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I recently undertook the personal challenge to listen to five different versions of DRACULA because listening to Bram Stoker’s classic years ago made me a fan of audiobooks. I enjoyed that experience so much that I decided to try to determine if I had just gotten lucky or if there was an even better version available. Besides, I wanted to listen to it again. With most books I feel fortunate to have just one audio version available, but with DRACULA there are so many versions offered that listening to them all is not practical. I first figured that I could handle maybe three different versions but then discovered two more that I thought deserved attention. The Audible list had these five that I thought might be contenders:
Listed in my order of listening preference:
1) Susan Adams & Alexander Spencer (Recorded Books 1980)
2) Peter Sciarrio & Kris Faulkner & a FULL CAST, (Books in Motion 2008)
3) Greg Wise & Saskia Reeves (BBC Audiobooks 2008)
4) Robert Whitfield (aka Simon Vance), (Blackstone edition 1998)
5) Alan Cumming & Tim Curry & cast (Audible edition 2011)
Review for this version:
2) Peter Sciarrio (m) Kris Faulkner (f) & a FULL cast. Dramatized, Books in Motion 2008 [run time 18:11].
This is the only true Full Cast version. Every character, major or minor, is read by a different actor. This version is also unique in the insertion of sound effects in many key dramatic moments. When wolves are mentioned in the story we get to hear their howling. When Van Helsing rides away on the train we hear the locomotive chug. This version also eliminates most of the dialog identifiers, such as "Harker said" and "replied Dr. Seward" because the different actors reading each character make such designators superfluous. It is like listening to a stage play.
The actors are very good. Cameron Beierle’s portrayal of Count Dracula was the standout best Dracula of all the versions. Strangely the accent used for the Romanian Count sounds to my ear to be Spanish. His deep tones always brought to mind the voice of Zorro. But, somehow, this worked wonderfully. When Dracula listens to the wolves howling and delivers the famous line, “The Children of the Night, Ahh! What Music they Make,” the scene is painted in your mind. Of course, the sound of wolves baying at the moon in this version certainly adds to the effect.
The portrayal by Reed McColm as insane Mr. Renfield at the end of chapter 18 pleading to be released from the asylum is magnificent; an over the top emotional performance! I compared all five versions of this scene and this one is the most dramatic.
This is the most Americanized version. In chapter 1 when Jonathan Harker writes “memorandum” in his diary this version inserts the Yankee term “memo” instead.
The sound effects and the full cast of characters make this the most distinctive of the versions of DRACULA. There is incidental music to indicate the chapter changes. I always looked forward to the rendition of this Books in Motion edition.
Chapter stops match book chapter numbers.
There were not any duplicated passages.
The production values in this version are high.
Volume level is high.
12:20:20 Mispronunciation of “sentience.” (as SEN-t-ence)
Follows the text of THE ESSENTIAL DRACULA
1:34:20 “Occupied by the ladies in bygone days.” (TED p. 70.-1.-5)
2:14:25 “To-night is mine. To-morrow night is yours.” (TED p. 80.3)
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
When you search Audible for "Dracula" by Bram Stoker it's easy to get confused; there are almost 30 choices spread over 3 pages. I got lucky. Based on the small audio sample, my choice was this production by "Books in Motion". Their version is based on the 1897 book, and it's a full 18 hours, 11 minutes. AND the downloads (3 parts) are available in Audible's new "Enhanced format" for best sound. I own a hardcover edition of Dracula as well and nothing is missing here. Unabridged, for sure.
The narration is done by a CAST of talented actors, and they live their roles! A personal favorite was the Professor, Van Helsing, but everyone did a great job. Sound effects were handled well also, and the voices of Count Dracula and his voluptuous "brides" are quite chilling. A true classic, and a great adventure!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful