On October 30th I attended a special screening of Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931) and book party for Dacre Stoker (great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker) and Ian Holt's Dracula The Undead at the Cinema Art Centre in Huntington New York. I'm going to relay the evening in chronological order for the sake of clarity. First up was the famous Dracula movie.
This was the first time I ever got to see Dracula on the big screen. Sure, I've seen it on TV and DVD countless times, but seeing Lugosi stand twenty feet tall in his famous cape is a much different viewing experience than on a tiny screen. Tod Browning's direction, which for years film historians have put down as stale, had new life when projected as it was meant to be seen. And watching it with an audience revealed small bits of humor that Browning threw in that escaped me when I've watched it alone.
I was expecting the audience to be mostly want-to-be goths in Bauhaus tee-shirts, but the crowd was mostly older people. Some looked as if they might of seen the film when it was first released. One guy looked like he bounced baby Bram Stoker on his knee.
After the movie we were introduced to Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt, who wrote the first sequel approved by the Stoker estate, Dracula The Undead. Dacre talked about growing up as a Stoker and how when he was first contacted by Holt six years ago about writing a Dracula book he thought it was a crazy idea. Holt, a native Long Islander like me, talked how he discovered Dracula through Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, a experience I share in common. He also talked about his research into the real Vlad Tepes and his visiting Romania and sleeping in the real Castle Dracula.
Next we were treated to a performance by Carmen and Alex Galant (Alex was the historical researcher for the book) as they read a dramatization of a piece of the book in full costume. This particular reading gave us some sight into what had happened to Mina and Jonathan Harker after the original novel, and how the shadow of Dracula still haunted them. I thought it was very well done and really enjoyed both of them.
After the reading all four, Dacre, Ian, Alex and Carmen took questions. One thing that Holt brought up I had never heard before. Dracula (the novel) ended with the Count being stabbed in the heart by a bowie knife just as the sun was setting, and turning to dust. Bram's unused ending had the Count stabbed, and a volcanic eruption spill hot fiery lava down destroying Castle Dracula and Dracula's body. Wow!
After the Q&A there was a reception in the Cinema Art Centre's Sky Room where Dacre and Ian signed copies of the new novel, which of course I had to get a signed copy of (I'll post a review after I read the book so until then I'm keeping an open mind).
As big time Dracula buff, this was a great way to kick off the Halloween weekend.
Until Next Time, Stay Insane!