Dracula Untold, available today on Blu-ray and DVD, offers a new spin on the legendary vampire’s origin story by blending the narrative of Bram Stoker‘s villain with the real-life history of Vlad Tepes, a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a. Vlad Dracula – the so-called inspiration for the Count (though modern research indicates there’s but a tenuous link between them).
In anticipation of the film’s home video release, Collider was invited to Romania where we traversed the countryside to study up on the history of Vlad and how it (just barely) intersects with the legend of Stoker’s Dracula. While there, we journeyed to a number of destinations associated with the Dracula myth, including “Dracula’s Castle” and the Princely Palace where Vlad actually ruled over his kingdom of Wallachia. We also spoke with a couple extremely knowledgeable local experts and the man himself, Mr. Luke Evans, who stars as Vlad in Dracula Untold. Over the next few days I’ll be sharing what I learned with you guys, and we’re kicking things off today with a video that takes you inside these historical estates and gives a little insight into the man behind the myth.
Bran Castle, a.k.a. Dracula’s Castle, is situated in Transylvania, just north of the border to Wallachia, and was constructed as a defensive fortress in the 14th century. In an interesting bit of historical oddity, Bran Castle has little to do with either Vlad or Dracula. While Vlad Tepes did pass through Bran on his military excursions, he never actually lived at the castle. There is, however, a popular story that he was imprisoned here for over a week. The connection to Dracula is even more tenuous. It’s believed that Bram Stoker – who never actually visited Romania, but did extensive research – based his depiction of Castle Dracula off an image or description of Bran Castle. While the connection is thin, there is some plausibility to it, as Bran Castle is the time-appropriate castle in Romania that matches the description for Castle Dracula. Today, the castle is best known throughout Romania as the favorite residence of beloved Queen Maria, who ruled in the early 20th century.
The history of the Princely Palace in Targoviste is much more straightforward. It was here that the real-life Vlad ruled over his kingdom, and is the headquarters from which he mounted his military campaigns. Vlad Tepes, the infamous “Impaler”, is notorious the world-over for his atrocities (mainly impaling law-breakers on spikes – an unfathomably torturous and slow death, often lasting days), he is regarded as a hero throughout Romania for his policies, which showed no deference to the upper classes, creating a sort of morbid equality between the social strata. While his fortress fell to the ravages of nature over the centuries and lies now in ruins, its red brick foundation provides a stark contrast to the romantic details of Bran Castle.
Check back over the next few days for a more detailed look into history behind Dracula Untold and our exclusive video interview with Luke Evans.