“When you have vampires coming into these real locations and sucking blood from people, I believe that is far scarier than shooting something at Universal Studios,” says Uwe Boll in an interview with Fango about January’s movie release Bloodrayne.
And that is the appeal of visiting Transylvania – that it’s real. Following in the footsteps of vampires. Drinking sweet, dark, red wine that looks like blood while touring the mystical countryside. Visiting Romania, and filming there, is just like stepping into a dark fairy tale.
Watching Bloodrayne provides a look at the shrouded Transylvanian countryside. The place is not fairy tale. It’s real, and so is the medieval structure known as Castle Dracula. A Romanian noble known as Vlad the Impaler built the castle in the middle of the 15th Century.
He took upon himself the surname Dracula, which means “son of the dragon.” And the stories of the atrocities practiced upon his Turkish enemies, including enjoying their blood, evoke exotic shudders and form the basis of a far-reaching vampire mythology.
Bloodrayne, starring Kristanna Loken (T-3) and directed by Uwe Boll (House of the Dead), sets the half-vampire heroine right where we expect vampires to reside – in the heart of Romania. Filming on site at Castle Dracula includes fantastic shots of the countryside as well as the rich castle.
Loken explains to Monsters and Critics how the location helped put her in her huntress “dhampir” (half human, half vampire) character: “I’m trying to stay really fit and learning how to talk with the teeth, the fangs and just really kind [putting] myself into that dark atmosphere – and what better place is there to do it than in Romania, where the whole folklore originated from?”
Part of Loken’s training to play the Bloodrayne character, which is based on a popular video game of the same name, involved work with swords and thinking dark thoughts. As she tells Monsters and Critics, Loken has always been interested in vampires, viewing them as seductive even in their darkness.
She really let the mystery and legend of Transylvania absorb into her acting. To Loken, acting in this film, as in other acting she has done, is really about “evoking feelings in people…to just enhance feelings.” And working at the very site where the vampire myths began only adds to the enhanced feelings that Loken brings to her character.
In addition to being shot on site in the quaintly picturesque landscape surrounding the infamous castle, the movie was also shot on a sound studio in Bucharest, once known throughout Europe as the “Little Paris.” Because of its sophisticated transformation during the latter half of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, Bucharest enjoyed fame as a rising star.
Opera houses, paved streets, and French architecture turned the small backwater into a European destination. French architects and Romanians working in the French style created a cityscape that so resembles Paris that the comparison cannot not be denied.
Unfortunately, the movie does not show much of Bucharest’s famed architecture. Most of the scenes were shot at MediaPro Studios, which was built in 1965, but for a very different purpose. Romania’s dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu, ordered propaganda movies produced at the studio. After his overthrow in 1989, the studio began to expand its offerings. It now boasts nine modern soundstages and operates as a full-service studio.
In the early days of filming in Romania, only B-movie horror flicks came to the country. And crews had to bring their own toilet paper. Now, even though luxury trailers still have to be imported from Britain to accommodate stars filming outside the city, there are plenty of high-class places to stay inside the city – and plenty of soft, fluffy toilet paper.