Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review of The Romance of Dracula

That I came of age watching vampire films should come as no surprise to my readers. I’ve been a vampire fan since I was a first-grader running home to watch the Gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows. It was with great pleasure that I read Charles Butler’s take on many of the films that I grew up with.

In his book, The Romance of Dracula, Butler explores his personal connection with the cinematic journey of Bram Stoker’s iconic count, from the silent era to the present day, in a conversational yet authoritative tone. The book begins with a thorough discussion of the novel and then moves on to explore the various screen treatments of Dracula from the Murnau silent classic, Nosferatu, to an examination of contemporary vampire films (with nary a mention of Twilight).

The author begins the chapters with a scene-by-scene synopsis of each Dracula film and then finishes with his no-holds-barred review of script adaptation, direction, cinematography and acting performance. I found his critical stance on the Coppola Dracula of the nineties to be on the money and agree wholeheartedly with his praise for the imaginative Shadow of the Vampire. Fans of Hammer horror (and actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing) won’t be disappointed at the in-depth look at these films.

Butler peppers his reviews with entertaining insights and anecdotes. The reader may be surprised to find that with all of the adaptations of Dracula, few are true to the source material in either story or portrayal of the count. A notable example pointed out by Butler is the Bela Lugosi version produced by Universal, which is based on the stage play. Even though I once worked for Universal, I didn’t know there is a Spanish language version of this film, starring a different cast that was produced for the European market.

This book will be enjoyed by film and vampire buffs alike. After reading Mr. Butler’s book, I’ve added to my list of must-see vampire films. It’s clear that The Romance of Dracula was written with someone who has a true passion for the genre. I appreciated the solid film history and research of the topic.

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