…Vincent Price

Vincent Price’s Dracula The Great Undead (1985)

What is it? It does NOT sparkle, does NOT go around shirtless, and is the single most legendary undead of them all. If you still don’t have even a vague idea, don’t sweat it. Vincent Price explains it all.

In a bit sarcastic deep voice, Price introduces the historical background of Count Dracula. He takes us into Romania to Vlad Dracul’s actual birthplace. He then jumps to explaining the power struggle between the nobles in Dracula’s times, and the way the Count came to be known as the Impaler. When Price describes Vlad’s elaborate tortures, he gives us an idyllic picture of Vlad dining side by side with his impaled victims. However, there are also Dracula’s victories on the battlefield, sadly forgotten or hidden behind the infamous legend. When Price finishes his story by merely reporting that Dracula’s headless body was buried within a monastery, we sense the story we’ve been waiting for just begins.

Once the narrator is through with the history, he reads an excerpt from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Accompanied by brilliant images from Fritz Lang’s masterpiece Nosferatu, Price leaves no shadow of a doubt he’s perfect for reciting this novel. Quite cleverly, he shows a real footage from Transylvania, where the ruins of Dracula’s castle stand as if the time stopped four hundred years ago. Our host switches back and forth between facts and fiction, movies and documentaries. Interestingly, when he talks about Nosferatu, he claims Hollywood no longer produces such masterpieces of horror. And it was 1985! Right now, he must turn over in his grave at the thought of how wrong Hollywood has gone. “I just love a good romance,” his punchline goes. “Kind of brings the lump to the throat, doesn’t it?”

The narrator throws in a few jokes, as well. Apart from his slightly sarcastic tone, he presents how to build a vampire-emergency kit (the usual stuff: garlic, a crucifix, even strategically-shaped bandages). Then, Price translates from Romanian how to kill and properly bury a vampire. Now, being learned in the ways of annihilating a vampire, we move on to different representations of vampires in movies. Black and white productions presented mostly female vampires until Dracula, and the most famous of them all – Bela Lugosi, took over the silver screen. Ironically, silver destroys vampires as effectively as it popularizes them. A refreshing journey through an early vampire cinema. We desperately need it now more than ever with the flood of teen vamp flicks. It becomes true – Dracula never gets old.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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