Today brings another special Friday edition of MTV’s Gore Girls. With “New Moon” freshly arrived in theaters, we decided to try something a little bit different. Instead of Jenni and Terri discussing a single movie, they watched “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” — a romance-focused vampire story, albeit with quite a bit more horror than Stephenie Meyer’s works — and discussed it in relation to “Twilight.” For those who haven’t seen it, “Dracula” is a pretty straightforward adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 book. Gary Oldman stars as the king blood-sucker, alongside Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, Winona Ryder as his beloved wife Mina and Anthony Hopkins as Abraham Van Helsing. It was a bit of a sensation when it hit theaters in 1992. Nothing approaching what we see today with “Twilight,” but a similar sort of vampire-focused craze.
Jenni: When I was in high school, I had the poster for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” on my wall because I thought it was the most romantic thing EVAR. So it has some stuff in common with “Twilight,” in that it’s about vampires but they’re not strictly horror movies. And even the photo stills, like of Mina and Dracula almost kissing, are reminiscent of Bella and Edward.
Terri: See, what’s interesting is that on the surface they seem so similar but then watching them they are so completely different.
Jenni: Yeah, there are interesting parallels because of the Victorian time period.
Terri: This is my first time seeing “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” And it was all about sex. Up to the point that it was literally about sex, not just figuratively.
Jenni: The vampire is a beast, a sexy beast, if you will, and also horrible in some scenes, really a freak of nature.
Terri: Right, it was a really close adaptation of the “vampire,” even though it added those romantic qualities. And, not to give too much away, but it’s an unhappy ending. Because how can a love between a vampire and a human ever end happily? I think that’s important to the vampire mythology. Even in more modern incarnations like “Buffy” or “Let the Right One In,” those aren’t necessarily happy love stories.
Jenni: Well, that’s the romance of it. There are a lot of parallels, but in different places. Like Keanu Reeves is definitely a pretty boy like Robert Pattison. But Dracula is the romantic. He’s the one who can’t stay away from Mina because they’re destined!
Terri: Right. I thought what was interesting was how Dracula has this final hesitation right before he starts to turn Mina. I mean, that’s the entirety of Edward’s relationship with Bella. That refusal to condemn her because he loves her too much.
Jenni: True! Also, to backtrack a little, “Dracula” is totally over-the-top with colors and heaving bosoms, lots of red contrasted against the staid Victoriana, and the marketing is too. The poster I had on my wall, for instance. Heh.
Terri: Oh! The taglines though! “Love never dies” and “When you can live forever, what do you live for?” They really are marketing this idea of eternal love. They are the same thing. And the movies are really different.
Jenni: One is “Dracula,” and one is “Twilight,” right?
Terri: Yeah, and it’s hard to tell which one is which!
Jenni: Yeah, “Dracula” is so romantic but so overtly sexual. The scenes in Dracula’s castle with his wives and Keanu….! And in this case, the vampires literally eat babies. The vampire mythos that we’ve come to know — not necessarily in all cultures but in ours — is all about sex and blood and the unknown.
Terri: I know! It’s interesting that this always seems to be the characterization of vampires. These overtly sexual beings. And with “Twilight,” there’s the same sexual tension but instead it’s all about abstinence. Edward won’t have sex OR turn Bella until they are married. He is playing by the books.
Jenni: Exactly. It’s like The Rules but for Vampires. Nice Girls Don’t. Rather, Nice Boys Don’t Let Them.
Terri: I would think in our day and age, audiences would flock towards the more sexual story. Why do you think there is such this fanaticism towards abstinence?
Jenni: It’s hard to say, as far as the younger crowds. But I think the women who enjoy “Twilight” enjoy the romance of it, the escapism, especially since everything else is sex, sex, sex.
Terri: They like the nice boy who does the proper thing.
Jenni: Well, there are basically are no rules now when it comes to dating and such, so perhaps it’s comforting to see characters who have this very strict set of… ethics? Not necessarily ethics, but it’s very old fashioned.
Terri: So once again, you’d think with when the films are set it would be the other way around. Like you said earlier, in “Dracula” it’s Keanu’s character that’s the prude.
Jenni: Edward is the type of guy who will call you. However, he will also watch you sleep.
Terri: Instead, Dracula will have sex with your best friend and turn into a wolf thing.
Jenni: Yeah, how rude.
Terri: When Mina says, oh we’ve only kissed, we’re waiting till we’re married, it’s like EDWARD EDWARD EDWARD! But Keanu’s character is the prude, and Mina wants Dracula. Yet Bella wants the prude. He to her is more attractive, though she of course wants it bad.
Jenni: Yeah, at first Mina is prudish but in a titillated way, like when she finds the Kama Sutra and pretends to be grossed out. And then she becomes this wild child, which is the one I like better.
Terri: There are so many comparisons between Mina and Bella, even down to how they look. It really struck me how similar Winona Ryder looked to Kristen Stewart. Down to the curly brown hair, thin face, super pale. Like, they look SO similar!
Jenni: True! But, oh, Gary Oldman!
Terri: Ugh I could live my life happily without ever seeing Anthony Hopkins shove his face into Winona’s — how should I put this — BOSOM.
Jenni: I can’t remember but I think it sticks pretty close to the original book.
Terri: It’s funny, Dracula is one of those staples in modern pop culture and yet I realized while watching this I don’t really know the story.
Jenni: Did you notice our BFF Cary Elwes in there?
Terri: YES! Much thinner.
Jenni: Ouch. But seriously, I think Dracula is very sexy. Both Gary Oldman (not when he has the butthead hairdo) and the story. I know some of it is kind of cheesy, but i really like how stylized it is. and the costumes and so on. Like when you could see Dracula’s eyes in the background, or his shadow moving when he isn’t.
Terri: Jenni, since I don’t know too much about the time of this film’s release, can you talk a bit about audience’s response? Was there this mass “Dracula” craze? Did Gary Oldman become the heartthrob of the times?
Jenni: Let me think. I don’t remember if I saw it in theaters or not. I think reviews were mixed, especially since Coppola spent SO much time and energy on the style of it. Oldman’s been a hearthrob forever, as far as I’m concerned
Terri: But rarely do you see him winning Sexiest Man awards or being in magazine pullouts.
Jenni: I think Gary has been a sex symbol since “Sid and Nancy.” He was lovely in “Immortal Beloved” as well, and “The Professional.”
Terri: Let’s have some fun. Do a quick compare and contrast for me of Robert Pattinson versus Gary Oldman.
Jenni: Gary Oldman is dangerous, sexy, mysterious and angry. Edward is pretty, mysterious, conflicted and repressed. Gary Oldman would never sparkle. Gary Oldman is STILL sexy.
Terri: Jenni Jenni Jenni, we are talking Robert Pattinson sexy, not Edward sexy. They are not one and the same, surprisingly enough.
Jenni: Oh! Robert is pretty sexy. I like the new trailer he’s in. I don’t know anything about him. He seems very shy.
Terri: Yes! “Remember Me” looks great!
Jenni: I look forward to seeing him be sexy and beat things and people up. I do not know if he has the chops of Gary Oldman, who is still more dangerous, sexy, mysterious and freaky.
Terri: Would you pay to see Gary Oldman as Edward Cullen?
Jenni: Oh, you just blew my mind.
Terri: Sounds like movie cross over time!