The Birthplace of Dracula
Being a horror movie fan for as long as I can remember myself, I always had the desire to feel like the first people who stood there in a cinema back in the day and got the first chills from a horror film. And yesterday was the perfect occasion to feed that desire.
When I saw that the original Dracula was about to be screened, I almost instinctively thought that there was no other place that I should be on the night of Friday the 30th of August 2013, than the British Museum. Christopher Lee is one of my favorite actors of all time, and Peter Cushing is also great in every single movie he has ever done. Besides being ''partners in horror'', those two actors were also born one day apart, Sir Christopher Lee was born on the 27th of May and Peter Cushing on the 26th of May. My own birthday is on the 30th of May, so that strengthens the bonds a little. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Vincent Price, another horror movie icon, was also born on May 27th. Coincidence? Or...
And there was even more for a horror movie fan to quench his thirst...
The first premiere of the 2007 restored edition of the original 1958 horror classic ''Dracula'', courtesy of BFI, had a lot more to offer than just the original film. Besides the restored version of the film, Hammer had also included lost footage and deleted scenes from a longer Japanese cut of the the film, never before seen. The premiere took place where Bram Stoker did his research for the original 1897 Gothic horror novel ''Dracula'', in the British Museum. What more is there to ask for?
I remember my uncle who had seen the original film the year it was released, telling me stories about people who were scared to death from watching it, and about cinemas full of horrified people screaming in terror. Dracula was indeed a very shocking film for it's time, I mean, we are talking about the 50s here. Although it was hardly a precise adaptation of the original novel, Dracula became the definitive film representation of the original creature, and the majestic and icy figure of Christopher Lee, became Dracula.
The novel fanatics will find many differences between the original novel and this film. First of all, Dracula does not have a mid-European accent. Also he is not looking forward to buy a house in London. In the directors own words ''The budget was so small, that Dracula couldn't afford a second home'', so Jonathan Harker also became a librarian instead of a solicitor. Dracula was also portrayed as a lover here. There are also many gaps in he plot, but director Terence Fisher, the greatest director of Hammer, kept only what was absolutely necessary. And so, he gave birth to a classic and Sir Christopher Lee, played the role of Dracula in many more films that followed.
The premiere of the film was narrated by Sir Christopher Frayling, who also showed us the original banned film poster, as well as a letter from Bram Stoker to the British Museum, where he asked for permission to do his research for Dracula.
Original poster for Dracula
Bram Stoker's letter
Watching the premiere of the uncut, restored Dracula, in it's own birthplace, was undoubtedly one of the best and most memorable nights of my life.