Thursday, October 18, 2012


This may be one of those post which will get me into big trouble with a large group of people or may just cause an ugly debate between horror fans and aging monster kids. I have been watching some of the great and not-so-great horror films as I write these post and work on another horror related writing project. For quite some time, I have held a position about myself and, possibly, many of my generation. I prefer Christopher Lee's Dracula over Bela Lugosi's Dracula and other vampires.

Yes, I know this is blasphemy to many horror fans. Bela Lugosi is the first and to many the best Dracula/vampire actor. He set the standard by which all others are judged. He also created the archetype of what vampires are like. Lugosi gave Dracula and vampires a widow's peak hair, arching eyebrows, a tux and a thick Hungarian accent. He moved spoke slowly and moved silently into his victim's room (Dark Shadow's star Johnathan Frid described Lugosi's Dracula as "like ballet"). The truth is Lugosi only played Dracula in two films, but played vampires in a hand full of other movies.

In the mid 50's, Christopher Lee began playing Dracula in the films produced by the Hammer Studios. His Dracula had the cape and evening clothes, but Lee's Dracula was different. Instead of a thick Hungarian accent, Lee had a low bass voice. His hair was brushed back over his head. When he attacked his victim (who usually had huge breast that barely fit into a her blouse), he eyes turned red and began spurted blood, his face turned a light blue and he hissed like a panther. If the hero pulled a cross (that glows) or garlic, Lee's Dracula would exit by smashing through a window. That would scare horses (This is a Hammer Studio trademark. It was so prevalent in their Frankenstein series that Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder incorporated it into Young Frankenstein) and cause the music to burst into a frantic crescendo. When Lee's Dracula died at the end it was a epic production. He would burn into ashes in the sunlight, fall through the ice into a frozen pond, get impaled on a large, silver cross or waggon wheel or caught in hawthorn bushes.

Lee tends to be scarier thanks to special effects and the sexual overtones. However, what may have caused Lugosi scariness to diminish may have nothing to do with Lee and the folks at Hammer Studios. The blame for Lugosi losing his fear factor could be laid at the feet of both General Mills and Sesame Street.

I would say may people of my generation would agree that Christopher Lee is the Dracula of our nightmares with his hissing and spurting blood. When we see and hear Lugosi, we immediately thing of either Count Chocula cereal or Count Von Count of Sesame Street. Many authors on vampires and horror films note that small children are not scared of Bela Lugosi's Dracula. It could be because from a small age the Lugosi-type of vampire sells cereal and teaches us how to count. Bela Lugosi scared an older generation because he was first and not yet turned into a child friendly caricature. My generation waits for Lugosi to count or say, "Part of a nutritious breakfast."   

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