Universal’s Dracula. There is no other! “The blood is life.”
There are so many great characters that make up the Universal Classic Monsters and Dracula is, undoubtedly, at the very top. It was Universal’s Dracula, directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi that gave us our first introduction to the Universal Monsters universe. This week he had a terrifying introduction on SHOWTIME’s Penny Dreadful and speculation is rife with who may be playing him, and/or if he’s already been seen. There’s no denying that out of all the monsters, Dracula has had an amazing legacy on screen and this week Universal Monsters Universe will be discussing the Count a little more as he is an important fixture within Universal’s great library of characters.
Interestingly, Bela Lugosi was not the original consideration for the role of Universal’s Dracula. However, he played the Count to great reviews on Broadway, lobbied hard for the role, and would accept being paid $500 a week for seven weeks of work on the film by Tod Browning.
Lugosi, now famous for the role of Dracula, is primarily seen as the Dracula when people speak of Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire.
Offering a splendid performance, having just re-watched Dracula, it’s easy to fall under the spell of Bela Lugosi’s performance.
Richard Roxburgh is quite a fascinating character actor and chances are, if you don’t know him by name, you’ve seen him in one of his many films. He co-starred in Mission: Impossible 2, alongside The Mummy‘s Tom Cruise. Yet one of his most notable (or infamous) of performances was Count Vladislaus Dracula in Stephen Sommers’ 2004 Van Helsing. The problem was Van Helsing was that is was big, loud, silly, and fun – primarily a massive CGI fest. In other words, Sommers’ monster mash of a movie which featured Universal’s Dracula, The Wolf Man, and Frankenstein back on screen was a missed opportunity.
A little bit of trivia for ya. Silvia Colloca, one of Dracula’s Brides, is actually Richard Roxburgh’s wife. They’ve been married since 2004.
Dracula Untold. The film, originally meant to start the Universal Monsters Universe of films, suffered from a bit of a false start, but since its release in 2014, the film has developed a massively strong and supportive fan base. Just check out Dracula Untold Sequel on Twitter! (They’re friends of ours and we’d like to see a sequel too.)
Luke Evans, a popular Welsh born actor, portrayed Vlad III who would become Dracula in the Gary Shore film. Evans’ performance as Vlad also brings a certain charm to the role that while different than Gary Oldman and Frank Langella’s performances, it’s still very much recognizable as the same DNA that all actors have shared since Bela Lugosi’s original take.
Dracula Untold, directed by Gary Shore, by no means feels uneven. It just feels a bit underwhelming and a tad unfulfilled in its quest to reinvent Dracula. If anything, Dracula Untold feels more like a prologue/prequel and extended set up of sorts for the much grander Universal Monsters Universe. The film concludes with an ending re-shot to tie into the shared Universal Monsters Universe films. The Hollywood Reporter informed fans that Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, the architects of the UMU films, were brought on board to consult withDracula Untold, particularly the ending, in order to see that the film could fit into the coming films, since Untold was shot in 2013, sometime before plans for the UMU became concrete.
It will be very interesting to see how Universal moves forward with Count Dracula, especially after 2017’s The Mummy, especially after the recent news of Russell Crowe being in talks for a role, along with the scheduling of a third movie. We could easily be looking at a situation not all that different from Marvel’s Hulk. Will we see Luke Evans reprise his role as Dracula in one of the upcoming Universal pictures? Or will he just be recast?
More importantly, what do you think and what would you like to see? Make sure to let us know in the comments.
…and no, we didn’t forget about Christopher Lee or Nosferatu. We’ll be getting to them in time!
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)