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Tag Archives: Dracula

The Second Lives of Count Dracula

27 Oct

October 27, 2016

Lee Halloween

I love Hammer films, especially their Dracula series. Christopher Lee is perfect as The Count. He’s regal but animalistic. He’s noble but savage. He has a commanding presence and the aura of someone that not only will you obey, but someone you would never consider not obeying, even at the cost of your life. As it usually is.

The films are moody and atmospheric and even the lesser films are creepy and gothic. Lee played Dracula in seven of the nine Dracula films Hammer produced. Despite the title, Brides of Dracula did not feature Dracula, and I am not counting 1974’s The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires as Dracula was little more than a cameo.

Dracula is the Lord of the Vampires, king of the undead, and the greatest vampire scourge on Earth, according to the films. He’s been around for generations and shows no sign of stopping. The problem is, that despite the menace he projects and the reputation he possess, he doesn’t do much. Count Dracula spends his time on film on petty and minor pursuits, usually being his own worst enemy, and starting with the second film, unable to survive more than a few days before being destroyed again. He’s a bit of a failure who just gets by on his name and reputation. His best days are long behind him.

Film 1: The Horror of Dracula (1958)
This is an excellent version of the Stoker book, easily my favorite, and much better than the Francis Ford Coppola version. Dracula terrorizes the countryside, making victims of whoever is foolish enough to be unprotected at night, and is feared far and wide.

But look closely and you’ll see that he’s a hermit who never leaves his castle. Yes, he feeds at night, but returns alone. He has three vampire “brides,” but shows very little interest in creating more vampires. He lives alone and stays alone. Coffin, kill, coffin. Professor Van Helsing calls him a worldwide menace who could use his powers to take over the world, but he shows no inclination to do so. Yes, he is the scourge of Transylvania, but he’s really just a local menace, and if he didn’t need fresh blood he’s probably just stay in his empty castle all the time. He has books and other diversions in his home but shows no signs of using them. Even his move to London is out of laziness- the city is more crowded and victims will be easier to find.

dracula_prince_of_darkness_1968Film 2: Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
It has been 10 years since Dracula has been destroyed but the local villagers still live in fear. They won’t even go to church since the shadow of Dracula’s castle falls on it.

Dracula is resurrected by a previously unseen servant. He kills a traveler and mixes his blood with the Count’s ashes, bringing him back from the dead. After a ten year absence, Dracula feeds on another traveler, then instead of resuming his haunts decides to be petty and stalk the remaining travelers who escaped him. After failing to do much of anything, and failing at killing the travelers, Dracula is again destroyed (trapped under ice in running water) after only a day.

Film 3: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
After a year entombed, Dracula is freed from the ice when blood from a priest’s wound seeps through a crack in the ice and touches his lips. Dracula returns to his castle and finds that a large cross has been placed over the doors. Instead of simply having his hypnotized servant remove the cross and return to his old ways, he spends the majority of the film hiding in the back room of an old bakery plotting the death of a young barmaid, niece of the Monsignor who placed the cross. After another day, maybe two, he is impaled on the giant cross.

At this point in the film series, Dracula has been resurrected twice, spent his time on petty and pointless revenge, and “lived” for a total of no more than three days since the end of the first film. He’s spent time hiding in a wagon outside a monastery and in a dirty basement room instead of his castle.

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Film 4: Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
At some point, possibly weeks after the last film, Dracula is brought back by a satanic ritual and immediately vows to kill the people who killed the man who resurrected him, despite not knowing the man. Again, he shows no interest in returning to his castle and instead his petty desire for revenge, which frankly should be beneath him, directly leads to his being turned back to dust at film’s end.

Film 5: Scars of Dracula (1970)
After an undetermined amount of time, Dracula returns from the dead when a bat regurgitates blood into his ashes, which have been inexplicably returned to his castle since the last film.

This film breaks the pattern of the last films and is closer to the first. Dracula has servants, creates more vampire brides, and, most tellingly, slaughters an entire village. This is the Dracula that had only been hinted at in the previous films. This Dracula is nearly invincible and no human agency can stop him. He is only destroyed when he is hit by a bolt of lightning.

Unfortunately, Hammer decided to move the franchise into modern times, taking the Count totally out of his Gothic element.

Film 6: Dracula AD 1972 (1972)
Film 7: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
These films take Dracula out his usual setting but surround him with satanic cultists, which finally brings Dracula in line with his description as being an enemy of the world. Dracula takes on new identities, somewhat integrates himself into society, and generally acts more like a cult leader than a monster. However, this being the 1970’s that fits in with the era’s horror mold.

There was one final Dracula film. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, which is mainly a kung-fu film bookended by short Dracula sequences. Why does Dracula move to Asia? Laziness. Things were getting too rough in England for him. So I guess this film was a throwback to the old lazy Dracula in the first movie.

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Mr. Blog Remembers Abe Vigoda

27 Jan

January 27, 2016

Today, the world mourns the loss of Abe Vigoda. It is our great honor, in this time of sadness, to induct him into Mr. Blog’s Hall of Fame. We will forever remember this icon.Vigoda plaque
Mr. Blog had actually met Mr. Vigoda, and in his honor, the Editors and Staff of Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride present this Classic Repost from 2010. This was the penultimate round of Mr. BTR’s contest to determine the best role model of the 1970’s. In round one, Esther Rolle (Florida Evans from Good Times) beat Mabel King (Momma from What’s Happening?). In the second round, Jack Alberston (The Man from Chico and The Man) knocked out Robert Hegyes (Juan Epstein from Welcome Back Kotter). Round three came down to The Battle of The Lawmen. Please enjoy!

From January 8, 2010

Who is the best 1970’s television role model?

Round two was a hard-fought battle of the unlikely, with “The Man” coming out of retirement to win a Charo-fueled win over Sweat Hog Juan Epstein. What did it prove? Sadly, that “The Man” can still keep a Latino down. (Just ask anyone whose bank turned them down for a loan.)

Round Three
“Battle of the Lawmen”

BARNABY JONES VS. BARNEY MILLER’S FISH          

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Barnaby Jones was a Quinn Martin production. Quinn Martin was a prolific TV producer who had the idea to cast an old man in a detective show. Unfortunately, the actor was a bit too old, as evidenced by the picture above, where Barnaby is not quite sure which is the phone and which is the gun. In the picture below, a gun-wielding thug has almost talked Barnaby into buying into his time-share.

The casting of the lead role was controversial from the start. Quinn Martin wanted an established television star for the role. After a long and deliberate casting process, he settled on this man, currently starring in the autobiographical Beverly Hillbillies:

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It was never explained just how Barnaby made the jump from hillbilly to cop, but in a strange twist, both of this round’s contestants served together in an elite peace-keeping force:

 

Detective Phil Fish was born well over one hundred years ago, yet no matter how old he was, he never looked his age. He looked at least twice his age.

Early on it was noted that Detective Phillip “Abe Vigoda” Fish bore an eerie similarity to another television personality, Richard Simmons.

 

However, as he lost his hair, he became a dead ringer for Boris Karloff.

    

As you can tell from these rare photos, the resemblance was uncanny.

Fish went on to star in a series of films with Bela Lugosi, whose main claims to fame were that he played Dracula, became a drug addict, and he played Dracula.

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This particular still is taken from 1935’s Universal release, The Cramped Fingers of Evil, starring Detective Fish as Professor Barnabas Lennsing and Bela Lugosi as Dr.Vampire J. Hammitup.

The battle was very close, but the win has to go to Fish. Why? Check out this very rare comic book from 1979. Barnaby Jones never had a view-master reel, let alone his own comic book.

WINNER: FISH

Coming Soon:

FINAL THREE-WAY
WINNER-TAKE-ALL
BRAWL-FOR-IT -ALL:

Esther Rolle Vs. “The Man” Vs. The Fish

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