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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lost Sequel to Universal Dracula REVEALED: Voice of the Undead Countdown Minus 46

With Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead coming out on July 26, I'm counting down 60 cool vampire things. Today:
The Lost Sequel to Universal's Dracula


In a glass case on a shelf nearby sits a document I don't own but hold for the Polidori Society-- the document was procured by a member of the Society at auction.

The booklet is unassuming-- 9 typewritten pages with slightly thicker reddish pages forming a cover, the whole booklet staple-bound by hand. It was written in 1939.


It is a treatment for a sequel to Universal's 1931 Dracula-- a sequel never to be made. That's a picture of it to the left.

The treatment, titled "A Sequel to Dracula," is by none other than Manly P. Hall, famed lecturer on the occult, the kind of detail that sounds made up, but isn't. Even better: apparently Hall was a pal of Bela Lugosi, and the pair sat down together to pitch a sequel to Dracula that would actually, you know, have Dracula in it. (Dracula had died at the end of the 1931, Lugosi Dracula, so the next Universal sequel starred Gloria Holden was the 1936 Dracula's Daughter.) If Hall was typing these pages-- and it's odd to see the old-fashioned key marks-- in '39, he would have been hoping for a 1940 or 1941 Dracula sequel.

Just think of it: Lugosi, not the drug-addled, doddering Lugosi of the 50's, but the lithe, talented Lugosi whose most powerful performance-- Igor in Son of Frankenstein -- had been completed just the year before and released in January of 1939. Next to him Manly Hall, who ten years before had released a book called The Secret Teachings of All Ages, sitting down to pound out a movie that would get Lugosi back in the cape. Not inconceivable-- the monster mash-up Frankenstein Meets the Wolf-Man wouldn't come until 1943, signaling the beginning of the end of the Universal monster era.

Again, this treatment was never produced. I'm not even aware that Hall's agent got the treatment to Universal, and we can't ask him, because Manly Hall died in 1990.

But the story rocks. It's not much more expensive on the page than the 1931 film, but it feels more grand: instead of the drawing rooms and the castle in the first film, Hall's story moves between an ornate mansion in Buenos Aires and Dracula's massive Yacht, the Nemesis III. In brief, the story tells how Dracula outsmarted Van Helsing and survived the attack at the end of the first movie, then bided his time till age ended Van Helsing's life-- and now he has come for Mina, now in her 70s, who has crossed oceans to escape him. He offers her new life, but ends up locked in vampiric combat with a vampirized Mina for the love of a younger victim.

In Argentina, no less. Boy, what I wouldn't give to see a computer-generated Lugosi do this movie...

COOL, no?

2 comments:

  1. That's fascinating! I discovered the Universal Monsters via the Book Mobile program from my beloved Sara Hightower Library.

    The Vampire Lovers was actually the very first vampire movie I sat down to watch all the way through of my own choice---I'm trying to remember anything else---this Halloween. Imagine having all of this as a fresh world before you; imagine never having watched those Hammer Films. I am finding material galore in simply writing about Stoker's text, read going into this Halloween, re-examining Dracula as a powerful black magician. Before this, Marvel's adaptation was my chief, and favored, influence. I wonder if any version aside from Stoker's is your favorite literary interpretation? I am waiting to amass a number of orders heading into Christmas and plan for Alex Van Helsing to be among them. I discovered Le Fanu's work for some reason and decided to carry on a version of Carmilla before this recent attraction.

    I wanted to note that I also took home The Lost World by Sir Arthur and realized that Dracula and L.W. end their narratives on Nov. 6th and Nov. 8th (in relation to events on Nov. 7th), respectively. I am inspired by the synchronicity, let us say. I came here via Taliesin, btw.

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  2. Any further outings with Lugosi as Dracula would be a plus but this sounds terrible all the way around. No Gothic setting. No Van Helsing. Trying to tie Mina into the plot sinks it outright (though the entire Argentina aspect is similarly out of place). Dracula inconceivably waits 30 years (and travels across the world) for Mina- whom he never appeared all that in to and was only his second choice to begin with)-and then immediately goes after someone else.

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