Postmodern Dracula, how to reinvent the myth of the vampire prince

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Postmodern Dracula, how to reinvent the myth of the vampire prince created by Bram Stocker between literature, cinema and comics

the Count Dracula is one of the most famous literary characters of all time, created by the pen of the Irish writer Bram Storer. The well-known novel came out in 1897 and became a bestseller already in the Victorian era, it caught the popular imagination and “The Vampire Prince went on to live other lives.” Its charm has never wavered and after the Modernity (i.e. the first decades of the 20th century), emerging new media took on the character of Stocker “Reinvent it” or “reinterpret it” in new situations, Postmodern Dracula.

The new literary Dracula, the works of Dacre Stocker and Kalogridis

In the 1990s, the American writer Jeanne Kalogridis she was the author of a trilogy devoted to the family of the famous Dracula, this is the series “The Dracula Family Diaries”. The trilogy consists of three volumes: The Pact with the Vampire (Pact with the Vampire1995), children of the vampire, 1996) and vampire lord, 1997); edited in Italian by Newton Compton. In this trilogy, which serves as a prequel to Stocker’s novel, the author recounts the origins of the vampire lord, his ancestry, his family, and the clash with occult professor Abraham Van Helsing, delving into some unclear themes of the original work as the identity of the three wives of Dracula.

The case of the writer and great-grandson of Bram Stocker, namely Dacre, is totally different. After giving up the profession of pentathlon athlete, he devoted himself to the activity of novelist. His debut took place in 2009 with the novel Dracula: the undead (Undeath: The Immortals, published by Piemme in Italy), with Ian Holt. The story follows the novel of the ancestor, Dracula reveals that he is the famous Romanian ruler Vlad Tepes III and is deeply in love with Mina Hacker. This time the antagonist of the story is the treacherous Baroness Elizabeth Bathory (based on Erzsebet Bathor, a Hungarian noblewoman who lived between 1560 and 1614 famous for the murder of many girls and for the habit of washing herself in the blood of her victims) with the treacherous murderer Jack the Ripper. The novel received several mixed reviews for its attempt “To bring Stocker’s novel back to life” and to unite the world created by Stocker with new scientific knowledge.

Postmodern cinema and Dracula, an “immortal” charm (watch out for possible spoilers)

Cinema has always loved the figure of Dracula and will continue to do so. After the period of British horror films with Christopher Lee as a vampire, an emerging director rewrote the myth of Dracula: Francis Ford Coppola, film author Bram Stocker’s Dracula (1992). At the casting, we have Gary Oldman as a vampire, Winona Ryder as Mina Murray, Anthony Hopkins as Van Hellsing, Cary Elwes as Lord Holmwood and a young Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker. Dracula is depicted as thealter ego by Vlad Tepes III of Wallachia, who decided to deny God and faith after discovering the suicide of his wife Elisabeta. The latter had believed that her husband had died because of a forged letter sent by the enemy Turks; he therefore chose to commit suicide so as not to suffer. Gary Oldman’s vampire has a double aspect; introduces himself to Mina as a gentleman with a bohemian look, long hair, black sunglasses for the sun and a gray suit with a top hat; instead it’s true the face is pale, wrinkled while long white hair curled over purple dresses.

A rather special experience was the film Dracula Legacy – The Lure of Evil (Dracula 2000, 2000) directed by Patrick Lussier and produced by Wes Craven (director of Nightmare and Scream). The story takes place at the start of the New Millennium, Dracula (played by Gerald Butler) awakens and threatens to “drown the world”. The characteristic that distinguishes this film from others is the identity of the vampire; it is no longer Vlad Tepes but Judas Iscariot. Thus the fear of money, the sun and crucifixes is explained as a divine punishment inflicted after having betrayed the Messiah with the famous thirty pieces of silver.

Totally different is Dracula played by Richard Roxburgh in Stephen Sommers’ Van Hellsing (2004). summer movie is an action fantasy film with dark photography where bizarre Roman castles meet steampunk technology. Hugh Jackman (known as Wolverine in the X-Men movies) plays Gabriel Van Hellsing, a monster hunter in the service of the Vatican (only to find out he’s a reincarnation of Archangel Gabriel). At the end of the 19th century, he comes to help a Romanian princess and her brother to face the evil Dracula. A film that does not want to take itself seriously but pays homage to all the gothic literature and horror cinema of the thirties and forties. Frankstein, Mr Hyde and a werewolf accompany Dracula and his three wives in this version of the story.

Among the new incarnations we have Gary Shore’s Dracula Untold (2014), the last Hollywood film (out of the Hotel Transylvania series) dedicated to Dracula. The film reinvents the character by mixing history and fantasy, Prince Vlad Tepes must save his people from the advance of the Turks led by the former friend in arms Mohammed II, now Sultan of Istanbul. The Roman prince makes a pact with a mysterious being who lives in a cave. This gives him immense powers such as flight, night vision and superhuman strength to defeat the Turks but he must endure the bloodlust. Luke Evans interpreter Vlad Tepes, Sara Gadon his wife Mirena and Dominique Cooper Sultan Mohammad II. The film was to revive the universal monsters in cinema with a new contemporary interpretation; unfortunately the cold reception and the modest incomes changed the plans, the Dracula of Evans was discarded in favor of the film The Mummy with Tom Cruise.

Dracula and the new means of communication: comics (watch out for possible spoilers)

Finally, Dracula has starred in several comics and graphic novels, from faithful adaptations of Stocker’s novel to reimaginings of the character.

Marvel Comics Introduced The Vampire Prince To The Comic Book Series Tomb of Dracula (1972-1979) by Marv Wolfman, Gardner Fox, Archie Goodwin and Jerry Conway, a spiritual sequel to “Stocker’s novel” where a new generation of vampire hunters (led by Quincy Haker and Rachel Van Hellsing) meet the famous Blade to fight together against the return of the evil Dracula. Not the character’s only appearance, Stocker’s vampire has also gone up against other characters such as Moon Knight, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the X-Men.

In 1991, DC released the comic Batman: Red Rain by Doug Monech, a “side story” where Batman confronts Dracula’s arrival in Gotham and his attempt to vampirize the population. Two more comic stories follow; Batman: Bloodstorm (1994) and Batman: Crimson Mist (1998) where DC’s vampire superhero faces off against his old foes as Butler Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Two-Face and Killer Croc team up to battle him.

Despite his absence, Dracula is mentioned by Mina Harker in the graphic novel. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 1 (1999) by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil, where all the characters of world literature live in the same world.

Cover image source: Flickr (royalty free image)

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