Inside Film

Love at first bite: Why there’s a lot at stake in getting Dracula right

As Nicolas Cage plays the vampire in Chris McKay’s new horror-comedy ‘Renfield’ in cinemas this week, Geoffrey Macnab looks back at the long line of actors sinking their teeth into the role and says Cage has got that heady mix of arrogance and insecurity all the best bloodsuckers share

Friday 14 April 2023 06:30 BST
Nicolas Cage as Dracula in Chris McKay’s ‘Renfield’
Nicolas Cage as Dracula in Chris McKay’s ‘Renfield’ (Universal Studios)

Pale-skinned and cadaverous but with a dash of matinee idol gallantry about him, Nicolas Cage’s Dracula looks to the Transylvanian manor born. Cage plays the timeless vampire anti-hero in Chris McKay’s uproarious new horror-comedy Renfield. You can’t think of many actors better suited for the role. The veteran American A-lister, turned B-movie star combines elegance and feral intensity. His Dracula is very courteous and politely spoken but that doesn’t stop him from gorging on live flesh or indulging in acts of extreme, mind-blowing violence.

The setting is New Orleans in the present day. Dracula has come to town for some rest and recuperation and is hiding out in a disused old hospital in The Big Easy. He’s not so much the prince of darkness as the boss from hell. Nicholas Hoult plays his overworked and oppressed “helper”, RM Renfield, who makes sure the Count has plenty of what he craves most, namely busloads of nubile cheerleaders whose blood he can sup on.

Cage’s Dracula is a jaded narcissist – a lounge lizard who speaks in a husky whisper and expects utter devotion from the hapless, insect-chewing Renfield. The plot throws in drug gangs, police corruption and a doughty traffic cop (Awkwafina) who takes a shine to Renfield.

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