Happy Birthday (Belated) To Bram Stoker & Thanks for the Vampire Genre!

by on November 8, 2012

in Entertainment

Dracula novel by Bram StokerToday, vampire movies are all the rage and have been for some time now.  From popular novels taking root to movies that fans love, it’s quite the popular genre.  But the fictional “man” that started it all, was Dracula and all his many renditions.

Bram Stoker, author of DraculaToday, November 8th, is the birthday of Bram Stoker. Bram, short for Abraham, is the man who brought vampires into the modern light of day (so to speak) when he penned the 1897 (Gothic) novel, The Un-Dead, which was renamed at the last minute to Dracula.  Since Dracula, vampires have become a huge undead entertainment market and a beloved romanticized fantasy of sorts.  Heck, even Joss Whedon took a swing at the character back in 2000.

As you know the undead or not-dead have taken a hold of our imaginations and created huge marketing venues for creative folks to spin off of and fans of the genre to absorb for our entertainment and short escapes from reality.

The classic man himself had an issue with sunlight, garlic, running water and a few holy objects.  He seemed extremely allergic to these things.

But with new eras and franchises, comes new or fewer forms of weakness.  Between variant vampires like those who sparkle in the daylight in the upcoming (and probably not last… yes she’s writing more books and it would be shocking if they didn’t make it to the screen) chapter of Twilight, to The Vampire Dairies on The CW (Which, BTW, came before Twilight; but someone had a better agent) to the other side of the “dead but still chasing us” category of zombies, like in The Walking Dead or the upcoming movie with Brad Pitt, World War Z, we have tons of “horrible” options to choose from.  And this genre of the entertainment world has grabbed our imaginations in so many ways and the hits (or bites) just keep coming.  Like the new NBC series coming up in 2013.

Since it’s Stoker’s birthday, let’s focus on vampires, AKA, Dracula.

Max Schreck in Nosferatu - the first Dracula movieBram Stoker, (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912 (64)) author by night (so to speak), he was the acting manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, for 27 years.  Prior to that post, he was a theater critic, which of note, was an interesting conundrum.  Critics were not well liked back then, but he wrote such great reviews that folks actually liked his work.

One of Stoker’s first pieces of published writing was the 1872 piece, “The Crystal Cup,” that was published by the London Society.  After that, his next piece was “The Chain of Destiny,” which was published in four parts in The Shamrock.

During his time as theater manager, he found himself traveling much, but believe it or not, the one place he never visited was Eastern Europe, the location of his most famous novel.

It’s been suggested or theorized that the inspiration for Dracula came from his association with Ármin Vámbéry who was a Hungarian writer and traveler.  Most believe that this writer’s dark tales about the Carpathian mountains helped spike Stokers imagination.  After this, he started researching Europena folklore, and when he constructed the novel of Dracula, he presented is as a collective of fictional diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship’s logs, and newspaper clippings.  The method of presentation gave it a realistic feeling.

The rest, as we know, is/was history.

Bela Lugosi as DraculaOf interest was that the original manuscript (they typed on paper in those days!) was found in a barn in Pennsylvania in the 1980’s.  It was a 541 page manuscript and of note, the original title to the book was “The Un-Dead.”

The first movie adapted from Stoker’s Dracula was the 1922 movie, Nosferatu. It was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and starred Max Schreck as Count Orlock.  (Name change to protect legal issues.) But this was an unauthorized adaptation.  Stoker’s widow sued, won, and her demands were to have the movie destroyed, at all levels of existence.  Almost all versions of the movie were destroyed, but as you might have guessed, not all of them.

The first official film adaptation came in 1932 when Universal Studios released Tod Browning’s Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.

Legal Noise

In hopes of getting creative control back for the franchise name, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, Canadian writer Dacre Stoker, penned a sequel to Dracula based off of character notes and plot threads from the original manuscript.  It came out in 2009 titled Dracula: The Un-Dead, and was co-written with Ian Holt.

But if you look at the list of titles from Bram, you can see that he’s touched on Dracula another time.

Bram Stoker books on Amazon

Other Novels from Bram Stoker

  • The Primrose Path (1875)
  • The Snake’s Pass (1890)
  • The Watter’s Mou’ (1895)
  • The Shoulder of Shasta (1895)
  • Dracula (1897)
  • Miss Betty (1898)
  • The Mystery of the Sea (1902)
  • The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903)
  • The Man (aka: The Gates of Life) (1905)
  • Lady Athlyne (1908)
  • The Lady of the Shroud (1909)
  • The Lair of the White Worm (aka: The Garden of Evil) (1911)

Short story collections

  • Under the Sunset (1881), 8 fairy tales for children.
  • Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party (1908)
  • Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories (1914)

Dracula in TV and Movies

Gary Oldman as DraculaAs far as Dracula goes for TV and movie entertainment, the character covers the ages, from the first movie (official) back in 1932 through various renditions since then.  One of my favorite Drac movies starred Gary Oldman in the 1992 movie titled…  it’s a tricky one…  Bram Stoker’s Dracula, from Francis Ford Coppola.  Of all the Drac movies, this one seemed to have caught my eye best.  Plus, Oldman is just one incredible actor.  (More on him in another piece I’m working on.)

But by far, Oldman is one of a long line of actors who have tackled this timeless (literally!) franchise character.

Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi are famed at playing the blood drainer, but the timeless actor, Christopher Lee may have played this character the most of any actor.

I became curious about who has portrayed the suave man with the magic eyes and started looking through IMDb.  Egads man!  So I have presented a shorter list than I should, but as far as I can tell, it’s a fairly comprehensive list of better titels.

Actors Who Have Played Dracula Through the Years

Christopher Lee as Dracula

  • Drácula (1931) Carlos Villar
  • Son of Dracula (1943) Lon Chaney
  • House of Frankenstein (1944) John Carradine
  • House of Dracula (1945) John Carradine
  • Horror of Dracula (1958) Christopher Lee
  • The Return of Dracula (1958) Francis Lederer
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) Christopher Lee
  • Dracula (1966 short) Bela Lugosi
  • Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) Christopher Lee
  • Count Dracula (1970) Christopher Lee
  • Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) Christopher Lee
  • Scars of Dracula (1970)  Christopher Lee
  • Dracula (1972 TV movie) Werner Vielhaber
  • Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) Christopher Lee
  • Dracula (1973 TV movie) Norman Welsh
  • The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) Christopher Lee
  • Count Dracula’s Great Love (1973) Paul Naschy
  • Andy Warhol’s Dracula (1974) Udo Kier
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1974 TV movie) Jack Palance
  • The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) John Forbes-Robertson
  • Dracula’s Dog (1978) Michael Pataki
  • Dracula (1979) Frank Langella
  • Love at First Bite (1979) George Hamilton
  • Dracula (1980 TV movie) Kenji Utsumi (voice)
  • Dracula Rising (1993) Christopher Atkins as Vlad
  • Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) Leslie Nielsen
  • Die Hard Dracula (1998) Ernest M. Garcia
  • Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula (2000 TV movie) Rudolf Martin
  • Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002) Zhang Wei-Qiang
  • Dracula (2002 TV movie) Patrick Bergin
  • Dracula II: Ascension (2003 video) Stephen Billington
  • The Batman vs. Dracula (2005 video) Peter Stormare (voice)
  • Young Dracula (2006 TV series) [2006-]  Keith-Lee Castle
  • Dracula (2006 TV movie) Marc Warren
  • Dracula (2009 video) Juan R. Caraccioli
  • Dracula (2010 short) David Campfield
  • Dracula 3D (2012) Thomas Kretschmann
  • Dracula (2013 TV series) [2013-] Jonathan Rhys Meyers (An upcoming NBC Series where “Dracula arrives in London; posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to the Victorian society even though his real intention is to take revenge on those who destroyed his life centuries earlier
  • (2000) You cannot forget when Joss Whedon tackled the myth of Dracula in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode titled ‘Buffy vs. Dracula” (Rudolf Martin played the man, or, undead man.)

As you can see, sequels are not something new to our era of movies, as the Dracula franchise seems to have been drained a bit dry through the years.  (Yes, that was a pun.)

So now you know a tiny bit more about this Dracula franchise and how like the character, will live on forever,with all it inspires.  (I’d like to see him show up in Twilight and kick all their asses.)

This piece was inspired by the Google Doodle that was up on November 8th, 2012, and I thought it would be interesting to check out the story behind the man who started the vampire novel and the ensuing fun he’s created.

(wikipedia: Bram_Stoker)
(wikipedia: Count_Dracula)

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