U.S. Release Date: 10/10/14
Don’t expect to meet vampire killer Van Helsing in Dracula Untold.
Set a few hundred years before the famous Dutch professor, who helped slay the Prince of Vampires in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was even born, this fantasy/horror offering treads new ground when it comes to the world’s most infamous blood drinker.
Gary Shore’s directorial debut, scripted by Matt Sazma and Burk Sharpless, visits Drac before and after his induction into the world of the undead.
In the mid 15th century, Transylvania is under the rule of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (Luke Evans), and his wife, Mirena (Sarah Gadon).
It’s a period of peace and stability, but things change when local Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands that one thousand boys – including Vlad’s son (Art Parkinson) – fight in his army.
Seems that Vlad is now in a dilemma. He can give up his son to the Sultan or make a deal with a devil. He figures the second option is best, so a rendezvous with an ancient vampire (Charles Dance), at a very creepy location called Broken Tooth Mountain, leads to a Faustian like bargain. Now Vlad has the strength of 100 men and enough power to crush his toughest enemies.
However, like all deals struck up with the forces of darkness, there is one little catch. He will be inflicted with an insatiable thirst to drink human blood – unless he manages to resist by the end of three days. If that happens, he will return to his normal human self. Otherwise it’s a diet of fresh human blood for the rest of his existence.
Vlad is based on Vlad the Impaler – an actual historical figure who had a gruesome penchant for impaling his enemies and leaving them writhing in agony for days. Shore’s movie, therefore, creates a bridge between Vlad the Impaler and an origin story into Stoker’s classic.
“I’ve never seen that done before,” the director says.
Aside from exploring the relationship between Vlad and his son, the story examines legacy – the idea of handing something down to the next person. Shore believes that audiences will respond positively to the dynamic between father and son.
“It continues to be the most inspiring part of the story.”
Producer Michael De Luca says the film serves up a degree of humanity, something which people may not typically expect from a Dracula movie.
“From the second you meet Vlad, you see an emotional human being, a man with care and love as well as violence and power. There’s a lot driving him, and he has to use all of this in equal measure throughout the film.”
For the filmmakers it wasn’t easy to make a movie aimed at invoking sympathy for a character endowed with such a dark, brutal and bloody past.
“If you look at Dracula as an archetypical character,” says Shore, “he’s an antihero you invest in and love throughout the film. But you can see he has to make difficult decisions and he’ll end up on his own because of them. Your hero is somebody who you generally shouldn’t like for their ruthlessness and what they have to do, but you respect them. It was a difficult arc to get right, but Luke did a terrific job.”
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Gary Shore
Stars: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon and Charles Dance
Screenwriters: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless
Executive Producers: Alissa Phillips, Joe Caracciolo, Jr, Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni
Quote Source: Universal Pictures
Image Info: Copyright: © 2014 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Photo Credit: Jasin Boland