I’ve seen this movie quite a few times. I love this little hidden gem actually. It’s a retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with a twist. Now granted they did get a thing or two wrong historically. Which irritates the hell out of me, first and foremost Vlad The Impaler is not the king of Transylvania, he was the ruler of Wallachia… wrong era Hollywood, wrong royal title too. There are two Vlads by the way, Senior and Junior. Junior is The Impaler. The infamous one who earned that nickname in the most gruesome of ways.
What way was that? Impaling his enemies upon stakes through the rectum and lifting that stake straight up to allow gravity to take its natural place and impale, with ever so torturous lack of speed, the enemy through the body and out the other end. It was said Vlad The Impaler would set up incredible feasts to sit at the feet of his victims and dine as they died. This is portrayed in the movie, without the feast of course.
In Stoker’s version, Dracule aka Dracula, or rather PenDragon as the real translation goes (he even says so in Stoker’s version) has a wife, that wife gets a fake letter telling her he is dead and she commits suicide. Well, the clergymen of his time don’t particularly care very much for suicides and he disavows his religion and blames them for everything up to and including betrayal. He vows to find his love in another lifetime even if it must take an eternity to do so. Stabs an effigy of a cross, that blasphemous action causes blood to pour everywhere and he drinks from it – becoming Dracula. Dramatic huh?
In Dracula Untold, not quite the same. An unknown beast of the dark lives atop a mountain and wipes out Vlad’s enemy, setting off a blame game and the demand for penance and 1000 boys. Note that Vlad himself was once given over to the Turks as a payment of penance and peace. Vlad fought for the Turks empire expansion then was released as an “ally” to them. They demand his son from him as they had him from his father and he decides last minute that no, this was not a demand he was going to fulfill besides, he promised his wife that would never happen.
Wait for it…
It starts a war between him and the Turks. He now seeks out that scary beast of the mountain, which turns out to be an ancient man who traded his soul to a demon who tricked him and entrapped him in the cave. This man, or rather the movie version of a vampire, says lets play a game of fate (ohhh…play a game he says, how hard can it be right). You can sample my vampiric powers, maybe save your people in the process but you have only 3 days to do so and if you feed you become what I am and I have given the darkness a sufficient gift for my release from this wretched cave prison.
Vlad The Impaler “Ha Has” him and says “I look forward to disappointing you”. Saves his people, unfortunately kills his own wife (at her urging and about that don’t feed…oops) and unwittingly unleashes holy hell on the world – the other part of that game is the kicker – Vlad owes his maker a fight by his side – a good and evil fight, a light and dark fight so (as rumor has it) an Untold number 2 in the works?. Did I mention, his son ends up being raised instead, after witnessing his father supposedly commit vampire suicide by sunlight, by a monk?, priest? Monastery representative?
What tickles my fancy about this little gem of a movie, diamond in the rough. The all time classic of good and evil is twisted into a bit of “bad guy gone good” kind of deal with this movie. It portrays Dracula, not as a monster per say, but as a monster with ethics so to speak. He sacrificed for his people, his wife and his son. Unfortunately, evil has a funny way of turning that sacrifice and good intentions into something grotesque and vile at times. No matter how monstrous we can be (as a human race) there is always hope, always the ability to right a wrong. Time may not be on our side but what we do with that time is so fundamentally important isn’t it.