Monday, October 06, 2014

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Dracula

Bram Stoker’s immortal vampire, Dracula -- originally a symbol of colonialist blow-black and a Romantic response to Enlightenment -- has been a regular character and also a regular menace on cult-television programming for several decades.

Francis Lederer played the Count in the 1971 Night Gallery (1969 – 1973) story “The Devil is Not Mocked.” In this unusual tale, Nazi soldiers are billeted in Dracula’s castle during World War II, and soon taught a lesson in the true nature of evil.

A wax museum version of Count Dracula, replete with his memories and brought to life by “oscillating vibrations” appeared in the Saturday morning series Monster Squad (1976). This version of Dracula (Henry Polic II) was a superhero, essentially, teamed with the Frankenstein Monster and The Wolf Man.

Lorne Greene, of all people guest-starred as the Transylvanian menace in a two part episode of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, in 1977’s “The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula.”

In 1979, Michael Nouri portrayed Dracula for ten episodes of “The Curse of Dracula,” a regular segment of the short-lived NBC series Cliffhangers. Here, Dracula was alive and well in the late 20th century, working as a professor of European history at San Francisco’s Southbay College.  Alas, Dracula was being hunted by the grandson of his old nemesis, Van Helsing, and the key to destroying this vampire was burning all twenty of his coffins, which were hidden around the city.

Geordie Johnson played a yuppie version of Dracula, Alexander Lucard, in the syndicated Dracula: The Series (1990).  The show was filmed in Luxembourg and ran for twenty-one, half-hour episodes. It pitted the business magnate against a trio of meddling kids.

In the fifth season premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003), Dracula (Rudolf Martin) unexpectedly showed up in Sunnydale, enslaved Xander (as a Renfield substitute) and romanced the Chosen One.  Until she staked him.

In 2013, Jonathan Rhys-Meyer took on the role of Stoker’s count in NBC’s Dracula.  Here, Dracula went under the name of Alexander Grayson, and arrived in London to take revenge upon his family’s enemies but ended up finding Mina, the reincarnation of his lost love. The series was canceled by NBC after one season, but Netflix is producing a second season.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how many people have seen it in the States, but I have to put in a word for Louis Jourdan in Count Dracula, made by the BBC in 1977. It's surely the best attempt on film or TV to stay close to the book.