"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." - Toni Morrison
"Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell." - Charles de Lint

05 April, 2023

D is for Dracula

My thoughts aren't as cohesive for this entry as they are in the previous ones, so you'll have to bear with a kinda-sorta bulleted list from me instead.

-- Other than what I tend to describe as "fanfic" in film form, I don't think there'll ever be an adaptation of Bram Stoker's book that'll do the story justice. Efforts at a more "earnest" and "serious" adaptation left me cold (Netflix's Dracula and especially Bram Stoker's Dracula) by reinventing the wheel, so to speak. How? Turning them into love stories. There's one extremely brief, throwaway line in the book in which Dracula tells his creepy wives that he's loved once, and that was it. 

That wasn't the main point of the book, but modern Hollywood tends to take the flimsiest idea and run away with it. As far as I understand, Nosferatu comes the closest to a faithful adaptation of the book, but I've yet to see it to know for sure. I do like all of the stuff put out by Hammer Films, though. They might be fanfic, but they're at least fun, full of camp, and Christopher Lee does a bang-up job of embodying our aristocratic bloodsucker.

Now there may be hundreds of adaptations of the book all over the world, and a number of gems might be in the mix that I'm unaware of. So I'm talking from my pretty limited experience insofar as visual entertainment's concerned.

-- The book's epistolary narrative was my main inspiration for my approach in writing Ghosts and Tea. Previous epistolary fiction, especially from the 18th century and early 19th century, were primarily letters-only narratives. Not all, but almost all. Frankenstein was mostly journal entries, but Dracula ran wild with a mix of letters and journals. 
And while almost all of the letters and journal entries in Stoker's book still fell into the traditional narrative trap of not only detailing events and even dialogue, there was one extremely brief series of journal entries that I think highlights how they should be written for maximum effect: the journal entries written by the captain of the Demeter. They're brief, to the point, yet lacking in so much detail as to make the reader's imagination run wild, which makes the captain's accounts even more chilling. 

-- Vampire lore is one of my favorite sources of inspiration for story ideas, and I prefer my vampires to be folklore-based, not romantic as shown by Hollywood's aristocratic vamps and Anne Rice's pretty, emo goths. Desmond and Garrick was my first dive into writing about vampires, and it was a humorous pastiche meant to be a tongue-in-cheek poke at YA vampire fiction. But what came after like Hell-Knights (and soon The House of Ash) are very folklore-based where the vampires are the mindless, reanimated dead driven by nothing more than animal instinct. 
And speaking of lore, Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial, and Death is a great resource that's also got a darkly funny edge to it. It's not a comprehensive resource by any stretch, but it's got a ton of terrific information and accounts, and it's pretty entertaining to boot. Highly recommended.

-- The other fiction book on vampires I'll praise to the high heavens is Stephen King's Salem's Lot since the vampires in that hefty novel are pretty much the kind I want to see in my entertainment, and King pulls no punches in his descriptions of them as well as how they turn and how they're destroyed. 
That said, I've purchased, read, and also enjoyed vampire romances by gay romance writers, and there's nothing wrong with a more romantic / urban fantasy take on bloodsuckers. They can be swoony, fun, dangerous, and terrifying, and I'll never say no to that; however, my primary preferences are still of the folklore kind.

There are a few other things that didn't make the list, but that's cool since what I have here are my main topics. Like Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, which I highly recommend as a great anime film with a spectacular art style and a strong plot (think Beauty and the Beast in vampire form -- but heartbreaking).

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