Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dracula and sex

It has become very common for Dracula to be regarded as a personification of the corruption of sexuality. This would probably have appalled Bram Stoker, but all the seeds of this are present in his original novel. There is a small element of the erotic even in F. W. Murnau's film Nosferatu, and Bela Lugosi played the role as a rather corny imitation of Rudolph Valentino. However, the first actor to really emphasise the sexuality of Dracula was Christopher Lee in the Hammer movie Dracula (later retitled Horror of Dracula).

Which is kind of curious, because Lee famously had clauses in his contracts exempting him from performing in any scene featuring strong sexuality.

The pained expression is because he is breaking the terms of his contract

Later Draculas went even further. Richard Matheson's script for the version starring Jack Palance introduced the idea that Dracula's passion for Mina Murray stemmed from her being the reincarnation of his lost love, an idea later poached by writer James V. Hart for the Francis Ford Coppola-directed Bram Stoker's Dracula. The 1979 version starring Frank Langella turned Dracula into a full-fledged romantic figure.

Turned on yet?

Frank Langella was actually my first Dracula. I had a monster movie magazine as a small child with pictures from this version, so his image was the first I associated with the character. When I eventually read the original book as a young teenager, it was a movie tie-in with pictures of Langella on the cover and in the middle of the book. It was later the first film version of Dracula that I rented on video.

To me Dracula is all about sex. It's one of the reasons why I love it. Of course, to me horror itself is largely about sex. It's not an uncommon view. Vincent Price considered himself to be a romantic actor.

I didn't create this image, but I approve

Anyway, my next few posts on Dracula will be emphasising the sexier interpretations of the character.

Dude has a thing for women in purple Easy Spirits, he don't got to explain


  1. It's true, Vincent Price was a sexy beast. He even had that foppish man-candy role in Laura.

  2. Yes, the attractiveness and 'sexualising' of Dracula can be laid very strongly at Hammer's doorstep, I think. Nosferatu laid emphasis on Dracula as a plague carrier (which Hammer would also touch on in Kiss of the Vampire) and the Universal Dracula was suave and attractive but not the animalistic Dracula of Hammer.

  3. Funny---I was just savoring Price's "man-candy" performance in LAURA with my daughter last weekend. Nice to remember that he had such wonderful roles long before becoming a horror icon. Richard Matheson, who wrote several of his best films (as well as the novel I AM LEGEND, on which Price's THE LAST MAN ON EARTH---pictured above---was based), seemed to be of two minds regarding Dracula's sexuality. He sometimes expresses perplexity over why walking corpses would be sexy, yet in remarks published with his treatment and teleplay for the Palance version, he wrote that it should bring out the story's inherent eroticism. Interested parties can learn more in my forthcoming book RICHARD MATHESON ON SCREEN.

  4. FYI, RICHARD MATHESON ON SCREEN is tentatively due out in early October. Of course, you can always pre-order it. :-)