Posts Tagged ‘Dracula in Istanbul’

Dracula does retain his name in the Turkish version of his movie (see March 26, including a link to the film itself), although spelled at least three different ways in the subtitles.  The other characters, however, are Turkish and the Mina Harker equivalent works as a showgirl (for convenience, let’s call her “Alt-Mina,” who’s also already married to Alt-Jonathan), allowing for two dance sequences which, among other things, neatly divide the 1953-made 94-minute film into three approximately half-hour segments.  And otherwise, while also set in the 1950s, it follows Lugosi’s 19-year earlier classic (and the novel) better than, say, the Hammer Films versions.  Also as it happens the dance sequences served as convenient markers for watching it on a library computer in three separate not-overly-lengthy segments.  And even if “Dracula” is balding and a little bit boorish, the movie is fun.

In brief, the first half hour takes us through Alt-Jonathan’s meeting in Dracula’s castle, ending with him shooting Dracula (or so he thinks) in one of several coffins being readied for shipping to Istanbul.  Then fast forward to Istanbul and Alt-Mina’s club with a reasonably sexy dance sequence, after which she receives a message in her dressing room that Alt-Jonathan’s doing fine (one of the fake letters that Drac had made him write in advance), followed by a phone call that her “sister” Alt-Lucy is ailing and she should pay her a visit.  Thus segment two gives us Dracula’s attacks on Alt-Lucy, her getting “sicker” (one symptom being sleepwalking into the garden where . . . well, you know), doctors being called for, one opining that while surely she’ll get better soon there is this specialist he knows. . . .  And Alt-Mina gets a phone call that there’s a charity show in town that night and could she, maybe, do a dance number for it?

Thus another “Bollywood” moment, after which she receives a message in her dressing room that Alt-Jonathan was discovered having escaped from Drac’s castle and is now in a hospital on the Hungarian(?) border.  This leads to a series of short scenes in which (1) she drives to join hubby who must remain in the hospital three more days, (2) the “specialist,” Alt-Van Helsing, receives a message requesting he consult on the Alt-Lucy case, (3) he does, prescribes transfusions and garlic but she dies anyway with Alt-Mina and hubby arriving back just in time to say goodbye, (4) newspaper articles highlight a strange woman luring children into the cemetery and leaving them with neck-scars whereupon Alt-Van H. drafts Alt-Lucy’s erstwhile fiance plus Alt-Jonathan on a staking (or as the subtitles have it, “poking”) expedition, (5) Alt-Mina’s charity gig is continuing and, while having been talked into always wearing a garlic neclace, she has to take it off when she’s in costume, leading to (6) a visit from Dracula in her dressing room after, moments before hubby arrives to pick her up (while the others await in the last of Dracula’s lairs — real estate agent Alt-Jonathan having pass keys, you see [the subtitles use the term “kiosk” for these properties, a word derived from Turkish, but I assume with more a British than American meaning]), a chase ensues, and (7) a final fight scene and subsequent happy reunion.

Well, you knew how it would end anyway, but go ahead and give DRACULA IN ISTANBUL a look, if only for its curiosity value (remember? March 26th’s post has a link — way, way down at the very very end [and the reason the desk clerk crosses herself is she’s Romanian]).  And as I say, it holds up well enough as a movie (despite sometimes injudicious subtitles) as well as being fun.

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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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