Released by: Intervision Picture Corp.
Released on: October 25th, 2016.
Director: David Mitchell, Jamie Lockhart
Cast: Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, Christopher Lee
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David Mitchell and Jamie Lockhart’s 2013 documentary The Trail Of Dracula is an hour long look at the cinematic legacy of the most famous vampire character to ever grace the silver screen. Made up of interviews with various genre experts and plenty of clips and stills to accompany their input, this sixty minute piece isn’t the most comprehensive documentary you’ll ever see but it does serve as a decent primer as to the importance of the character and some of what makes Dracula so enduring.
The movie starts off by schooling us on eastern European folklore and the role that it played in the creation of Bram Stoker’s novel. We also learn about the real life Vlad Tepes – Vlad The Impaler – and the influence that he too had on Stoker’s work, before then exploring what Stoker himself brought to the vampire mythos to sort of put his own stamp on it.
This makes up roughly the first half of the movie and it’s interesting enough stuff, but those hoping for something more movie-centric will likely find the second half of the feature more appealing. It’s here that we start digging into the different takes on the character that had been made for the movies over time, starting with Max Schreck’s turn in Nosferatu and of course, Bela Lugosi’s equally iconic work in Universal Studio’s original Dracula film. From there the documentary covers – sometimes very briefly – the films that followed in the wake – Hammer’s gothic vampire pictures including those in which Christopher Lee played Count Dracula being a good example. Some more esoteric fare is covered here as well, including some adult film adaptations, the Udo Kier vehicle Blood For Dracula and some of Jess Franco’s work.
It’s all interesting enough, the problem is that at only an hour in length it’s all covered very quickly. In an age where horror franchises like Friday The 13th, Return Of The Living Dead and A Nightmare On Elm Street are getting massive, sprawling documentaries that cover more ground than most of us realized was even there to cover, The Trail Of Dracula feels like it’s really just scratching the surface. The clips used from the various films (more often than not from their trailers) are interesting and the various talking heads that pop up throughout do have valuable insight, but there’s so much more that could have been included here that you can’t help but feel that the picture doesn’t go as far as it should have.
The Trail Of Dracula arrives on DVD framed at 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. For the most part it looks fine. The newly shot material is clean and features nice coloring, some of the inserts obviously don’t look as good. This was shot on digital video and it has that look to it, but there are no issues here.
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is clean, clear and properly balanced. It’s a reasonably simple track as most of the feature is made up of talking heads but it gets the job done without any issues. There are no subtitle or alternate language options provided.
Extras begin with a quick two and a half minute audio interview with Christopher Lee who talks about reprising his most famous role for Jess Franco’s Count Dracula. A second audio interview gets actor Francis Lederer to spend two minutes discussing his work on Return Of Dracula. More interesting is a nine minute video interview with Werner Herzog who talks about making his version of Nosferatu with the late, great Klaus Kinski. Herzog is always an interesting cat to listen to, this piece is no exception. Also a lot of fun is Blood For Udo which is an interview with Udo Kier about his work on Blood For Dracula and Flesh For Frankenstein. He talks about preparing for the roles, some of the effects and themes featured in the movie and some of his thoughts on modern horror films.
The real bonus, however (and possibly the main reason to own this disc in the first place) is the inclusion of the Dracula Trailer Reel which includes ninety-four minutes of Dracula movie trailers featuring everything from Universal and Hammer classics to AIP efforts to foreign imports and more. The complete listing of the trailers included here is:
The Final Word:
The Trail Of Dracula is a moderately interesting hour spend on the history of cinema’s most famous fanged fiend, but the real reason a lot of us will want this disc is the extras. The interviews are fun, especially the Udo Kier piece, but the collection of trailers is the real selling point here.