Luke Evans as Vlad the Impaler in Dracula Untold.
Luke Evans as Vlad the Impaler in Dracula Untold. Jasin Boland

Forget the teen vamp sagas, Dracula is back in dark tale

LITERATURE'S original vampire is reborn in Dracula Untold.

The fantasy drama portrays the origins of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula, whose fangs have been drawing blood for more than a century before the recent run of syrupy teen vampire sagas.

Luke Evans plays Vlad Tepe, or Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure on which Stoker based his immortal, cape-wearing Dracula.

"I didn't really want to make another Dracula film," Evans told APN.

"There are enough of those and some fantastic ones have been made.

"But when I read the script it was very, very different and it was a story I didn't know of. I think most people will find it very refreshing and surprising. As an actor it gave me a freedom and licence to tell a different story and to tread fresh ground."

In Dracula Untold, Vlad is portrayed as a family man who is trying to protect his family and his Transylvanian subjects from the horrors he suffered as a child hostage of the Turks.

They groomed him to become a ruthless warrior, hence his not-so-subtle nickname of The Impaler.

After years of peace, the Turks are once again on Vlad's doorstep and demanding fresh recruits to fill the ranks for the ever-growing Ottoman Empire.

With an invasion looming, a desperate Vlad seeks out the vampire Caligula, played by Game of Thrones's Charles Dance, who is rumoured to live in the mountains of his kingdom.

"He did such a great job," Evans said of Dance.

"He had such pressure with his prosthetic face and hands and teeth, but he just delivered. It was such a sinister, dark, threatening, thirsty, desperate performance but it totally worked. For me, I just had to react."

Vlad learns he can temporarily gain Caligula's powers, but the deal comes at a high price.

"Whether you agree with what he does or you don't understand why he makes the decision he does, it doesn't matter. You can empathise with his journey," Evans said.

"You can see the love he has for his wife and his child and the responsibility he has to his people. All these base human emotions make the story incredibly relatable."

Sarah Gadon, best known for her roles in David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis as well as period drama Belle, plays Vlad's loyal wife Mirena.

"Even when she discovers her husband is under the power of this dark force which is urging him to drink blood and she realises he's done it for them, she stands by her man," Evans said.

"It's this incredibly powerful moment when you realise she's not going to turn her back on him. No matter how much she's repulsed by what he's becoming she knows deep down that the reasons why he chose to do it were good and honourable."

Despite his powers as a virtual one-man army, the blood-thirsty Vlad cannot save everyone he loves.

"It's a sweeping story about love and heartbreak and revenge and sacrifice," Evans said. "It's the origin story of the most famous vampire, but it's also a human story."

Dracula Untold opens on Thursday.

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