Writer and director David Mitchell (who penned Open Water 2: Adrift (2006)) along with co-director Jamie Lockhart presents a little over an hour-long documentary distributed by Intervision Picture Corp., which originally premiered in 2013 though has not been available on home video in the US until now. This production contains several and features archival clips, all with interesting look at Bram Stoker, the life of Vlad the Impaler, reasons why Dracula has proved popular and its enduring influence upon cinema and society. However, this documentary goes deeper, with resentment that Romania has to the book, and some the religious overtures that it takes along with historical insults, though all of it does with a bit of hypocrisy too. The reviewer wishes to extend thanks to the CAV Distribution for supplying a DVD of the film, about this favorite bloodsucking vampire, which graces hundreds of films, plays, poems, songs, books and culture icons and fixtures.
The film starts at an early part with the birth of vampire folklore in Middle Europe and tales of vile undead creatures who stalked the night feasting upon the blood of the living. Before the vampire character transforms into a more suave and sophisticated figure, thanks mainly to writer Bram Stoker and his novel “Dracula.” The scholars in the film note the general understanding surrounds the Fragment of a Novel an unfinished 1819 vampire horror story from Lord Byron, which later became The Vampyre (1819) from author John William Polidori, using the Byron as the basis of the creature. However, in 1797, which isn’t noted in the film, marks the poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe publishes a poem titled Die Braut von Korinth (translate to: The Bride Corinth) about a woman returning from her coffin as the undead, hence an entry into the vampire literature and still debated to this day of meaning surrounding it. In addition, Bryon, did pen a poem called The Giaour in 1813 which references the vampire curse, also not mentioned in the film, however this might have ended on the cutting room floor. The movie goes on with Kim Newman, really generating the most animated portions of the interviews and having an entertaining effect on the entire documentary. Mitchell does cover many wonderful aspects of the subject though suggesting others research more on their own, as the area on the ancient folklore and the birthplace remain at a constant battleground for both Transylvania (Romania) and the world in general as many countries find links to it.
The documentary also touches upon the influence upon the character namely Vlad The Impaler or Vlad Dracul, to the people of Romanian folk hero whose countrymen regarded his association as vile, as he defend the Roman Catholic Church, though the most vicious manners possible used to defend the territory, as history proves. Anyone familiar the novels or films understands about the creature known as vampire, the diabolical, Satanic spawn, using seductive and sexual means to drain the innocence of his victims to continue his or her immortal life of damnation. Some of the other interviews include Professors Constantin Balaceanu-Stolnici (descendent Vlad the Impaler) and Sabina Ispas; Dr Elizabeth Miller, John Florescu, and author Catalin Gruia all discussing Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.
Film clips including Nosferatu (1922) and discussing the movie and the actor Max Schreck (his last name means fright) stars as the vampire Count Orlok, noting Stoker’s heirs won a court ruling to have the film burned, however the movie notes Dracula escapes death and rising again. The vampire breeds well in popular culture for more than three centuries, with noting Bela Lugosi and the legendary Christopher Lee’s contribution to the lore. The aristocrat of bloodlust and devilish deeds shows the continually love affair with a character, which transforms throughout the cinematic world lasting and influencing the horror genre. As for Romania, they find themselves torn on the subject rejecting Stoker’s version and yet influences their tourism greatly with the Dracula Tour to legendary castle. Other clips and interviews touch on Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein, John Carradine, Lugosi, Horror of Dracula, Lee (exquisitely humorous) , Udo Kier, and Werner Herzog and many wonderful trailers.
The Trail of Dracula truly stakes its claim as a wonderful thorough documentary, something that one might consider as a revisiting subject as time progresses onward and the stories, and influence never ending. As the audience, those that consider themselves students on the horror genre, and lovers of both the history of the character Dracula and the vampire films in general. One could only hope that a future film or a sequel generates the time to venture more in the pop culture path, contact societies or social events that pride themselves on the lore of the vampirism. However, this movie, will likely please the vampire film buffs, and contains many quality special features, to entice them to seek other lesser known productions or even reexamine those that replay every Halloween season, either way something to sink one’s teeth into and suckle unitl they’re filled.