Wednesday, August 8, 2012


    Dracula has been adapted into a film numerous times. Some were bad, some were great, and some were clearly memorable. Count Dracula, inspired by Vlad The Impaler, is possibly the first ever Vampire portrayed as a bloodsucking, shape-shifting and immortal being. Dracula has not only been played well, and memorably, over the years, but the films themselves were classic films of the horror genre.
   Each film developed more and more, making each Dracula more interesting than the last. Improving on each adaption seemed to be a goal for the filmmakers. This list counts down the films and portrayals that’s made Dracula more famous over the years. Well, not all these films made Dracula more famous.

10. Count Dracula
(TV) (1977) – Portrayed by Louis Jordan
Dracula 5

    This tale of Dracula has been forgotten by most, but it happens to be a very faithful adaption of the beloved book. Fans of the novel will definitely enjoy this, but as a moviegoer you will be disappointed at how amateurishly filmed it was. And also, the sets were plain and boring, but being a television film, of course, the budget was low. Louis Jordan is a great actor, but he was not suited for this role, as he seemed abridged from Dracula’s disturbing side. The film itself is definitely worth a watch, still keeping that eerie atmosphere that should stick with any Dracula film.

9. Dracula
(1973) – Portrayed by Jack Palance

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    Another Dracula film that has been forgotten by most, but overall it was a pretty good Dracula film, seeing as the actors played their parts fantastically. Jack Palance did not look as creepy as I hoped, but he definitely played Dracula well. His silently disturbed attitude saved the role, and Murray Brown, who played Jonathan Harker, was amazing. Though this film was not the most faithful to the novel, it’s definitely a worthy adaption.

8. Count Dracula
(1970) – Portrayed by Christopher Lee


    Another take on Dracula by an older Christopher Lee. The age switch of Dracula was first portrayed in this, with Christopher Lee looking older in the beginning, but reverting into a younger form once arriving in Jonathan Harker’s home town. This was, indeed, a very faithful adaption of the Dracula novel, perhaps the most creepy Dracula of all time, especially with Klaus Kinski’s silent role as Renfield, who’s actions depicted are so disturbing, you did not need to hear the man speak for a powerful portrayal. Christopher Lee plays a scarier Dracula in this film than he did in his first attempt, and he also improves on his acting skills.

7. Dracula
(1979) – Portrayed by Frank Langella


    For his age, Frank Langella was called the most sexy & good looking of all Count Dracula portrayals. Not only that, his voice was beautifully seductive, making his presence disturbing, which is exactly how Dracula should be. The funny thing is, the girl characters seem to be more attracted to him than scared. But, of course, in this version, Mina Harker is in love with Dracula, with many more changes from the novel included. The latter may have caused disappointment to many, but this Dracula adaption is entertaining nonetheless.

6. Drácula
(1931) – Portrayed by Carlos Villarias


    This Italian version of Dracula was not seen by too many people, as it was, disappointingly, released in the same year as the American’s famous version. Many critics say this is an improvement over Béla Lugosi’s American version, because it was more faithful to the novel, and with better portrayals, too. The sets were quite similar in both versions, but the costumes were not, as the women wore more revealing clothing, making Dracula’s wives more sexually appealing, rather than the brainless zombies that were included in the American version. Carlos Villarias, who intentionally looked similar to Béla Lugosi’s Dracula, was criticized for being more silly in appearance, especially with his humorous facial expression, and his non terrifying seductive attitude, also. But other actors in the film, mostly Renfield’s portrayal, were praised as better than the American version’s acted roles, as the Italian actors performances seemed more over the top and less limited, as the American version was. The cinematography and special effects were also praised over the American version, because this portrayal was unorthodox, and it suited the film really well. Overall, the cult audience will say the American Dracula is the best and most memorable, but the critics who actually watched the Italian film would say the foreign Dracula was better, technically.

5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
(1992) – Portrayed by Gary Oldman

    What made this version so good was that it went all out with the Dracula book. The scenes were realistically disturbing, as there was plenty of nudity and gore, which captured the novel’s spirit. Gary Oldman was perfect as Dracula, as he was everything Dracula should be, scary, disturbing, sexually seductive, an age switcher and, most of all, unpredictable. Not only that, but they had Anthony Hopkins, Cary Elwes, and Winona Ryder, who really shone in their roles, too. It may have had it’s flaws, but there was one thing that really caused this to be a downer to most… Keanu Reeves being cast as Jonathan Harker… if that does not sound bad enough… he has to fake a British accent.

4. Horror of Dracula
(1958) – Portrayed by Christopher Lee

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    The most seductive of all Dracula actors, Christopher Lee’s appearance really makes this film worth it. But there were so many other qualities in the movie that made this version one of the greatest adaptions. There was little to no gore in the film, losing a lot of disturbing elements, but the film, overall, was scary enough, using an eerie atmosphere and talented actors to it’s full advantage. Overall, being an aristocrat has never seemed more sexy, as Christopher Lee gained super stardom from his impressive performance.

3. Nosferatu the Vampyre
(1979) – Portrayed by Klaus Kinski


    By Werner Herzog, who knows how to make films very disturbing, and I mean VERY disturbing. It is proven here, as Herzog creates the most disturbing, not to forget the most scary, Dracula film of all time. His direction was excellent, and it stuck more to Nosferatu, 1922, than it did to the novel. Klaus Kinski really delivers a great & intense performance, much more realistic than anything we have seen from any Dracula movies before. The film does not capture any of the seductiveness which made the novel famous, but, for this picture that’s not the point at all. Dracula is more pathetic and sad here, he never smiles strangely, and he craves for blood desperately. Being more of a remake of the original Nosferatu than an adaption to the Dracula book, the names have not changed from the book, surprisingly, despite eliminating most of the novel’s characters.

2. Nosferatu
(1922) – Portrayed by Max Schreck
    For it’s time, this was just very chilling. Nobody was expecting a Dracula adaption this soon, so a film based on the book, aside from major differences, was just enthralling. The film kept the key characters and the plot, but Max Schreck’s portrayal gave such a different style to Dracula, as he became more demonic than humanistic. To look at him as Count Orlok, even now, is a bit scary. The production went through incredible lengths to get this completed, I’m not referring to the film Shadow of the Vampire, if that’s what you think. Overall, this particular film immediately became a classic for being truly scary in the 1920s, and yet, is still creepy to a modern day audience.

(1931) – Portrayed by Bella Lugosi

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       Whether he’s your favorite Dracula or not, Lugosi is the iconic image that pops into everybody’s head when anybody mentions Dracula. Mostly because this was the first, official, Dracula film ever made. The film itself was excellent, very scary for it’s time, but that seemed to age. Aside from that, the atmosphere seemed brilliantly dark, at least for the 30s. Lugosi’s presence on screen was very powerful and mesmerizing. Not only that, Lugosi’s acting was amazing, he made the movie what it was and is. Without him, I don’t think this film would have been as successful….. unless they cast Lon Chaney. Jr or Boris Karloff of course…


   This recipe was found at www.danatreat.com .  I like the old world look and the glazing.  It's sets them apart from all the other gingerbread cookies out there.  Good luck!

   Every so often I post something here and marvel that I have never told you about it before. How can this be my fourth Christmas season writing this blog and only the first time mentioning the best gingerbread cookie I have ever tasted? Who knows. Sometimes I just can’t make it all work. Last year, when my baking list was a mile long and I had to be as efficient as possible, I left this cookie off the list. For some reason, I got it in my head that they were too much work for a super busy season and off they went. For shame. They really aren’t any more work than anything else and they are the spiciest most perfectly textured gingerbread ever. And they are pretty.

   This is a recipe from Tartine. To make the cookies look pretty, you will need a Springerle rolling pin or plaque. The first year I made this cookie, I trekked down to the Pike Place Market to the original Sur la Table (did you know it started in Seattle?) with the intention to buy a pretty rolling pin. I am totally one of those people who can’t seem to find time to fold the laundry but can somehow create time to go and purchase an item in an out of the way spot. Amazon was not an option at that point or not one I knew about. Anyway. When I saw that the rolling pins were pricey, and really single use, I decided to go for more of a tile. Now a quick search on Amazon (I don’t have an affiliate program with them – they just have the best online selection) will turn up all sorts of options.
   Of course you can just roll out the dough and use your favorite cookie cutters and dispense with pretty. We made a couple of gingerbread men with the scraps of the dough and I assure you that they taste no worse than the pretty diamonds you see above.
A few words of advice. I’ve never made these with a textured rolling pin but if you own or buy a plaque like I have, I can tell you how best to work with this dough. I roll out the refrigerated dough, press the mold very firmly into the dough, and then use a paring knife to cut around the mold. Repeat until the dough is used up, re-roll scraps once. I bake those large diamonds on a baking sheet and as soon as they are out of the oven, I use a larger knife to cut each big diamond into smaller ones. You do this while the dough is still soft and it gives you a sharper edge then if you cut them separately before baking. I would imagine that any mold you use will work well using this technique. Some of my diamonds really held the imprint of the mold and others, not so much. Don’t worry – they all taste the same. I have made both the easy and the slightly less easy versions of the icing and I would stick with easy (powdered sugar and water and no candy thermometer). Just be sure to sift your powdered sugar so you don’t get any lumps.

Soft Glazed Gingerbread


Makes 12 to 20 cookies depending on size of cutters
I’m keeping it simple by just copying the recipe as written in the book. Feel free to use my tips above or not. Also, I’m not including the more complicated icing because it’s truly not worth the effort.


3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
4 tsp. ground ginger
1½ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ cup blackstrap or other dark molasses
2 tbsp. light corn syrup


1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. water

   To make the dough, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and mix well.
   Add the molasses and corn syrup and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer again and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and all the ingredients are well incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it on a large piece of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, cover the dough with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
   Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.
   Unwrap the dough and place on a floured work surface. If using a plaque with a design, roll our the dough 1/2-inch thick, lightly dust the op with flour, press your cookie molds over the dough, and then cut out the shapes with a small knife and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Alternatively, using the mold as a guide, cut around it with a small knife, flip the mold over so the design is facing you, and place the dough over it, pressing it into the design. Unmold the shapes onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.
   If using a patterned rolling pin, lightly dust the lined baking sheet with flour and transfer the dough to the pan. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick with a plain pin. Then, using the patterned pin, roll over the dough with enough pressure to ensure a clear impression of the design. Trim the sides with a small knife. It is not necessary to cut into smaller sizes before baking.
Bake the cookies until lightly golden along the sides but still soft to the touch in the centers, 7 to 15 minutes. the timing will depend on the size of the individual cookies, or if you have made a single large patterned piece that will be cut after baking.
   While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and water utnil smooth.
   When the cookies are ready, remove from the oven and let cool on the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, while the cookies are still warm, using even strokes, brush a light coat of glaze on the top of each cookie, evenly coating it. Let the cookies cool completely. When the glaze dries, it should leave a shiny opaque finish. If you have a used a patterned rolling pin to make a single large plaque, cut into the desired shapes with a small very sharp knife. The cookies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for about 2 weeks.


    Catholic Feast days are days set aside to remember important people who lived extraordinary lives. Feast days were celebrated through the course of Our faith from the time of Mary's birth all the way through today honoring the saints. Most saints and holy people have specially designated feast days. On those days we remember these holy men and women in a special way. Saint Anthony of Padua died on June 13th, 1231, which is his feast day.

Customs of St. Anthony's Festival

    On the Feast of this most wonderful of Saints, your priest might bless lilies for you to keep (this isn't a universal practice). The blessing of lilies, which remind us of St. Anthony's purity and have always been a symbol for him, stems from a miracle which took place in Revolutionary France: many priests and religious were murdered, so many churches and convents destroyed, but the faithful still showed up at a surviving church on the Feast of St. Anthony. Months later, it was discovered that lilies that had adorned the church at that feast were still fresh. Let the lilies beautify your house, or carry them with you, or press them in a book, etc. If your priest doesn't bless lilies, you can still use them non-sacramentally to remind you of one of the greatest Saints ever. The English of the Blessing of the Lilies is as follows:

The Blessing of Lilies on the Feast of St. Anthony

The priest vests in surplice and white stole, and says:

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with thy spirit.
P: Let us pray. God, the Creator and Preserver of the human race, the Lover of holy purity, the Giver of supernatural grace, and the Dispenser of everlasting salvation; bless + these lilies which we, Thy humble servants, present to Thee today as an act of thanksgiving and in honor of St. Anthony, Thy confessor, and with a request for Thy blessing. Pour out on them, by the saving sign + of the holy cross, Thy dew from on high. Thou in Thy great kindness hast given them to man, and endowed them with a sweet fragrance to lighten the burden of the sick. Therefore, let them be filled with such power that, whether they are used by the sick, or kept in homes or other places, or devoutly carried on one's person, they may serve to drive out evil spirits, safeguard holy chastity, and turn away illness--all this through the prayers of St. Anthony--and finally impart to Thy servants grace and peace; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

Then he sprinkles the lilies with holy water, saying:

P: Sprinkle me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Pray for us, St. Anthony.
All: That we may be worthy of Christ's promise.
P: Let us pray. We beg Thee, O Lord, that Thy people may be helped by the constant and devout intercession of Blessed Anthony, Thy illustrious confessor. May he assist us to be worthy of Thy grace in this life, and to attain everlasting joys in the life to come; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

After this the lilies are distributed to the people.

    Another custom on this day is known as "St. Anthony's Bread" and goes back to A.D. 1263 when a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua as it was still being built. The mother besought St. Anthony and promised that if her child were restored to life, she would give to the poor an amount of wheat equal to the weight of her child. Of course her son was saved, and her promise was kept. "St. Anthony's Bread," then, is the promise of giving alms in return for a favor asked of God through St. Anthony's intercession (the custom also takes place throughout the year when parents give alms after placing their baby under the patronage of St. Anthony). In some places, the custom has a literal parallel in that loaves of bread might be blessed and given away at church or, generally, to the poor.
    Because of St. Anthony's history of being invoked by single women in search of a husband, today is a good day for single people who have a vocation to marriage to make a visit to a church or shrine dedicated to St. Anthony!

    In Lisbon, his birthplace, it is a traditional day for getting married (women who get married on this day are called "brides of St. Anthony"). So popular are weddings on this day in Lisbon, that the city hall hosts them for free if the couple are poor. St. Anthony altars are built and decorated, parades are held, bonfires lit, grilled sardines and sangria are enjoyed.

1 (750-ml) bottle red wine (Rioja, if possible)
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange flavored liqueur (triple sec or Grand Marnier)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 apple, cored, and cut into thin wedges
1 (750-ml) bottle sparkling water, chilled
    Combine everything but the sparkling water in a large plastic container or glass pitchers. Cover and chill completely, 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the sparkling water, pour over ice cubes, and enjoy.
    It is also customary to decorate with pots of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) and to give some away to friends with prayers invoking our Saint (tea made from basil is good for headaches, fevers, stomach aches, and indigestion -- but it should not be drunk by pregnant women).

    Finally, because he is also especially cherished by the Italian people, parishes with large Italian populations might host great festivals on this day, rather like the Italian festivals held in honor of St. Joseph on 19 March, so keep an eye out for one in your area.

Note: Because St. Anthony was buried on a Tuesday and many miracles accompanied his funeral, Tuesdays are special days of honoring him throughout the year. It is customary to pray a Novena to him on thirteen consecutive Tuesdays.

A Multitude of Fish

    No sooner had he spoken a few words when suddenly so great a multitude of fish, both small and great, approached the bank on which he stood. All the fish kept their heads out of the water, and seemed to be looking attentively on St Anthony's face; all were ranged in perfect order and most peacefully, the smaller ones in front near the bank, after them came those a little bigger, and last of all, were the water was deeper, the largest.
    As he continued speaking, the fish began to open their mouths and bow their heads, endeavoring as much as was in their power to express their reverence. The people of the city, hearing of the miracle, made haste to go and witness it.