September Monstrous Question – Response # 3
THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – SEPTEMBER 2010
(Monstrous Questions provided by Michael Arruda)
If you could remake one sequel, what would it be? Why? And lastly, for some added fun, what are some of the changes/improvements you’d make?
RESPONSE # 3
I’m going to turn back the clock a bit and go with DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966), Hammer Films’ first sequel to their mega hit HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).
Now, even though Hammer Films made a living out of making sequels, even though they made some of my favorite horror movies of all time, and even though I actually like DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS, I’m still choosing this movie as the sequel that I’d remake, and here’s why:
First off, I’d keep the entire first half of this movie pretty much the same. Everything that occurs in this movie in its first 45 minutes, before Dracula actually makes his appearance, is dead-on (or would that be undead on?), from its strong sense of evil during the scenes at Castle Dracula, which play off the audience’s memory of Christopher Lee’s powerful performance as Dracula in HORROR OF DRACULA—you can almost sense Dracula’s spirit within the castle walls as he waits to be resurrected, to its most gruesome scene. In fact, the resurrection scene is probably the most gruesome scene in the entire Hammer Dracula series, as Dracula’s servant Klove (Philip Latham) hangs a man upside down over Dracula’s coffin, and then slits his throat as gallons of blood pour into the coffin, mixing with Dracula’s ashes. It’s a great scene.
But once Dracula enters the movie, things need to change. I have three changes in mind.
Number one, I would give Dracula dialogue. Even though Lee rarely spoke in any of the Hammer Dracula movies, DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS is the only film in the series where he speaks no dialogue at all. Lee’s deep, resonating voice is sorely missed in this movie. Of course, for those of you who don’t know, the reason Dracula had so few lines in the Hammer Dracula movies was that Lee cut the lines, claiming they were awful. I’ve read copies of scripts with Lee’s notations, and for the most part, he was right. The lines were terrible.
Anyway, in my remake, Dracula would speak dialogue, and he’d speak lots of it.
Second, I’d also give Dracula a reason for being. It’d be nice to know his motives for doing things. Since he doesn’t speak at all in the movie, it’s not exactly easy for the audience to know why he’s doing what. He just follows the girl that got away and chases her across the country. Well, my Dracula would spell out his intentions clearly: yes, he would go all out to retrieve the beautiful girl that got away, that fled from his castle with her husband, but my Dracula would be more ambitious. After re-capturing the girl, Dracula would plan to leave his castle and travel to London a la Stoker’s novel, and so there would be added scenes where Dracula would make preparations to travel to London.
Dracula is such an evil character. He should be extremely difficult to destroy. This was one of the flaws of the later Hammer Dracula films, that everyone and his grandmother could destroy Dracula. That didn’t make for much of a scary villain if any old idiot could simply hold a cross at the king of the vampires and then drive a stake into his heart. That was one of the best parts of HORROR OF DRACULA, that it pitted two extremely powerful characters against each other, Christopher Lee’s Dracula vs. Peter Cushing’s Dr. Van Helsing. Either one could have come out the victor.
Since Van Helsing doesn’t appear in DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS, my third and final significant change to the sequel would be that Dracula would survive. Yes, he’d succeed in re-capturing the girl, and he’d elude the woman’s husband and the knowledgeable priest who had made it their mission to destroy Dracula.
So my DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS would have a very dark ending. Dracula would emerge victorious, which would set the stage for future sequels and send the following message: the average guy doesn’t stand a chance against Dracula. There would have to be some powerful, clever characters written in future movies to pit their abilities against Dracula, and perhaps even Van Helsing would return. So, my DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS would have a certain EMPIRE STRIKES BACK feel to it, as the main villain would walk away unscathed, and the heroes and heroines would be left in a shambles.
My Dracula would be a Prince of Darkness indeed, and he’d make sure audiences knew it.
(That’s it for this month’s “Monstrous Question” – more in October).