Workshop Wednesday

Dracula

Here we are, for part two of our tale. I had to take a week off while I focused on the story in my head, trying to figure out where to go with it (which we'll discuss in more detail after this section of the story), but suffice it to say I'm very pleased with how this is going so far. The story is really coming together in a way that feels cool and very different from the original novel.

If you haven't already read part one of this series, I'd recommend hitting that first before diving into this second part here.

Dracula: Part 2

FADE IN.

INT: CASTLE DRACULA, CELLS, NIGHT.

DRACULA comes in to the prison hallway, dragging an unconscious MINA behind him. JONATHAN sits in one of the cells, looking rather gaunt. He looks up at DRACULA as the vampire walks into his view, then resignedly raises a wrist (covered in scabs) for the vampire. DRACULA chuckles then unlocks the prison door.

DRACULA:

Not tonight, my friend. Instead, I've brought you someone special.

DRACULA shoves MINA into the cell, closing the door behind her.

JONATHAN:

MINA!

He gets up, unsteadily but as quickly as he can, to catch the poor girl before she topples over.

JONATHAN:

You monster! What have you done to her!

DRACULA gives him a look, as if to say, "you know that answer," before walking off, laughing to himself.

JONATHAN cradles MINA to him.

JONATHAN:

MINA! Oh, MINA! Why are you here?

MINA's eyes open, very muzzy, and she turns her head to her fiance.

MINA:

JONATHAN? I found you...

JONATHAN:

Why are you here, MINA? Why have you come?

MINA:

You... invited me...

JONATHAN:

...did I?

INT: CASTLE DRACULA, JONATHAN'S CHAMBERS, PAST, NIGHT.

We see, like a dream, JONATHAN hunched over a desk, his pen quivering in his hand, struggling to write a letter. DRACULA stands behind him, watching.

DRACULA:

Write the letter. Call for your lover. Bring her here.

JONATHAN:

MINA...

DRACULA:

Yes. Your precious MINA. Bring her to me.

JONATHAN visibly struggles with his focus, his hand trembling over the ink pot. He shakes himself, knocking over the ink.

JONATHAN:

NO!

DRACULA is suddenly right there, right in front of him, JONATHAN's face gripped in DRACULA's suddenly very claw-like hand. He's forced to look into DRACULA's eyes, and he succumbs to the pressure.

DRACULA:

WRITE IT!

JONATHAN:

Yes... master...

INT: CASTLE DRACULA, CELLS, NIGHT.

JONATHAN looks disturbed, shocked at what he's just remembered.

JONATHAN:

Oh, God! I did! No! I'm so sorry, MINA.

MINA:

Not your fault... Vampire... Too strong.

JONATHAN gives MINA a look.

JONATHAN:

Vampire?

MINA:

Fiend of the night. Risen from the dead. Feeds on the blood of the living.

JONATHAN takes a beat, appraising the situation.

JONATHAN:

You really believe that. That's why you came.

MINA:

I figured it out. Your letters. It was obvious.

JONATHAN:

That damn family of yours and their foolish tales.

MINA sits up, a bit of a flush to her cheeks.

MINA:

They were right. Not just about vampires, but that there was some kind of vampire king. A master ruling over his subjects.

JONATHAN:

So you traveled halfway across the world to fight some fairytale creature.

MINA:

Don't start!

JONATHAN:

It's not right! A society lady shouldn't go around like this.

MINA:

You needed help!

JONATHAN:

And I see it went very well. You really think I was trapped by a so-called vampire-

MINA:

How do you explain all this?!

JONATHAN:

I was just sick. Look, I'm already feeling better. The Count he's-

And here JONATHAN's gaze gets all muzzy as he tries to recall.

FLASH OF WHITE.

INT: CASTLE DRACULA, JONATHAN'S CHAMBERS, PAST NIGHT.

We see the Count lean over Jonathan, feeding from his wrist.

INT: CASTLE DRACULA, CELLS, NIGHT.

JONATHAN:

Just a bit of blood-letting. Leeches... I think...

MINA:

He was right, you really can't remember.

JONATHAN:

I'm sorry, what?

MINA:

You're such a closed-minded idiot.

JONATHAN:

MINA!

MINA:

Even when presented with the evidence you just can't bring yourself to admit the truth.

JONATHAN:

I'm just sick! That's all!

MINA:

Worse, you can't admit that I can handle myself.

JONATHAN:

Uhm, you are in a cell with me.

MINA:

We could have had something special.

JONATHAN:

Wha-

MINA give JONATHAN an evil look, then she smiles wide, revealing fangs.

MINA:

You would have been mine forever. The master gave you to me. But, instead, you'll just be our vassal. A pet. Would you like that.

JONATHAN:

No! MINA! I-

MINA lunges in, biting into his neck, blood pouring out, while JONATHAN whimpers. She pulls away, blood smeared across her face.

MINA:

Tell me you want to be my sad little pet.

She goes back in to feed.

JONATHAN:

Yes... mistress...

Then he falls backwards, with MINA catching him, cradling him like he cradled her at the start of this sequence. We watch as she feeds on the last of his life.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.

EXT: CASTLE DRACULA, COURTYARD, LATE AFTERNOON.

A series of wagons ride into the courtyard, each manned by a pair of workers from the village. JONATHAN is there, cloaked and lurking in the shadows, directing the men who pick up a selection of boxes, transferring them to the wagons.

JONATHAN:

Be careful with those. They are very... precious.

He watches the men work for a few minutes before heading inside.

INT: CASTLE DRACULA, JONATHAN'S FORMER CHAMBERS, DUSK.

JONATHAN walks into the room and we see MINA in a large bath, her hair up, soaking. The tub is near a roaring fire which casts an ominous light across the room. She daintily raises a foot from the tub, washing it with a cloth that was floating. We see blood is stained down her front, fresh, and that's when the camera pans out to reveal the body of a dead servant girl on the floor near the tub.

JONATHAN:

The men are nearly done loading the wagons.

MINA:

Good. You will travel with the master to make sure nothing happens.

JONATHAN:

Yes, mistress.

MINA continues to wash as if this conversation doesn't matter to her.

MINA:

Defend them with your life, if you must.

JONATHAN:

I will.

MINA looks up, a stern expression on her face.

MINA:

JONATHAN.

JONATHAN:

With my life, mistress.

MINA goes back to washing.

JONATHAN:

But... mistress... where will you be?

MINA:

I traveled here by train, pet. We must maintain appearances so I will use my return ticket to travel home.

JONATHAN:

That seems unwise.

MINA gives him a look.

JONATHAN:

I only mean that you will be trapped on the train during the day. You could be... injured.

MINA snaps her fingers and two large dogs, almost wolves, evil and black looking, come padding into the room. They curl up by the dead girl.

MINA:

The Count has left me well protected.

JONATHAN:

Yes, mistress.

JONATHAN turns to leave.

MINA:

Oh, and JONATHAN.

JONATHAN:

Yes, mistress?

MINA:

Send up another servant girl. This one is broken.

EXT: CASTLE DRACULA, COURTYARD, NIGHT.

JONATHAN hops up onto one of the wagons as the various loaded carts pull out. They exit the courtyard as DRACULA's carriage, unmanned but drawn by two gorgeous horses. MINA comes out into the courtyard, bedecked in a gorgeous gown, much nicer than the dress she arrived in, a cloak billowing around her like wings. Two black hounds pad up beside her. The door to the carriage opens on its own and she gets in, followed by the dogs. The carriage then starts to roll, heading back out into the night.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.

EXT: CARFAX ABBEY, COURTYARD, NIGHT.

Lights burn in the courtyard as workers furiously work to rebuild the structure around the abbey. MINA sit outside on a lounge, sunning herself as if it were daylight, a fan lazily waving in her hand. A carriage rides up, and out hops a real cowboy, QUINCEY MORRIS. He rushes up to MINA who, without looking at him, lowers her hand out as he kneels down. QUINCEY kisses the extended hand.

MINA:

Ah, Sir Quincey Morris.

QUINCEY:

Just QUINCEY, Lady MINA. Of the Great State of Texas. I’m not sir, but I am so glad you accepted my invitation.

MINA acts dismissive.

MINA:

Yes, a pleasure, I'm sure.

QUINCEY looks around.

QUINCEY:

Your workers are still going?

MINA:

Oh, they only work at night so I can keep an eye on them. I want everything just so.

QUINCEY:

Why not have them work during the day?

MINA:

Because during the day I am... otherwise indisposed.

MINA rises, like a luxurious cat, and turns to QUINCEY.

MINA:

They've been working curiously for over a month now-

QUINCEY interrupts, much to MINA's displeasure.

QUINCEY:

Yes, it's simply the talk of the town. You sweep into town, a lady of some means on her own, and have spent all your time here fixing up this wretched place.

MINA gives him a look.

MINA:

It has character. And soon will be mended, inside and out. The interior is already divine, quite up to proper standards for my lifestyle.

QUINCEY:

May I see?

MINA stands, and QUINCEY follows suit.

MINA:

Certainly. Although I had original intended to unveil it next month. But I suppose, if you can keep a secret.

QUINCEY nods.

QUINCEY:

You have my word, dear lady. My lips are sealed.

MINA walks off, a sultry look on her face.

MINA:

Hopefully not.

INT: CARFAX ABBEY, FOYER, NIGHT.

MINA saunters into the building, QUINCEY hot on her heels. We see that while the exterior is still a work in progress, the interior of the building has been completely redone. Although somber in style, as would befit the decorating tastes of a vampire, it is still lush and exquisite, freshly plastered and painted, hung in brocade and velvet, with fine antiques and artwork sitting atop floors of glossy, dark marble. QUINCEY stops when he see the extravagant decoration.

QUINCEY:

This is practically a palace. So different from how it was before.

MINA:

Oh, I don't know...

CROSSFADE.

INT: CARFAX ABBEY, FOYER, PAST, NIGHT.

We fade into how the Abbey was a month before, little more than ruins (not unlike the Count's old abode). MINA moves through the ruins like a feral animal, delighting in the ruins, running her fingers along old stone and fallen rubble.

MINA (V.O.):

It had real charm. And the bones where there. I do love picking at bones.

INT: CARFAX ABBEY, FOYER, NIGHT.

QUINCEY:

But how could you afford this. Are you secretly royalty?

MINA laughs, a laugh that both rings like bells and tolls like them, too.

MINA:

I... was given a fair stipend. Old money. A Count of some renown, related by... blood. And when I saw this place, I knew it would be home.

MINA, takes one last look around the Abbey, then turns her full focus on QUINCEY.

MINA:

But you came here with an invitation.

QUINCEY:

Yes... A friend of mine is having a soiree tonight. Lord Goldaming. He's been dying too meet you as well.

MINA:

Oh my, two gentlemen callers. How improper.

QUINCEY:

Oh no! I didn't mean-

MINA laughs that same, oddly ringing laugh.

MINA:

Just a jest, good sir. Merely a bit of fun. I thought all you Americans were brash and bold but here you are, blushing at the thought of the impropriety.

QUINCEY:

I wouldn't say I was blushing-

MINA leans in, running her hand along his throat.

MINA:

I like it.

She pulls away before he can pull himself together to react.

MINA:

But a party, I can't go dressed like this.

QUINCEY looks her over, seeing her dressed in a lovely gown.

QUINCEY:

You look lovely.

MINA:

This old thing? It simply won't do. No, you wait here while I change. I won't be long. Play with my puppies while you wait.

QUINCEY watches as she saunters out of the room, her hands already working the hooks on her dress so that as she leaves the next hall, which we can just see down, the gown falls off revealing her thing undergarments. QUINCEY blushes and turns away.

QUINCEY:

...puppies?

And in come bounding those two large, black dogs. They see QUINCEY and go from happy dogs to suddenly on alert, sitting there, staring at him. He puts out his hand slightly and then both start to growl.

SFX: Menacing dog growl.

He lowers his hand and they stop. Almost immediately MINA comes back out, dressed in an even more exquisite gown, the finest fabrics (although not very demurely cut), her hair done up and fresh makeup applied.

QUINCEY:

That was quick indeed. And you look... so...

MINA:

Oh, it was nothing.

INT: CARFAX ABBEY, MINA'S CHAMBERS, NIGHT.

We see MINA walk in, dressed in her undergarments. Once she's fully in the room, and out of sight of QUINCEY, she changes into mist, her garments falling to the floor. A dress lays on the bed, the dress she was wearing when she reemerged, and we see the mist float inside and fill it. The dress rises and then, as the mist coalesces, MINA is there, her hair up and face full painted. She smiles, predatory, then leaves the room.

INT: CARFAX ABBEY, FOYER, NIGHT.

MINA:

Shall we go?

QUINCEY stands, slowly, one eye on the dogs, which are just acting like dogs once more. He offers his arm and MINA graciously accepts. As the two walk out, MINA pats the puppies on the head.

MINA:

Go play with our other pet.

The dogs bark and then rush off towards another part of the house.

INT: CARFAX ABBEY, BACK HALLWAY, NIGHT.

The dogs rush through the hall and to a staircase leading down in the depths of the Abbey.

INT: CARFAX ABBEY, CATACOMBS, NIGHT.

The dogs come barreling into the deep catacombs. The room is filled with the various long boxes from Castle Dracula, but it's the coffin that stands in the middle of the room, on a dais, that commands the attention. It's made of lovingly polished wood, obviously well cared for by the man sleeping next to it, JONATHAN. As the dogs charge in, JONATHAN looks up, then leans over to the coffin, running a hand along the side.

JONATHAN:

Master, it is evening now. You must rise and... feed.

Smoke comes out of the coffin from under the lid, tendrils at first before pouring out. The smoke forms and coalesces into the shape of Dracula (naked, of course, since the mist doesn't have clothes in it, as MINA illustrated). He stretches, then looks down at JONATHAN.

DRACULA:

Did I hear something about a party?

End of Part 2:

It took me a little while to gain my footing on this section simply because the plan I had in my head didn't really work once I was done writing the first section. My plan was to use Mina being attacked by Dracula as the end of the first section and then, to mirror that, have Mina taking Jonathan as a vampire for the end of the section (ten more minutes in, effectively). But the pacing of it was all wrong. For the opening of this section to drag out that long I would have had to have more flashbacks, maybe focusing on Jonathan exploring the castle and fighting the Brides. It was all filler though and I hated it -- we already know what happens to both Jonathan and the Brides so why dwell on characters who will, soon enough, meet their fates. Unnecessary prequel, really.

So instead I sped up that section to just a few minutes and then moved ahead with the next part, with Mina already in England, living the high life of a (predatory) noble woman. This part of the story is important to me because, in other versions of Dracula (including the original novel), Mina is such a passive character. Everyone is trying to save her but she never works to save herself. I have to image that kind of attitude towards woman had to be tiresome back in the day so, instead, I'm letting Mina out -- out of her cage, out of her original role in English society, and out to be a main character in her own right.

In the process it does also have the effect of making the vampires, and not the menfolk, the primary characters of the movie giving us a very different perspective on the tale. I like that a lot.