This is a post where I get annoyingly obsessive about Dracula.

1 Oct

October 1, 2014

Hey, you read the title. You’ve been warned.

I’m really annoyed by the marketing campaign for the upcoming movie Dracula Untold. It claims to be the true origin story of Dracula. Of course, it is all nonsense.

Dracula-Untold-lee von count

The character we know as Dracula is a fictional vampire created in 1897 by Bram Stoker. In the novel, which takes place in the 19th century, Dracula has been a vampire for a great many years, yet little is revealed about his past. Through the passage of time, the character has become linked to the real-life tyrant Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler, who took that name “Dracul” when he joined a satanic order in the 1400’s.

There is no basis for this link at all. None is provided in the book.

However, Bram Stoker became passingly familiar with the Tepes legend as he wrote his book and used a version of his name (“Dracul” became “Dracula,” and in fact a branch of the Tepes family uses a variation of that name) for his creation.

And that’s it.

In fact, the original name of the character was going to be the laughable “Count Wampyr.” (As you can guess, “wampyr” means “vampire” in German. So we were spared from Count Vampire.)

Now this movie comes along and I have nothing against it, other than it stars yet another pretty-boy, bare-chested, tormented vampire designed to appeal to the Twilight crowd. But this movie claims to provide the link between Vlad Tepes and the vampire Dracula.

I need to tell you right up front that this is fiction and they can do whatever they want. Dracula (character and book) are public domain and anyone can make any variation of the legend they so desire. I’m fine with that.

But Vlad Tepes is such an amazing historical personage (hey, he didn’t get the name The Impaler for nothing, he earned it) that any movie based on his life can skip anything having to do with vampires. This guy once invited his enemies to dinner to talk peace, then locked them in and set fire to the building. So he was a bad ass without having to wear fangs. He was as brutal and bloodthirsty as any fictional vampire, and he didn’t have to turn into a bat or sleep in a coffin.

I guess what it comes down to is that if the movie is a hit with the brain cell-challenged Twilight crowd, this is going to define the “origin” and “history” of Count Dracula for years to come. It is going to taint the legends of Vlad Tepes and muddy the Stoker tale. Dumb kids will think this shirtless angst-ridden dude is what Count Dracula was and is, when in fact, just for example, both the fictional Count and the real-life Impaler were much older men. And attractive? Read the section where Stoker described the Count’s hairy palms and unibrow.

I just don’t want this teenage fantasy to become Dracula. I want Dracula to stay Dracula.

If you stuck with me to the end, sorry for being so annoying.

 

.

I Predicted This: How Hollywood Russell Predated The New Stonehenge Discovery

29 Sep

September 29, 2014

Did you see this headline last week? This story made news around the world.

henge

Turns out the Stonehenge is really huge, much bigger than we thought. Basically, researchers had been walking around, over, on top of, all kinds of crazy structures and objects, and not all of them were buried. A lot of the hills and mounds turned out to be hiding structures right in plain sight. Scientists were basically having picnics on top of those pretty hills and never realized what was going on right below.

This is why I should have been a Stonehenge researcher, because I would have discovered those mounds and buried objects ages ago. You see, I already had that theory 30 years back.

It was the late 80’s/early 90’s, somewhere in that area, and my friend and I were hanging out at Kings Plaza, Brooklyn’s version of a shopping center, working on various ideas for stories that we’d never write. Both of us were interested in Old Time Radio and most of our ideas tended to fit in the horror or detective genre. Sometimes both.

We had an idea for a show called The Corpse. It would be about a crime-solving corpse. (We put the emphasis on solving to differentiate it from all the other crime-committing corpses.) Basically, a bunch of Scooby Gang types would ride around with a dead man in the back of their car and they’d communicate with it by Ouija board.

JOE: Quick corpse, tell me, who’s behind the big bank robbery?
PETE: I’m getting something now. “B-I-G-B-R-U-C-E-F-R-E-E-D-K-I-N.” It’s Big Bruce Freedkin!
JOE: There’s something else coming through!
PETE: “D-U-C-K.” Duck? What’s that mean?
(SOUND OF A SHOTGUN BLAST)
JOE: They’re shooting at us! That’s what it means! Duck!

We also had an idea for a show called The Adventures of Seamus O’Reilly. Seamus was a sheep and his owner, Mother O’Reilly, was knitting him a sweater because he looked cold. She was knitting him a sweater out of his own wool. See why it never got made?

There was also someone called Stoop Nagle, but for the life of me I can’t remember if he did anything more than sit on a stoop.

All this brings me back to Stonehenge and the unlikely first adventure of Hollywood Russell.

In Hollywood’s first adventure, the plan was that he’d been tracking either smugglers or Nazi spies (or both) who were using a small plane to fly in and out of Coney Island unseen. Eventually the bad guys, fearing that Hollywood was getting too close, buried the plane under the Coney Island beach sand. From ground level you couldn’t see anything but some large dunes. Families would climb on them, kids would play on them, and no one could tell there was a plane below. Only when Hollywood went to the top of the parachute jump and got an aerial view could he see the outline of the plane buried below, kind of like the famous Nazca lines down in South America.

For some reason we found that idea farfetched (wonder what those Stonehenge guys would think?) and changed the story so that the plane was buried under the parachute jump during its construction. But that was even more ridiculous, especially considering that the boardwalk was between the beach and the attraction. Then things got worse from there.

And there you have seven degrees separation between Stonehenge and Hollywood Russell.

 

 

 

Marcel Marceau, R.I.P. We Still Don’t Miss You

27 Sep

September 27, 2014

Marcel Marceau died seven years ago this week. He was 83 years old.

Marceau was the world’s most famous mime. While his face may not have been familiar, everyone knew his trademark striped shirt, bowler hat, and large flower. Frankly, he has not been missed.

He was a mime. And mimes are totally annoying. First of all, they don’t talk. Punch them in the nuts, they won’t groan. They are like the guards at Buckingham Palace, but less funny. Mimes walk around on nice summer days and pretend that they are struggling in the wind. Mimes laugh and cry at little flowers. Mimes get in your face and don’t get out until you give them money. Only pretentious PBS people like mimes. Supposedly they are practitioners of an art that goes back to ancient Greece. Big deal. The ancient Greeks had some funny ideas about young boys too.

Marcel Marceau’s funeral was a sight to see. A line of a dozen mimes strode side by side, pretending to be carrying an invisible coffin. The last in line pantomimed dropping it on his foot and limped the rest of the way. One in front pretended to pull the coffin with an imaginary rope. The eulogy was equally moving. Marcel was remembered by many of the mime community with these touching words:  “               .”

Before he was laid to rest, the assembled mimes first struggled to get out of an invisible phone booth, then laid their oversized flowers on the grave.

So Rest In Peace, funny man, let’s hope the art of mime ends here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 438 other followers

%d bloggers like this: