Director: Bill Eagles
Dracula: Marc Warren
When you give me a secret history behind the story of Dracula, it makes it very hard for me to hate on your movie’s flaws. This ITV-WGBH production casts Arthur Holmwood (!) as the prime mover of the action. Discovering the death sentence that is his congenital syphilis, Holmwood (Dan Stevens) contacts the psychic Alfred Singleton (!!) of the Brotherhood of the Undead, who meet in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea (!!!) for a solution. Their researcher, Van Helsing (David Suchet), has discovered a real vampire, but it will take substantial donations, gifts of property — and the regrettable sacrifice of a few lives — to bring him to London. And our familiar story now begins, with a sexually frustrated Lucy (Sophia Myles) unable to understand her new husband and open to Dracula’s approach.
Marc Warren begins as a creepy old-Oldman Dracula in Transylvania but feeds on Harker (Rafe Spall) and enough sailors that by the time he reaches Whitby he is the Byronically youthful Marc Warren. Warren almost makes you forget his Edward-Cullen-ish petulant smolder when he goes wild in the Holmwood library or cold in the Cheyne Walk sanctum, but the eeriest moments are saved for Van Helsing, locked away in the Brotherhood’s cellar, surrounded by twig-and-twine crosses out of some Blair Vampire Project prop room. As you can tell from the brief synopsis, this movie, with its satanic cults and secret agendas, makes for great Dracula Dossier inspiration from the jump. Any vampire can draw power from Dracula’s psychometric-animalistic hunt for Mina (by sniffing a lock of her hair in Transylvania), his mind-controlled suicide sentence on Singleton, and his teleporting during the final fight where only a badass John Seward (!!!!) saves the day. And a good thing, too, as we have already learned that this Dracula can get even worse as he “will learn of London’s unholy ground, where its suicides are buried, and he will draw a great strength from them.” Taste the Telluric Psychogeography of Dracula! The tag scene is unnecessary except to set up a putative sequel that I will totally watch, because Cheyne Walk, people. Cheyne Walk.
The 31 Nights of Dractober is a daily preview of a “first cut” essay on a cinematic Dracula. Freed from its Cheyne Walk basement (and strengthened by your comments and responses), it will appear in my upcoming book Thrill of Dracula, part of the Dracula Dossier Kickstarter. Speaking of which, you can pre-order unhallowed yet Byronic hard copies of The Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted from your Friendly Local (Bits & Mortar participating) Game Store or from the Pelgrane store and get the PDFs now!