In Search of Dracula

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Based on the book by Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu, this documentary mixes historical research, literary scholarship, film clips, and folklore with dramatic re-creations of scenes from Bram Stoker's famous novel Dracula. Christopher Lee, star of innumerable horror films for England's venerable Hammer Studios, narrates and appears as both Dracula and his historical counterpart, Vlad the Impaler. Examining the facts behind the novel and its inspirations, In Search of Dracula includes footage shot on-location in Transylvania, plus Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden. Although Stoker himself never visited Transylvania, he did his homework; as the footage here attests, his descriptions of the land's mountains and forests prove uncannily accurate. In addition to the landscape of Transylvania itself, the film explores the links between the fictional Count Dracula and Vlad Tepes Dracula, a 15th century Romanian prince known for impaling his many enemies, most notably the Turks, on long spikes. The film also looks at Countess Elisabeth Bathory, a 16th century Hungarian noblewoman whose predilection for bathing in the blood of her servant girls gave her a reputation as a "living vampire" and got her walled up in her own castle. Other topics range from vampire bats and psychological vampirism to the use of vampire imagery in the Greek Orthodox church and the emergence of the femme fatale "vamp" in silent film. Yvonne Floyd's script also spends time exploring the links and similarities between the Dracula mythology and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In addition to In Search of Dracula, McNally wrote Dracula Was a Woman, a more focused treatment of Countess Bathory's story. Lee would go on to host another documentary, the 13-part TV series 100 Years of Horror.

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