Your Daily Dracula – Laura Brent as Victoria Harker, Transylvania Rising (2016)
A CBS TV pilot which didn’t sell, this was obviously much influenced by League of Extraordinary Gentlement, though it could also be a remix of the 1940s Universal monster rallies the way Van Helsing was. There were a bunch of other steampunk-ish, historical/literary horror/crime mash-ups around this time – Penny Dreadful, Jekyll & Hyde, Houdini & Doyle, Dracula, Sanctuary, The Frankenstein Chronicles, I, Frankenstein, Ripper Street, Victor Frankenstein, The Mummy – and they all tend to blend into one another in the memory, which perhaps explains why this okayish but entirely derivative effort didn’t fly.
It opens with Jonathan Harker (Max Ryan), either a travelling salesman or an undercover monster fighter, in a runaway coach pursued by a Wolf Man-style ripped shirt werewolf, who chases him into a church – the first words we hear, part of the sermon, are ‘Among the rugged peaks that frown down upon the Borgo Pass are found crumbling castles of a bygone age.’, the first lines from Dracula (1931) – and massacres the congregation in tasteful offscreen growling, screaming, splats of blood and out-of-focus mangled corpses fashion. Then, Jonathan’s American daughter Victoria (Laura Brent) – who has some to-be-explained crime scene investigation experience – arrives in Transylvania to investigate her father’s disappearance and gets mixed up with various shady characters whose eventual roles in her life or the ongoing story we’ll never know. Her prime team-up partner is Inspector Lestrade (Luke Allen-Gale), who is repeatedly asked why he’s left Scotland Yard to work as a small town cop in the middle of nowhere, but we also meet a mute hunchbacked Igor (Evan Stern), who is here a gadget-making genius, and Victoria even introduces Igor to wild-haired Victor Frankenstein (Tom Reed), who is studying at the nearby Scholomance along with Dr Jekyll and presumably other big names who were in line to get their own episodes.
Victoria worries that her father might have become a werewolf, but it’s plain that the curse comes from the nearby camp of gypsies (‘they like to call themselves tsigane’, which real Roma don’t, as a rule) whose criminal queenpin Coriander (Sofia Pernas) has turned her own brother (Yani Gellman) into a sniffing dog werewolf for the purposes of a long-in-the-works vengeance against Vlad the Impaler (or maybe on behalf of Vlad the Impaler). Set-pieces include a drinking game in a rowdy Transylvanian cockney pub with a multi-ethnic clientele and a big ball at the Scholomance invaded by Coriander’s gang and the wolf in order to get what looks like a Faberge easter egg away from Jonathan, who shows up to dole out a few more omens for future plots and tells Victoria to go home (like that’s ever worked).
Victoria and Lestrade have a grumpy meet cute when she locks herself in one of his cells to escape the monster and predictably go through squabbling and hinted backstories (her mother was murdered, he’s a boozer) to something like co-operation and possible romance, with the Mayor (Jake Fairbrother) as a likely love rival down the line (also, he gets bitten by the werewolf so inherits the curse). The vision of Transylvania is no more ridiculous than Hammer’s casting of whiskery cockneys and Yorkshiremen as Romanian peasants, but going with that make-sure-every-other-face-is-black-or-Asian-but-for-God’s-sake-don’t-give-minority-actors-lead-roles version of the past (as seen in, say, Enola Holmes, The Irregulars or the BBC’s last Dracula) falls down when there’s supposed to be a difference between the locals and incomer Lestrade. The last line has Victoria musing that whatever her father is up to probably has something to do with that ominous place on the nearby mountain the locals call … Castle Dracula.
Written and created by Hugh Sterbakov (Robot Chicken Star Wars; directed by Jason Ensler (who’s worked on The Passage and the Exorcist TV series).
It’s on youtube …
I know people tend to harp on a bit about Hammer’s quasi Victorian Middle Europe but was Universal’s Transylvania-as-the-Swiss-Alps any more convincing?