Given the premise of this bloggy-blog (that I'm a goth mom who digs the dark and creepy, even in romance), I thought I'd do a series based on some dark romances I have luuuuurved. (Be warned - thar be SPOILERS below, so if you've not yet read the book/seen the film under discussion, but intend to, you may wish to give this post a pass. Just sayin'.)
Still here? Kewl.
I decided to start with Dracula, but not the book, oh no. I recently re-read the Bram Stoker tome and must assert that there just ain't nothin' sexy or romantic about it. Yeah, sure, Jonathan Harker experiences a bit of lusty-lust for Dracula's wives and whatnot, but all that amounts to is his intense desire that they kiss him. Lame. There's no back-story connecting Mina Harker with Drac's supposedly long-dead bride, as the Coppola film tells it (though I must give props to the flick, as it's one of the more faithful adaptations of the novel; moreover, it doesn't drop the one American character Stoker featured, Texan Quincey Morris, who, along with J. Harker, dealt the killing blow to the dastardly Count).
The Dracula I want to focus on today is Frank Langella in the 1979 film of the same name, which was adapted from a play, which was adapted from the book (whew!) and merrily screws around with not only the characters but also their names. Here, it's Mina who first succumbs to Dracula's unholy allure and Lucy upon whom Dracula sets his fangs at for his...uh...Unlife Mate. Another departure from the book is that the end may not really be the end for the Count, 'cause this Dracula's a BAMF.
Langella plays the Count tall, dark, and spookily swoony (woof) and, with his debonair Old World mastery, steals every scene he's in. But what really interests me about this film is the feminist edge of Lucy, who deplores the very idea of woman's subjugation to man. By the time Drac's worked his monstrous mojo on her, however, she can't wait to be under his...thumb. (Frankly, neither could I. Did I mention woof?)
The dark romance of it all: Dracula determinedly preys on Lucy, it's true, but she isn't his victim; she's a ready, willing, and eager participant in his deadly dance. He seduces her but never has to bend her to his will. He charms her with his conversation, his savoir faire, his sex appeal (woof!), and he exerts himself to win her because of her strength, her intelligence, and her beauty - she is his equal, excepting one teeeny, tiny detail. Lucy doesn't so much fall as she leaps into the fire, and not due to deception or coercion, but from her own desire to burn. She never embodies her own ideals as much as when she willingly chooses to join the ranks of the moldy undead. It's the joining of his dark power to her independent spirit which rocks the Casbah for me. And they might have enjoyed a happier end but for the interference of her father, her fiancé, and Van Helsing who, essentially, restored their masculine authority over Lucy when they "saved her" from the Count, her own wishes notwithstanding (and girlfriend wanted to hook up with the bloodsucker, for realz!). To which I say Booo, patriarchal bossiness! and Yay, Girl Pow-ah!