Time to Play Catch Up: Five 2022 horror movies you can stream this week

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a film that, like its protagonist, crosses oceans of time. Director Francis Ford Coppola, one of the filmmakers at the forefront of the ‘film school’ generation of the 1970s, tapped into the talents of the young up-and-coming stars, both in front of and behind the camera, to tell a familiar story using very old techniques . Coppola and his collaborators chose to eschew the emergence of digital effects, expensive location shooting, and elaborate artifice in favor of “naive” in-camera effects, stage-bound shots, and lavish costumes as “sets”, creating a thoroughly unique retelling of Dracula. The look of the film is simultaneously timeless and on the cutting edge of innovation. Although it celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, it still feels as modern and cross-border as it did the day it was released.

Although Coppola has been cited as one of cinema’s greatest authors, he is the first to credit his collaborators, describing his directing role as that of a gardener. “A team of filmmakers is like a garden where every plant variety overproduces… The director has to throw all this brilliant creativity together and make it work.” In case of Draculathe first of these over-producing plants was actress winona ryder. She was originally cast in Coppola’s previous movie, The godfather part III, but had to withdraw. Coppola still hoped to work with her and invited her to bring to his attention any projects she might want to work with him. In late 1990 or early 1991 (depending on different accounts) she brought him James V. Hart‘s script for a new movie version of Dracula which tied in more than any previous film with Bram Stoker’s original novel. This sent Coppola through the oceans of his own life back to his teens when he worked as a drama camp counselor and spent one summer reading the entire novel aloud to the eight- and nine-year-old boys in his care.

There have been dozens, if not hundreds, of movie versions of it Dracula of varying quality and importance and it was vital to Coppola that this film become something truly unique. He liked the script very much and the fact that Hart had generally remained faithful to the novel, while adding a love story drawn from some historical facts about the real Vlad “the Impaler” of the House of Dracul. He also realized that the year the novel was released and the screenplay was set coincided with the birth of cinema. This sparked an idea of ​​how to go about making the movie. ‘What if I made the film,’ he thought, ‘in the style films were made at the turn of the century? That is, an illusion.” This gave Coppola the idea of ​​shooting the entire film on sound stages and with in-camera effects. Feeling this was impossible, the original special effects supervisor hired for the film quit and Coppola hired his magic-obsessed son Roman to create the visual effects.

Going back to the “naïve effects” techniques of Georges Méliès (“A Trip to the Moon”-1902), Carl Theodor Dreyer (Vampire-1932), Orson Welles (Burger Kane-1941), and others cut from similar magic-inspired fabric, Roman Coppola and his team give the film an undeniably timeless quality that would have been lost had the early digital techniques of the time been used. Here, the younger Coppola used any number of “tricks,” including multi-pass optics, reverse photography, scrims, mirrors, shadow puppets, models, forced perspective, and altered gravity. The result is otherworldly, disorienting and, in a word, magical.

Related to this is the cinematography by a frequent Martin Scorsese collaborator Michael Ballhaus. In front of Draculahe seems to be channeling another great photography director who is also a Dracula movie, Karl Freund. But instead of the generally static camera to which Freund was chained for Tod Browning’s 1931 film, Ballhaus uses the work his masterful predecessor used for such films as The last laugh (1924) in which the camera floats, turns and dances freely, seemingly of its own accord. For a short sequence, Ballhaus even uses Francis Coppola’s personal Pathé silent movie camera, much as Freund would have used in the 1920s, to evoke the look and feel of early cinema as Dracula (Garry Oldman) walks the streets of London and first sees Mina, the statue of his dead bride Elizabeta whom he has “crossed seas of time” to find. Between Roman Coppola’s visual effects and Ballhaus’s cinematography, the film’s unique photographic style was captured, but the unique sets and costumes created for Dracula also added to the film’s distinctive look.

Coppola envisioned using the space of the huge studio sound stages to increase the illusion of the film. Instead of creating sets that have a literal and realistic quality, Coppola asked a production designer Thomas E. Sanders to create sets that use the space of the sound stages and expand into darkness. This can be seen most clearly in the Castle Dracula and Carfax Abbey sets which seem to be inspired, at least in part, by the elaborate Xanadu sets in Burger Kane in which darkness adds to the illusion of size. As Coppola points out, these seemingly endless spaces give way to the elaborate and imaginative costumes of Eiko axe to serve as the ‘sets’ of the film. Our eyes are constantly drawn to these one-of-a-kind creations which in turn feel and feel out of place with the Victorian setting of the film. Once again, the film’s otherworldly character is reflected in these costumes, which earned their creator a well-deserved Academy Award.

All of these elements and more contribute to creating the vision Coppola wanted to realize. As he wrote in his production diary for the film, “I’d like to do Dracula like a dark, passionate, erotic dream’, and that’s what the film is to a great extent. It lets all the sexual subtext of Stoker’s Victorian and somewhat repressed novel bubble to the surface and drive the imagery and the characters along with their motivations. It is appropriate that the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula came just as a semi-Victorian era in American life, the buttoned-up conservative Regan/Bush era of the 1980s and early 1990s, was coming to an end. As in Stoker’s day, this outward appearance of conservatism barely masked the hot-blooded sexual energy that lay just beneath the surface. This is perhaps most illustrated by the differences between novel and film in the character of Lucy Westenra (Sadie Frost). In the novel she is innocent and virginal, while in the film she is sexually aggressive and vivacious, making friends and suitors blush at her openness and curiosity.

This brings us to the final group of contributors to highlight, the cast. Reflecting on his days of working at the drama camp, Coppola said, “I still like to take actors to the countryside and find new ways to work together – do theater plays, improvisations, read the book aloud, stage scenes and discuss characters. For much of the young cast, this has been welcome and it works specifically in favor of Ryder, Frost, Carey Elwes (Arthur Holmwood), Richard E Grant (Dr. Jack Seward), and Billy Campbell (Quincey P. Morris) as they spend much of the film as an ensemble. Johnny Depp was originally hired to play Mina’s fiancée Jonathan Harker, but at the last minute the studio felt he was not big enough to appear in the role. Winona Ryder introduced her friend Keanu Reeves for the role, and he was cast very close to the start of shooting.

Bram Stokers Dracula 30 years old

Gary Oldman, who gives one of the great performances as the Count, which put him in the pantheon of Dracula actors with Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Udo Kier and Frank Langella, used up a lot of his time off the set was needed to adopt different personas that Dracula could. He worked with makeup and hair designer Michelle Burke and team to create incarnations of the vampire among and in various animal forms not yet in the script. Tom waits gives the best performance as the mad Renfield since Dwight Frye in the 1931 film, playing it with gleeful, unhinged abandon. Ironically, the only actor who seemed to have resisted the rehearsal process was the actor with the most stage experience of the entire cast, Anthony Hopkins. Fresh off his Oscar win as Hannibal Lecter in it The silence of the lambs (1991), Hopkins resisted Coppola’s requests to let Professor Abraham Van Helsing “go a little berserk”, but then would unexpectedly do surprising and unusual things in certain takes. As a result, Van Helsing has a touch of madness that makes Hopkins’ performance truly unique and worthy of being in the lineage of predecessors such as Edward Van Sloan, Peter Cushing and Laurence Olivier.

When I return to it now, I can’t help but be transported back to 1992 when I was fourteen and first saw the film in the theater with my father. I remember clearly because he and I have only seen four movies together, just the two of us: ET (1982), Home alone (1990), Bram Stoker’s Draculaand Hannibal (1999). I remember him laughing at certain parts of the movie and I imagine, now as a father of kids around the age I was then, some of that laughter was nervous as the movie doesn’t pack a punch with his sexuality and bloodletting. At the same time it was a moment of connection; a connection to the Hammer and Universal movies he grew up with and the modern day horror movies I became obsessed with. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is in many ways a film of contradictions. Innovative and familiar, using age-old techniques at the dawn of the digital boom, highly technical and deeply human, set in the Victorian era, it is sexually charged, elaborate and intimate, exploitation and high art, romance and horror. Few films are as visually striking and even fewer from that era hold the way for modern eyes Dracula is doing. As the years go by I am only more impressed with the film and am impressed that it was made in such a ‘primitive’ way. Coppola describes the film as an illusion. As I look at it now, I tend to agree, but I prefer to use a different word. As it was for me as a fourteen-year-old, it still is now, an ocean of time later, nothing less than one thing: magic.

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