I’m going to attempt to broach a ridiculous question that has bothered me and probably only me for a few years now. I often spend hours on the toilet pondering if Dracula will ever return wearing a cape again.. Probably a good time to point out that these “hours” are cumulative.
More recently there seems to be a shift from Dracula movies to Vlad flicks, it’s nothing new, things often switch from one to the other as trends change, the earliest Vlad movie that I can remember was the Russian 70’s effort, Vlad Tepes (1979), I’m sure there are more but I really enjoyed this film so it gets checked.
After the Dracula character was birthed by Bram Stoker, there were always whispers of his origins being that of Vlad the Impaler, and with this new wave of “origins” films it seems only natural that vampires go back to their roots, but only as far as Vald I’ll save the rest of vampire history for another post. So the rise of Vlad movies are upon us, but this will never help when trying to redeem the cape..
So if the origins of Dracula, ie Vlad, and the earliest depictions of vampires in movies, such as Nosferatu (1922) and Vampyr (1932) don’t have any capes, why is it so important? To be honest it’s not, and I don’t want to take anything away from brilliant concepts in the slightest, but there is a majesty the developed from the Universal breakthrough Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi until… Prince of Darkness (1976) ish era.. And then after that any other caped appearance have generally been comedy/parody.
If we take into consideration the Holy Trinity of universal monsters we would have Dracula Frankenstein and The Wolfman as the three primary candidates here. The biggest difference that separates Dracula from the other two is his appropriation with current society. Frankenstein’s monster no matter what area is going to be an accumulation of bodies and will generally always be considered a monster among men. The Wolfman will always be a man from any era who transforms into a generic Wolfman hybrid and his love and change to fit as it’s needed but Dracula is the one character who will need to fit in, in order to be accepted by audiences. Unless it’s an historic piece, he’ll generally become Vlad, but it’s not likely that he will become a caped gentleman living in a castle once again.
It has been so long since the caped man has scared audiences and since the 1980s this particular image has been watered down to a mere parody of the terror of the original character.
Vlad The Impaler
I’d hate to accept that the final day of a caped vamp are going to be a piss take.
It’s not even something you can mimic while trying to create an historic account of the Dracula/Vlad mythos,as the original character that Dracula was based on was not famed for his black and red Cape, that invention did come in later on after Bram Stoker’s involvement, that the character transformed from the “real” Impaler stories, then the Hollywood movement transformed the cruel king into the character we see, that is so iconic today; but an order for him to return to this character without it being a parody would be incredibly difficult not only because of stigma that’s not attached to it but also modern perceptions of men and capes. When was the last time you saw a dude in a cape? Never right?
Modern Age – No Glitter Please
So why would he wear a cape in a modern film again.. If the perception is that the cape is comedic, and it’s not something that’s making a come back AND we have Vlad stories to explore now, it’s no big D. You’re more likely to see a vampire cape in a costume shop or on the kiddies dress up aisle at halloween in ASDA, so no wonder why that particular addition has been omitted from modern films, it seems to be the key item to determine if a film is “for real” or not. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde wouldn’t ever be without their vials of concoctions and Batman would never be without his mask, Frankenstein and the Wolfman are pretty universal but Vampires seem to be victims of their age. In the 80’s they became rockers, the 90’s saw them range through musicians to uber sexy killers. The main reason for all of this is that a majority of horror fans desire to be one of the immortal blood suckers so they have to remain desirable to the audience who just want a new character to swoon over. And no one (apart from us oldies) is going to go weak at the knees for a tall dark stranger in a ASDA kiddy cape.
Bare with me here for a second, what would rather see more of in the future, a flappy cape or glitter? Twilight (2008), as much as you probably hate the crap out of it, we did see a brief return of caped vamps in a serious (?) movie. This probably didn’t add to the dim view that everyone has about the film but I saw it as a positive step to allow capes back into the cinema. But I think Twilight might have been the final nail in the coffin
So what’s the alternative? A dapper suit with red lining?? Give us something!
It’s definitely a personal struggle, and I feel that unless I make a film myself no one else is ever going to do it. This might not be such a bad thing actually as I’d love to take vampires back But it’s very unlikely that we’ll ever seen the red and black cape again in a serious film at least. But; as they say, we have the classics to fall back on, so let the good times roll.