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where's a vampire slayer when you need one?

Did anyone else watch the much-hyped BBC Dracula last night? Goodlord, that was bad. I'm quite easy to please when it comes to big Victorian melodrama, and when it comes to something like Dracula I don't mind a bit of tinkering with the plot; I'm not hugely attached to the book and it's part of popular culture now. But to remove all the genuinely creepy, scary things from the original and put in a frankly preposterous syphilis storyline was just idiotic.

Basically, it was like some producer said "hmmm, you know the way that anything to do with vampires has huge overtones of sex and sexually transmitted disease? Well, no one can actually see that unless we spell it out for them very, very clearly! And that's what good drama is all about! So let's pretend that Lord Arthur has syphilis and employs a bunch of black magicians to cure him so he won't infect Lucy Westenra, and THEY bring over Count Dracula to cure the clap with his mad vamp skillz! And let's get rid of all that guff in the castle with Jonathan Harker and the scary, beautiful, baby-eating ladies and Dracula not appearing in mirrors and crawling down walls - you know, all those bits that people actually remember from the book because they were actually creepy. Naw, we can get rid of the whole Harker bit in a few scenes - no scares needed! And don't bother about Lucy gradually becoming infected with vampirism and getting all wide-eyed and weird, not to mention that fucked-up bit with the giant dog thing practically shagging her in a graveyard. That won't make for exciting drama! No, let's marry her off to pox-infected Lord Arthur so she can be all sad about his refusal to consumate their marriage (lest she get syphilis) for a few scenes before engaging in so-bad-it's-hilarious sexing with Dracula and then die the next day. And that whole Renfield/mental hospital thing? Nah! There's nothing interesting about a lunatic preparing for the arrival of his dark master(bater, to quote Xander Harris) and eating insects! No, what we need are lots of microscopic close-ups of blood cells and really, really, cheesy sex scenes. That's what ver kids like these days."

Seriously, they got rid of just about everything I remembered from the book. It was SO BAD. It was like a lesson in how not to adapt a memorable book. In fact, it was so terrible that I had to turn it off about three quarters of the way through (as both Patsington and I kept going "oh my God, this is stupid") and watch some of Bleak House instead. Which was great. So for all I know Dracula could have become really, really good in the last half an hour. But I doubt it.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
snowballjane
Dec. 29th, 2006 10:51 am (UTC)
Yikes! It sounds like it got even worse after we gave up and opened the giant box of West Wing DVDs.
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:06 am (UTC)
Hee, I'd say plenty of other initial viewers turned to DVDs last night! It really was shockingly bad, wasn't it? And yet it got a good review in today's Grauniad!
tenderhooligan
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:05 am (UTC)
I watched it out of the corner of my eye while reading at the same time. I have to say that it didn't seem that good at all.
pisica
Dec. 29th, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)
Exactly the same for me except for 'reading' substitute 'going through six months of household receipts and tabulating who paid for what'. It's really, really sad when deducting cat food and diet Coke from the joint expenses becomes more exciting than watching Sophia Myles being ravished by a Goth.
tenderhooligan
Dec. 29th, 2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
Wow. I really wasn't watching it at all - I didn't even notice her! She's so watchable too.
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 09:09 pm (UTC)
She was wasted in this! It would have been great if they'd followed the book and she'd actually got to do all the preposterous gothy vamping before kicking the bucket, but no.
pisica
Dec. 29th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, she was Lucy.

And I forgot to use my Girl in the Fireplace icon! Well, here it is now.
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
Ha! So true.
ephiriel
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:17 am (UTC)
I'm glad we settled for the Swap Shop thing!
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:47 am (UTC)
I'm now wishing we'd watched that instead!
alltheleaves
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:28 am (UTC)
So glad I didn't miss anything.

Instead I went to see Much Ado About Nothing adapted and set in 1953 Cuba and starring Tamsin Greig. Brilliant.
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC)
Oooh, I've read about that! It sounds fantastic. And yes, much better than Dracula!
roseability_
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:58 am (UTC)
It was deeply disappointing. They didn't even go to Transylvania at the end to kill Dracula. They just did it in a cellar. Van Helsing was in it for a maximum of ten minutes, and Mina barely did anything except cry because her husband was dead. I hadn't even realised Jonathan was dead until the end when she decides she's not going to publicly grieve because their love does not need it.

It didn't help that Dracula wore a wig that made him look like Robert Smith. When Mina first saw him on a cliff my sister yelled out "Oh no, a goth!"

The whole thing was a disappointment.
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
When Mina first saw him on a cliff my sister yelled out "Oh no, a goth!"

Ha!

And yeah, it was so disappointing, wasn't it? I was really looking forward to it, too, because I do like the book (although I haven't read it in years). In theory it really seems like the sort of novel you couldn't fuck up, but even Francis Ford Coppola's nonsense was better than this.
yiskah
Dec. 29th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC)
Wow, that sounds APPALLING.
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC)
It was appalling! It was like they'd actively tried to make a really, really bad adaptation of a book - it was like a lesson in not what to do.
glitterboy1
Dec. 29th, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC)
I have to admit that I'd thought, "Marc Warren, Dracula? Nooooo!", and steered well clear. After reading this (and giggling), I'm now breathing a sigh of relief that I did.
stellanova
Dec. 29th, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC)
Hee, you were right! But I was actually looking forward to it before I gradually realised how very, very bad it was going to be.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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