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Feature film Dracula On Holiday was filmed in many Highland locations – and the comedy returns this weekend to be screened at Eden Court Cinema on Friday and Saturday

By Margaret Chrystall

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A film that features Dracula holidaying in many Highland locations trying to change his life is screened at Eden Court Cinema on Friday and Saturday.

Dracula, Lucy and butler Renfield taking the Highland air in Dracula On Holiday.
Dracula, Lucy and butler Renfield taking the Highland air in Dracula On Holiday.

Comedy Dracula On Holiday was filmed over the summer of 2019 with Covid delaying its release.

But the film has already won a place at a film festival in America, the Erie Film Festival in Pennsylvania.

The film’s director, writer and producer Robbie Moffat of Palm Tree Films, a group of film and production companies which has made over 30 feature films, explained where the idea for the unusual movie came from.

“In 1989 I got involved with the Toryglen Community Centre in Glasgow which was paid for by Simple Minds because they were all from Toryglen and there was a kids’ play scheme where I was employed to work with the kids and come up with a play.

“The kids themselves were really into Dracula,” Robbie explained. “So we devised something, they improvised it with a tape recorder and it was written down as a script.”

The play was performed by the community and after that it sat there, Robbie says.

“I thought it would be good to use the title, so I did and created a totally different story.”

In the film, Dracula is brought to Scotland by his butler Renfield for a change of scene from his castle in Transylvania.

Robbie said: “If you think about it, Dracula is full of fear.

“He’s got fear of sunlight, running water, fear of Bibles, fear of crosses – and garlic.

“He can’t go out in the daytime, he can’t eat – he’s full of fear and he lives in castles.

“So Renfield and Dracula’s partner Lucy decide to take him on a vacation to get him over his fears – he comes to Scotland and they get him to eat blood sausage and live in some more humble dwellings.”

Dracula gets his teeth sunk into the Highland scenery.
Dracula gets his teeth sunk into the Highland scenery.

International audiences will see Dracula relaxing not in Transylvania but lots of Highland scenes chosen by Robbie and his co executive producer Mairi Sutherland.

Familiar locations include Dingwall, Strathpeffer, Beauly, Dornoch, Contin, Marybank, Whin Park in Inverness and different scenes in Strathconon.

Robbie said: “We filmed at the station in Beauly, and at the railway station alongside the Dingwall Hotel – a two-day shoot happened in the dining area there.

The film at Strathpeffer railway station.
The film at Strathpeffer railway station.

“Strathpeffer was another place, with its famous pavilion.”

In the countryside, the cast and crew – who stayed in Scatwell in Strathconon – filmed in Arkle Glen, another scene at Dornoch beach, a loch scene was shot at Loch Achilty and the final moments were captured at Rogie Falls.

Mairi, whose ancestors she believes left the area in the 1800s, said: “It was good to contribute to the economy there in a positive way.”

Robbie explained that the small group of actors in the film are part of a group who regularly appear in Palm Tree productions.

He said: “Ed Ward, who plays Dracula was in our film The Right Bus with Suzanne Kendall who plays Lucy in this one.

“We try to work with the same people. You pick up good actors on the way and try and hold on to them. I write the parts around them.

“The young actress from Aberdeen, Edith Glad, who is 15 now, plays Flora, the daughter of the undertaker in Dracula, she is in The Right Bus as well.

“She came to the premiere screening of Dracula in Glasgow and is lovely in the film and gives it a sense of Scottish reality!”

Dracula and Lucy in Strathconon.
Dracula and Lucy in Strathconon.

Though Robbie said there wouldn’t be a sequel to the Dracula film, he is thinking of an updated Frankenstein story set in France.

The next film he hopes to make is about Nessie.

“It’s going to be a kind of cross between Local Hero, Whisky Galore and Loch Ness.

“Between the making of this film and Dracula, we have done two others. One is set in Greece which we did during lockdown, about the early days of Leonard Cohen.

“Then we did The Beehive this summer in Wiltshire which is a pastoral comedy which is something I wrote quite a few years ago.”

Mairi says: “We would like to thank everyone who helped with the production in the area. We couldn’t have done it without their hospitality!”

In the film information, there is mention of “an uplifting dance sequence”, which sounds like Dracula as you have never seen him before.

The film may step away from the original character of Dracula, as known in the horror movies.

“But I don’t think we set out to change people’s views of the nastiest man in Europe,” laughed Robbie.

Find out more about Dracula On Holiday (12) at http://www.palmtreefilm.com/draculaonholiday.html or visit the film’s Facebook page.

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