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Film / Dracula Untold

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"Sometimes, what the world needs isn't a hero. Sometimes, what it needs... is a monster."
Vlad "the Impaler" Dracula

Dracula Untold is a 2014 British-American Dark Fantasy Action Horror film directed by Gary Shore and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, released by Universal Studios. The film explores the origins of the legendary Count Dracula (Luke Evans), weaving vampire mythology with the true history of Prince Vlad the Impaler, depicting Dracula as a flawed hero in a tragic love story set in a dark age of magic and war.

After production on the film finished, its ending was reshot to tie into the Dark Universe, a planned Shared Universe of the classic Universal Monsters in the spirit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the film was ultimately removed from continuity. Instead, the first (and last) film of that setting ended up being The Mummy.

The film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Charles Dance as a vampire? Not the first time he played one. Also, in Last Action Hero, Charles Dance's character claimed that he could unleash Dracula.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Of both the vampire and the human Vlad the Impaler, making the titular character more of an antihero than a monster. As a vampire, Vlad retains his initial personality throughout and never goes truly evil, including a final attempted Heroic Sacrifice. As that man, the reasons why Vlad was so feared and had that name are greatly downplayed and he's even suggested to dislike that bit of history. Even taking the historical reputation of Vlad as inflated by his enemies, that's going a bit far.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The theme song for the Japanese release is "VAMPIRE'S LOVE" by VAMPS.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: The other vampires killed EVERYBODY in the battlefield as Vlad fought Mehmet. Only Vlad's son, who was prisoner of Mehmet, remained... with his tasty blood still in his veins.
  • Animorphism: Vlad Dracula's shifting abilities invoke this.
  • Appropriated Appellation: When he was initially reminded that he's the "son of the devil", Vlad corrected this: Dracula means "son of the dragon". However, at the climax of the movie he says "I'm Dracula, son of the devil".
  • Armies Are Evil: The Ottoman army, headed by Mehmed, serves as the main antagonistic force. Contrarily, if Vlad even has an army, it is never seen.
  • Armor Is Useless: Vlad's armor evaporates to allow a stake to pierce him. Subverted in that he was setting himself up to dematerialize into a bat swarm.
  • Artistic License History: Has its own page.
  • Audible Sharpness: Vlad and his men have the noisiest swords in recent cinema.
  • Badass Boast: Vlad III Dracula delivers a few.
    Vlad III Dracula: Do you think you are alive because you can FIGHT?! YOU ARE ALIVE BECAUSE OF ME! BECAUSE OF WHAT I DID TO SAVE YOU!
    Vlad III Dracula: Never forget who I am!
  • Badass Cape: Vlad's Armor features a bright red cape that he wears during his climb to the Elder Vampire's Tomb.
  • Badass Longcoat: Also invoked by Dracula as he sends his bat army to smash the enemy and afterwards when he is standing Atop a Mountain of Corpses made from his Curbstomp Battle with the Ottoman army.
  • Barrier Maiden: Crossed with Apocalypse Maiden. If Vlad manages to resist drinking human blood for the three days needed to reverse his vampirism, the elder vampire won't be able to escape his cave and wreak havoc. If he doesn't due to, say, needing to use the power a bit longer or giving in to temptation...
  • Bat Out of Hell: Vlad III Dracula has the power to invoke Types I and II.
  • Bat Scare: Happens when Vlad and his men are about to search the cave. Unusually, it doesn't scare them much, just startles the audience.
  • Battle Epic: Dracula's war against the Ottoman Empire.
  • Big Bad: Sultan Mehmet.
  • Big "NO!": Ingeras delivers a truly heartrending one as he's dragged away from Vlad (who's about to part the clouds and burn both himself and his vampire host to death) by Brother Lucian.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Vlad's POV-shots as he's racing through the forest appear to combine echolocation with thermographic vision, as trees are shown as vague silhouettes that sharpen into clarity with every ultrasound-burst, while warm-blooded soldiers duck and weave between them, glowing red.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Vlad makes a deal with the Elder Vampire (who himself made a deal with a demon) for demonic power to save his people and his gruesome past is told as having razed villages and impaled hundreds upon thousands in the past feeling nothing. He admits his monstrous past and is ashamed of it, but all of his evil deeds including becoming a vampire are to prevent something worse from happening. The Sultan Mehmet plans to conquer all of Europe, force religious conversion, and demands a thousand boys including Dracula's son so they can be turned into soldiers.
  • Bling of War: Mehmet's armour.
  • Brutal Honesty: The Elder Vampire is completely upfront about the consequences that will occur once Vlad becomes a vampire and if he ultimately gives in to his bloodlust.
    Vlad: And if I feed?
    Elder Vampire: Then the price would be worse than if you had never stepped in here.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • One of the Janissaries, Bright Eyes, threatens a father and his son in Vlad's court. When Vlad intervenes, he brings up his reputation and Bright Eyes shrugs it off, apparently thinking it's no big deal to piss off someone who earned the name "The Impaler". Appropriately enough, in the climax, they spot each other, and Vlad effortlessly defeats him and pins him to a wooden post with his own weapon without using his vampiric powers, leaving him alive for the boy he threatened earlier, now a vampire himself, to finish him off.
    • The Ottomans in general are repeatedly needlessly antagonistic towards Vlad, a loyal vassal of theirs who also has a reputation as an insanely brutal killing machine. On multiple occasions Vlad offers them a way to settle their dispute in a way that benefits them and lets both parties save face, but they prefer to demand the resolution that's most harmful and degrading to Vlad and even taunt him about it when it looks like he'll comply. It's inevitable that the Ottoman's "Ass" in Ambassador ends up getting chopped to pieces for his trouble.
  • Cassandra Truth: The opening of the film features Vlad and his men coming across what remains of a group of Turkish scouts that have washed down a mountain river. Vlad soon discovers the Elder Vampire, who was the one who slaughtered them when they entered his cave. When the Janissaries arrive in Vlad's court to remind him of his tribute, they bring up the missing scouts, and Vlad replies calmly and honestly that he didn't kill them (without mentioning the true cause of their demise). The Janissaries evidently don't believe him, with their leader even bringing up his past deeds as evidence of his bloodlust.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Vlad is forced to pay silver coins as tribute to Mehmet. Silver hurts vampires. Mehmet uses the silver when they fight in the final battle.
  • Clifftop Caterwauling: Vlad as he smashes his bat army (and his fist) from a mountaintop.
  • Crazy-Prepared: When Vlad confronts Mehmet near the film's climax, Mehmet has scattered thousands of silver coins all over the floor of his tent, is prepared to fight with a sword made from pure silver, and has dozens of bags of silver coins hanging from the fixtures, waiting to be sliced open at a moment's notice.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Vlad's first battle against the Ottoman army after gaining his powers is against 1000 men. He kills all of them with no problem and then mounts their impaled bodies on stakes as a message to Mehmed.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Vlad's abilities after he becomes a vampire are extremely powerful, being able to curbstomp entire armies in a single battle, but comes at the price of him having blood thirst and being an abomination in the sight of God and man, causing his allies to turn against him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Vlad's days as the Lord Impaler in the Turkish army.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Double Subverted. Vlad III Dracula can walk about during daylight, but only during an overcast day and not in direct sunlight, which hurts his skin.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • The Elder Vampire's ritual gave Vlad incredible power but at the price of his humanity by turning him into a vampire.
    • The Elder Vampire got his powers from an actual demon, according to himself and a history book Vlad had in his library.
  • Death from Above: Vlad invokes this when he drops his bat army right on top of the Ottomans.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The film wasn't originally intended to be part of a new "monster universe", but the ending was altered to allow for this.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The Ottomans invoked this when the envoy mentioned taking Vlad's son and 1000 boys for their army. Vlad subsequently kills them all. Played with in that at the time he really was just a subservient vassal that they could boss around with no trouble, but their exorbitant demands do motivate him to become a bloodsucking monster who can wipe out the entire Ottoman army singlehandedly.
  • The Dreaded: Vlad is of course known as The Impaler, so he already has a fearsome reputation even before he gains his powers.
  • The Empire: The Ottomans are, surprisingly, played as this rather than The Horde as they would be in other films. This is more historically accurate, which is a rare thing in a Dracula film.
  • Evil Costume Switch: When Vlad launches his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he dons the armor he wore as "Lord Impaler" for the Ottomans.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Vlad Dracula.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Considering that the film is an origin story of Dracula, it's pretty obvious that the titular character's vampiric abilities become permanent, and he survives the events of the film.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: After becoming a vampire Vlad has glowing red eyes while using his Vein-o-Vision.
  • Godzilla Threshold: All the people of Transylvania are about to get annihilated by the Turks. Vlad can only prevent this by turning into a vampire. Vlad becomes nearly unbeatable, but faces the drawbacks of being a vampire. It is still better that your entire population being wiped out.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Vlad III Dracula's armor is looking pretty badass. The entire costume department really outdid themselves. Mehmet II's armor is this mixed with Bling of War.
  • Happily Married: Vlad and Mirena definitely count as this, judging by their love-filled reunion after Vlad returns from scouting Broken Tooth, her complete acceptance of his temporary transformation, and Vlad's grief after her death.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When his vampiric subjects begin to turn against him, with plans to feed upon his son, Dracula gives him to the monk to be taken away to safety, and then uses his powers to part the dark clouds currently blocking out the sun, burning the vampires and of course, himself. On his part however, it doesn't stick, as the gypsy Shkelgim recovers his body and uses some of his blood to revive him.
  • Heroic Vow: Vlad's when someone mentions they couldn't win the fight against the Ottoman Empire.
    Vlad III Dracula: I'll find a way.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Vlad Dracula according to his son. See opening quote.
  • He's Back!: After insisting that That Man Is Dead, Vlad reverts back to the savage killer "Lord Impaler" to slay the Ottoman soldiers sent to take his son. He even manages to kill the last one via Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
  • Historical Domain Character: Fantasy versions of several historical figures serve as the lead characters in the movie, especially Mehmet and Vlad.
    • Vlad III Dracula, better known as Vlad the Impaler, was a prince (voivode) of Wallachia (a neighboring state to Transylvania, both part of Romania today) whose life has been conflated over the past 150 years with Bram Stoker's fictional Dracula. He was infamous for impaling the bodies of enemy soldiers and criminals alike on upright wooden stakes and leaving them to die while he ate his lunch nearby. He is said to have soaked his bread in the blood of his victims, but this is likely a combination of exaggeration of his reputation and conflation with the vampire.
    • Mehmet the Conqueror was a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, famous for conquering Constantinople and for beginning the Turkish conquest of southeastern Europe. He serves as the film's antagonist. His conflict with Vlad is based on a number of real battles between the sultan and the voivode that inevitably ended with The Impaler's death.
    • The Elder Vampire is indicated in the original script to be none other than the Roman Emperor Caligula.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Crosses will harm a vampire, but only if they commit to the transformation by giving into their Horror Hunger. Vlad, still in the three day trial, is unaffected.
  • Horrifying Hero: Upon learning that their prince is a vampire, the Transylvanians attempt to kill Vlad with sunlight and fire.
  • Identical Stranger: In the stinger, Vlad, in present-day London, encounters a woman that looks exactly like Mirena, implied to be reincarnated from her after several centuries.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Vlad III Dracula's reason for becoming a vampire, as well as his reasons for the impalings earlier in his life.
  • Idiot Ball: Vlad apparently forgets about all his powers during the fight with Mehmet. It could have been that the silver weakened him, except he finishes the fight after nearly being killed, by bat-forming behind Mehmet and impaling him with his own stake. He probably should have opened with that move, since the silver clearly wasn't preventing it.
  • I'm Melting!: The spokesman vampire toward the end of the film has this fate, with his impaled body dripping off of his bones until he is a very emaciated corpse on the stake he was impaled with.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: It is a film about Vlad the Impaler after all. There is a lot of this, especially in his past.
  • Informed Attribute: Vlad's theoretical cruelty. While several characters state he killed thousands of innocents, we never see him doing any of that - though we do see him impale an Ottoman army and a single vampire. Also the Elder Vampire's evil and immense power, none of which is ever showcased.
  • Karma Houdini: The Elder Vampire, who's implied to be a far greater evil than Vlad, escapes and runs free in the world.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Vampires have the standard array of weaknesses: silver, sunlight, wooden stakes, and crosses. Also played with a bit. Crosses only work on permanent vampires, the ones that have fed on humans. Those like Vlad, who will turn back in three days, are unaffected. Stakes, on the other hand, are not only effective but ridiculously so; when Mehmet goes after Vlad with a stake, his armor actually evaporates around it so the stake will hit flesh.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The Elder Vampire. At least until Vlad fully embraces his curse, at which point the Elder begins to regain his natural human appearance.
  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Vampires are weakened by pure silver, so Mehmet decides to face Vlad in a room flooded with silver coins. Lucien's fear that Vlad is becoming a vampire is confirmed when he sees the prince cautiously picking his way from shadow to shadow, avoiding every patch of sunlight.
  • Made a Slave: Vlad in his youth was given as tribute along with 999 other Transylvanian boys to be trained as members of the Ottoman Janissary corps. The Ottomans try to do the same again when Vlad is ruler, but he defies them.
  • Monumental Battle: Vlad Dracula's battle against the Ottomans probably is to take the place of a real historical battle where Vlad III launched a surprise attack on the Ottomans in a narrow pass of the Carpathian Mountains.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: The rim of the rock ledge outside the Elder Vampire's cave looks like a mandible, complete with jutting teeth.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The gypsy Shkelgim says "Yes Master" in a way similar to the way characters said it in other Universal monster movies back in the day.
    • Gypsies serving Dracula recalls the original novel by Stoker, where a small army/clan served as his protectors while escorting the Count back to Transylvania.
    • In the Reincarnation Romance epilogue, Mina asks Vlad where he's from. Although Luke Evans' English accent doesn't give it away, this is a gag on Count Dracula's way of speaking in Dracula. Jonathan Harker noted that Dracula didn't have a heavy accent and instead spoke English perfectly, but with an odd tone.
    • When Vlad's people turn on him after learning of his vampirism, they pretty much become the classic Universal angry mob, complete with Torches and Pitchforks and screams of "burn the monster!"
    • After being burned in the sun, Dracula is revived when Shkelgim drips blood onto his remains, much like in Dracula: Prince of Darkness.
  • Offstage Villainy: The Elder Vampire makes Vlad admit that he butchered not hundreds, but thousands of innocents, but since it would be hard to root for him, we see him actually doing none of it.
  • The Older Immortal: The Elder Vampire to Vlad.
  • Ominous Walk: Vlad invokes this as he walks toward the Ottoman army surrounded by a lightning storm with the Ottomans looking on in horror.
  • One-Man Army: Vlad, upon gaining vampiric powers and unleashing his full potential, wipes the floor with the Turks, easily killing triple digits' worth of enemies single-handedly in two massive action scenes. Heck, he's capable even before he's empowered, killing a platoon of around twenty janissaries who came to take his son from him.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Silver and direct sunlight burns all vampires. Vampires have reflections in this film. Crosses hurt vampires who have drunk human blood, except if their cause is noble. Humans become vampires by drinking vampire blood. If a vampire does not drink human blood for the first three nights he becomes human again.
  • Painful Transformation: Vlad's first step to becoming a vampire after he drinks the Elder Vampire's blood? His body shuts down and dies.
  • Power at a Price: Vlad's Supernatural powers that he needs to defeat his enemies comes at the cost of his humanity.
    Vlad Dracula: I'm the thing men fear, but at a cost.
  • Protectorate: Transylvania is under the protection of the Turks, which becomes a problem when Mehmet demands 1,000 boys as conscripts for his army and Vlad can't refuse without starting a war.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Assumed within the plot of the film itself, with Vlad III calling himself Son of the Dragon, and eventually calling himself Son of the Devil by the end. However, it's also a Subverted Trope, as he gains a lot of humanity over the course of the film, to the point of seeing his past massacres as the Impaler as disturbing, and killing his entire vampire army so as to protect his son.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Mehmet sends a thousand men to lay siege to Vlad's castle. Vlad kills them all. At this point, Mehmet has already lost as many trained soldiers as he would have had in conscripts, yet he wastes scores more on a petty grudge instead of cutting his losses.
  • Reconstruction: This is the first live-action movie in a long time to take the idea of a vampire turning into a bat seriously. Vlad transforms into a rather massive flock of bats, enough to account for his size and weight. It actually does a good job of making the idea not seem cheesy.
  • Red Shirt Army: The Ottoman Army. A Million Mook March against a small number of vampires, while Dracula settles things with Mehmet in his tent, to save his captive son. By the time he's done and gets out of the tent, the vampires left absolutely no survivors... except one.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Dracula's wife Marina is apparently reincarnated as a modern day equivalent of Mina Murray.
  • The Renfield: An interesting twist on the trope, in that Dracula hates the behavior. The gypsy Shkelgim recognises Vlad as a vampire partway through the film, and makes an offer to serve him, offering some of his own blood for Vlad to drink. Vlad, in the midst of resisting his bloodlust, angrily refuses him. At the end of the film, after Vlad's apparent Suicide By Sunlight, Shkelgim shows up again, drags Dracula's body into a tent, and uses his blood to revive him.
  • Retired Badass: Vlad wants nothing to do with his past as the "Lord Impaler." He doesn't succeed in ignoring that part of himself.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Vlad III, who is the Prince of Transylvania, gives up his humanity to gain the power to destroy the Ottomans and protect his family.
    • Mehmet II as well, who marches with his army and is one of the better fighters among the Ottomans.
  • Sic 'Em: Vlad invokes this with his bat army against the Ottomans. And later his vampire army.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: Pure silver is one of the weaknesses of vampires, and it appears that light glints off of them in such a way that it also makes it hard for the vampires to see. Sultan Mehmet takes advantage of this by personally fighting Dracula in a room covered in silver coins.
  • Sequel Hook: The end of the film jumps to the present day - Vlad's still alive, and so is the Elder Vampire, now in a more human form. As well, Mina Harker is alive in the present day, or a reincarnation of her.
  • Shirtless Scene: Vlad gets a few. After turning into a vampire, he gets a partial one, waking up in the river with his armor now missing sleeves, exposing Luke Evans' well-toned arms.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Vlad takes a page out of Batman's book and summons normal bats into a swarm to use as a weapon.
    • The Reincarnation Romance at the end of the film takes its cue from Bram Stoker's Dracula, as does the idea of giving Dracula elaborate red armor (muscle-patterned with a wolf's helm in the Coppola film, embellishes with a dragon in Untold).
    • Dracula's reactions and testing of his new powers recalls John Carter's first experiences on Mars.
    • Vlad having to give in to his bloodlust to become a full vampire at his wife's request mirrors a similar scene in Hellsing, where Seras Victoria had to do the same at Pip's request.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: Mirena, wife of Vlad, falling to her death.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Dracula's final confrontation against the Ottomans has him striding toward them surrounded by a literal storm created by his powers to block out the sunlight as they look on in terror.
  • Suicide by Sunlight: Dracula attempts this early on, and much later, though he is stopped by Shkelgim.
  • The Swarm: Vlad's bat army.
  • That Man Is Dead: Vlad was once known as the "Lord Impaler". Now he wants nothing to do with his past, but can't escape it. And before he kills Mehmet, Vlad claims to be no longer Vlad, but Dracula, son of the Devil.
  • Trailers Always Lie: All trailers and marketing campaigns made a big deal of showing the audience that this movie would be about Vlad's Start of Darkness and show his descent into villainy. This never happens in the actual film, and he remains a hero all the way through.
  • Transformation Horror: Trailer shows us a close-up glimpse of Vlad's face peeling and shedding away during his transformation into a vampire. This is a case of Trailers Always Lie as this happens when he is exposed to sunlight later in the film.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Once the fledgeling vampires Vlad has sired are finished with the Ottomans, they start eyeing Vlad's son hungrily. Their spokes-pire even going so far as to say "they (humans) are all our enemies now."
  • Underestimating Badassery: The Ottomans dismiss Vlad's past as "the Impaler" as being "what [he was]". Several of them get impaled for it.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Vlad's people try to burn him alive the moment they find out that he's a vampire and they don't care who he is or what he had done to save them all — to them, he's just a monster. Vlad calls them out on the spot. Later, when Vlad's vampire army has finished off the Ottomans, they turn their attention to try and kill Ingeras. They forgot whose boy that was.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: They're presented as extremely gruesome, with the vampire in question having their own faces drained of blood during and immediately after the feeding.
  • Vampire Monarch: Dracula, naturally.
  • Warrior Prince: Sultan Mehmet, like the early Ottoman monarchs, is a warlord who is well-versed in armed combat. He also shows a lot of Villainous Valor by fighting the superpowered vampire hero personally in the climax.
  • Was Once a Man: Shows how Vlad III was before he was a vampire and his transition into the legendary Count Dracula.
  • Wham Line: In the epilogue:
    Blonde Woman: I'm Mina.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite the signs that it would signal doom for the world, Dracula gives into bloodlust and ends up freeing the Elder Vampire....who then disappears from the film, until the epilogue more than 500 years later, at which point he says that the "games begin".
  • Zerg Rush: Mehmet responds to the news of 1,000 of his men being slaughter by having 100,000 sent for the next attack. This almost works, so Vlad makes some reinforcements of his own to even the odds.


Video Example(s):


Vlad III

Vlad tears through the thousand-strong army attacking him.

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Example of:

Main / OneManArmy

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