Shall we Begin with Bram Stoker?
There is not one amongst us who has not heard of Dracula. And if you’re here the chances are you’ve read it -but have you also read The Guest, the piece of Bram Stoker’s story that was removed before publication?
Bram Stoker was born in 1847 and grew up to become the personal assistant to Sir Henry Irving -the most notable actor of his time. And the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London. His writing career began as a theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail and attracted notice for the quality of his reviews. It was one of these reviews that first brought him to Irving’s attention.
As well as Dracula, he wrote 12 novels, several short stories and non-fiction books.
- The Crystal Cup
- The Chain of Destiny
- the non-fiction book The Duties of Clerks in Petty Sessions in Ireland
- The Snakes Pass
- The Lady of the Shroud
- Miss Betty
- The Mystery of the Sea
- The Jewel of Seven Stars
- The Lair of the White Worm
- and Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving.
Stoker married Florence Balcombe in 1878 and the couple moved to London. Where, in ’79, they had a son. It wasn’t until Stoker met Ármin Vámbéry that he began researching Eastern Europe. Hearing the tales of the Carpathian Mountains and researching its folklore and stories. Some believe the only thing Stoker took from Vlad Dracula for his novel was the name and a few scraps of interesting information.
And speaking of Vlad Dracula…
Vlad Dracula III was a ruling Prince of Walachia, thrice. To some, he was called The Impaler but to others, he was considered a hero. In 1442 Vlad and his brother Radu were handed over by their father as hostages to the ruler of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Murad II, to ensure their father’s loyalty.
Along with a number of other hostages, the brothers were given lessons in languages, science, philosophy, the arts, and war. Which included horsemanship and swordsmanship. Some say Vlad was also taught the art of torture, leading eventually to his penchant for impalement. Everything they taught him would one day prove useful to Vlad. Unlike his brother, Radu, he did not convert to Islam.
Vlad used cruelty and cunning against his enemies. Disguising his soldiers in Ottoman garb to conduct midnight raids and placing impaled Ottoman prisoners in their path to great them. Although some would argue that it wasn’t cruelty but psychological warfare -doing what he had to with a smaller army and fewer resources. You could say, his captors and future enemies taught him all he needed to know to fight them.
Blood on his Hands
There is a 15th Century German poem that says Vlad liked to wash his hands in the blood of his victims before he ate. But there’s no real historical proof. In fact, a lot of what we think we know about Vlad the Impaler comes from pamphlets written and distributed at the time -propaganda- by Vlad’s enemies and his own people. In Romania, he was considered a just but harsh ruler.
Vlad was killed, after taking back his throne for the final time, during an ambush as he marched with a small vanguard to battle the Ottomans. No one seems to know where he is buried.
…He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land. – Van Helsing reading research from Arminius of Buda-Pesth University, Dracula
How To Kill Dracula
Firstly, there are things Dracula does not like. Things that are somewhat like Kryptonite. Weakens him but does not kill him. Van Helsing tells the others in the book:
…there are things that so afflict him that he has no power, as the garlic that we know of; and as for things sacred, as this symbol, my crucifix, …in their presence he take his place far off and silent with respect. – Van Helsing, Dracula
We also know that Dracula can walk in the daylight but without his full power. And then, of course, once weakened you can kill them, although it would seem Dracula needs to be in his coffin:
…The branch of the wild rose on his coffin keep him that he move not from it; a sacred bullet fired into the coffin kill him so that he be true dead; and as for the stake through him, we know already of its peace; or the cut-off head that giveth rest. – Van Helsing, Dracula
Nowhere does Van Helsing define what a sacred bullet is made of. Some say it’s silver, others believe it is in the markings on the bullet. I believe, and was thoroughly convinced in reading, that a sacred bullet is gold. This may be because Van Helsing mentioned Gold Crucifixes in the previous paragraph.
But is it enough to kill him?
So, when they meet Dracula on his return to Transylvania do they decapitate him or shoot him with a sacred bullet? No, they open his coffin, slash his throat and stab him in the heart with knives. So did he die? He certainly turned to dust and passed from their sight. And the gypsies and the wolves left in haste. If his many reincarnations are anything to go by, and his skills with Transmogrification and the rules about killing him, there’s a chance…there has to be a chance…that he survived.
…He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust…
And what about the Dark Sorcery School?
I first saw this mentioned on the internet and wondered if I had been so engrossed in the book that I had simply missed this little tidbit of information. So I went back to find out and it turned out it was simply a word I was not familiar with.
…The Draculas were…held by their coevals to have had dealings with the Evil One. They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, amongst the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due. – Van Helsing reading research from Arminius of Buda-Pesth University, Dracula
The Scholomance was a fabled school of black magic in Transylvania. A school under the earth where the scholars learned to control the weather and ride dragons.
So, did he make himself into a vampire with dark sorcery or was he turned by another? And if he was turned using Dark Sorcery are some of his abilities none vampiric at all, or only present in those he turns? Speed, Compulsion, transmogrification, weather control.
Count Dracula in the Movies
It all began with Nosferatu, the first attempt to produce the movie of the book Dracula but they did not have the Stoker’s wife’s permission and changes had to be made. Vampires became Nosferatu and Count Dracula was Count Olaf. But still, she wouldn’t let it go and took them to court, demanding all copies be destroyed. Nosferatu, a film that almost didn’t make it through the ages was our first cinematic production of Dracula.
A few of the movie versions:
- Hotel Transylvania
- Dracula Untold
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Van Helsing
- The Monster Squad
- Son of Dracula
- House of Dracula
- Dracula’s Daughter
- Badham’s Dracula
- Browning’s Dracula
- Horror of Dracula
- Nosferatu the Vampyre
- Dracula: Prince of Darkness
- Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
- The Brides of Dracula
- Dracula 2000
- Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Count Dracula on Tv
Dracula has made appearances in many television shows, and I’m not talking about people dressed up as him. There was that one time he appeared in Buffy…
But he’s also had his fair share of series dedicated entirely to him – which was your favourite?
- Dracula (2013) with Jonathan Rhys Meyers
- Dracula: The Series (1990)
- The Curse of Dracula (1979)
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1973)
- Dracula (2006) a BBC TV Movie
- Young Dracula (2012)
And the series we still have to look forward to…
- Dracula from Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat (probably 2020)
- Dracula Now – based on The Lost Version of Dracula
- NOS4A2 – an adaptation of Joe Hill’s (Stephen King’s son) novel (2019)
Okay, that last one’s not Dracula but it looks like it might be interesting.
Renfield & Mena
There is a school of thought that says Renfield and Mena mark the passage of time, of Dracula’s movements, when he is not in a scene. And once Mena has become infected Renfield is no longer required. And so injured, Renfield is left to die in the infirmary of the asylum and we hear nothing more about him. Mena, with her psychic link, now becomes our lens through which we view Dracula’s movements.
Dracula in Books and Comics
Dracula, whether the Vampire or the Prince, seems to have compelled many writers and artists to keep him alive. And he makes a number of appearances across the globe in new adventures and sometimes with different rules. Here are just a few of those appearances, feel free to add your own favourites in the comments…
- Dracula – A Marvel Comic (2010)
- The Tomb of Dracula: Lord of Vampires (1977)
- Dracula Lives (1973)
- Terrors of Dracula (1979)
- Dracula: The Company of Monsters (2011)
- Blood of Dracula (1988)
- X-Men: Apocolypse vs. Dracula (2006)
- Legion of Monsters (1975)
- Renfield (1994)
- Dracula by Bram Stoker (obviously)
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
- The Dracula Chronicles by Shane K.P. O’Neill
- Vlad: The Last Confession by C. C. Humphreys (one of my favourites)
- Captive by Gabrielle Estres
- Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories by Bram Stoker
- Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
- Dracula the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt
I’ve heard it said that Dracula first brought us Werewolves or at least, an awareness of them that we hadn’t had before. Dracula himself can even change into a wolf. And in the novel werewolves roamed the property, the land around his castle, and guarded his return to the castle. They also made an appearance in The Guest. Were they made by him for the purposes of keeping out intruders and do they have the restrictions placed on werewolves we know today – silver, the full moon, wolfsbane? Or were they perhaps the other scholars of the Scholomance that weren’t the chosen rider of Dragons?
Dracula’s Werewolf Abilities
Bram Stoker may have taken Dracula’s werewolf abilities, and perhaps some of his features, from Sabine Baring-Gould’s book The Book of Were-Wolves. Who described a vampire-werewolf hybrid and talked about the Greek belief that werewolves become vampires after death. There is even a story of a Goddess turning a shepherd into a wolf. Creating vampires and werewolves seems to be a gift of Gods and Devils. So is it the use of the divine beings power or self which gives those creatures their legendary longevity?
One Way Or Another Dracula Will Live Forever
By K.T. McQueen
A young woman with a promise to keep.
Another with a curse to lift.
And a werewolf looking for a new mate.
When Alice invited her friends, Sarah, Paul, and Dave to stay in her Grandmother’s Romanian farmstead they were expecting to take a break from studying and have a good time. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason Alice was there but her friends didn’t need to be involved in that. And she could happily show them where her family was from. And the town where she had spent her summers without them ever suspecting anything.
But then they meet the hunter, the werewolves catch their scent, and Sarah reveals a secret that could end her friendship with Alice and spell disaster for all of them.
Book 2 in the Noctisbellum Inc. series
Horror and Fantasy Author – Also writing as K.T. McQueen. Love Western Horror, cowboy boots, my cactus Collin, & my Demon Cat.
Moths – I hate moths, the way they flutter at your face!