave British nobleman, the vampire
-Aubrey—a young gentleman, an orphan
-Ianthe—a beautiful woman Aubrey meets on his journeys with Ruthven.
-Aubrey's sister—who becomes engaged to the Earl of Marsden
-Earl of Marsden—who is also Lord Ruthven


"The Vampyre" was first published on 1 April 1819 by Colburn
in the New Monthly Magazine with the false attribution "A Tale
by Lord Byron". The name of the work's protagonist, "Lord
Ruthven", added to this assumption, for that name was originally
used in Lady Caroline Lamb's novel Glenarvon (from the same
publisher), in which a thinly-disguised Byron figure was also
named Lord Ruthven. Despite repeated denials by Byron and
Polidori, the authorship often went unclarified.

The story was an immediate popular success, partly because of
the Byron attribution and partly because it exploited the gothic
horror predilections of the public. Polidori transformed the
vampire from a character in folklore into the form that is
recognized today—an aristocratic fiend who preys among high

The story has its genesis in the summer of 1816, the Year Without
a Summer, when Europe and parts of North America underwent a
severe climate abnormality. Lord Byron and his young physician
John Polidori were staying at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva and
were visited by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
and Claire Clairmont. Kept indoors by the "incessant rain" of that
"wet, ungenial summer", over three days in June the five turned to
telling fantastical stories, and then writing their own. Fueled by
ghost stories such as the Fantasmagoriana, William Beckford's
Vathek and quantities of laudanum, Mary Shelley produced what
would become Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Polidori
was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron's and in "two or three
idle mornings" produced "The Vampyre".


Polidori's work had an immense impact on contemporary sensibilities
and ran through numerous editions and translations. An adaptation
appeared in 1820 with Cyprien Bérard’s novel, Lord Ruthwen ou les
Vampires, falsely attributed to Charles Nodier, who himself then
wrote his own version, Le Vampire, a play which had enormous
success and sparked a "vampire craze" across Europe. This includes
operatic adaptations by Heinrich Marschner and Peter Josef von
Lindpaintner, both published in the same year and called "The
Vampire". Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, Alexandre Dumas, and
Alexis Tolstoy all produced vampire tales, and themes in Polidori's
tale would continue to influence Bram Stoker's Dracula and
eventually the whole vampire genre.


A young Englishman Aubrey meets Lord Ruthven, a man of
mysterious origins who has entered London society. Aubrey
accompanies Ruthven to Rome, but leaves him after Ruthven
seduces the daughter of a mutual acquaintance. Aubrey travels
to Greece where he becomes attracted to Ianthe, an innkeeper's
daughter. Ianthe tells Aubrey about the legends of the vampire.

Ruthven arrives at the scene and shortly thereafter Ianthe is
killed by a vampire. Aubrey does not connect Ruthven with the
murder and rejoins him in his travels. The pair are attacked by
bandits and Ruthven is mortally wounded. Before he dies,
Ruthven makes Aubrey swear an oath that he will not mention
his death or anything else he knows about Ruthven for a year
and a day. Looking back, Aubrey realizes that everyone who
Ruthven met ended up suffering.

John William Polidori.

Aubrey returns to London and is amazed when Ruthven appears
shortly thereafter, once again alive. Ruthven reminds Aubrey of
his oath to keep his death a secret. Ruthven then begins to
seduce Aubrey's sister while Aubrey, helpless to protect his
sister, has a nervous breakdown. Ruthven and Aubrey's sister
are engaged to marry on the day the oath ends. Aubrey writes
a letter to his sister revealing Ruthven's history and dies. The
letter does not arrive in time. Ruthven marries Aubrey's sister,
kills her on their wedding night, and escapes.


Carmilla (1872)

"Carmilla" is a Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.
First published in 1872, it tells the story of a young woman's
susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named
Carmilla. "Carmilla" predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by 25
years and has been adapted many times for cinema.


"Carmilla" was first published in the magazine The Dark Blue in
1872, and then in the author's collection of short stories, In a
Glass Darkly the same year.

There were two original illustrators for the story, both of which
appeared in the magazine but which do not appear in modern
printings of the book. The two illustrators, David Henry Friston
and Michael Fitzgerald, show some inconsistencies in their
depiction of the characters, and as such some confusion has
arisen in identifying the pictures as part of a continuous plot.

>>Plot summary:

The story is presented by Le Fanu as part of the casebook of
Dr Hesselius, whose departures from medical orthodoxy rank
him as the first occult doctor in literature. The story is
narrated by Laura, one of the two main protagonists of the

Laura begins her tale by relating her childhood in a "picturesque
and solitary" castle in the midst of an extensive forest in Styria
where she lives with her father, a wealthy English widower,
retired from the Austrian Service. When she is six years old,
Laura has a vision of a beautiful visitor in her bedchamber. She
later claims to have been bitten on the chest, although no
wounds are found on her.

Twelve years later, Laura and her father are admiring the sunset
in front of the castle when her father tells her of a letter he
received earlier from his friend General Spielsdorf. The General
was supposed to bring his niece, Bertha Rheinfeldt, to visit the
two, but the niece suddenly died under mysterious circumstances.
The General ambiguously concludes that he will discuss the
circumstances in detail when they meet later.

Laura is saddened by the loss of a potential friend, and longs for
a companion. A carriage accident outside Laura's home
unexpectedly brings a girl of Laura's age into the family's care.
Her name is Carmilla. Both girls instantly recognize the other
from the 'dream' they both had when they were young.

Carmilla appears injured after her carriage accident, but her
mysterious mother informs Laura's father that her journey is
urgent and cannot be delayed. She arranges to leave her
daughter with Laura and her father until she can return in three
months. Before she leaves she sternly notes that her daughter
will not disclose any information whatsoever about her family,
past, or herself and that Carmilla is of sound mind. Laura
comments that this information seems needless to say, and
her father laughs it off.

Carmilla and Laura grow to be very close friends, but occasionally
Carmilla's mood abruptly changes. She sometimes makes
unsettling romantic advances towards Laura. Carmilla refuses to
tell anything about herself or her background, despite questioning
from Laura. Her secrecy isn't the only mysterious thing about her.
Carmilla sleeps much of the day, and seems to sleepwalk at night.
When a funeral procession passes by the two girls and Laura begins
singing a hymn, Carmilla bursts out in rage and scolds Laura for
singing a Christian song. When a shipment of family heirloom
restored portraits arrives at the castle, Laura finds one of her
ancestor, "Mircalla, Countess Karnstein", dated 1698. The portrait
resembles Carmilla exactly, down to the mole on her neck.

During Carmilla's stay, Laura has nightmares of a fiendish cat-like
beast entering her room at night and biting her on the chest. The
beast then takes the form of a female figure and disappears through
the door without opening it. Laura's health declines and her father
has a doctor examine her. He speaks privately with her father and
only asks that Laura never be left unattended.

Her father then sets out with Laura in a carriage for the ruined
village of Karnstein. They leave a message behind asking Carmilla
and one of the governesses entreated to follow after once the
perpetually late-sleeping Carmilla wakes up. En route to Karnstein,
Laura and her father encounter General Spielsdorf. He tells them
his own ghastly story.

Spielsdorf and his niece had met a young woman named Millarca
and her enigmatic mother at a costume ball. The General's niece
was immediately taken with Millarca. The mother convinced the
General that she was an old friend of his and asked that Millarca
be allowed to stay with them for three weeks while she attended
to a secret matter of great importance.

The General's niece fell mysteriously ill and suffered exactly the
same symptoms as Laura. After consulting with a priestly doctor
who he had specially ordered, the General came to the realization
that his niece was being visited by a vampire. He hid in a closet
with a sword and waited until seeing a fiendish cat-like creature
stalk around his niece's bedroom and bite her on the neck. He
then leapt from his hiding place and attacked the beast, which
took the form of Millarca. She fled through the locked door,
unharmed. The General's niece died immediately afterward.

When they arrive at Karnstein the General asks a nearby woodsman
where he can find the tomb of Mircalla Karnstein. The woodsman
relates that the tomb was relocated long ago, by the hero who
vanquished the vampires that haunted the region.

While the General and Laura are left alone in the ruined chapel,
Carmilla appears. The General and Carmilla both fly into a rage
upon seeing each other and the General attacks her with an axe.
Carmilla flees and the General explains to Laura that Carmilla is
also Millarca, both anagrams for the original name of the vampire
Countess Mircalla Karnstein.

The party is then joined by Baron Vordenburg, the descendant of
the hero who rid the area of vampires long ago. Vordenburg is an
authority on vampires and has discovered that his ancestor was
romantically involved with the Countess Karnstein, before she died
and became one of the undead. Using his forefather's notes he
locates the hidden tomb of Carmilla. An Imperial Commission is
then summoned who exhume and destroy the body of the vampire
on behalf of the ruling Habsburg Monarchy, within whose domains
Styria is situated.


As with Dracula, critics have looked for the sources used in the
writing of the text. Matthew Gibson has shown that LeFanu used
Dom Augustin Calmet's Treatise on Vampires and Revenants,
translated into English in 1850 as The Phantom World, the
Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould's The Book of Were-wolves (1863),
and his account of Erszebet Bathory, Coleridge's Christabel, and
Captain Basil Hall's Schloss Hainfeld; or a Winter in Lower Styria
(London and Edinburgh, 1836). Hall's account provides much of
the Styrian background and in particular a model for both
Carmilla and Laura in the figure of Jane Anne Cranstoun,
Countess Purgstall.

Funeral, illustration by Michael Fitzgerald for Carmilla in The
Dark Blue, January 1872.


Carmilla, the title character, is the original prototype for a
legion of female and lesbian vampires. Though Le Fanu
portrays his vampire's sexuality with the circumspection
that one would expect for his time, it is evident that lesbian
attraction is the main dynamic between Carmilla and the
narrator of the story:

Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful
companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond
pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in
my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast
that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration.
It was like the ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was
hateful and yet overpowering; and with gloating eyes she
drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my cheek in
kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, "You are mine,
you shall be mine, and you and I are one for ever".

("Carmilla", Chapter 4).

Carmilla selected exclusively female victims, though only became
emotionally involved with a few. Carmilla had nocturnal habits,
but was not confined to the darkness. She had unearthly beauty
and was able to change her form and to pass through solid walls.
Her animal alter ego was a monstrous black cat, not a large dog
as in Dracula. She did, however, sleep in a coffin.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.

Some critics, among them William Veeder, suggest that "Carmilla",
notably in its outlandish use of narrative frames, was an important
influence on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw.

Fonts: Wikipedia