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What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby CineMaven » August 4th, 2012, 4:24 am

Whoaaaa...look at the information I am learning here! Thank you gentlemen.

(P.S., I'm glad Bergman wasn't a 'call girl' in "NOTORIOUS." Loving Cary was difficult enough in that movie with all the "tests" he put her through, w/o that to make her reputation really be besmirched).
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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby MichiganJ » August 4th, 2012, 9:19 am

Mr. Arkadin wrote: whatever logic one applies to the idea that not having a censor board makes for better films is inherently flawed.

But in your earlier post you seem to imply just the opposite, that the code made for better films.
Mr. Arkadin wrote:Actually, I think the code created more layers and complexity in the fact that directors and writers now had to figure out how to get their point across in more subtle ways. The results were often far more interesting (and taboo) than the original act.

That I just don't agree with.
Mr. Arkadin wrote:My point is that unless you are a individual artist whose work is not based on monetary means--you will be compromising in one form or another. As for the code and censorship, I was simply saying that genius rises to the top in whatever setting is applied.

On this, we are in agreement and that's why I said the Breen code was a necessary evil. Because film wasn't protected by the Constitution as speech, unless the Industry itself set up their own censor board, the government would.

I just find the whole thing fascinating.

Frankenstein is released in pre-code 1931 and is a smash hit. Frankenstein cannot be re-released in 1935, unless certain scenes and lines are cut out (and silly Universal took the scissors to the master!). So gone is the sequence where the Monster drowns little Maria and instead there's a cut from where the Monster reaches for Maria to her father carrying her dead body. (The cut actually implying worse things happened). Gone, too, is Henry's line during the creation sequence where he says "Now I know what it's like to be God." That line is pretty much the moral of the story.

It's just fascinating why it's thought that a 1935 audiences couldn't handle the things that a 1931 audience could. (Fortunately the film has been restored for home video.)

But the other, to me more insidious thing about Breen and the MPAA, is how arbitrary they apply their "rules," and that studios can negotiate what could be broken, and how often it happened. The book, the Censorship Papers is filled with excerpts of letters back and forth between the Studios and the Breen office, and the book Memo From David O. Selznick is a real eye opener in the art of manipulation. (The fight over the use of "damn," a word used in many pre-codes, is very interesting.) It just puzzles me why there is no harm for audiences to hear "damn" in one film, while in another, it's censored.

Once film was considered speech, and the code went away, the industry still felt (and still feels) compelled to have some kind of rating system. I don't necessarily disagree with distinguishing between adult films and children films, but the arbitrary criteria applied to separate them borders on the ridiculous, especially when the board is anonymous. The only one use of the "f" word rule for a PG-13 film is a case in point. One "f" word is okay for teens, but two is adults only? wt_? (One could question why the definition of "adult" for film is sixteen, to vote is eighteen, to drink is twenty-one, and to be tried in court as an "adult" is as low as eleven, but that's another matter).

That Kevin Smith's original cut of Clerks, which has no violence (okay, there's a body check in a pickup hockey game) and no nudity is rated NC-17 strictly for language is just wacky. Especially when the same society now has a soft-core novel atop the best seller list; a book that could be purchased by anyone. (Apples and oranges, I know, but still…)

As to speculating about what a film could have been, that's been with me ever since I learned about what happened to Lugosi in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. For me, it never hinders the original film; it's just fun wondering what it would have been like if the Monster did speak with Ygor's voice, and what, exactly, would he talk about. (The goof ball in me imagines him quoting Paradise Lost, as the creature does in the novel. Milton spoken in Ygor's voice. Now there's a movie).
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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby RedRiver » August 4th, 2012, 2:29 pm

The goof ball in me

I had mine surgically removed.

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby knitwit45 » August 4th, 2012, 2:31 pm

RedRiver wrote:The goof ball in me

I had mine surgically removed.


they missed a little... :roll:

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 4th, 2012, 2:54 pm

MichiganJ wrote:
Mr. Arkadin wrote: whatever logic one applies to the idea that not having a censor board makes for better films is inherently flawed.

But in your earlier post you seem to imply just the opposite, that the code made for better films.
Mr. Arkadin wrote:Actually, I think the code created more layers and complexity in the fact that directors and writers now had to figure out how to get their point across in more subtle ways. The results were often far more interesting (and taboo) than the original act.

That I just don't agree with.


I was replying to an earlier post that stated something to the effect that good films ended in the precode era. I never said the code made for "better" films (in fact, better is a subjective term you will rarely see me use), but it meant that a director who wanted to take on a difficult subject had to work harder and be more inventive as to how he presented said subject. In doing so, the works became more complex as viewers did not simply see things happen, but had to interpret different layers and underpinnings. This is not a new technique; the theatrical world was employing it in the medieval period. A more modern example might be Zhang Yimou's anticommunist allegories of the early nineties, written under heavy censorship, which most critics agree was his (and Gong Li's) greatest work. Complexity does not necessarily mean better, it is simply a different approach. Debussy and the Sex Pistols both made great music, although the forms and styles are completely different.


MichiganJ wrote:It's just fascinating why it's thought that a 1935 audiences couldn't handle the things that a 1931 audience could.

But the other, to me more insidious thing about Breen and the MPAA, is how arbitrary they apply their "rules," and that studios can negotiate what could be broken, and how often it happened. The book, the Censorship Papers is filled with excerpts of letters back and forth between the Studios and the Breen office, and the book Memo From David O. Selznick is a real eye opener in the art of manipulation. (The fight over the use of "damn," a word used in many pre-codes, is very interesting.) It just puzzles me why there is no harm for audiences to hear "damn" in one film, while in another, it's censored.

Once film was considered speech, and the code went away, the industry still felt (and still feels) compelled to have some kind of rating system. I don't necessarily disagree with distinguishing between adult films and children films, but the arbitrary criteria applied to separate them borders on the ridiculous, especially when the board is anonymous. The only one use of the "f" word rule for a PG-13 film is a case in point. One "f" word is okay for teens, but two is adults only? wt_? (One could question why the definition of "adult" for film is sixteen, to vote is eighteen, to drink is twenty-one, and to be tried in court as an "adult" is as low as eleven, but that's another matter).


As you well know from a certain thread on this site, I'm no prude. Part of the initial problem with what you are talking about is the fact that the thirties were a different era where parents often dropped their kids off at the movie theaters (in the depression, both parents often worked) and there was no telling what might be on the screen. While there are plenty of great precode films, some of them are not suitable for children. It was actually Madonna who said "I don't believe in censorship, but I do believe in labels." While I agree that the modern rating system has flaws, it gives perspective for filmgoers (especially families) to have some idea of what they will get for their money and if it is something they want to expose their children to. I think the Breen code was ridiculous and way too harsh, but then again I would not want to take my son to a Tarzan movie and find people swimming around with no clothes on with no warning. Would it bother me as an adult? No, but therein lies the problem--how does a person know what he will see without some kind of a rating system or code? For me, a rating system facilitates choice.

When we cry about censorship we do not take into account that we live with it every day. We often censor ourselves when we talk to others, or children for example. This message board is a censoring board and was created to be so because of what initially happened at the TCM site. It is run by a small number of people who monitor what goes on and enforce a code of conduct that they have deemed suitable and we have agreed to abide by. Paul Schrader's Hardcore (1979) deals with a man who sees the dark underbelly of the film world while searching for his missing daughter, discovering "snuff films" and other unmentionables, which we deem illegal (or censor) in this country and rightly so. While I don't believe you can legislate morality, I don't believe in anarchy either. I think they made a movie about that too. It was called Lord of the Flies (1963).

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby MichiganJ » August 6th, 2012, 4:32 pm

Mr. Arkadin wrote:I was replying to an earlier post that stated something to the effect that good films ended in the precode era. I never said the code made for "better" films (in fact, better is a subjective term you will rarely see me use), but it meant that a director who wanted to take on a difficult subject had to work harder and be more inventive as to how he presented said subject. In doing so, the works became more complex as viewers did not simply see things happen, but had to interpret different layers and underpinnings.

My apologies if I misunderstood your meaning.
Mr. Arkadin wrote:Part of the initial problem with what you are talking about is the fact that the thirties were a different era where parents often dropped their kids off at the movie theaters (in the depression, both parents often worked) and there was no telling what might be on the screen.

While I don't agree it's my initial problem, it surely is one of my problems, I know. I'd think that a depression-aged kid (and one fortunate enough to have two parents earning a paycheck, no less), who needs to use the movies as his babysitter, has likely seen far worse things in real life than he is likely to encounter in a pre-code. Joan Blondell in her undies might be a welcome relief.

As we all know, the Breen code came about because the Catholic Church could no longer abide Will Hays' policy of atonement (which he called compensating values). Because it allowed the filmmakers to include sex--so long as it was not condoned, and most other sins--so long as in the end, the sinner was made to pay for his/her wicked deeds, Hayes' policy was, essentially, anything goes as long as in the end, somebody pays. Unhappy with this, the Catholic Church formed the Legion of Decency, and every Sunday, preachers warned parishioners not to go and see any movie that the Legion had condemned, lest they be…well, you know. The studios, seeing how this hurt profits but good, adopted a new code, one that could and would be enforced. Enter Breen, whose name, subsequently, was on every seal of approval; a seal needed for a film to be accepted by the Legion (and it's minions), as well as allowing for distribution to the theaters, most of which were owned by the very same studios that created the code. I tend to think of Breen like I do Kenesaw Landis, the first Commissioner of Baseball, having all that power, essentially unchecked. Except Breen's power influenced considerably more than whether Shoeless Joe and Buck Weaver should be in the Hall of Fame. (Anarchist that I am, I think they should).

So, in my humble opinion, the Production Code was not set up to protect Junior from when he skipped school and went to the movies, for if that was the reason, a rating system similar to what we currently have would have been adopted. No, the code wasn't created to protect Junior, it was created to protect everyone, with the result that just about all post code films can be rated G.
Mr. Arkadin wrote: It was actually Madonna who said "I don't believe in censorship, but I do believe in labels."

She also said, "Holliday. Celebrate." I'm not exactly sure what she means by labels (nor the bearing it has in this discussion), but If the woman who spent her career pushing boundaries, and has had many labels herself, is okay with those labels, she certainly earned that right. But since we're quoting music performers (in a discussion about film censorship), let me toss up Zappa's Porn Wars. (Last cut, side 2 of Mothers of Prevention).
Mr. Arkadin wrote:While I agree that the modern rating system has flaws, it gives perspective for filmgoers (especially families) to have some idea of what they will get for their money and if it is something they want to expose their children to. I think the Breen code was ridiculous and way too harsh, but then again I would not want to take my son to a Tarzan movie and find people swimming around with no clothes on with no warning. Would it bother me as an adult? No, but therein lies the problem--how does a person know what he will see without some kind of a rating system or code? For me, a rating system facilitates choice.

I did previously write that I could understand a system that distinguishing between adult and children films. And while I'm not comfortable depending upon an anonymous board, using undisclosed criteria, as the arbiters of what a film is rated, if parents are, that's okay by me.
Mr. Arkadin wrote:When we cry about censorship we do not take into account that we live with it every day. We often censor ourselves when we talk to others, or children for example.

Big leap here, again, from discussing film censorship, but okay, I'll agree that I censor myself when I talk; although I have never thought of it as censorship. But the difference is, it's me who is doing the censoring of myself. Nobody else. (Well, until I was thirteen or so there was my mother. And for the last twenty-five years, my wife. But I had a good run of nine-ten years there. And never once did the MPAA or the Code weight in).
Mr. Arkadin wrote:Paul Schrader's Hardcore (1979) deals with a man who sees the dark underbelly of the film world while searching for his missing daughter, discovering "snuff films" and other unmentionables, which we deem illegal (or censor) in this country and rightly so.

I know the film Hardcore, and in it, it describes "snuff films" as those where a person is actually murdered. Now, in most states, murder is illegal, so on that basis alone, the Breen office would never approve. The MPAA might need to know if there was nudity and/or foul language, but I'm pretty sure a film depicting an actual murder wouldn't get through them either. But is not allowing a film featuring an actual murder actually censorship? Now, a film depicting a simulated murder, well that's another kettle of fish. Breen might agree to allow it, but only if many criteria are met. (Submit the script, they'll rewrite it for you to make sure you are on the straight and narrow.)
Mr. Arkadin wrote:While I don't believe you can legislate morality

Which is precisely what the Production Code did. It was ultimate guardian of morality.
Mr. Arkadin wrote:I don't believe in anarchy either. I think they made a movie about that too. It was called Lord of the Flies (1963).


My feeling is that, at the very least, we should know who it is who is rating our movies. (Who knows, the MPAA may be made up of Communists. Or Republicans). I also firmly believe that the Production Code was, at best, repressive. If those beliefs make me an anarchist, I'll be happy to have the conch.

For me it all boils down to this: With or without the Production Code, Hitchcock could have filmed his Notorious kiss exactly the same. But without the Code, Hitchcock could have filmed it any way he chose. With the Code, he didn't have the choice. Which system is better?

Let's say there was a similar code in effect for music. Beethoven is told that using a G-note, in any manor, is verboten. He is allowed to use an F, but only once, as children may be present. And he can use a C, but only for three seconds. With those restrictions, Beethoven would have still been able to compose great music. He just wouldn't compose the 9th Symphony.

I have no doubt that because of the Production Code, there were a lot of 9th Symphonies never produced.
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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 6th, 2012, 10:49 pm

For me it all boils down to this: With or without the Production Code, Hitchcock could have filmed his Notorious kiss exactly the same. But without the Code, Hitchcock could have filmed it any way he chose. With the Code, he didn't have the choice. Which system is better?

Let's say there was a similar code in effect for music. Beethoven is told that using a G-note, in any manor, is verboten. He is allowed to use an F, but only once, as children may be present. And he can use a C, but only for three seconds. With those restrictions, Beethoven would have still been able to compose great music. He just wouldn't compose the 9th Symphony.

I have no doubt that because of the Production Code, there were a lot of 9th Symphonies never produced.


That's quite a bee in your bonnet.

For some reason I cannot understand you seem to think I have been arguing for the Breen code (something I have never said in this thread) when that was never my point. I never discussed whether the code was right or wrong (although I did say it was wrong), but how directors made good films despite it. A good artist can work with limitations, adapt, and even use them to his advantage. Some artists like Picasso even impose limitations on themselves. When Robert Fripp talked about the difficulties with Frippertronics, he said "There are problems, but I accept limitations fairly happily." Restrictions are no excuse for an artist to create bad work. A poor craftsman blames his tools. And if all of the above doesn't make sense: When you stink, you stink and no amount of "advantages or freedom" will save you.

If you have ever been an artist, you know that if you want commercial success, you make compromises, or as Paul said to John: "Let's write a swimming pool!" Sometimes compromises or censoring is simply imposed and the artist must deal with the hand he is dealt (like Hitch with Selzneck--who I'm sure was far more irritating than the production code). Many times after a certain level of success is achieved, the artist has more freedom and control, or can write his own contract. These were the issues I was stating. Not that a code was right or wrong, but that a good artist can create quality work under any situation. Incidentally, if you really believe that Hitchcock had only one choice you are underestimating the man's talent. As for the straw man argument about the 9th Symphony, it would be very easy to retain the melody, just play it in a different key. Compromise? Yes, but unless you are a Dickinson or Van Gogh, you are compromising.

It is you who have been wanting to talk about censorship (something else I never brought up) and your displeasure with a code, or the rating system and I simply pointed out that censorship, code, law, is all around us and we enjoy its benefits as well as much as we feel constrained by it. Hardcore deals with many things we as a country consider illegal, or censor. I was not talking about the film, or making such a film, but was making a broader reference to our society--that we are glad it affords protection to minors to the exclusion of another person's entertainment (btw, the American porn industry has a code now). I said that the rating system was flawed, but that I preferred it to an enforced code because it did not censor, but simply labeled the product so that buyers could make a choice, hence the Madonna quote.

So there it is. My reply to the fact that I do not think great films ended in 1934. That I believe that a good artist can work around obstacles and create great art despite limitations. That I think the code (which I never said was a good thing) forced directors to work harder to get their stories across creating more depth and layers.

All of this was in my previous posts, but perhaps the most disconcerting thing about this exchange is the fact that you know me personally. You know what kinds of films I watch. You know that I am not in favor of a production code. Despite this, you have continued to act otherwise. I can only conclude that you wanted to talk about censorship and are attempting to shift the conversation to your preference, which is fine, but it's not what any of my statements were about (until I specifically addressed it at your behest--see last post with explanations in the third paragraph above). Have a nice day.

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby MichiganJ » August 7th, 2012, 9:48 am

If the discussion at hand wasn't about censorship, I'm really confused.

A funny quip about sound doing in creativity and imagination led to another post, suggesting it wasn't sound, but the Hays' code. I simply pointed out that it wasn't the Hays' code, but rather Breen's Production Code. Your response was: [For some reason I can't get to the page to use the "quote" button, so this is a copy and paste]


ChiO wrote:
[i]Note: It appears that creativity and imagination died after 1931. Must have been due to that newfangled technological development that ruined movies.

CineMaven wrote:
Sound didn't kill movies...Will Hayes killed movies. Can you imagine how much farther we'd be today if Joan Blondell was allowed to be seen in her lingerie in '37, '38 and that banner year: 1939?!!! My mind's reeeeeling!


Mr. Arkadin wrote:
Actually, I think the code created more layers and complexity in the fact that directors and writers now had to figure out how to get their point across in more subtle ways. The results were often far more interesting (and taboo) than the original act. Hitchcock's maneuvering around the three second kiss in Notorious (1946) is one example, where the whole scene is charged with eroticism instead of a fleeting moment of passion.

That interested me, and I thought it would open the door on furthering the discussion on the Code, which, by definition, is about censorship.

I thought the discussion was going well until your previous post, where the discussion went from film censorship to political censorship, personal censorship, Madonna, and anarchy. Perhaps it was because I'd mis-understood the post above, and my disagreement with you was taken personally. For misunderstanding your thought, I apologize. But even if I do disagree with you, why take it personally? We do know each other, and if you believe my questioning your position on something is a personal attack, then what's the point of having a discussion?

I wrote, produced, edited, performed foley sound effects and mixed many radio dramas for The Pennsylvania Radio Theatre, a non-profit company which was formed and staffed entirely by my wife and me. To name drop, I worked with Christine Baranski, Nancy Marchand and Glenn ("call me Glennie" Close), at RCA Studios, NY, NY on productions that were eventually aired on NPR and are now included in The Museum of Television and Radio. A project close to my heart, an adaptation of Mary Shelly's original manuscript of Frankenstein (the published novel was heavily edited and re-written by Percy and Mary's is substantially different) was moving forward, nicely. We had four or five professors from various colleges, who knew the material very well, reading each draft of our script, making sure we kept as close to that original novel as a dramatization could be. Long story short, after being promised funding, so long as we matched it, which we did, the NEA, now afraid that the story was too controversial, changed their mind. We were told that we could do an adaptation of the published novel, which was without much controversy because many productions had already been produced.

I may or may not have been an artist, but I've both compromised and been censored. There is a big difference.

Since, I guess my discourse here, is seen as some kind of affront, and in hopes to not further offend anyone, as a choice, I will gladly remove my presence from this board.

I also bid you, and the other members of Oasis, to have a great day.
Cheers.
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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 7th, 2012, 5:42 pm

I would hate for anyone to leave this board because of something I said. I grew frustrated because I made a statement and that statement seemed to be turned into a vehicle for something else. When
I attempted (more than once) to reestablish the reasoning behind my post, I felt I was having to defend statements I never made (the code made for better films, etc.). Since we know each other and you (hopefully) know I am no fan of the production code, I finally had to assume that it was done on purpose. I now see it was a misunderstanding.


I might not have the pedigree you do, but I have been censored and had to compromise in various ways throughout my playing career (I'm still censored in movie theaters--no one will let me yell "Fire!"). In each of those situations, I had to figure out a solution to my problem. It wasn't the original idea I had, but in many cases the extra thought and effort created something I was actually more satisfied with in the end.

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby CineMaven » August 11th, 2012, 10:14 am

This episode might be germane to the conversation at hand:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc346ihvScI&feature=bf_next&list=SP92390927D5D09648[/youtube]

Single Beds & Double Standards
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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 11th, 2012, 10:33 am

The soundcard in my computer is on the fritz, so there is no way for me to listen to the clip. Translation please?

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby CineMaven » August 11th, 2012, 12:16 pm

It's pretty lengthy. But it talks of

* Viola Dana said all the girls loved Roscoe...he was like a big brother to them
* Fatty Arbuckle's debacle and how it brought upon the production code
* Will Hays' appointment
* Hollywood trying to police itself
* A director saying how censorship caused him to think of more creatively clever ways of storytelling to get around what they couldn't say outright

Aaaahhhh, those madcap days of early Hollywood. This is one of the towering documentaries. ( Look into getting a new sound card... ) :-)
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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby RedRiver » September 16th, 2012, 4:12 pm

What are some feelings on WHITE ZOMBIE? I've probably seen it. But it's been so long I don't remember. Is it good? So bad it's fun? I'm assuming it's old-fashioned. The library has a copy. I'm thinking of watching it. Certainly, the price is right!

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby MikeBSG » September 16th, 2012, 9:31 pm

"White Zombie" is definitely worth a look. It is low budget, and apart from Lugosi, the cast is pretty weak. But there are some good atmospheric moments.

The first time I saw it, it was on the second half of a double bill with "The Old Dark House," and "White Zombie" just came across as pathetic. (I love "The Old Dark House.") I watched WZ years later, and its strengths became clearer then.

(I saw the double feature in 1983, not 1932 by the way.)

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Re: What Horror and Sc-Fi films have you seen lately?

Postby MikeBSG » September 20th, 2012, 11:08 am

I watched "Dracula Pages from a Virgin's Diary" (2002) directed by Guy Maddin recently.

It is a ballet based on "Dracula." Maddin, of course, is the eccentric Canadian filmmaker who makes films in deliberately archaic styles.

This movie didn't work for me. Of course, that might be because I am not a ballet enthusiast. (Although I am a Dracula enthusiast.) I thought the person who played Dracula was bland. Instead of casting his shadow over the film, even the scenes he wasn't in, he simply faded into the woodwork. The film itself seemed determined to wrench Stoker's story into a feminist tale, with more emphasis on Lucy (seen mostly as a victim of the men in her life) and Mina (presented as stronger than Van Helsing in destroying Dracula.) Some of the changes to Stoker's story really made no sense to me, such as having Mina turn against Dracula and destroy him after he forced her to drink his blood. (In the novel, that is the moment when Mina comes under Dracula's power.) So an interesting misfire and perhaps "proof" that "Dracula" can no longer work for contemporary filmmakers.


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