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Image Sucks Your Blood By Brian Jacks
Image Comics is launching the all-new SWORD OF DRACULA series by Jason Henderson and Greg Scott this October, but it looks like Halloween is coming a little early for vampire fans as Henderson and the world-famous Alamo Drafthouse Cinema celebrate the lust for blood with a triple feature of top-notch vampire horror from around the world on July 25.
Henderson is the creator of the upcoming total revamp of the King of Vampires, SWORD OF DRACULA, due in October from Image Comics. As Henderson explains it, SWORD OF DRACULA is about a re-invention of Dracula for a whole new generation of vampire fans. With new powers, a darker, more intense attitude and a milieu that has as much in common with "Mission: Impossible" as it does vampiric fright fests, SWORLD OF DRACULA's slogan is: "You've seen Dracula -- but you've NEVER seen him like this!"
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Art for SWORD OF DRACULA is provided by artist Greg Scott (Marvel's Sabretooth: Mary Shelley Overdrive), who’s given Dracula a wildly anime-influenced look, and the series will feature covers by Eisner-award winning artist Tony Harris (OBERGEIST, DC's Starman).
“What really differentiates our Dracula is we followed what everyone says: we went ‘back to the book,' but in a way that no-one ever does," says Henderson. "Dracula in Stoker’s novel is just at the start of his vampiric powers -- Van Helsing refers to him having a ‘child-brain’ as far as power goes -- and we wanted to show, what would he be like if he kept growing. He’s not romantic; Dracula in the novel feeds a live child to his vampires and sics wolves on the mother. He's a twisted man who has very big plans and is used to leading a whole country.
"We wanted to see Dracula as a king, in a war. Dracula needs to be big, the way Christopher Lee was big in 1958 and Lugosi was big in 1931. He needs to be an onslaught of power and evil. In SWORD OF DRACULA, Dracula is every bit as evil as he is in Stoker’s novel -- and moreso, every bit as twisted as the historical Dracula -- and he’s proud of it. He’s grown in power -- he knows how to use blood, and lots of it -- he has an army of vampires at his disposal. He’s honed his power over blood to keep them entrenched in a protected fortress wherever he sets up his ‘kingdom.’ He’s constantly moving because as far as he’s concerned, the earth is his.”
A screenwriter and novelist, Henderson wrote the script for the best-selling COMMAND & CONQUER: RED ALERT 2 and the story for COMMAND & CONQUER: RENEGADE.
Scott burst onto the scene with his Sabretooth: Mary Shelley Overdrive, a miniseries detailing a very realistic, gritty adventure starring the X-Men villain. “Greg’s art is so cinematic and detailed," notes Henderson. "When I say ‘have the vampires take out a Blackhawk helicopter,’ by golly, it looks like a Blackhawk helicopter!”
Dracula has a new look, too, and according to Henderson, it's far from any previous incarnation: “Again, we wanted to bring the character from the book forward in time, but remember his roots. He bears the Dragon emblem of the real Vlad, and he matches the real Prince’s age. Stylistically, Greg’s given him a look that’s very influenced by Asian and European movies and animation. This is not the Dracula that wandered around Virgin Records in Dracula 2000.”
Since the threat of Dracula is so large, the good guys must have a vast arsenal -- hence the leads in Sword of Dracula are the Polidorium, a well-armed, well-equipped G.I. Joe-style agency newly led by Veronica “Ronnie” Van Helsing, who has faced Dracula before joining the organization.
“Ronnie’s a zealot," Henderson explains. "She regards Dracula as the Bin Laden of vampires, and as such she’s taking all the resources of this organization to target the main vampire threat. She’s not your typical comic-book heroine. She’s very human and Greg and I are slowly falling in love with her.”
To celebrate the series' launch, Henderson is teaming up with Austin, Texas' Alamos Drafthouse Cinema to screen a trio of films offering wildly different interpretations of the vampire mythos.
First up is DRACULA (1979, d. John Badham, R 109 min), the big-budget Universal Dracula revamp that pitted Frank Langella's overtly sexual, black-stallion-riding Dracula against the aged but stalwart Lawrence Olivier as Van Helsing. The movie opens with Dracula ripping through the crew of an unlucky ship and ends with a big question mark worthy of the King of Vampires. Top-notch and seldom seen today.
Next is MR. VAMPIRE 2 (1985, d. Ricky Lau, R 91 min), in which we soar from the Universal stage to the wacky world of Hong Kong Kung Fu Vampires, where a team of archaeologists led by Jackie Chan's longtime partner Yuen Biao unearth an ancient evil. If you've never seen Chinese vampires, look out: they hop, they lunge, they can get nasty, and this movie has a whole family of them!
Finally, the night ends with the flushed, erotic DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971, d. Harry Kumel, R 87 min.), a movie everyone says they watch for its fascinating presentation of the woman known as "Madame Dracula," Elizabeth Bathory, but which might actually have more to do with the copious HLVA, or hot lesbian vampire action. One of the best and sexiest vampire movies of the latter 20th century.
Henderson also tells fans to expect copious trailers -- including a trailer for the new comic, vampire prizes and trivia! “It’s a vampire event -- anyone who shows up in costume as a vampire gets in for half price!”
“I wanted to do a night of vampire movies, vampire trailers and general vampire goodness -- and especially to look at Dracula and conceptions of vampires from around the world,” says Henderson. “Why? Because SWORD OF DRACULA is about re-inventing Dracula one more time -- to make him BIG the way each of the old movies made him BIG in their day.”
Located at 409 B Colorado Street in Austin, Texas, The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is one of the premiere independent theaters in the country, home of Ain't it Cool News’ annual 24-hour “Butt-Numb-a-Thon” marathon of upcoming and classic films, Quentin Tarantino’s Tarantinofest, and countless celebrity guests (Vin Diesel showed up at 4 AM for a month-early sneak of PITCH BLACK).