Bram Stoker gave us a gift in 1897. The gift was Dracula, a character very loosely based on the exploits of Vlad the Impaler, who was a dab hand at impaling people on spikes (yeah, he never got invited to many parties I’m guessing). From this one novel an industry was born, with films still being made today about ‘Count Alucard’ and actors such as Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi and Gary Oldman all having a crack at the role of the world’s most famous vampire.
No matter who is playing him, there are certain character elements that are always present. When Bela Lugosi crafted the role, he had an exotic appeal (which Christopher Lee also had) that made Dracula an alluring character. He is commonly played as a suave gentleman and ladies-man, which hides his violent nature. The way he can seduce either men or women must be part of the appeal of this creature of the night. Essentially, he can charm your pants off and make you love him for it. He is a snazzy dresser too, always rocking some cool threads. There is the whole pseudo-sexual neck sucking subtext going on, but really it’s about that gaze Dracula has that draws a person in. Quite alluring…
Dracula has been adaptable throughout many eras. Generations of students have read this book and though the language dates it somewhat, the story always feels fresh and most importantly real. Filmmakers have taken this character and made him their own for the audiences of the time. Much like the character himself, the story is timeless. So far, we have had Dracula with a Princess Leia hairdo (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), beefcake Dracula (Blade Trinity), a suave sex bomb vamp (Hammer Horror Dracula), a black Dracula (Blackula), a handle bar mustache Dracula (Jess Franco Dracula), a cereal character (Count Chocula) and one that is a muppet (The Count). It is a testament to a character when they can still mean something to so many different people.
The major detail that strikes a nerve is the idea of someone drinking all your blood and turning you into something else. This idea comes off as freaky and yet, strangely appealing. People have wondered about life after death, while others have thought about how their life could be changed. Dracula confronts both of these fears. He shows you there is life after death – or rather a chance to be undead. However, there is a price to be paid for this – the loss of yourself and everything you once were as you become one of his creatures. You gain a lot from this: enhanced strength, transformation, hypnoses eyes, and everlasting life – but you lose so much too. By the end, it’s true to say that Dracula is a tortured character, limited by the fact he cannot ever see the sun again, but empowered by the fact he can live forever.
Dracula is so many things for so many people, but he is almost always fascinating and terrifying. The character has endured for over a 100 years and continues relevance in a society the is currently just coming out of a bit of a Vampire obsession. Long after the Twilight movies are done, and Vampire Diaries are over, Dracula will remain, forever immortal and reshaped for each generation….
Keep an eye out as another character on the Countdown will be revealed every night at 12:01 am for the rest of the month. You’ll also be able to find them HERE.