3. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

In compiling this list I thought long and hard about my ultimate vampire film. I love vampires, at one time I was quite obsessed with the concept, and yet nearly all the movies in the genre leave me dissatisfied. The silent classics like Murnau’s Nosferatu are overly arty (and don’t get me started on the Herzog remake, which is one of the worst films ever made). The 1931 Bela Lugosi version doesn’t float my boat at all, although I tried really hard to like it. Hammer obviously did some great work in the field, and I have a guilty love of the Twilight movies – but thus far, the only vampire film that I can watch over and over again is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 production, pompously titled Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It sticks to the novel more than most, that’s for sure – and I love the book unreservedly. It manages to get some of the sex-blood-death stuff that Stoker evoked so well. But the real reason I love this film is because it’s so massively overblown, self-important and melodramatic. oldman3The opening scene has blood gushing out of crucifixes. Anthony Hopkins is more than usually dreadful as Van Helsing – parts of his performance make me laugh so much I start crying. Keanu Reeves is famously miscast and wooden as Jonathan Harker, with his ever-changing hair colour. The women fare better: Winona Ryder is uptight and sexy as Mina, and Sadie Frost steals the show as Lucy. Gary Oldman tackles the polymorphous Count with all the gusto of a Victorian actor-manager, hamming up the accent and the gestures for all he’s worth. For all that it’s genuinely exciting and moving, and it’s wonderful to look at. Bram Stoker’s Dracula ranks very high in the quotability stakes as well: for days after watching it, we go round the house saying ‘See me now!’, ‘Lucy harboured secret desires for you’, ‘Take me away from all this death…’ and ‘Are you going to cut off my head and drive a stake through my heart, you bastard?’.

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