THEATRE / The ultimate status symbol: Paul Taylor on The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Maggie Smith

'The chin a little higher, dear,' Lady Bracknell advises Cecily, her prospective niece-in-law. 'Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present.' It's not a fashion tip she follows all that religiously herself, though, or at least not in Maggie Smith's hilarious version of the dreadnought dowager now on view at the Aldwych. When she first sweeps in, the head may be reared back but the chin is tucked down, in tight disapproving mode, against the chest. Replace that imperious feathered hat with a head-scarf and milady's pursed moues and her air of pinched, almost predatory respectability would start to look distinctly suburban.

Health: Blood-lust in the clinic: Pure fiction? Psychiatrists know better. Raj Persaud unearths some facts about the living, the dead and the undead

LIKE a bat out of hell, vampire-mania has hit town with the opening of Francis Ford Coppola's blockbuster, Bram Stoker's Dracula. But what the film will not tell you is that the vampire myth seems to have arisen from unexplained real-life events and that 'vampirism' is a rare disease treated by doctors.

FILM / Absolutely ravishing: Bram Stoker's Dracula

THEY call it Bram Stoker's Dracula, but that won't kid anyone for long. One look at the hypercharged Gothic fantasia unfurling across the screen and you realise this Dracula is the creation of someone very much of our time, someone extravagantly talented and hopelessly muddled - someone like Francis Ford Coppola, in fact. While the form of Stoker's fable has largely been retained - a patchwork of journals, letters and newspaper reports - it's been shaken down and souped up as a luscious spectacle. Coppola's pyrotechnics have gatecrashed the novel and overturned its fin de siecle furniture.

FILM / The beautiful and the damned: Francis Ford Coppola's version of Dracula

SUCCESS in the genre of the Gothic depends on a partial transformation of terror into beauty, and by that standard Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (18) is a failure, but for an unusual reason: the transformation of terror into beauty is absolute, leaving no ghost of a shudder behind. Why should we pretend to be frightened, when in fact we are looking forward to the next astonishing manifestation of what is only notionally evil? How can we be in suspense when we know that our appetite for lurid visual truffles will be fed without a moment's stinting? Even at the film's few sanguinary moments, there is no temptation to look away, since violence too is swallowed up - along with the plot - by the ravishments of design.

SHOW PEOPLE / Five hundred years at the top: 61. Count Dracula

SHERLOCK HOLMES comes close. Frankenstein has not done badly. Gerard Depardieu may have made more films. But none has left his mark on the screen like Vlad the Impaler, Count Dracula.

ARTS / In a league of his own: Screen Actor of the Year

SO FAREWELL then, Lieutenant Ripley. In the last and least impressive of the Alien trilogy, Sigourney Weaver came back, went bald and died a triumphant death. The tale was gungy and depressed, but Weaver tied her character fast to movie mythology; resilient and amused, she kept her self-possession even when there wasn't much self left to possess, half of it having been rented out to a lodger with eight legs. It's a thunderful life, Ripley, but you did your best.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there