Sexiest Movie Dracula of All Time Oct 17, 2015 2:38:48 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Oct 17, 2015 2:38:48 GMT -5
Sexiest Movie Dracula of All Time
I suppose it’s a moot point to pick on Twilight – the last movie in the series aired some time ago. But the whole time this phenomenon was in full swing, I was shaking my head, at a loss to understand why so many women – some of them my age – were drooling over that character Edward Cullen and the actor who played him, Robert Pattinson. You see, the vampires that I grew up with were supposed to be scary, not dudes that you would disrobe for in a heartbeat and jump into bed with. Count Orlock from Nosferatu, the first true vampire film that started it all? Downright ghoulishly fugly. Bela Lugosi? The quintessential Dracula of his time, but again, not sexually appealing. Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows? Sorry, no ... and hell no to Johnny Depp’s version. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt never did a thing for me, either. But at least these dudes were grownup men and didn’t have skin that sparkled in the sunlight (a character trait of Edward’s that I don’t get ... isn’t sunlight lethal to vampires?) And I’m sorry, Twilight fans, but out of all of these guys, Edward Cullen would easily be at the bottom of my list. The reasons why would take up this entire blog post, so let's just leave it at that.
There was, however, Gary Oldman from the 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula – and he was attractive during the scenes where he played a younger Count Dracula, dressed in Victorian garb. But then I remembered another Dracula from my childhood ... a Dracula movie that I watched on TV and even as a young girl, I could see there was something different about this count. He was a little less scary than other Draculas ... he didn’t show his fangs and there was no blood smeared on his face. When he broke into the bedroom of the woman he intended to seduce, he looked downright appealing ... I could totally understand why she sighed and unbuttoned the top buttons of her nightgown, willingly giving him access to her neck. And the scene I remember most (and that has stayed with me to this day) is the eerie ending – a lone cape flapping away over the ocean, looking just like a bat flapping its wings as I remember my father remarking. I’m talking about the 1979 film Dracula starring Frank Langella (above). After viewing clips of this movie, which I haven’t seen in several years, I can honestly say that as much as I’m not fond of vampires, I would gladly throw back my head and offer my neck to Frank Langella as Dracula. His has to be the sexiest portrayal of the count even to this day. Edward Cullen isn’t fit enough to polish this man’s coffin, as far as I’m concerned.
I think it’s safe to say Langella and the moviemakers took Dracula to a whole new level with this movie. There’s a really awesome documentary on the making of the film uploaded to YouTube in five parts called The Revamping of Dracula. In it, Langella discusses how he had control over how Dracula would be portrayed, right down to the height of his collars. He wanted the count to be a departure from Bela Lugosi’s cartoonish, heavily-accented character; instead, he would play him still as intense, but romantic and sexy as well. Langella was 40 at the time of filming, with trademark 1970s machismo: a tall frame, great hair and exotic good looks. He was actually starring in a stage version of Dracula when movie makers watched him and knew he’d be perfect for their film adaptation. Langella and the filmmakers also saw Dracula as not so much scary, but a tragic Gothic hero. Where Bela Lugosi reveled in the darkness and thought his “children of the night” made beautiful music, Langella’s Dracula thinks they sound sad and lonely – a metaphor for his own existence. As a result, this Dracula was closer to his portrayal in earlier plays and the book. This was one classy and charming count. The late movie critic Roger Ebert said it perfectly: “Most of the previous Draculas we carry in our imaginations share two things: fangs and overacting. They come on so strong that potential victims shouldn’t let them within yards of their necks. Frank Langella gives us a character who ‘acts’ as if he’s a count: He has royal manners, he is irresistibly attractive to women, he would have impeccable table manners if only, of course, it were not forbidden for him to eat.”
Even the movie’s lobby card alluded to this Dracula’s eroticism, some of which read: “Throughout history he has filled the hearts of men with terror, and the hearts of women with desire.”
Check out the scene where Dracula climbs down his castle’s wall into Lucy’s (Kate Nelligan’s) bedroom to seduce her – it’s both scary and sexy! What follows this scene has actually been criticized by many fans – as Dracula and Lucy make love, the sequence is bathed in red laser beam light – psychedelic style – and graphics by Maurice Binder, who did the opening credits for many James Bond films. The director of Dracula was John Badham, who had previously made Saturday Night Fever, and the laser beam trend was finding its way into rock shows and movies. It’s out of step with the rest of the film, but it’s a sign of its times. The movie also co-starred two veteran actors, Donald Pleasence and Sir Lawrence Olivier. Olivier was apparently very ill during the making of the film.
And that purposely ambiguous ending? It’s sad to see Dracula get hoisted by a hook into the sunlight and incinerated into ashes ... but there’s also a sense that somehow he lives on. I’m sure that was the sympathetic ending Langella and the filmmakers were hoping for.
There was another Dracula movie released the same year that also showed the character in a more positive light – the comedic, campy Love at First Bite, starring George Hamilton as a disco dancing Drac. It’s entertaining and funny in its own right, but for pure sex appeal, my vote is still for Frank Langella.
Watch The Revamping of Dracula here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTxOUETwl1Y
Sources: Pam, Go Retro, and The Many Faces of Dracula.