Television Release: December 12, 2013
DVD Release: October 25, 2016
Director: David Mitchell and Jamie Lockhart
Review by James Klein
Unquestionably the most popular and prolific horror icon, Dracula has been portrayed in books, movies, TV, and video games since 1897 when Bram Stoker’s novel was unleashed to the public. David Mitchell and Jamie Lockhart’s 63 minute documentary gives viewers a brief but entertaining look at the most famous vampire.
Historians and authors discuss the history of Dracula from it’s beginnings with Stoker’s novel to the films that have proceeded. The documentary is entertaining as it’s just not a talking heads doc as Mitchell and Lockhart were able to get the rights to several clips from various films. The Trail of Dracula begins with the origin of Vlad the Impaler, a Romanian royalty who was known for his sadistic murderous ways which Stoker based his novel Dracula on.
Much is discussed regarding the first vampire film, 1922’s Nosferatu including the strange Max Schrek who played the vampire Graf Oarlok. There are some behind the scenes interviews with legendary Bela Lugosi and a brief look into the actor’s sad career as he battled addiction and poor management. But the documentary mostly focuses on the Hammer Dracula films and its stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. There is even an interview with Lee who admits that he disliked the later Dracula films that he starred in but is appreciative for how his career changed forever.
However, The Trail of Dracula seems to rush through the later day Dracula films such as the made for TV film Dracula with Jack Palance, a three part BBC Dracula series, 1979’s Dracula, 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and some of the more modern takes on the vampire such as Dracula 2000. While I prefer to hear and learn about the older Dracula films, the documentary falls short in being a be all-end all film about the history of Dracula. The doc feels rushed and incomplete. It’s a great time waster or introduction to someone who may not know the history of the Count but for horror fans, most of what is said is old news.
Intervision’s DVD does have quite a few special features that are worth a look. There are two audio interviews, one with Lee and the other with Francis Lederer who played Dracula in 1958’s The Return of Dracula. The interview with Nosferatu: The Vampyre‘s director Werner Herzog looks like it was shot with an old camcorder even though the interview was done not so long ago. I always like to hear Herzog speak and his discussion about the making of the film is a great listen. Udo Kier’s interview looks much better and speaking in his native tongue, discusses his work on Blood for Dracula. But my favorite special feature may be the 94 minute compilation of a shitload of Dracula movies. It’s not just some of the classics but also includes Spanish and Japanese Dracula films as well as some adult films like Dracula Sucks and Sexcula. This compilation of trailers would be perfect to play during a Halloween party.