The Trail of Dracula – UK, 2013 – reviews

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‘From folklore to screen’

The Trail of Dracula is a 2013 British feature documentary written, directed and shot by Dave Mitchell. The documentary examines Bram Stoker’s classic novel, the life of the author and history of the vampire genre including Vlad the Impaler, as well as the controversy surrounding the novel’s release in Romania.

“Diabolical. Seductive. Immortal. Vampires have been an icon of evil in folklore and popular culture for more than three centuries, yet only one name still personifies the ultimate aristocrat of bloodlust.

Now join the world’s foremost experts on Dracula – including academics, authors and horror historians – as they explore the untold story of the Transylvanian Count, from the legend of Vlad The Impaler and Bram Stoker’s celebrated novel through its landmark stage productions and classic movie adaptations.

It’s a crimson trail of twisted archival materials, startling film clips and rare interviews – featuring Jonathan Rigby, Kim Newman and John Florescu (Dracula: Prince of Many Faces: His Life and Times) – plus bonus materials that include additional interviews with Udo Kier and Werner Herzog (Nosferatu the Vampyre), over 90 minutes of Dracula movie trailers, and more!”

Special Features:

Review:

There have been plenty of documentaries about Dracula – both the films, the novel and the historical precedents of both –  and so any new production really needs to offer something special to stand out; unfortunately, The Trail of Dracula doesn’t do that.

With a collection of talking heads – some familiar (Kim Newman, Jonathan Rigby), others less so (Elizabeth Miller, Joseph Laycock) – it takes us through the origins of the character, from vampire folklore and Vlad the Impaler, through pre-Dracula vampire literature to Bram Stoker’s novel and the various film adaptations, concentrating on the Universal and Hammer series.

There are some odd opinions, forcefully expressed (but then, who am I to complain about that?) and some sneering at the idea that Stoker was inspired by Vlad from people who, of course, were not around at the time to actually know. At 63 minutes, this is all rather rushed and lacks substance – if you are the oddball who has never heard of Dracula but has bought this anyway, it might be a reasonable introduction, but for most of us, it offers little that is new.

Where the disc does stand out is with the 94 minutes of Dracula movie trailers – 43 titles including most of the Hammer series, Vampira, Dracula Sucks, Blacula, Vampyros Lesbos and Guess What Happened to Count Dracula. This is great, lurid entertainment – several trailers being much more entertaining than the full movie that they are promoting. Several of them are eye-poppingly sexy, too, which you can take as either a recommendation or a warning.

Rounding off the disc are vintage interviews with Werner Hertzog (on Nosferatu), Udo Kier, Christopher Lee and Return of Dracula star Francis Lederer. All this takes the disc from the disposable to the somewhat essential for both Dracula enthusiasts and any lover of classic movie trailers.

David Flint, MOVIES & MANIA

Filming locations:

London, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, and at various locations in Romania.

Release:

In the US, Intervision Pictures Corp. released The Trail of Dracula on DVD on October 25, 2016.

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