The second part of a look at how the Prince of Darkness is currently faring on screens small and big. Even while NBC’s primetime Dracula (does Downton) was staked to death, the undead icon still found time to pop up in familiar crypts and unexpected tombs. Perhaps his most important moment in the 21st century was close at hand: in the heart of Hollywood, dark plans were being written in ancient blood… Dracula Untold.
A Scrape of the Wing
Not the only Drac-on-the-box…
IN THE FIRST PART OF AD2015, NBC’S DRACULA MADE A COMPLICATED STAB AT CREATING A NEW KIND OF DRACULA. Despite that show’s many flaws that, ambition can’t be faulted. The setting and intent were true to the themes of Bram Stoker’s novel, even if it managed to rob itself of many definitive parts of the legend. Still, that wasn’t the only Drac-on-the-screen. The errant aristocrat had suffered the ignominy of being voiced by Adam Sandler in the 2012 animation Hotel Transylvania. Elsewhere, far from his routes in the Carpathian Mountains, 2013’s Dracula 2012 matched the Prince of Darkness’ tale to Indian folklores.
Dracula doesn’t really have a safe crypt at that network
On television, other incarnations returned from the dead – especially Eddie Izzard’s glorious interpretation of Grandpa Sam Dracula in Bryan Fuller’s 2012 Munsters revival Mockingbird Lane. Darker and more developed than Al Lewis’ 1960s version, his is predatory, homicidal, occasionally revelling in his feral powers and undoubtedly the count with a plan. Amid the violence and dark comedy, there was time to make sure that Grandpa had many of the same undead ‘skills’ Stoker gave him over a hundred years before.
The fact that it was again the NBC network that wavered over Fuller’s direction and decided not to pick-up the series suggests that Dracula doesn’t really have a safe crypt at that network. The silver lining to that incredibly premature cancellation was that Fuller was then free to create marvellous modern horror Hannibal for the network instead; that’s one form of copious blood-letting they obviously don’t mind.
Elsewhere the count took various cameo roles in 2013, including a vivid guest spot for a sadistic Vlad Tepes on Fox’s Da Vinci’s Demons. Just across from that Wales-shot series, the rejuvenated Hammer studios talked about Dracula a bit, but as with Herr Frankenstein, so far haven’t been able to find the fresh approach to the legend they insist on. All in all, it looked like the future may be a little more modern…. Until that theory was quickly debunked by ABC’s modernised fusion of gothic and romantic horror icons. 2013’s Gothica fell at the pilot stage, although there was to be greater success in that mash-up, Abbot and Costello approach over on cable…
Penny Dreadful (2014 – )
When you’re dealing with the undead there’s no rush