US label Cadabra Records have specialized in the creation of vinyl releases featuring horror and fantasy stories recited by voice actors and accompanied by a musical score. Their productions tend to be popular, and most releases sell out shortly. “Dracula” dates back to the start of 2017, and actually sold out a few days prior to it’s official release.
Those who desire this album will obviously have to look at the second hand market to get it. The question then, of course, is if it will be worthwhile doing so. And the answer to that will depend a lot on personal taste.
Actors Tony Todd and Anthony D. P. Mann have the starring roles in this abridged take on the classic Bram Stoker horror story, and they have chosen to give it an interpretation that may not suit everyone’s tastes. They have opted for a rather time typical approach one might say, as in time typical for the era in which the novel was written. The voice acting is melodramatic and very theatrical, which will take some getting used to for those not familiar with this method of acting. This is the case also for the minor roles in the play, and as for the Dracula role the choice has been to go dark and borderline bestial, giving the vampire something of an animalistic tone and timbre.
The backing score is orchestral, and just as theatrical and Gothic as the voice acting. Used for dramatic effect and emphasis just as much as a mood and atmosphere creator, for some this part of the production might feel ever so slightly overpowering at times. Sound effects are used with skill throughout, emphasizing the era we are in throughout, and adding in an unspoken new ending to the this story as well. A clever little detail this latter one.
Personally I do find this production to be a bit too honed in on the Gothic though, and the vampire as an allegory for the sexual and sensual is lost in the stronger focus on the more animalistic focus given in this rendition. As such, the vampire in the guise presented here strikes me as a bit more two-dimensional than the creature described in the original novel. A creature that was animalistic aye, but also primal and with a power that implicitly triggered sexual drives and desires. In the original novel in the shape of descriptions and allegories rather than stated outright of course, but for me at least this aspect is not all that much present in this version. That is a personal taste of course, and how I personally experienced this recording. Others may feel otherwise about this aspect as well as the performance here.
While perhaps not quite fitting my own personal taste about how such an interpretation should be handled, the skill at play is undeniable. And if you love vampires just as much as Victorian era melodramatic Gothic horror, then this is a recording that probably will be to your satisfaction. If you can track down a copy of it, that is.
My rating: 60/100
1. Dracula Side A
2. Dracula Side B
Tony Todd … Count Dracula
Anthony D.P. Mann … Dr. Van Helsing
Steve Spencer … Detective Holmwood
Becca Fryer … Lucy Seward
Dave Hudson … Dr. Seward
Nikolas Yuen … Marcus Renfield
Richard Boyer … Attendant
Robin DeKleine-Stimpson … Beggar Woman
Ilke Hincer … Ship Captain
Lisa Mann … Woman in Crowd