A Turkish Dracula? Four Early Versions in Print and Film — With an Extra Bonus

Drakula Istanbul’da (Dracula in Istanbul) is a Turkish horror film from 1953.  The screenplay was based on a 1928 novel by Ali Riza Seyfi called Kazikli Voyvoda (“Impaler Voivode”), and is more or less a translation of Stoker’s novel, but there is no Renfield character and Guzin, the “Mina” character, is a showgirl given to performing in revealing outfits.  Drakula/Dracula is played by balding Atif Kaptan.  Long believed lost, Drakula Istanbul’da is considered the first non-western film version of the Dracula story, and oddly, one of most faithful to the Bram Stoker original.  With Dracula scaling the castle walls, implied infanticide, and the ceremonious end of the vampire, with first a staking, then a beheading, then stuffing the mouth with garlic (as per the instructions in the novel), this movie adaption contains more of the creepier elements of the book than many higher-budgeted and more pedigreed productions.  Perhaps it’s the proximity of Turkey to the Eastern European setting of the novel, or perhaps shared similar legends and folklore, but Drakula Istanbul’da, in all its threadbare grace, seems to have an authentic and maybe innate feel for the myths of the region that cannot be found in any Hollywood back lot.

Say what?  And yet it’s true, the above from CREATIVECOMMONS.COM, with the information brought to us via E. K. Leimkuhler in “Dracula Retold:  Early Variations on a Gothic Classic” in DEARDARKLING.COM.  This, in fact, is the film version of KAZIKLI VOYVODA, a Turkish “translation” of DRACULA by Ali Riza Seyfi that follows the main plot points pretty well, albeit with Turkish characters substituted for the English originals and other changes (e.g. Dracula fears not the cross, but the Quran) to make it more relatable to a Turkish 1920s audience.  Also, unlike the “real” DRACULA, there’s an actual direct connection to “Vlad the Impaler,” the Harker character prior to meeting the Count in fact wondering if he could possibly be a descendant of the historical Vlad.

The DEAR DARKLINGS article covers four variations in all, the Turkish book being the third.  First is “Dracula’s Guest,” originally a part of Stoker’s novel but left out of the final version, published separately in 1914, two years after Bram’s death, by his widow Florence.  Then in second place is another “translation,” MAKT MYRKANNA (a.k.a. POWERS OF DARKNESS), a 1900 Icelandic version published “by” Bram Stoker and Valdimar Asmundsson.  After the start, however, this one varies considerably from the original (e.g., [a]mong other misadventures, Harker finds multiple rotting corpses [which don’t disturb him nearly as much as the Count’s lewd banter], encounters an allegedly insane Dracula cousin, and witnesses the Count leading a Black Mass a la Hammer.  Additionally, the Count’s machinations involve a somewhat convoluted international political conspiracy) although, according to Leimkuhler, there’s some indication Stoker may have at least shared unused parts of his notes with Asmundsson.  Both this and the Turkish book version have since been translated into English, with links provided (a third variant in Swedish has yet to be translated, however).  Then, finally, Universal’s Spanish language film of DRACULA, made concurrently with the Bela Lugosi version in 1931, is cited, again with a link, this one to an omnibus edition of all six Universal “Dracula” films (i.e., up to and including 1948’s ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN) which includes the Spanish version as an “extra.”

And so, to see for yourself, check here.  But also a bonus, linked to as well in the DEAR DARKLINGS piece but deserving a special place here as well, what of that Turkish Dracula movie?  To see it for yourself, with English subtitles (at least of a sort — and with the desk clerk at the inn early on, despite its reimaging into Islam, still crossing herself when Dracula is named), press here.

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