The curse of eternal undeath cannot be an easy thing to (un)live with.

Dracula has been suffering this indignity since the horror of his quasi-existence was first unleashed upon the milk-white throat of an eager reading public in Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic genre masterpiece.

For a tormented creature of the night, Count Dracula seems to pop up everywhere these days, and often in broad daylight.

Today, Dracula is as much a brand identity and marketplace as he was once character outline and novel.

You can now download Dracula as an online slot and play Dracula-themed games on your smartphone. The Universal Monsters Dracula slot is one of dozens of free pokies online on the pokies website and comes complete with cutscenes and a vampire turning into bats. What’s more, you can drink coffee or the beverage of your choice from a Dracula mug, and spill it over your Dracula-emblazoned T-shirt. If you have the internet and the inclination, you are but one click away from sitting here and reading this article in your very own Dracula-themed pyjamas.

Such then is the ubiquity of Dracula.

Fangs for the Memories…

Since his first screen appearance in 1922, the tormented Count has to date appeared in over 50 English-language movies and is referenced in hundreds – if not thousands – more. This succession of film and TV roles has gifted him a costume: soul-crushed velvet and a sweeping cape like a bat’s wing.

He is the very archetype of what it is to be a vampire, the wan template for any western vampire flick or TV series you ever saw; the good, the bad and everything in between.

DraculaHe is a muppet on Sesame Street and a British cartoon duck. He is Max Schreck, Bela Lugosi, and a disturbingly mobile Klaus Kinski. He is a regal Christopher Lee turned to dust by a pair of candlesticks and the steel pluck of Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing. He is Gary Oldman in John Lennon glasses, and a six-foot Edward Cullen replica to watch over you as you sleep.

There have been plenty of different takes on the story as the Dracula myth has adapted to the changing times. Like any good feeding frenzy, there have been highs and lows along the way, but the Dracula legend has entered the public consciousness as surely as icy fingers of mist pushing through an unlatched window.

At various times the Dracula legend has been helped along by Herzog, cramped by Coppola, tweaked by Tarantino, and bolstered by Buffy. It may seem that the Twilight series hammered the final nails into Dracula’s coffin in 2008, but a coffin is merely a resting place to a vampire.

Is the time ripe for a re-envisioned film version that takes the story back to its roots?

When Vampires Cease to Sparkle…

Be careful what you wish for:

In 1992 Francis Ford Coppola set out to accomplish exactly that, with the release of the whacky accents contest otherwise known as Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The screenplay may have promised a faithful adaptation of the original material, but something vital was lost along the way. If a major retelling of Dracula is in the works, film-makers could do worse than study the author’s life for clues as to what that something might be.

For Bram Stoker was first and foremost a man of the theatre.

As business manager at the Lyceum Theatre in London, writing tales of dark fantasy was a sideline – at least until Dracula came along. As a writer he tapped into that rich vein of sensationalism he had seen in the theatre, seeking always to recreate the electric thrill of an audience that gasped at the spectacle and swooned at the gory bits.

If a future Dracula movie can get that right, if it can seek to shock a modern audience, jolt them from the ordinary, then Dracula will rise again to feast upon the public imagination.


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