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Batman Dracula: Andy Warhol’s Eccentric Experimental Film


Warhol forced Bruce Wayne to face his worst fears in a strange cinematic experiment…

Superhero movies are one of the milestones of today’s cinema: always major releases, their timelines revisit the stories of characters, and each time, legions of fans will verify just how close each film version was to its comic book original.

Among all these films, those featuring Batman constitute a genre unto themselves. From Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy to Joel Schumacher’s unforgettable Batman & Robin from 1997, the Caped Crusader has had as many remakes as James Bond.

But perhaps none of Batman’s cinematic renditions is as eccentric and difficult to imagine as that of artist, Andy Warhol, from the 1960s.

We know Warhol for his powerful influence on avant-garde art, for his extravagant lessons in sex and for his paintings of soup cans and celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali. Warhol as filmmaker is interesting too, and just as risky: eight-hour films starring the Empire State Building, a ten-hour contemplation of a sleeping poet, not even to mention the party documentaries and the presentations of other artists at Warhol’s operations center, The Factory.

Within this creative oeuvre, Warhol decided to approach the Batman story from a perspective that’s exciting even in our own time. The premise of Batman Dracula takes us through the skyscrapers of New York to Long Island and to that moment when Bruce Wayne faces his greatest fear: a romantic monster, and the quintessence of vampires, Dracula.

It should be noted, too, that Batman Dracula actually predates the Batman of Adam West, and some critics have suggested that the aesthetic proposed by Warhol for the character significantly permeated the later television version whose impact was worldwide. Warhol’s friend, actor Jack Smith, plays the roles of both the millionaire, Bruce Wayne, and that of Count Dracula which gives the pair a disturbing parallelism: what you fear most is some form of yourself.

Chroniclers can’t agree as to whether Warhol ever received authorization from DC Comics (the owners of the character) for rights to make the film. One thing is certain in that the company didn’t take well to even private screenings of Batman Dracula and forbade copies from being made.

After Warhol’s death, during the filming of a documentary about Jack Smith, some fragments of the film were found. These made their way onto the internet and allow us to take a look, however imperfect, at the Warholian concept of a pop icon as important as Batman. The cut available on YouTube is set to music by the Velvet Underground & Nico, giving it but one more Warholian touch.


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