Saturday, October 31, 2009

[Cryptopopology] Dracula's Death (Drakula Halala)

HALLOWEEN BLOGATHON, HOUR 7

Dracula's Death


In 1921, writer-director Károly Lajthay released Dracula's Death (Drakula halála) in his native Hungary. The film follows a woman by name of Mary Land, who either visits her father in a mental institution or is herself a patient there (depending on whose synopsis you believe). While there, she meets another patient who claims to be the eternal Dracula. Mary begins to suffer terrible visions of this strange man, and they are so life-like that she can't be sure if they are genuine or if they are only waking nightmares.

With all known prints somehow lost during the trials of World War II, there is more speculation than fact that survives about this film.

Although Dracula's Death was once widely assumed to be the first film based on Bram Stoker's novel (predating both Nosferatu and Tod Browning's Dracula), recent research carried out in Hungary seems to indicate that this movie was not, in fact, based on Stoker's work. Instead, it is said to have been molded from a blend of local folklore and staples of fictional melodrama that was so popular at the time.

According to seemingly-knowledgeable film fanatic Trent Bolden, Dracula's Death opened in Vienna (where it was partially filmed) in February 1921, but apparently wasn't run again until it's appearance in 1923 Budapest.

Author John L. Flynn, in his 1992 reference book Cinematic Vampires, had this to say:
Similar in style and content, the Hungarian-Made Drakula (1922) was completed a year before Murnau's Nosferatu but inexplicably held for release until after the Prana Films classic...[it] had very limited exposure (outside Hungary) and was lost during World War II.
As this is both a lost, and non-English film, there seems to be very little information available. This website, however, seems to have a wealth of information on the film, but it is in Hungarian--a language of which my knowledge is zero. Using Google Translate (the only online translation tool I could locate that accepted the Hungarian language), I was left with a hot mess of unintelligible jibber-jabber (albeit unintelligible jibber-jabber in a language that I can at least read, if not understand).

For example:
"The story is an alpine village, the Vienna and the imaginary mental Dracula castle"

"The tired girl spends the night in the hospital and to live in terrible nightmares: Dracula's castle to take to violence and bridal clothes dresser."

"Finally, all the good turns to a crazy shot in the mental Dracula, Mary married a good forestry."
If there is anyone reading this with a working knowledge of the Hungarian language that can translate this page for me (or at least give the general gist of it), I would be much appreciative.

With the film presumed lost, and further information not forthcoming, we are left with only a few grainy still images. We'll have to let our imaginations do the rest.



Interestingly, according to The Essential Monster Movie Guide by Stephen Jones, a paperback novelization of the film was released in 1924 as The Death of Drakula, so even if the film never does materialize, perhaps a battered old copy of the paperback might.

Check your grandparent's attics, people!

Further Reading:
--J/Metro
HorrorBlips: vote it up!

5 comments:

  1. Hm... I am from Hungary. I can try translate this (http://mrger.freeweb.hu/Filmes/Silent_Horror/Drac21hu.htm) page, but its big job for me, because i am beginner in English. So. If is won't forget, i can try this work :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Unknown: Thanks for stopping by, and any assistance you can offer in translating that page would be much appreciated! I hope to hear back from you soon.

    --J/Metro

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ok. I am busy, but i will do it.

    Adam

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think this pdf is the biggest about this film, so you can find here everything
    http://mrger.freeweb.hu/Filmes/Silent_Horror/Drakula_halala_essay_ENG.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.hitchcock.hu/Filmes/Silent_Horror/Drac21hu.htm

    The end of this site has a PDF file. (after 'English language essay').

    This translate the whole film story/history in english!

    ReplyDelete

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