Director: Anthony DP Mann
Starring: Matt Davis, Anthony DP Mann, Dick Miller, Angela Faulkner and Andrea Hiltz
Studio: ADP Mann & Co
Terror of Dracula (2012)
Once upon a time vampires did not have emotional issues or emo haircuts. Once upon a time vampires did rude things like tearing the windpipes from unwilling throats. Once upon a time Edward Cullen would have had his lunch money stolen by bigger, scarier vampires. One vampire has stood the test of time, standing in the shadow of no other. He is the evil bat out of hell that vampires are supposed to be. He is Dracula.
Written in 1897, Bram Stoker’s classic novel has resulted in 200 odd film adaptations and has inspired countless (look, look, a pun) other vampire stories. The simple story of solicitor Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvania to meet with a mysterious Count Dracula and help him arrange his purchase of a property in England has fascinated, frightened and entertained millions of people across decades and centuries… and it isn’t just the fact that the property is in England that’s scary.
Canadian director and writer, Anthony DP Mann, now hopes to throw his name into the hat of successful Dracula film adaptations with his film, Terror of Dracula. The film’s press release states that “taking a radical departure from what seems to have been the general consensus, filmmaker/writer Anthony DP Mann has gone back to the roots of the legend and returned to the source material to give the noble Prince of Darkness his true original pedigree and prestige”. This is a mighty big claim, and, having seen the film, I’m not convinced that it’s completely accurate.
If I had to describe the style of this film, I’d say that it’s something akin to Plan 9 From Outer Space meets a late 70’s / early 80’s made for TV horror movie. Now, before the pitch fork wielding villagers break down my door, let me add that I don’t think this is a bad thing. The film has a kind of tongue in cheek feel about it that I quite enjoyed, and it certainly reminds, at times, of the 1930’s versions. Seen in this light, Terror of Dracula is a refreshing and sometimes humorous throwback to a style of horror that sadly no longer makes it to our screens.
Terror of Dracula was “shot guerilla-style on a modest five-figure budget” according to the filmmakers, and this shows. Scenes that are supposed to be shot at night are often shot in broad daylight or the color tweaked to make it look like night time. This, too, appears to be by design. The original source material, while preserved overall, seems to be heavily tweaked towards lowering budgetary pressures with many of the more expensive moments lost in this version. For example, there is no scampering down walls like a lizard, or big packs of wolves, or floating blue flames to be found here.
The script differs significantly on many aspects of the original novel. There is no mysterious carriage ride to the castle; we have Mr Harker carrying his own luggage on foot. The Count is distant and, unlike the Dracula in Stoker’s book who quite happily chats the night away, isn’t very interested in talking. Overall though this is probably one of the closer adaptations out there.
I recommend Terror of Dracula to anybody sick of mainstream vampire movies, especially those who enjoyed the classic versions of the films and are looking for a modern take on the story. This one is sure to develop some kind of cult following.
I give Terror of Dracula 7 out of 10… and three hot vampire sisters.