Dracula in the Dark: Film Adaptations of Dracula

Dracula in the Dark: The Film Adaptations of Dracula

By James Craig Holte, 1997

31izkydxsjl-_sx313_bo1204203200_Vampires often shapshift, particularly on film. Varney The Vampyre came first, then Carmilla and then Dracula.


1922: Nosferatu

1931: Bella Lugosi’s Dracula

1979: Frank Langella and Christopher Lee Series

1992: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

1994: Anne Rice Novel and Film Adaptation of Interview with a Vampire

1995: Dracula: Dead and Loving It


1985 Once Bitten

1987 Lost Boys

1990 Vampire Cop

1992 My Grandpa is A Vampire

1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula was like a Dark Beauty and the Beast.  Read: The Gothic Flame by Devendra Varma.

Incarnation of Dracula in The Count on Sesame Street and in the Children’s Cereal Count Chocula

Margaret Carter’s book Dracula The Vampire and Critics, 1988, Auerbach’s Our Vampire, Ourselves. The Essential Dracula by Leonard Wolf, which defines it as Gothic Romance

Gothic Romance

The Castle of Oranto by Horace Walpole, 1764

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliff, 1994

The Italian 1796

The Monk 1796

Melmouth the Wanderer 1820

First Literary Vampires in German (Poetry)

1748 The Vampire by Ossenfelder

1773 Lenore by Berger

1797 The Bride of Corinth

Vampire in Romantic Poetry in two forms: male sexual predator or female seductress. Both are evil.  Sexuality and violence were combined.  Keats “Lamia.”  Coleridge “Christabell.”  Poe’s “Legia.” Byron’s “Manfred.”  Shelly’s Frankenstein. J P Planche’s Le Vampire.

Varney was a significant source for Dracula, as well as Carmilla. Emily Gerard’s travel book The Land Beyond the Forest influential.

R Campbell’s book The Devil and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, 1903, is a possible source.

Ekimu is the soul of a dead person wandering about.

Assyrian, Babylonian and Ancient Hebrew all had vampires.  There was Lilitu, Lillith and Lamia. There is the Indian Myth of Kali and the Tibetan Lord of Death Yama.

Lillith was Adam’s first wife. She was cast out of paradise. She was immortal and vengeful.  She tempted and tried to kill the Children of Eve.  As a result, the human devouring creatures were born.

Lamia was in Greek Mythology. She bore Zeus’s children, but a jealous Hera killed them all.

J Gordon Melton wrote The Vampire Book. James Twitchell wrote The Living Dead. Dudley Wright’s The Book of Vampires. Also check out Anthony Master’s The Natural History of Vampires, Nina Auerbach’s Our Vampire, Ourselves, Ken Gelder’s Reading the Vampire and Margaret Carter’s Dracula The Vampire and the Critics.

There are references to The Iliad and The Odyssey

Philinnion from Phlegan’s Concerning Wondrous Things.

1734 The word Vampire first Appear in The Travels of Three English Gentleman. Magyr Vampir is the Undead.  Similar words appear in Polish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Czech. Greek Word Vrykdakas means vampire or person with drum like skin.  Nosferatu is an Eastern European word for living corpse.  Latin Strix is a word for Screech Owl.  Portugal has the word Bruxsa, which means a bird woman who sucks the blood of children.

In Modern Myth Vampires are handsome and sexy.  They are no longer ugly and scary.

Pam Keesey’s book The Daughter’s of Darkness: Lesbian Vampire Stories is an important incarnation of the Vampire Legend.

In Greek Folklore Blue Eyed people with Red Hair could be Vampires.

Vlad Tempes was born in 1430 or 1431 in Sighisoara. He was the son of Vlad Dracul who lived 1390 to 1447.  He was a Wallachian Prince. Draco means Dragon and Devil.  Vlad had a brother named Radu. They were held prisoner by Ottoman Turks and abused.  Vlad ruled from 1448 to 1465.  The exact location of his castle has been disputed.  He killed over 100 thousand men in life time—by impaling them on stakes.

Henry Ludlum’s A Biography of Dracula: The Life of Bram Stoker came out in 1962. Daniel Farson’s The Man Who Wrote Dracula: The Life of Bram Stoker came out 1975.  Barbara Bedford wrote Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula came out in 1996. There has been an increased interest in Bram Stoker over the years. His other published works are hard to find. The Jewel of the Seven Stars and The Lair of The White Worm are two such works.

Henry Irving influenced Bram Stoker. Irving was an actor who acted in such plays as Faust, Macbeth, Hamlet, Rome and Juliet, etc.

In 1912, after Stoker died, his wife Florence published Dracula’s Guest and other Weird Stories.  Good novels he wrote almost forgotten: The Lady of the Shroud, The Jewel of the Seven Stars, Blood of the Mummy’s Tomb, The Awakening, The Lair of the White Worm.

Stoker, according to Carol A Senf, mixed Gothic elements with science.  He included themes of gender, ethnicity, and imperialism as well scientific and technological development.

The First Film adaptation of Dracula was Nosferatu. They did it without gaining the copyright to do so. Mrs. Stoker sued the producers.  The theater version of Dracula was run by her and okayed.  Mrs. Stoker sold the rights to Dracula to Deane and Universal Studios. 1931 Universal came out with Bella Lugosi’s version.  For more on that, read The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen in 1990 by David Skal.

Nosferatu, which came out in 1922, by WF Murnau, emphasized the animalistic and horrific elements.  It was a Post WWI German Expressionist Film. See the book From Caligare to Hitler: a Psychological Study of the German Horror Films.  In Nosferatu some of Characters deleted. Dracula was made one dimensional. The lights and setting made Dracula in an unnatural Dracula.

There are no copies of the 1921 Hungarian movie Drakula

There were lots of movies in the 1930s. Stoker was mysteriously absent from 1940s, but he came back with a vengeance in the 1950s.  After WWII, space creatures were popular: The Thing and The Blog, etc.  Finally, in 1958, Dracula reappeared.

Hammer’s Dracula was not faithful to the book. Jonathan is Van Helsing’s assistant. Author Holmwood has a wife named Mina and Renfield/Seward are both omitted. Dracula’s three women were also left out. Hammer released sequels with Christopher Lee in the title role. There were Satanic Rituals and Vampire Hunters added in.

The movie The Brides of Dracula was more faithful.  Dracula The Prince of Darkness was not at all faithful.

The 1930s        8 Dracula Films                       The 1970s        79 Dracula Films

The 1940s        7 Dracula Films                       The 1980s        34 Dracula Films

The 1950s        1 Dracula Film                         The 1990s        30 Films by 1995

The 1960s        59 Dracula Films

Why the Interest in Dracula? Well, we know Frankenstein was about science and asexual reproduction. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is about Psychological Deterioration and Drug Use.

By The 1970s, Vampires were embedded in American Culture.

The Series Dark Shadows was a Soap Opera about a Vampire in New England. Forgettable movie Nocturna Mama Dracula and Dracula Sucks.  Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot was homage to Dracula, but not actually Dracula.

Book Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Film and the Legend. The movie by Coppola was close to the original book, but loses the balance we feel too much sympathy for Dracula.  It is more of a love story.  It has been called a Dark Beauty and the Beast. You can see Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Divine Comedy elements in the film. Van Helsing in the movie was more of a mad scientist.  There are ambiguities all over. The characters are both good and evil. Good and evil aren’t black and white or on opposite sides. It follows more in the tradition of Anne Rice’s Vampires, who suffer.  It is the alienation of Post Modernism. Women go through endless transformations.  The movie violated the Victorian Rules. There was no consequence for violence and love conquers all.

Dracula Rising was a subspecies series: Good vs Bad Vampire.

Interview with the Vampire has the cosmic immoral Lestat an tragic, self absorbed Louis.  It was more of a Gothic Romance. The vampires are us and we are drawn into their story.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It was a Mel Brooks spoof.  It was a parody of ALL vampire movies.  There was a lot of Deane and Balderston, but it wasn’t very inventive over all.

Not ALL Fangs are Phallic: The Female Vampire

The inspiration for Female Vampires is Elizabeth Bathory.

There are Three Women Vampires in Dracula. It is the most sexual scene where they perform fellatio. It suggests everything forbidden.  The Bram Stoker’s 1992 movie is much more graphic with the girls in Greek robes. They look like they came from Alphonso Mucha.

Conclusion: Has Dracula Become More Like Us or Have We Become More Like Him?


About carilynn27

Reading and writing and writing about reading are my passion. I've been keeping a journal since I was 14. I also write fiction and poetry. I published my first collection of short stories, "Radiant Darkness" in 2000. I followed that up with my first collection of poetry in 2001 called "Journey without a Map." In 2008, I published "Persephone's Echo" another collection of poetry. Since then I've also published Emotional Espionage, The Way The Story Ended, My Perfect Drug and Out There. I have my BA in English from The Ohio State University at Mansfield and my MA in English Lit from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I also have my Post BA Certificate in Women's Studies. I am the mother of two beautiful children. :-)
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