Dracula versus the vampires

There are now at least two versions of Dracula being made: the television remake to star Jonathan Rhys Meyers and a new take, and Harker set to star Russell Crowe, both playing Dracula. Since news about both films is scarce and often the same old rumor repeated on every news site, it’s hard to give much detail. Then again why would I want to add to the noise. No, instead I wonder if these productions are necessary, and if maybe Hollywood (and other film/tv centers) should be more original.

If those two weren’t enough, a spinoff of Bram Stoker’s original novel, “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” is set to provide the story of the ship used to transport Dracula’s coffin to England. There are a handful of upcoming or in production vampire films to look forward to, many possible remakes. So where is the originality, the fresh new take on vampires? Or would it be better to return to dark and scary vampire movies?

(One possible rumor is that Eli Roth will direct Harker, so there’s hope for a darker vampire film on the horizon).

Harker follows the yet to be cast character of Jonathan Harker a dashing Scotland Yard detective hunting Dracula, and is scheduled for release in 2014. Dracula puts a new spin on the old tale but keeps it in the 1890s and is set for fall 2013. Strangely Jonathan Rhys Meyers will play an American businessman in London interested in bringing modern science to Victorian society.

There are a few non-Dracula films in the near future, most bringing well-selling novels to the screen. It seems Hollywood is being really safe right now choosing projects that are sure bets. It’s sad because there’s a lack of originality. There are plenty of novels still to be harvested, and the few in the process of being filmed (Vampire Academy, City of Bones) are some time away. Yet with the exception of the odd movie here and there, no one has really explored the vampire genre in a new light. (I’ve missed a few I will highlight in another article once I learn more).

I have banged on about Lost Boys before but it really was a departure for vampire films. Up until Lost Boys, vampires were old gentlemen, not rockstar teenage gang members (I’m ignoring the older vampire in the film that ruined the ending). Vampires could be cool AND scary. And a lot of the fear was that the main character would become a full vampire (though if it were me, I’d have wanted that). We can’t remake Lost Boys, even though some studio exec probably is trying at this moment, just like we shouldn’t keep remaking everyone other classic film. The 80s also gave us Near Dark (there are rumors of a remake) and the original Fright Night (though it was the sort of suave gentleman vampire film of the past).

Fright Night is a curious alternative though. The new one is still pretty good (mmm, Dave Franco) and it could have been a completely different film had they had the courage to give it a new name. Of course Fright Night had big names attached to it, which on a side note, points to Hollywood’s desire to go big or not at all, leaving independent films producing sometimes great work on limited budgets. There are original ideas and new takes that are good, and many that are not.

I don’t want to dismiss turning novels into films. Just because we’ve lived through the Twilight years does not mean another Interview with the Vampire won’t come along, though there are no major literary works that have been missed by Hollywood. So like Lost Boys, Fright Night and recently Daybreakers, where are the new ideas already in script form? If the wider vampire-genre has this problem then it should be of some comfort to those of us wishing for more gay vampires. Now if someone could approach Dracula in a strikingly different way, that might be worth seeing, but instead studios just remake the same story that’s been reincarnated too many times already. Let’s just hope NBC’s series gives Jonathan Rhys Meyers plenty of bite.

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