The Vampires’ Journey Part VI. Vlad the Romancer and women in love

SPOILER ALERT: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dir: Dan Curtis, 1973, Dracula, Dir: John Badham, 1979, Bram Stoker’s Dracula Dir: Francis Ford Coppola, 1992

Impaling. Just nasty

Everyone knows that Dracula was really Vlad the Impaler right? Well no, probably not. Stoker may have used the title Dracula, which also applied to Vlad Tepes or Vlad III or Vlad the Impaler) but “Dracula” was a title rather than the specific name of that historic figure. “Dracula” means “child of the dragon” or “devil”. Stoker had made notes that “Dracula in WALLACHIAN language means DEVIL”. But he may not have known much of the legends of Vlad the Impaler.

In 1972 Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu wrote In Search of Dracula, claiming that Stoker’s Count Dracula and Vlad the Impaler were one and the same, lending historical weight Continue reading

The Vampires’ Journey V. Hammer Horror brings sexual liberation?

The post-war years saw a shift in vampire fiction – with women beginning to take more active roles than previously. The emerging women’s movement and the sexual liberation the pill brought had something to do with this. Though vampire fiction was still a long way from the point when Joss Whedon would decide to have the blonde girl in the alley fight back, it wasn’t really enough for women to be waiting around to get bitten anymore. One of the earliest examples of can be seen in the first Hammer Horror film about Dracula, directed by Terence Fisher in 1958.

In Horror of Dracula Christopher Lee’s performance as Dracula brings glamour to the role. The Count is well spoken, well dressed and his home is luxurious. Continue reading

The Vampires’ Journey IV. The undead comes to the movies

SPOILER ALERT: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, Dir: F W Murnau 1922, Eclipse (movie and book), BtVS (Seasons One and Five), Dracula, Dir: Tod Browning, 1931

Max Shreck as Nosferatu in 1922

Ken Gelder observes of Dracula (and James Bond) movies that “these films each bear only a nominal relationship(s) to their literary source(s). Moreover as they begin to comprise a distinct genre, these films speak to themselves … much more than they to speak to any ‘original’ novel(s)”.[1] Each appearance of the iconic figure of Dracula in the cinema has seen a departure from Stoker’s novel. Each time this creates new sources of reference for what a vampire or Dracula should be.

Nosferatu and the heroines willing sacrifice

Dracula’s first appearance in film in the 1922 German production Nosferatu, directed by F W Murnau, retained the monstrous characterisation of the count. He appears as a Continue reading

The Vampires’ Journey III. Stoker’s Dracula kills romance

SPOILER ALERT: Dracula by Bram Stoker!

Buffy: in Dracula's thrall?

Because we have become accustomed to the established model of romantic vampires in contemporary vampire fiction it may come as a shock to many to discover that Count Dracula (as Bram Stoker originally wrote him) was not at all romantic. Modern conceptions of the Count, created by the many representations of him in film and TV, usually show him being driven by emotional desires to connect with a female victim. Even in BtVS, Dracula is represented as needing to Continue reading

The Vampires’ Journey II: The romantic friend of the 19th century

SPOILER ALERT: A mild spoiler of Twilight series books and films (New Moon and Eclipse)

Vampire fiction has been on quite a journey over the last two centuries. Early traditional folklore of vampires tell stories of monsters who rise from the dead as rotting corpses to devour their living families. They were more like our current notions of zombies in horror than the forever young and pretty vampires that currently hold sway.[1] Continue reading

The vampires’ journey – From Byron to Bella – Has vampire fiction lost its teeth?

I. Introduction

Note: This is the first part of a serialised article which will be developed over future posts.

Exploring Hammer Horror … Ouch!

A few years ago I began to wonder where certain trends in current vampire fiction originate. Specifically I was curious about the plot that goes — girl meets boy, he is a bit pale and moody, he turns out to be a bit older and oh yeah a bloodsucking fiend (but a nice one). My curiosity took me to the 18th century, Byron, some pretty dodgy Hammer Horror films and a newfound interest in the interior decorating tastes of the undead.

Here’s what I found out: Continue reading