Okay people, I really can't take it anymore. Will someone please do me a favor and write a real vampire novel? One that is a hit? Perhaps even a multi-million dollar series that glides across the silver screen like hemoglobin and brings out the true horrifying seduction of all that is Vampire? I would do it myself, but I'm too busy working in a cubicle and battling the mundane to take on the task. But please... please... for the sake of the vampire, this MUST BE DONE!!!
I was sitting at lunch yesterday when I heard a sixty-something gentleman tell the sixty-something lady he was sitting with that he wouldn't consider himself a reader "but Twilight is a good book on vampires." Seriously??? How about Bram Stoker? You know, THE Dracula? How about THAT'S a book on vampires? Mr. Stoker must be turning in his grave right now. I know he is and I'm feeling his pain. (Bram! Bram! I am so sorry this is happening! Remember when I read your book in high school and I had nightmares of Dracula gliding into the corner of my room like a mist? Remember when I ran in screaming from reading your novel on the patio because I was certain I heard a bat fly over me? Yes... those were the days. I am so sorry for your loss. I will avenge you! Dracula shall be avenged!!!)
Really, I think the beginning of my disgust was in 1992 when Coppola released his film Bram Stoker's Dracula. In those days, I was a Coppola fan (mainly because of The Godfather series) and a senior in high school set to graduate that June and commence my freshman year in college as an English Major. I was convinced that Coppola was going to do Dracula up right! No more Bela Lugosi to fall back on -- something new, exciting, and "up to date" was just around the corner! So, like a good literature student, I read Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, before the film was released. On the opening night of the film I sat five rows back from the silver screen and spent the next couple of hours in severe disappointment as I watched Coppola's visually pleasing version of a Dracula that was not Bram Stoker's.
I have always said, and still say, the only reason Coppola was able to call his film "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is because of the one direct Van Helsing quote he took from the novel, nothing more. I believe Stoker would've been sick to his stomach to see Dracula practically martyred in the film. A love story between Dracula and Mina? Mina nearly fighting to save Dracula's undead life? Really? When did that happen in the novel? It didn't. And where was the horror and fear and dread? Where was the seductive power of the dark side? When was that replaced by this fabricated "you were my lover in a past life, come take your place as my queen" kind of garbage? I mean, if you want to write that as a separate vampire story, cool, but don't call it Bram Stoker's story when it isn't. And given the popularity of the film and the people I've spoken to that love it ( who all say something like, "I've never read the book but..."), I've come to believe that perhaps I am one of a select few people that have ever read the book.
Now see, my Bram Stoker rant aside, I've always been a vampire fan. I'm not much for horror stories: zombies make me sick (decaying flesh and random limbs falling off is just gross); werewolves are too hairy, slobbery, and they bore me; ghosts and poltergeists creep me out just a little more than I care for; vampires...? Vampires are just right. Why is that? Because they're creatively and seductively evil. They remind me of Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost -- you know you're supposed to abhor them, you know they're out to get you, but somehow you are drawn in by them, seduced by them into something you don't really want and something that will ultimately destroy you. It is horror and terror in the most subtle and underhanded way, and there is no real defense against their power aside from the strength of one's own conscious mind and will. Overcoming the power of the vampire is the ultimate test in human strength. Take away the wickedness of the vampire and all you've got are some pale humans with sharp teeth and an alternative diet.
I'm not really an Anne Rice fan, never have been, and I hold her partially responsible for this onslaught of pansy-ass vampires who seem more like environmentally friendly denizens of a socialized new world order that would rather lecture me about recycling and water conservation than entice me into the dark shadow where I would serve as their next meal or possibly choose to walk among them in the realm of the undead, feasting upon the glorious and beautiful frailties of the human race. I have nothing against Lestat. The vampire is, as she describes him, "a heady mixture of attraction and revulsion." Agreed, I'll give him (and Ms. Rice) that due. But the minute she created Louis, the poor sap of a vampire that seems tortured by his own wicked nature (a human trait, mind you, not a vampiric one), she opened the door for this ridiculous train of trendy vampires that hunt rodents and protect humans as though they're some kind of super hero. (They're like vegan vampires or something and it's killing me!) And I might be okay with it if the craze were contained between the ages of 9 to 19, but it's not! I have to sit and listen to it being discussed among women of all ages in parking lots, on walks through the park, in lunch rooms and office cubicles, and in front of the mirrors in public restrooms! And as of yesterday, even men in their sixties have jumped on the train? Really? Is this Jonestown? Is there a vat of special kool aid somewhere? Is it a sign of the apocalypse? Maybe this is why the Mayans ended their calendar at 2012. They looked into the scrying bowl and saw what appeared to be a mass group of humans choosing sides between environmentally conscious pro-life vampires and werewolves and they decided it was the end of an age and the dawn of a new one. That's it! Get the crystal skulls everyone! If we can put all thirteen skulls together in a circle by December 21, 2012 then the Twilight series will come to an end and the world will be saved!!!
Seriously... this is ridiculous. Perhaps I shouldn't be such a vampire purist. Perhaps I should drink the kool aid and choose team Edward or something just so I can converse with my fellow woman. (May it never be!)
I'm sitting here with my copy of Dracula in front of me and I feel a sense of 19th century sorrow lingering above me. In this copy of the book there is an Afterward written by R. L. Fisher (I don't really know who R. L. Fisher is aside from some novel called The Prince Of Whales and a forward/afterward he wrote in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, but I like what the guy has to say). He wrote:
Had Bram Stoker lived to see the full ripening of his creation, he would certainly be a wealthy man. ...How, I wonder, would he feel if he were suddenly to return like one of his characters from the dead to find that his own reputation had been almost totally eclipsed by that of his creation? The name Dracula, after all, evokes instant recognition throughout the world, while the name Bram Stoker is likely to elicit little more than a scratch on the head, a glance at the ceiling, and the query, "who?" ... Even more vexing, I should imagine, would be seeing his creation parodied mercilessly in movies such as Dracula's Dog. I wonder what he would think if he saw his infamous protagonist, Count Dracula, so fearsome in his day, transformed into a carrot-sucking Bunnicula -- a vampire rabbit? And what do you think it would do to his ego if he walked into a supermarket and happened upon a cartoon caricature of Dracula, his paragon of unadulterated evil, leering down at him from a box of Count Chocula beakfast cereal? Come, now... money isn't everything! -- R. L. Fisher
That excerpt came from the Afterward in my 1988 copyrighted copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula. I'm not even sure Count Chocula cereal is still on the shelves in grocery stores, but at least Count Chocula still held an air of horror to him. At least Bunnicula was seducing and terrorizing and sucking the life out of carrots. What I wonder is what Stoker would think of the Vampire's evolution into a rodent consuming human rights activist?