Never mind that all this stuff was clearly aimed at kids, I was honestly just attracted to the film's imagery that was being utilized by this merchandise - that, coupled with my preexisting infatuation with old-fashioned monsters, was a potent prescription for a maniacal obsession. And I couldn't not be vocal about it - a large assortment of my extended family joined me at the first Saturday matinee showing, and the knee-trembling weight of that only added to this 9-year-old's excitement. It may've been that very adrenaline that caused me to suck down my whole gallon of movie theater soda before the previews even started - and there was no way I was doing a bathroom run during this movie. That mixed with the already prevalent mind-blowing anticipation I was experiencing, and it would suffice to say that I was in a great amount of physical distress from the moment the Columbia Pictures logo faded up. But I must say I didn't let the escalating severity of my pain distract me too much from this important event - though my family interpreted my obvious discomfort as a bad reaction to the "scariness" of the movie.
What I took from it (other than potential lifelong kidney damage) was never ever gonna live up to the level of hype I created in my own head - no movie could. One foolishly superficial reaction I had was that it wasn't particularly scary (something I would eventually accept as a characteristic of most horror cinema).
Still though, the movie is a lava lamp of gothic psychedelia and over-the-top performances that anyone of any age can feel the effects of.
Wojciech Kilar gave the Dark Prince some well-deserved (and legitimately creepy) theme music.
Also, one of my favorite Dracula traits had always been the ability to turn into a bat, and this version's depiction is startlingly original & can't be topped.
But what stayed with me the most was the eerily spiritual prologue (that I would come to find not in the book) that actually designated an emotional 'plot' to the story. Plus, I was always crazy about origins and backstory (before Star Wars and comic book movies ruined that romance).
But this isn't a movie review.
The best thing about those days when the most mainstream movies had so much merch to amass was that it was a way to take the movie home with you while it was still in theaters. Books and soundtracks are fine, but I - especially a much younger "I" - needed more; something active, something to do. I found the best way to connect with the imagery on all this stuff was to draw it: not to nurture any particular skill (though I mastered freehanding the dripping logo) but to engage my mind with the whole vibe.
Including some generous contributions from my father and my brother-in-law, here's a chunk of what I hung onto.