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Oct 292014
 

This Halloween I thought I would cover the most famous vampire in pop culture, Count Dracula. There’s no doubt that this vampire is so iconic because there have been so many versions. Whether it’s about his own story, or if he’s part of a group of other monsters, the role of Count Dracula has been played by more actors than any other vampire. Here are the versions I remember best in chronological order, even though most of them are highly obscure.

Dracula (1932): Frankly, who doesn’t remember the original movie with Bela Lagosi as the Count. This may be a classic horror feature, but it’s not one I was hugely into compared to the following films and TV appearances, even though he was the inspiration behind the Count from Sesame Street.

Mad Monster Party (1967): Normally when the classic movie monsters are together, Dracula is the one in charge because he’s the toughest in the bunch. Although he’s quick on the attack, Dracula tends to fumble especially since Frankenstein’s monster is stronger than he is.

Electric Company (1970s): Believe it or not, one of Morgan Freeman’s reoccurring characters was Dracula. He has a mysterious presence that can scare people, but isn’t dangerous. It seems that this Dracula’s favorite pastimes include drinking vanilla malts and taking a bath in a casket.

Ghostbusters (1975): This version of Count Dracula, played by Billy Holms, is very goofy and as a bat he tends to bump into walls. What really stands out are his fangs since they look so fake. Luckily his wife Countess Dracula is with him to keep him in line.

Ghostbusters (1986): Although this version of Count Dracula looks a lot like the Dracula from Groovy Ghoulies, he’s actually a lot tougher than many of the evil spirits the Ghostbusters ever faced. His ambition is to take over Transylvania by taking human slaves with his hypnotic power instead of a bite. He also hates mirrors as well as garlic. A little strange, don’t you think?

Castlevania Games (1987-1991): Dracula has appeared on video games before, but the best known is in the Castlevania franchise as the main villain. Instead of the Van Helsings fighting Dracula, it’s the Belmont family. It goes to show that the Count always returns no matter how many times he’s been defeated.

Captain N: The Game Master (1989): The animated version that’s based on the video games is a warlord trying to take over the world of Castlevania. Though I must admit that the Count has a creepier look.

Monster Force (1994): As the main villain in this series, Dracula prefers to be called Dracule. Even though he has a charming persona, don’t be fooled. Dracule is very powerful with his metamorphosis, hypnotic spells, and other magical abilities, which gives the Prince of Darkness an edge over humans and monsters alike.

Leslie Neilson as Count Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995): I remember when I first heard about this comedy classic. After discovering that Leslie Nielsen was going to star as Dracula, I knew from the start that it was going to be a good one. This Dracula is clumsy and his shadow has a mind of its own, but don’t take him too lightly. He’s powerful in the ways of mind control, sometimes even more than he realizes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2000): Dracula’s only appearance on this show was in the season five episode Buffy vs. Dracula, where Rudolf Martin played the role, but he did leave his mark during his time in Sunnydale. He seduced Buffy, made Xander his Renfield, even Spike remembers Dracula as an old rival before he got famous. This certainly covers a lot of ground on how Dracula stands out from other vampires and it’s hilarious when Buffy slays him… twice.

Van Helsing (2004): Richard Roxborough plays the role in this movie. As the main villain once again, he introduces a new skill that vampires have and that’s the ability to walk up walls and on the ceiling like it was nothing. Though Dracula is both strong and deadly, it’s really his three wives that stand out as big favorites to me.

Hotel Transylvania (2012): Adam Sandler voiced the most recent animated version of Count Dracula. Unlike other Draculas, this one is actually one of the good guys. After losing his wife to a group of angry villagers, Dracula created a hotel resort as a safe haven for monsters. However, he also became an overprotective father and control freak. Dracula is also funny, especially when he tries to tell humans that he never did say, “Bleh, bleh, bleh”.

Apr 092010
 

Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), and Otis (Bill Mosley) are back in the sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses. This time Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), who is the brother of the sheriff they killed, is out for vengeance. Spaulding, Baby, and Otis are on the run and kill anyone who gets in their way. The media calls them The Devil’s Rejects. In this film, Captain Spaulding is revealed to be Otis and Baby’s father. What’s different about Baby is that she doesn’t do her maniacal laugh anymore. I thought it was a good touch to her psychotic persona. 

There were some very funny scenes also. There was one where Spaulding and Baby want to stop for ice cream, but Otis is against it. He says there’s no ice cream in their future. Next thing you know, they got some tooty …fruity. Another hilarious scene was when Spaulding’s brother Charlie (Ken Foree) and his friend Cleavon (Michael Berryman) go get some chickens. The salesman gives them a hard time by insinuating that they were planning to make love to those chickens. When I met Ken Foree at Spooky Empire 2008, I told him that it was my favorite part. 

          

I’ll tell ya. Ken Foree is just as funny in person as he is in this movie. One thing he mentioned at his Q&A is that even though he’s a great actor, he’s labeled as a #2 guy. In other words, he does great on auditions, but keeps getting replaced by a bigger name. Most commonly, Morgan Freeman. Can anyone picture Ken Foree in any of Morgan Freeman’s previous roles? 

I also met Michael Berryman. He was the first celebrity I’ve met at Spooky Empire 2007, which happens to be the very first convention I’ve ever attended. He was a nice guy. After telling him that he was great in The Devil’s Rejects, he said, “I love chickens, but not in that way.” He also mentioned that Rob Zombie is the nicest guy and great to work with. At Spooky Empire 2008, Michael Berryman returned and had a Q&A session. He mentioned that he was a humanitarian for animal rights. “Because I have a freakin’ heart,” he said. 

            

I met William Forsythe at Spooky Empire 2009. He was a nice guy also and one of my sister's favorites.

 Robert Trebor, best known as Salmoneus from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, makes an appearance as Marty Walker the movie critic. He loved Groucho Marx, whose death stole all the headlines after Elvis Presley died three days before. “What did you say about the king?” 

This was a great sequel. The killers may be more intense than before, but the humor is still as great as ever.

Mar 062010
 

Okay, I admit it. This show was a little before my time, but I still remember seeing it years ago. The Best of the Electric Company and The Best Of The Electric Company – Volume 2 (1971-1977) was so much like Sesame Street that I used to think the two shows were one and the same. It didn’t help that they were on PBS, back to back. The only major difference was that Sesame Street had a main story line that intertwined with the songs and skits and The Electric Company didn’t. Works for me, since the songs and skits were my only favorite parts anyway. There is a updated version that premiered on PBS in 2009, but it’s nothing like this one.

Some of the most memorable reoccurring segments include Silhouettes, Letterman, and Spiderman. Oddly, Spiderman never actually speaks. His dialogue only comes out as comic book balloons. The “Silent ‘E’” song was pretty catchy. As it turns out, Tom Lehrer, one of the top artists on The Dr. Demento Show, performed it. Many of my favorite artists and songs came from there.

When I saw this show on the “Noggin” channel a while back, I’ve noticed that big stars like Rita Moreno, Bill Cosby, and Morgan Freeman were among the regular cast members. Interesting, it makes me think of how many stars start out on creative shows like this. Such as Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In, Saturday Night Live, and Hee Haw.

The DVD sets also feature interesting factoids about the series. One that really stood out was that head writer Tom Whedon is Joss Whedon’s father. It’s definitely a different style from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Another interesting factoid was that Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Joan Rivers, and Mel Brooks were all voice actors for some of the animated segments. What I don’t understand is why they were never credited for it.

Overall I think this show is an excellent educational show to help children to read. Now if only there was a version for older kids, like teenagers and college students. It would just have tougher words and segments that would be more for a grownup audience. That could’ve helped me in high school… a lot.