March 26, 2009

Between now and the summer Bankstone News is profiling some of the locations we’ll be calling at on our monkey-bike-back charity fundraising marathon this year (see previous news stories for details). This week we’re wearing eye-liner.

North Yorkshire fishing port Whitby provides the picturesque setting for several of the key scenes in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, template for no end of Gothic weirdness to follow.

Here the Russian ship Demeter washes ashore in a storm, deserted but for its dead captain roped to the mast, with “something like a large wolf” seen leaping ashore. Here Lucy Westenra, best friend of the hero’s fiancèe, turns vampyric and gets the obligatory stake through the heart. Here the fiancèe herself, Wilhelmina “Mina” Murray, gets severely freaked out amongst the graves by moonlit ruin Whitby Abbey.

Here too, in the year of our Lord 1977, BBC Films came to make its acclaimed two-part mini-series Count Dracula (its title cleverly avoiding confusion with other well-known Draculas, e.g. East-End boxer Terry Dracula, agony aunt Jackie Dracula, and the BBC’s own continuity announcer Hermione Dracula).

The BBC production sees French smoothy Louis Jourdan ascending walls in a distinctly more bat-like fashion that Adam West ever managed, flying by the power of an unfurled black cape, lycanthropecising, exuding icy charm. and general hamming it up. There’s plenty of bloody fanged strumpets and dry ice swishing round assorted cemeteries, and Frank Finlay puts in an accomplished performance as vampire nemesis Eddie Van Helsing.

Undaunted by all this, Bankstone’s brave monkey bike boys will concentrate on avoiding the fate of Isadora Duncan by watching carefully where they drape their capes. Fangs in advance for helping in their noble cause by visiting justgiving.com/monkeymoviestars to support a more benevolent and less sinister airborne presence in the skies above North East England: the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service.



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