Fiends, randos, countrymen! Lend me your eyes, for I bring you news of horror. Welcome to the first Week in Horror of 2020, which, befitting of my irresponsible ass, is running late this evening. Worth it though, I assure you. I needed to finish the BBC’s Dracula which hit Netflix yesterday. So let’s get into it!
This three-part series, each a feature-length film, is brilliant. I always found the Bram Stoker novel a bit stiff and boring, preferring the Lugosi and Lee films, and thought the Francis Ford Coppola adaptation was the most hollow thing of beauty. Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat, using the same punchy formula they deployed in their brilliant Sherlock series, hit gold giving us a more lively version of the count that references the performances of Gary Oldman, Bela Lugosi, and Christopher Lee without ever feeling like a cheap imitation. Claes Bang is indeed his own Count. The series is dark, as well, like really dark. You’ve got baby-eating, black humour, and gore. Shockingly gory for the BBC, I’d say. But the show’s real secret weapon is Dolly Wells as Sister Agatha Van Helsing. She is flat out brilliant and gets all the good lines. Part one focuses on Jonathan Harker’s arrival at Dracula’s castle (and yes, that’s the castle FW Murnau used in Nosferatu) and his eventual fleeing from the ever-tightening clutches of the Count. Part Two solely focuses on Dracula’s journey on the doomed ship, The Demeter. I was particularly excited about this chapter because to me those were the scariest scenes in Nosferatu and the original Lugosi Dracula, but we never actually see the fate that befalls the crew, only the aftermath. Here we get an hour and a half of passengers and crew trapped aboard the ship being slowly stalked and fed upon. In part three, Dracula finally arrives in London for the final battle. I loved this series and highly recommend it.
Joe Begos’ hallucinatory art bloodbath, Bliss, comes to Shudder on January 31st and his other film of 2019, VFW hits Blu-ray March 31st. If you don’t know who Joe Begos, he’s only one of the great modern voices of horror. Proof? Check out his films Almost Human and The Mind’s Eye.