Body count: New ‘Dracula’ series has horror, humor and real bite

“Dracula” is Bram Stoker’s gothic-horror. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 January 2020

Body count: New ‘Dracula’ series has horror, humor and real bite

  • The tale begins in Hungary in 1897
  • A clearly unwell Englishman called Jonathan Harker finds himself in a convent, where he was taken after some fishermen found him almost (or, not almost) dead

AMMAN: Having successfully adapted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” books for the small screen in the wildly popular BBC series “Sherlock,” showrunners Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have turned their attention to another beloved novel, Bram Stoker’s gothic-horror “Dracula.” 

There are definite parallels with “Sherlock” here. First, both “Dracula” and “Sherlock Holmes” have been adapted so many times for film and television that it’s hard to imagine — at least before viewing — what Gatiss and Moffat believe they can bring to the table that is new. As with “Sherlock,” they quickly prove that’s an unnecessary concern. 




“Dracula” has been adapted so many times for film and television that it’s hard to imagine what showrunners believe they can bring to the table that is new. (Supplied)

Second, it’s clear that the pair are, once again, true fans of the source material. They handle it with sensitivity, but not without irreverence — a crucial part of why they do what they do so well. As in “Sherlock,” the tile character’s vulnerabilities are just as much of a focus as his powers.

And third, they find a surprising amount of humor in the material that isn’t always apparent in the originals. Once again, that’s a welcome bonus for viewers. Even if, in the case of “Dracula,” some of that humor is very dark indeed.




In “Dracula,” some of the humor is very dark. (Supplied)

The tale begins in Hungary in 1897. A clearly unwell Englishman called Jonathan Harker finds himself in a convent, where he was taken after some fishermen found him almost (or, not almost) dead. Harker, it turns out, had escaped from Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania and tells the nuns — one in particular; the unconventional Agatha Van Helsing the horrific tale of his time there, featuring vampires and the undead. 

Dracula, of course, comes looking for the escapee. And Van Helsing gets to test many of the theories she has accumulated over the years in her study of the occult. 

To describe any more of the story would be to ruin a magnificent plot twist at the end of episode two. Suffice to say that it’s worth remembering Count Dracula is centuries old and very difficult to kill.




The tale begins in Hungary in 1897. (Supplied)

Danish actor Claes Bang plays the titular villain, and clearly relished the role. By turns sophisticated and savage, sensual and insensitive, Bang’s Dracula is an old-school throwback to Hammer Horror movies and Christopher Lee, but with an arch knowingness that makes him feel utterly modern too. 

His nemesis, Van Helsing, is played by Dolly Wells, who shows off a lovely line in deadpan sarcasm and cavalier courage. 

Once again, Gatiss and Moffat have proven that — in a crowded field — they are capable of creating the definitive adaptation of a classic. 


A hairy situation: Facial hair proves a hot topic as coronavirus worries grow

According to the CDC, beards can interfere with the correct usage of masks and respirators. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 31 March 2020

A hairy situation: Facial hair proves a hot topic as coronavirus worries grow

  • We take a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice on mustaches, mutton chops and suave soul patches

DUBAI: With conflicting news reports from media outlets around the world stating that men should — or don’t need to — shave off their prized facial hair in order to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus, we take a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice on mustaches, mutton chops and suave soul patches.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Ambulance service advised that medical personnel should “reach for the razor (as) facial hair can disrupt the effectiveness of personal protective equipment” in a tweet and the head of France's ER doctors association advised medical staff to shave off their beards for hygiene reasons. However, these measures are mainly aimed at medical staff who rely on masks and respirators, while advice for the general public has not yet touched upon facial hair as a potential danger in the spread of coronavirus.

What’s clear, however, is the fact that beards can interfere with the correct usage of masks and respirators.

Masks and respirators are being utilized all around the world in a bid to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. But according to a recently resurfaced 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infographic, one’s facial hair can interfere with how effective these filtering items are.

The infographic shows 36 different facial hair styles and provides names for each of them — some of which could be unknown to even the savviest barbers. It also tells you which facial hair styles would and would not work well with a “filtering facepiece respirator” like the P2/N95 respirator, that may protect you against small airborne microbes if worn properly.

While handlebars, lampshades and soul patches are deemed good to go, other facial hair styles, such as mutton chops and a full beard are advised against.

According to the infographic, facial hair can pose a risk to the effectiveness of masks because it may interfere with respirators that rely on a tight facepiece seal to achieve maximum protection.

In short, making sure there’s a good seal between the mask and the wearer’s face is a vital part of respiratory protection, however facial hair can compromise that seal.

The CDC recommends that any facial hair that can fit entirely under a close-fitting respirator should be fine. Where it looks like you might have some problems is if your facial hair is long enough or covers enough of your face that it pushes against the seal of the respirator, thereby allowing airborne particles to leak through.

However, it’s important to note that the CDC only recommends facial masks and facepiece respirators for those who work in the healthcare industry and those who are coming into contact with people who could be potentially infected with the disease, as well as individuals with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.