Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birthday Guest Blogging Part Ten

You may have noticed a small change with my blog. Thanks to B-Sol at The Vault Of Horror, I now have a new banner for my blog. He came up with a better banner than what I was thinking of for it, so thank you B-Sol. I do appreciate it very, very much. I have had it for a while now, but I wanted to wait to use it when it was B-Sol's turn at the guest spot light. Since it is now up, and being shown off, I guess that means it is time to hear from B-Sol!

I met B-Sol kind of through CRwM. When the contest for favorite female horror blogger came around, CRwM encouraged me to throw my blog in with all the rest. I didn't want to at first, but I folded on the last day to enter into it. From there I have talked to B-Sol on and off. He is a really good guy who will go out of his way to help out. You can even see this in his blog at times, as he tries to get other blogs involved with what he has planned. Since I don't go around asking people to check out my blog, it is always nice when blogs that are more popular are willing to share the love, so to speak. Not only is he willing to share, but he also keeps his blog interesting with a wide variety of things within the horror world. If you haven't checked out his blog by now, and I would be very surprised if you haven't already, then you should. If for no other reason than to check out the pod cast with Roddy Piper!

Since B-Sol is nice enough to get other blogs involved with his ideas, it seemed only right that I invite him to do a guest post here. The Vault Of Horror is one of my favorite blogs, don't get me wrong about that. I enjoy heading over there to see what B-Sol has come up with next. Anyway, here is the B-Sol himself to tell us about one of his favorite movies.

I’d like to talk a bit about a movie that I realize is far from universally loved, yet has always been close to my heart, and one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

When this movie first came out, I went to the theater to see it a total of six different times. Each time, I would find people that I knew who had never seen it, and drag them out to go see it, mainly so I would have an excuse to see it again.

At the time, I was in college and on a huge Anne Rice kick. And for me, Coppola’s vision of Stoker’s novel was as much an interesting adaptation of a long-cherished horror classic as it was a perfect synthesis of Rice’s contributions to the vampire mythos.

Because let’s face it, the movie is not the ultra-faithful adaptation of the original novel it’s marketers touted it as in 1992. After all, Bram never had even the slightest hint of a love affair between Drac and Mina, and all that reincarnation stuff was a pure invention of the filmmakers. Yet what the film did was to distill the best of what Rice brought to the table, and graft it on to the most recognized vampire tale of all.

Call it hammy if you like, but I found Gary Oldman’s performance as Dracula to be breathtaking, and I still think he deserved an Oscar nomination for it. The problem with the role has always been the shadow of Bela Lugosi that has lingered over everyone else that attempted it—yes, even Christopher Lee. But what Oldman did was to absolutely and completely make it his own. And for that, I applaud him.

The rest of the cast, admittedly, is hit and miss. I love Cary Elwes as the stuffy Arthur Holmwood, and Richard E. Grant is interesting as Dr. Seward. Tom Waits is amazing as Renfield—this was my first exposure to him, and I was shocked to discover he was American and not British.

But then you have a way too over-the-top Anthony Hopkins chewing up the scenery as Van Helsing—he makes the stagey Edward Van Sloan appear to be a study in subtlety. And then there’s Keanu. Oh boy. The man almost single-handedly derailed the flick with his terrible, awkward performances. Almost.

But despite Keanu, BSD fascinated me utterly from beginning to end. The gorgeous set design, the lush costumes, and that instantly iconic score by Wojciech Kilar—a European composer I can’t believe has never made bigger strides in America, given his obvious talent. That foreboding and majestic music is a big part of what makes this movie work.

Over the years, the reputation of this movie seems to have taken a hit, I suspect owing to some of the somewhat histrionic performances. Or maybe it’s due to the perceived disingenuousness surrounding the adaptation, whose faithfulness was far less than Coppola declared it to be. Nevertheless, it does remain perhaps the most faithful adaptation we’ve seen thus far. And I stand by the belief I’ve held for the past 17 years, that when all is said and done, Francis Ford Coppola will be remembered as the guy who directed The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.


Sam said...

I completely agree. BSD is one of my favorite movies. I love the favorite part is the Dracula/bat sequence. Also agree with your assessment about Keanu. English accent? What english accent?

cattleworks said...

I've been sort of re-discovering BSD the last six months or so.
I always seem to keep going back and forth with it.
When I first saw it, I liked it. Sometimes simple things, like the spooky eyes super-imposed over the sky looking over Harker's carriage as he rides through the Transylvanian mountains to Dracula's castle-- that was really neat to see.
Then, I watched it again some time later, and parts drove me crazy. Particularly, I remember being incensed with the movements of Dracula' shadows over the walls when we see Dracula with that funky-ass grey hair. It almost seemed like a parody the way the shadows were going all over the damn place.
But, lately, I've been watching the DVD supplements for the film and they're really interesting.
So, this must be one of those films where perhaps the parts are greater than the whole or something... at least for me. Although, that's not even an accurate description of it.
I think I like all the ideas on paper, the concepts they came up with, but the actual execution is a bit of a crapshoot for me, and it also depends on how I'm feeling.
Very weird.

But so much is going on in this picture, it does seem a shame if the film is forgotten or rather dismissed out of hand.
Because there is much that is very cool about it.
Nice choice!

Jed Cooper said...

Howdy Miss Heather, and congrats on both your new banner, and on picking up some new followers (smiling). Nice job to both smart lady. Also, thanks for treating your fans to a double dip day, I love it (tips my hat).

Howdy Mr. B-Sol, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this flick sir. I am not the deep thinker that you bloggers need to be. Life is much easier for me - I either like the movie or I don't, lol.

But I do agree with you on this movie, as I do consider it a very well done update to the Dracula legend. One of my least favorite remakes is PSYCHO. The fact they simply updated the setting, and kept everything a clone of the original, including the dialogue, simply did not work that well for me. I expect a remake to be faithful in broad terms to the original movie. But dang, show me something a bit different too. Take the original and add a new touch here and there, to show me you have some original thoughts/ideas to make me want to watch your version.

They did that with BSD, and did it well for me. I enjoyed it, and it is on my dvd horror shelves along with the other Dracula movies.

Emily said...

Bram Stoker's Dracula is certainly a bit of a mess, but it's also a damned watchable film that is never boring. Whether you keep it on for the breathtaking visuals or to laugh at Keanu's accent, it's certainly not a dull film. Funny how influential it's been on the more recent vampire craze in terms of not just associating, but practically DEMANDING anything vampire be explicitly tied to romance and sex. This was certainly there in the past with Hammer films, but those had a little more room for other themes, like youth and power. I'm not well versed enough in modern vampires (they kind of stopped being interesting after Near Dark), but aside from Blade, doesn't it seem like every incarnation post BSD has been about the lovin'?

And Heather-love the banner!

B-Sol said...

Happy to share my thoughts on this sentimental little favorite of mine!

And Emily, I really think we can thank Anne Rice for bringing sexuality so much to the fore in vampire fare of the past few decades.

Emily said...

Very good point Brian. It's funny that I read Interview back as a teenager and I can't remember feeling any 'love story,' but that's probably because I wasn't quite as sharp when it came to homosexual undertones. Without Rice, there'd definitely be no Twilight, and whatever would legions of 14 year olds do?