The following contains spoilers for Dracula Untold and talks about specific characters as well as a character who never made it to the screen. If you haven’t seen the film yet, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Dracula Untold marks the end of a long journey for the script formerly known as Dracula: Year Zero. Its progress has been well chronicled here at Shock, since the film has been in development since the birth of this site back in 2007. Initially, it was going to serve as a directing vehicle for Dark City and I, Robot‘s Alex Proyas and, for a spell, Sam Worthington was circling to star as Vlad (aka “Dracula”).
It goes without saying that a film that has been in development for several years is going to go through various incarnations, and as someone who has been tracking this film, there are two notable changes that were made to the film I wanted to talk about. Especially since they were elements of the story that made it through principal photography yet were ultimately excised somewhere in post-production.
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) plays a pivotal role in Dracula Untold. His character – credited as the “master vampire” – meets Vlad at the heart of Broken Tooth Mountain and is the one responsible for putting the bite on Vlad and giving the prince his dark powers (the ability to change into a swarm of bats, see in the dark, gain incredible strength and more). This Master Vampire knows the rules of the curse and can only be freed from his mountain imprisonment if Vlad succumbs to the “the thirst” and fully accepts his vampiric ways.
In the original script, the Master Vampire had a name: Caligula, the notorious Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus who was assassinated in 41 A.D.
Dracula Untold‘s script posited that Caligula didn’t die and, in fact, lived on in a temple at the heart of Broken-Tooth Mountain. Caligula – as a supporting character – was a creative decision that stuck through shooting. When I was on set, a tour of the production office revealed an eerie, cracked Roman mask that Caligula wears when he is first revealed. In an adjoining shooting stage, work was being done on the temple where Vlad and Caligula interact.
This cool back story and these scenes were obviously nixed in favor of something more streamlined and simple. And given Dance’s involvement in the final scene of Dracula Untold – a sequence set in present day that hints at the larger “shared monster cinematic universe” that Universal is at work on – the powers-that-be clearly have something bigger in store for the Master Vampire.
Also worth mentioning is a character who was cut out of the film entirely: The witch known as the Baba Yaga. Actress Samantha Barks was cast in the role, but her scenes hit the cutting room floor. The witch lived in a house that could move along the ground via thousands of chicken legs. Vlad encounters her on his return trip from Broken Tooth Mountain as he is getting accustomed to his new powers. I’m not entirely sure if they shot scenes with Barks, but concept art of her house was on display during my set visit.
Again, another element to the film that would have carried Dracula Untold into interesting places.
There are other details about Dracula Untold that were discarded in the journey from script to the big screen. The story originally shed light on explaining the “rules” of Dracula’s powers. It explained why he could transform into creatures of the night (on screen, he turns into a swarm of bats, but he also took the shape of a wolf in the script), why a wooden stake through the heart can kill him and why he should avoid silver or cross running water.
Alas, we got what we got on screen, but know that there is a lot left untold about Dracula Untold.