“Children of the night… How beautiful they sound”

Azmi (Bulent Oran) is a lawyer. He is in Romania to complete a real estate transaction for Count Dracula (Atif Kaptan). The Count is buying several properties in Istanbul. The local villagers tell him about the evil the surrounds the castle. Azmi chalks it up to superstition. A car takes him to a crossroad where he is picked up by a horse and carriage. The carriage drops him off at the castle.

Count Dracula greets him at the door. The Count shows him to his room and has a light supper prepared for him. Dracula then leaves him. Azmi gets nosy and starts investigating the castle. He finds a hidden room. Inside a gas is pumped in and he falls asleep. A female vampire enters the room. Before she can attack him Dracula appears. He tells her the man is for him first. She can have him later. In the meantime he appears to have a baby in a crib for her. She takes the blanket with the baby in it and leaves the room. The Count awakens Azmi and sends him to his room telling the man he was dreaming.

In the library the next day Azmi finds a book on vampires. He begins to get suspicious about his host. Wandering through the castle again he finds Dracula in his coffin. He tries to kill the Count but he doesn’t know the correct way. Eventually Azmi manages to run away from the castle before Dracula can kill me.

Back in Istanbul Azmi’s wife Guzin (Annie Ball) is waiting for her husband’s return. Her friend Sadan (Ayfer Feray) hasn’t been feeling well lately. She had been sleepwalking and having strange dreams. Her mother is worried about her. Sadan’s illness gets worse. Her doctor, Dr. Akif (Munir Ceyhan) is puzzled. He calls in Dr. Naci Eren (Kernal Emin Bara) for advice.

In the meantime Azmi is located in a hospital in Edirne. Guzin picks him up and brings him home. At the same time Dr. Nuri sees the wounds on Sadan’s neck and gives her transfusions. He also puts garlic around her neck. Not understanding the significance, her mother removes the garlic. Dracula attacks Sadan again. She dies and is entombed. She rises and begins feeding on children. Dr. Nuri enlists Dr. Akif, Azmi and Sadan’s fiancé Turan (Cahit Irgat) to kill vampire Sadan. With Sadan now at peace Dracula beings stalking Guzin.

“Dracula in Istanbul” AKA “Drakula istanbul’da” was released in 1953 and was directed by Mehmet Muhtar. It is a Turkish horror movie and is based on the 1928 novel by Ali Riza Seyfi called “Kaziki Voyvoda”.

In 1928, Ali Rıza Seyfi severely plagiarized Bram Stoker’s 1897 “Dracula” rewriting it in Turkish adding in new material and rearranging some of Stoker’s work. Seyfi added some Turkish patriotic overtones, and based it on Islam instead of Christianity. Out came the crucifixes and host wafers and in came a lot more garlic, but a lot of the novel was copied word for word.

Seyfi eliminated the Renfield character but the book did include Stoker’s elaborate method of disposing of vampires. First by staking, then a beheading, then stuffing the mouth with garlic. Seyfi’s novel is the first adaptation to portray Dracula as the historical warlord Vlad the Impaler. There are some other interesting firsts with this film. It is the first movie that shows Dracula with fangs, scaling down walls and the first to imply infanticide.

The movie has been updated to reflect the Dracula events in 1953. Reportedly no fog machines were available to produce the fog for the graveyard scene so thirty stagehands puffed on cigarettes just out of camera range to produce the image of fog. I haven’t been exposed to too many of these movies but I have learned that, if the movie was made in Turkey, there’s a good chance there will be belly dancing in it of some kind. In this rendition Guzin, who would be the Mina character in Stoker’s book, is a showgirl type dancer but she does a lot of charity event dancing for the Red Cross.

It would be nice to see this film restored. Not because it’s a good movie, cause it’s not, but because there is significant historical value to it. As it is the film is scratchy, faded and there are some skips in it. The sound is tinny and the subtitles are questionable, but it’s all we have. Despite the movie not being all that good it is interesting in some spots. Dracula complete-ists and Turkish movie fans would love to see this movie in the hands of a film preservationist.

Somewhere around 2017 Seyfi’s Turkish version of the Dracula story was translated into English.

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