Anyone who wants to use any of these ideas has my absolute, unfettered permission to do so with no requirements whatsoever.
Hannah, Queen of the Vampires has many names. I prefer this one because it is the least generic. One curious detail about this 1973 flick is how it clearly is based on the short story “The Tomb of Sarah” by F.G.Loring but mentions this nowhere in the credits. At least I didn’t see any mention. Yet I’d opt for remaking Hannah because I like the change of setting and see a lot of potential in the way the screenwriter expanded on the idea.
Which alas isn’t to say they did a great job, but at least some good ideas ended up on screen.
The setting is an unnamed Greek island where an archeologist examines a surprisingly elaborate tomb dating back to the Middle Ages. Here we eventually get some interesting history. When the King of France’s ships were en route to the Holy Land for a Crusade, one shipwrecked on this island in a storm. The King and his companions feared the worst, for this place was known as the Island of the Vampires. Worse, His Majesty’s beloved Hannah had been aboard that ship! Sure enough, investigation proved the crew and Hannah were now vampires. All were destroyed, evidently including the other vampires on the island, save for Hannah because the King couldn’t bear to see her destroyed. So he had a tomb erected, one that would seal her away forever. Upon the massive stone lid of her sarcophagus are carved words warning to leave the occupant to rest until Christ’s return. Archeologists of course never pay attention to such things.
What we ultimately learn is that a colleague of the man examining the tomb actually wants to let Hannah out. Something about devil worship and the hope of bedding his own sister. He murders the archeologist in such a way as to lure the man’s son, an engineer, to come and lift the lid, releasing the vampire. Sure enough, there lies Hannah as lovely and as preserved as ever. Weak at first, all she can do is escape in wolf form when the sun goes down to feed from animals. But then, she grows strong enough to attack humans.
Now, as premises go this makes for some perfectly acceptable midnight movie fare. One can see Elvira introducing it and making with the double entendres during commercial breaks. But what struck me almost from my very first viewing is that so many lost opportunities riddle this flick. Granted, I am a sucker for history and back story. But the whole notion of an island full of vampires seems intriguing, especially if the locals living there now remain aware of their home’s history. At the time, the filmmakers evidently didn’t find a particularly compelling location or lacked the cinematic skills to capture the one they had. Such a pity! This story fairly begs for the island itself to be a character!
Likewise, the movie would need a sharper focus and far more exciting pace. The set pieces themselves sometimes work excessively well. A shepherd, mouth now full of fangs, coming across his friends begging them to kill him. The actual aura of Hannah herself. Plus a climax nicely disturbing, to show our heroes’ victories as hollow. One vampire escaped their purge, at the end. A little girl, who lures a little boy into the shadows to feast upon him.
If anything I think a remake should bring the good stuff into sharp relief.
Ditch the incest thing as too distracting. Remove as well the dead father and simply show an archeological team. A romantic triangle amongst them might work well. Go for it! But then focus on the legend of Hannah, giving lots of details. Compare and contrast what the historical records say, what our groups of scientists say and what the locals insist must be the truth. Don’t let anyone have a monopoly on all the answers. Curiously, no one was a priest in the original. Well, correct that! But don’t let the priest (if in Greece he should be Orthodox) always be right.
Another thing to definitely change–don’t allow a single bite to transform someone into one of the undead. Rather like Lovecraft’s Innsmouth, this story feels like it needs a sense of growing corruption in the community. How much more insidious if Hannah’s victims find themselves addicted to her kiss, protecting her even albeit against their will? We’d also thus correct a major problem in the original film–Hannah proves way too easy to kill! They corner her at the edge of a cliff and set her on fire. Yawn.
Much more compelling would be the remained untainted archeologists and islanders to join forces and manage to defeat Hannah in some exciting scenario. winning (so it seems) by the skin of their teeth! Only to learn they haven’t won, not really. Or not to learn it. Maybe only we the audience will know, while the heroes blindly believe themselves safe…