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. 


Arab designs add flair to the SAGs red carpet

Jennifer Lopez was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “Hustlers.” (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2020

Arab designs add flair to the SAGs red carpet

DUBAI: Arab designers took over the red carpet at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Yvonne Strahovski and Sian Clifford showing off looks from the Middle East.

Singer and actress Lopez, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “Hustlers,” showed off a sleek black number by Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika, complete with an off-the-shoulder neckline and thigh-high slit. The column gown featured a floor-grazing train and the star accessorized the look with sparkling diamonds and a chic up-do with fronds of hair framing her face.

Meanwhile, Australian actress Strahovski opted for an all-white look by London-based Emirati label Khyeli.

Jennifer Lopez showed off a sleek black number by Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika. (AFP)

Helmed by designer Ahmed Khyeli, the fashion house dressed Strahovski in an ethereal column gown from its Spring/Summer 2020 collection.

The look featured a peek-a-boo cutout on the bodice, along with elegant off-the-shoulder sleeves that ended just above the elbows.

British stage and TV actress Clifford chose to show off a dramatic burgundy velvet pantsuit, complete with a plunging neckline and gold detailing on the jet black lapels. The glamorous evening look came courtesy of Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad.

Yvonne Strahovski opted for an all-white look by London-based Emirati label Khyeli. (AFP)

The leading ladies were all in attendance when South Korean film “Parasite” shocked the Screen Actors Guild Awards by landing the night’s top prize, a historic win which thrusts the black comedy into Oscars contention.

The critical smash hit film overcame the language barrier to win outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, the SAG equivalent of a best film Academy Award, AFP reported.

“I’m a little embarrassed feeling like we’re the parasites of Hollywood now,” joked actor Lee Sun-Kyun.

Director Bong Joon-Ho admitted that “it is true that the momentum is building” for the Oscars.

Sian Clifford chose to show off a dramatic burgundy velvet pantsuit. (AFP)

The film, which merges comedy, drama and horror genres, follows a poor family as it infiltrates a wealthier household, and tackles the widening class gulf.

“Although the title is ‘Parasite,’ I think the film is about coexistence and how we can all live together,” said star Song Kang-ho, collecting the award.

The much-hyped movie had missed out on main prizes at the Golden Globes and Saturday’s Producers Guild Awards.

But Sunday’s win underlines the breakout movie’s extraordinary popularity in Hollywood.

It beat “Bombshell,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit” and “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood” at the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles.