Towards the end of the first episode of the newDracula(BBC1), the vampire-obsessed nun Agatha (Dolly Wells) turns to Mina Harker (Morfydd Clark). Dracula is wreaking havoc with the sisters, and has infected Mina’s fiance, Jonathan (John Heffernan), with vampirism. Dolly is trying to work out how to stop him.
“None of the vampire legends make sense,” she says, furiously breaking sacramental wafers to use as a barrier, “yet somehow they are proving to be true.”
It’s a knowing line that gets to the heart of the problem with adapting Bram Stoker’s novel. Despite the blood and gore, and any number of po-faced other treatments of vampires, the original story is basically high-camp twaddle, all capes and bats and crosses and coffins and candlelit glances across dining halls.
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At its best, this new version bySteven MoffatandMark Gatissis a loving tribute to the Hammer Horror kind ofDracula,which keeps the novel’s more macabre attractions, adds fresh wit and energy, and only sometimes drags.