Friday, July 24, 2020

Let Dracula Be Dracula FFS

OK.  Bram Stoker wrote a few books.  "The Jewel Of Seven Stars" was entertaining.  "The Lair Of The White Worm" was deplorable.  "Dracula" was his flash in the pan, his One Big Thing, and dammit, let dudeboy keep Dracula just the way his bad bat ass is.

I am past sick and tired of people who cannot leave Dracula alone.  I blame Anne Rice for this.

True, she wasn't claiming that her bloodsuckers had anything to do with Bram Stokers creation. But she cherry picked so much from the Big Bat that it's become inextricably associated, and that's just bullshit.  It's not to say that 'Interview With The Vampire' wasn't entertaining - it really was.  It's just that none of her other vampire books are.  All they do is hammer that difference between her leeches and Dracula into oblivion.

Anne Rices' vampires are all exercises in edging.  That's it.  That's all they are.  Sooooo much rapture, so much tease, so much anticipation - but no climax.  Nope.  Am I the only person who's noticed this about her vampires? They're like junkies chasing the effect of that first perfect fix who just can't get there anymore.  They get right to the very tipping point, approaching true ecstasy, and then it all just fades, every single time.

Dracula?  He GOES THERE.  He triumphs.  He vaunts. He prevails.  He enjoys being evil. Dracula  invites us to envy him because he knows he's awesome.  Lucy Westenra?  Bleed, bitch, and die!  Rise in glory and pillage, Lucy! Bite those children! Be the sexy beast you couldn't be in life!  Dracula creates MONSTERS.  Lestat creates whiners, drama queens and frustration addicts.

If you're uncomfortable with Dracula being associated with Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, then don't read Dracula and don't call your amended reboot reimagining mashup version Dracula.  Sorry.  If you're going to do Dracula you have to follow the rules.

Dracula can:  fly, become a mist, turn invisible, climb walls like a gecko, turn into a large dog, a bat and a wolf,  use hypnotism, create blood slaves, create full-on fellow vampires with the same powers he has, beat your ass and nineteen other peoples' asses at the same time, slip through any barrier, teleport, control storms, fog and mist, and command rats, owls, bats, moths, foxes and wolves. Among other things.

Dracula cannot: cast a shadow or a reflection, come onto hallowed ground, deal with garlic, wild roses, ash wood, silver or any trappings of the Catholic religion, deal with being denied, and you know what, go here:

Those are the rules.  You have a lot to work with there. That Dracula can still create a lot of flamboyant havoc, and as long as you've got a devout Catholic around, you're all set.

Now vampires in general?  Wide open category.  'They drink blood and.....' pretty much describes vampires.  I'll read your version and probably be entertained, because I like icky things.  I've had to learn to live with sparkly vampires, living close to Forks as I do. (For a Twilight fan this means 'all of Washington State.)  I can live with your plaid vampire, dog vampire, car vampire, go nuts.  Just don't call it Dracula.

It's like Cthulhu.  Now Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean is often referred to as 'The Cthulhu Pirate" because the dude has an octopus head.  Which is awesome, but is not Cthulhu. Cthulhu is "a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind."  If you look at Davy Jones, you'll go 'whoah, that's freaky.'  If you look at Cthulhu, you'll go stark raving insane.  You don't go around looking at Cthulhu.  You look at a statue of Cthulhu. 

 Pretty much all Cthulhu does is be dead but sleeping (don't ask me, this is H.P. Lovecraft) and send out horrible dreams if you get too interested in him.  Ancient writings warn us that he will one day arise and bring about chaos.  He is taking a sabbatical at present. He/it did bad things in the past, and he'll/it'll do bad things in the future.  For now, worship him/it, don't look at him/it, and don't wake his/its ass up.

Davy wears a pirate hat and has a ship and wears shoes and has conversations and oh, all kinds of things.  You can interact with Davy.  He sails around and acts like a dick.  His sheer ickiness, and that of his crew and ship, is incredibly impressive and cool as heck.  He brandishes a cutlass, and at one point in the past, was fully human. He even had a girlfriend.

Cthulhu does not have a girlfriend.  Cthulhu spawned some...things, in the distant past.  We don't know if they just fell off him and went running around, or if he squitted them out or what, but they were evil.  He is all about chaos and insanity. Cthulhu is a member of the race of the Great Old Ones.  His job title is the High Priest of the Great Old Ones. 

And so we see: Any resemblance between Cthulhu and Davy Jones is superficial.  

Using the same measure, then, Original Bram Stoker Dracula bears only a superficial resemblance to other vampires.  Dracula is a specific character with specific attributes, just like Davy Jones, Cthulhu, Bernadette Peters, and me. He does not faff around in Ikea or front a rock and roll band like Lestat de Lioncourt. He's not a complicated man (Shaft! John Shaft!) Dracula is a simple guy - dead, evil, drinks blood, likes things that way. He  has no second thoughts.  He does not regret being who he is and doing what he does. You either kill him, or run and hope someone else kills him, because he's a walking cancer, a virulent disease, implacable.  He is not going to be overcome by your sparkling psychological rhetoric.  He is going to bite you and drink your blood and really, really enjoy it.

Anime creators?  Game creators?  Do your reading.  If you don't have the gumption to use a character that someone else has created correctly, then don't use it.  Readers?  If you're not willing to go back to source material because "It's written all weeeeeeird, I don't understaaaaaand it, it's so old faaaaashioned" then you need to push yourself harder and use a fuckin' dictionary already. 

Dracula's actions brought to be a group of the most genuinely human heroes you'll find in fiction, and this is in 1897, when nobody in fiction came off real.  Johnathan Harker goes from being a hapless doofus into the definition of righteous vengeance.  It's an incredible character transformation.  Their resident sage, Dr. Van Helsing, is imperfect - his English is regrettable and he falters and makes wrong decisions.  Mina Harker is a throw pillow, until the worst happens.  She makes herself go forward by sheer act of will, every single step toward the foe, even after being 'raped' by the vampire, knowing that she's a liability at times, but entirely willing to go so far as to acknowledge, and then use the after-effects of that horrible event against their common adversary. They defy society, mores, rude inkeepers - and all to do the right thing.

Now tell me Dracula has no relevance. Try him out for size and see if you can live up to the challenge.  Dracula fucking rocks.


Mistress Maddie said...

Are you referring to the Bram Stokers Dracula that had Keanu Reeves and Wynona Ryder? If so I love that movie!!!! One of my top favorites movie. It was so visually appearing and decadent. I so wanted to be one of Dracula's Mistress's in that movie...but unlike those bitches I'd kept my head!!!!!!!

I don't think I'd have a problem being a vampire.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Hoo boy, Mistress Maddie. I am a Dracula purist. I really, really enjoyed the Keanu Dracula movie. They got a lot closer to the character in the book than anyone - other than (oddly) Hammer Films in 1958 with Christopher Lee playing the Big Bat. It had a fantastic look. And then it just went off the rails and started being all about the look, right after Lucy Westenra is decapitated and the director cuts from her head lying there all bloody to a roast sitting on a table. See, nowhere in the book did Count Dracula ever have white muffin hair, or wear blue sunglasses. I could go on and on but I won't. I will say, that was one of the best Dracula movies ever made, though, and Gary Oldman got all up in it and lived that character. He was great!
I think you'd make a fantastic Bride of Dracula!

Mistress Maddie said...

I agree....Gary Old man linked the fucking part!!!!! And you also called the metaphorical scenes...I love that too. I remember one where the wolves eye became the sun in the next scene and another where the horses jumping became the vampia's shadows in the next. I also love how they did Dracula,s shadow entering or leaving a room before he did. Oh fuck it....i can see I'm going to have to get this out tomorrow or is it today....and watch it.

Ms Scarlet said...

Okay, I'm sold - I'll put Dracula on my book pile.
I have to confess though, that I do love Lestat, and Interview with a Vampire, but I do understand your point.
Maybe I like tease and frustration!!

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Ms. Scarlet: Oh, I'm glad! Now bear in mind that the books is REAL wordy, but it flows right along. If you can hack Jane Austin you'll breeze right through Count Dracula! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!