Fangs for the Memories

"The word "vampire" comes from the Slavic word obyri or obiri, which evolved into the Bulgarian word "vampir". Although sources differ greatly, some say that the Greek word nosophoros (which means "plague-carrier") that evolved into the Old Slavonic word "nosufur-atu" is a synonym for the word "vampire". In our culture, the words "vampire" and "nosferatu" are interchanged often. "(1)

 

Stories about the dead who rose from the grave to drink the blood of the living have sprung forth for centuries from cultures all around the world. Vampires were popularized in the 1897 novel "Dracula" by the British author Bram Stoker.  The story about a Transylvanian vampire was probably based on life and times of Vlad Tepes. His thirst for blood was quite evident in the supposed impalement of his enemies (hence his nickname Vlad The Impaler). He signed his letters with Vlad Dracula, which can be translated as Vlad, son of the dragon or son of the devil. Before Stoker, vampire literature was rare, but existent, some of the more popular pre-"Dracula" stories were "Carmilla", by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; "Varney The Vampire", by James Malcolm Rymer; and "The Vampyre; A Tale", by John Polidori

In 1896 France, the first horror film or in this case, horror short (only 2 minutes long) was shown. Le Manor du Diable (aka The Devil's Manor) would introduce the world to the first cinematic incarnation of a vampire. It wasn't until Nosferatu in 1922, that Bram Stoker's vision would faithfully grace the silver screen. From that time on, vampires would terrorize the movie-going audiences.

Many have asked "why we haven't included any vampire films in The Vault"? Does this mean we don't appreciate the 100 years of bloodsucking cinema??? Not at all. We do recognize the importance of these film and thus have established this guide to ours and hopefully, your favorite vampire movies. Enjoy and don't forget your crucifix!!!!

 

Nosferatu

The story begins as a young man, Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim), is sent eastward into ancient European by his boss Knock (Alexander Granach). He is to serve as a personal escort for wealth Count who has recently purchased an estate. Upon his arrival, Hutter notices that the villagers live in fear of the castle and it's unholy dweller, Count Orlok (Max Schreck), but he brushes it off as mere superstition. He quickly comes to know the villagers' fear and the beast that is "Nosferatu".

Imprisoned by the blood that fills his body, Hutter stands helplessly by as he sees the Count preparing for the long journey to his new home. It seems that the Count has taken a shining to Hutter's wife, Ellie (Greta Schröder) and in a distance land she dreams of the evil that now comes for her. The journey begins for both.

A ship drifts slowly into the harbor carrying only the dead. It's crew left bloodless the remains of the Count's insatiable thirst. Immediately, the authority believe a plague has swept into their land, but little do they know that it is just the cadaverous appetite of Nosferatu.  At the same time, Hutter races tirelessly back to save his beloved Ellie from her pending doom. But is he too late??

Nosferatu


Checkout Dr. Van Helsing's Diary

1922

Originally, Nosferatu was suppose to be called "Dracula" and to be based on the novel by Bram Stoker, but the film almost met it's untimely death at the hands of Stoker's widow. Unable to reach a financial settlement, a court order the destruction of all the prints and negatives of Nosferatu. Luckily, several copies escaped the clutches of the authorities and would resurface years later. We all should count our blessings that this masterpiece was spared final death, because it one of the first films that catapulted the horror film away from the novelty of a quick scare into the drama of exquisite fright. F.W. Murnau masterfully crafted one of the greatest horror films of all-time.  His techniques, imagery, and style  were light years ahead of many of the auteur of his day and those that followed. A definite classic and one all horror fans own it to themselves to see. 


Dracula

The story begins as Dracula (Bela Lugosi) is preparing to embark for London and his new home, Carfax Abbey.  A young real estate agent, Mr. Renfield (Dwight Frye), has been sent to have the Count sign the closing paper and help with the move. Unfortunately for Renfield, Dracula has decided to enslave him, making him into a ghoul. Dracula than charters a boat and off they sail to London. Upon the ships arrival, all the crew is discovered dead and a lone raving lunatic (Mr. Renfield) found on board is taken to a near by sanitarium.

Next, Dracula begins his pursue of human victims on the streets of London. It seem that his new neighbors have caught his eye. He entrances young Lucy   with his devilish stare, but his ultimate goal is to seduce Mina (Helen Chandler) into his world of darkness. This battle with evil calls for famed vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing (Edward van Sloan), to come and save the day. He quickly determines Dracula's true desires and sets out to destroy this creature of the night.

Dracula

 
Checkout Dr. Van Helsing's Diary

1931

Dwight Frye gives an excellent performance as Renfield, a man enslaved by Dracula. At the end, he has just enough of his mortal soul left to reveal the truth about his master and his hiding place. His betrayal brings his death, but also his freedom. Will Mina be saved, or does Dracula's blood truly fill her veins?

Tod Browning directed this classic and would later go on to direct the controversial movie, Freaks the following year.  Jack Pierce provided the make-up and than went on to make his mark on Frankenstein.   Although not as true to Stoker's version as the more recent Bram Stoker's Dracula, this version was a well-crafted classic  that help to aid the foundation for horror.  


                                                            

Horror of Dracula

Trivia question, "Who is the most portrayed horror villain in cinema history"? If you guessed "Count Dracula" you would be correct. As a credited character, "Count Dracula" has appeared in more than 60 films. Second trivia question, "Who has portrayed "Count Dracula" the most times on the silver screen"? If you guessed Christopher Lee, you would be correct again. Christopher Lee has played "Count Dracula"  ten times to date with seven of those being in Hammer Films. So where did it all start?  In the film Horror of Dracula , Christopher Lee assumes the role that will forever change his life. Although his performance may not be accepted as the definitive standard for the role (that honor would have to go to "Bela Lugosi"), he was able to give him more depth. This film also marked Peter Cushing's first-time duties as legendary vampire hunter,  Dr. Van Helsig. Cushing, a mainstay at Hammer, went on to play the good Dr. opposite Lee's "Dracula" in three films (and also in a few other Hammer films), but Baron Von Frankenstein was role he reprised an amazing six times. 

This is your standard retelling of Bram Stoker's classic novel "Dracula", with a definite Hammer twist. It is probably my favorite film version of Stoker's novel, although I thoroughly enjoyed Francis Ford Coppala version, as well as, that of Tod Browning's. My favorite part is the end battle between Cushing and Lee. It is one of the best  all-time classic clash in the history of horror, ranking right up there with   The Exorcist's conclusion. 

Horror of Dracula

 
Checkout Dr. Van Helsing's Diary

1958

Terence Fisher, the director of this film and other classics such as Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Curse of the Werewolf  and The Devil Rides Out, did a wonderful job  with the vision and atmosphere of the film. This film marked  his emergence as one of Hammer's big time directors. Fisher, along with Lee, firmly established "Dracula" as a British film legend. The musical undertones were deliver by James Bernard and really added to films' eerie atmosphere.

 

Brides of Dracula

As the movie begins, we see a coach racing wildly across the country side towards the setting sun. Onboard, Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) is preparing to start her new job at a prestigious girls school, when her coach unexpectedly stops in a tiny village. While waiting to be off again, Marianne hears her coach racing away in the distance. Now abandoned, a jittery innkeeper explains he has no rooms available and quickly scampers  away trying to secure her an alternative form of transport, but he is too late. Outside we hear a coach pulls up. Who could it be??? It is Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) whom upon hearing of the women's misfortunate graciously invites her up to the castle for the night.

While staying at the castle, Marianne sees a man attempting to jump off a balcony.  She quickly  races down to stop him only to find out it is the Baroness' son (David Peel). As Marianne approaches him, she notices that he is shackled at the ankle. The Baron explains that his mother has told everyone that he is dead, hoping to keep him locked up so she can control his inheritance. He is finally able to convince Marianne to help free him.  Later when confronted by a hysterical Baroness, Marianne flees the castle.

She is found passed out on the roadside by Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) who returns her to the village. It seems the good Doctor has been called upon to come and  investigate a strange death. Upon his arrival, he notices that the forces of evil are loose and the hunt begins.

Brides of Dracula

 
Checkout Dr. Van Helsing's Diary

1960

The end sequence marked a terrific conclusion in this ultimate battle between good and evil. This is the second film in Hammer's Dracula series even thought it has nothing to do with Dracula. Originally slated as a follow up project to Horror of Dracula, Christopher Lee declined the role because of fears of being type cast. He would later reprise his mainstay role eight year later in Dracula--Prince of Darkness. Back for this film are director Terence Fisher, screenwriter , and Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing. One, if not, the best vampire film from Hammer.

 

More Vampire Flicks

 

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