There is perhaps no other persona more highly associated with Halloween than Dracula. Unless you count ghosts. Which I don’t. Unless you’re the ghost of Jonathan Brandis. That’s totally different. Anyway… when we sat down to put this list together we knew that having only one Dracula movie would be difficult. Then I said, “Gary Oldman,” and that was that. Not because I have absolute power, but because Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the pinnacle achievement as the notorious blood sucker.
Gary Oldman is the greatest actor to have never won an Oscar. There. I said it. Looking back at his library it’s almost impossible to believe the Academy has yet to bestow the industry’s greatest achievement upon him. Especially considering some of the head scratchers who HAVE won. I’m looking at you, Octavia Spencer.
Oldman’s work in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is nothing short of remarkable. And that’s not because he had Keanu Reeves staring at him blankly through most of their scenes together and making him look good. Oldman is the real deal, and his embodiment of Dracula in all the character’s incarnations throughout the film are stellar.
Francis Ford Coppola released the film in 1992 just two years after completing The Godfather: Part III, and the road he took to complete his version of Dracula was unconventional. He employed no digital effects and relied heavily on basic old school camera tricks. Without delving too much into it all, here’s an example; The scene when Harker is shaving and Dracula approaches him from behind without a reflection in the mirror was shot by a classic technique as old as cinema itself. The actor with his back to the camera is actually Reeves’ double, not Reeves himself, and the ‘mirror’ is simply a hole in the wall, with the real Reeves standing on the other side in a portion of the set, so when the hand touches the shoulder of the double there is no reflection to be seen because there is literally no mirror.
While this could easily have been done digitally, Coppola felt strongly in adhering to methods which would have been more timely for the story being told. This is fascinating to me, and something not seen at this scale since. There are some really great extras on the Blu-ray that highlight the time and effort spent to put it all together.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is as scary and gripping as it is a wonderful cinematic achievement by one of the greatest directors of all-time filming one of the greatest actors of all-time. And that’s not even having yet mentioned Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing.
I hate to overstate the brilliance of this movie (again, despite Keanu), so make sure you take the time to watch this one! And check out our other must-see Halloween picks on our 31 Days of Halloween list here.