Dracula trailer breakdown – book changes, killer nuns and new directions

Claes Bang’s vampire lord is finally being shown off – but what can we learn from the first-look footage?

Claes Bang and Dolly Wells in the BBC's Dracula (BBC)

Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have finally released a teaser trailer for their long-awaited Dracula adaptation, and while it’s pretty short – just 46 seconds, a lot of which is just a shot of a crucifix at the end – it’s packed full of exciting moments and intriguing hints at what we can expect from their new series.

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And now, just for you, we’ve broken down our key observations from the firstlook teaser. Starting the COUNTdown (see what we did there) with…


Shock and gore

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Taking its lead from Bram Stoker’s novel, it looks like this version of Dracula won’t shy away from some pretty gross-out, gory moments. In this 46-second tease alone we see a fly crawling into a man’s eyeball, fingernails being torn out, bloody hands clawing at the floor, horrible creatures unfurling from a wooden chest, some sort of monsters tearing from within someone’s skin (we think) and of course, blood – both in and outside the veins.

In other words, if this is the “released at 3pm” TRAILER for the post-watershed series, we’d better need some strong stomachs (and protective cushions) when the full episodes are unleashed on us…


Keeping it shipshape

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From the short glimpses in the trailer, it looks like one short section from Stoker’s novel is to be extended, specifically the section aboard a Russian ship called The Demeter upon which the Count enacts a bloody, gradual massacre over the weeks of his voyage from Transylvania to Whitby, England.

In the book (which is told entirely in letters, articles, diaries and reports in a traditional epistolary style) we only learn of what happens on the Demeter from the ship’s log, which tells an account of the crew being picked off one by one or going insane thanks to their unknown passenger.

While a popular part of the novel, it’s very short – just a few pages – but based on the extended shots of the Demeter, its crew and certain bloody hands on certain wooden decks, we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a slightly longer version of this account onscreen. After all, it’s basically the original Alien film, but on a sailing ship instead of a spaceship. Who wouldn’t want to see that?


All bar nun(s)

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Another change to the source material is the apparent inclusion of vampire-battling nuns, who are seen unleashing stakes ready to fight for their lives in the short teaser.

The only named nuns so far are Dolly Wells’ Sister Agatha and Joanna Scanlon’s Mother Superior, and while Agatha does make an appearance in the novel – she looks after Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) in Budapest and writes to his fiancé Mina about his troubled mental state and illness after visiting Count Dracula early in the story – it appears that she may take a more central role here.

There aren’t a very large number of female characters in Dracula, after all, so maybe Moffat and Gatiss have decided to extend the cast a little.


Out for the Count

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But perhaps the biggest change to the Dracula story made by Moffat and Gatiss this year is one they’ve spoken about before – making Dracula the main character of his story, rather than the off-camera monster only known by the aftermath of his attacks (which is often how he is portrayed).

In other words, the pair have promised that we’ll see a lot more of Dracula talking to people and living his life in the new adaptation, and we see some evidence of that in the trailer as Claes Bang’s bloodsucker smiles at a young victim.

“Try and stay calm,” he says. “You’re doing very well.”

In a way, this is also something of a departure from Stoker’s novel, though it’s clear plenty from the text will stick around – including earlier parts of the novel where the Count appears to Harker as a much older man, which can be glimpsed in the footage.

In other words, everything we see in this trailer promises a gory yet stylish, updated yet faithful take on Count Dracula – and we can hardly wait to see more.

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Dracula is coming soon to BBC1