Interview: Anthony D.P. Mann (2012)
Life After Undeath recently had the pleasure of talking to Canandian writer, director and actor Anthony DP Mann about his recent film Terror of Dracula, his love for the classics and what he has in store for the future. This is what he had to say.
One of my earlier experiences with horror, was catching a late-night run of Jess Franco’s “Count Dracula” on TV one Halloween night… and I was enamoured! Since then, I have always had a love for the character, and the Stoker novel. When an opportunity arose to work with American producer Bill Bossert (who has become a dear friend, and to whom I will always be grateful for taking such a chance and investing in my aspirations), I jumped at the chance to make a film adaptation of the original novel… for me, it was fulfilling a life-long dream – and I’m very happy with the finished result. Not only did we make a good Dracula movie, what we made a Dracula movie that I enjoy watching (as a fan-boy)… what a wonderful time!
The real reason was Twilight wasn’t it?
Twilight (and other productions of that ilk) did play a role in how I approached the material, actually. I think the emo-vampire has done irreparable damage to the whole vampire genre, especially the character of Dracula. It was important that we went back to Stoker’s presentation of the monster – not as a tragic romantic figure, but as a dark and evil creature of the night. I hope we have made Dracula a little scarier again… it’s genuinely the Terror of Dracula!
The movie was made on a tiny budget, what was some of the greatest challenged you faced during production?
The greatest challenge was to produce a legitimate adaptation, and not let the cracks show. A huge part of that success (and I feel that we were, indeed, successful) was getting access to some amazing locations like Fort Henry (an historic site which subbed for Dracula’s Castle and other interiors) / etc. Convincing the powers-that-be at those locations that they should let us come in to shoot our vampire opus, was both daunting and quite involved… but in the end, our passion and enthusiasm shone through, and it was a genuine honour to film is such glorious locales! That translates to the screen very much in our favour.
You seem to have drawn inspiration from the 1930′s versions of Dracula, 1980′s B grade horror and cult classics like Plan 9 From Outer Space. Could you tell us a bit more about what inspired the look and feel of the movie?
I’ve billed this film as the “lost” Dracula production, suggesting that it was produced in the late 60s / early 70s along with the glut of European horror classic (Hammer / Amicus / Franco / Naschy), and the film has been mastered to look era-appropriate, gran and all. The Franco film is my (guilty pleasure) favourite Dracula film of all, and there is certainly some inspiration evident in our production. I’d also suggest that our Dracula looks very much like a BBC production from the same era. this is the stuff that I grew up on, and they don’t make films like that anymore… mind you, we just did Winking smile
You make a very good Dracula. How did your appearance as the Count come about? Was it suggested to you, or had you planned from the beginning to play Dracula?
Thank you – performance is my number one passion, and it was very important to me to present a different take on the Count. It was easier than it sounds, mind you – I pulled the foundation of my interpretation from the pages of Stoker’s novel. When we first meet Dracula, he is an old man who (despite his immortality) has seen his glory days fade to ember. The castle is in ruins, and is almost barren, with only the barest vestiges remaining of the former wealth and glory. When he comes to England, in search of new blood, he grows younger in appearance — the vampire is a creature bent upon survival, the most primal instinct which is inherent in all life. There is no humanity left in Dracula… no pangs of romance or any of that hokum. And yet, there is – by the end of the film – perhaps a greater understanding of the beast’s motivations. Again, it was a lifelong dream to portray Dracula on the screen in a proper adaptation (I have attempted the role before), and part of the process of telling this version of the story included my own interpretation of the character… I am so happy that it is well-received.
There are quite a few changes from the book to the film. Are there any things you would have liked to do, but didn’t have the budget for?
Certainly there are some areas where we had to take liberties with the source material, generally on account of working within our means. If we had attempted, say, the wall-crawl scene (And I would have loved to have included it), those afore-mentioned “cracks” would have shown. I’d suggest that our version is very much faithful to the spirit of Stoker’s book, and enough of the key points are found in our version to make this a very honest and respectable adaptation… oh, but how it would have been fun to do the crawl!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I love the classics, and I love the darker material. I’m always thinking – always planning and scheming about the next project. There are many things that I would like to do, such as the old standards: Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, and maybe even a return to Sherlock Holmes. Right now, my next “dream project” would be an adaptation of “Phantom of the Opera”, taking it back to the spirit of Gaston Leroux’s novel, at the same time presenting a more “horror” slant to it. I have already found a theatre that I think might sub-in nicely for the opera house, and I’m often told that I look FANTASTIC behind a mask (ha-ha!)… if the money can be raised (and it wouldn’t cost much more that what Dracula ran us), that will be my next port of call. We’ll keep you posted!
Thanks for the chat! All of the best for the future!
Cheers for now, and thanks so much for the chance to speak with readers of Life After Undeath… Anthony.