Dracula, The First Hundred Years

Rating: 
4
Dracula, the First Hundred Years
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 16-May-1998

A version of this review appears in The Vampire's Crypt 17 (Spring 1998). The Vampire's Crypt web site is: http://members.aol.com/MLCVamp/vampcrpt.htm

DRACULA: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS, ed. Bob Madison. Baltimore: Midnight Marquee Press, 1997; ISBN 1-887664-14-9; $20.00. 322 pp., illus.

Nicely illustrated with movie stills and other relevant items (such as movie posters and comic book covers), DRACULA: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS has something for practically everyone interested in vampires in general or Dracula in particular. Although the book focuses on movies, there are also articles on the novel DRACULA, its literary precedents and social context, and vampires in comics, from 1939's DETECTIVE COMICS #31-32 to Nancy Collins's DHAMPIRE. Sidebars, often illustrated, spotlight topics as diverse as the Houston Ballet production of DRACULA, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's in-progress Brides of Dracula trilogy, the Aurora plastic model Dracula kit, and the perennial question: If Dracula were pitted against Frankenstein's creature, who would win?

Bob Madison's article "The Changing Face of Dracula: A Portrait Gallery" gives an overview of, literally, Dracula's face, from Stoker's "revolting" portrayal through the work of Hamilton Dean and Lugosi's signature role as the stylishly-clad count through John Carradine, Francis Lederer, Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster, "a curious hybrid of Dracula, mad scientist, and Borscht Belt comedian), and latter-day portrayals of such undeniably attractive Draculas as Frank Langella, Michael Nouri, and Gary Oldman. Tom Johnson writes about movie portrayals of Van Helsing. In "The Vampire Strikes Back!" Frank Dello Stritto looks at sympathetic, or at least vulnerable, aspects of movie vampires of the 1940s, including a fascinating analysis of DEAD MEN WALK. Rickey L. Shanklin's "Fangs for the Funny Books" explores the history of Dracula in comics.

There are also interviews with individuals associated with various media vampires. John Badham describes the making of BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA; John Llewellyn Moxey gives some of the nitty-gritty behind the record-breaking movie THE NIGHT STALKER, which he directed. One of the liveliest chapters is Gregory William Manks's interview with the vivacious Hope Lugosi, Bela Lugosi's fifth and last wife. Her descriptions of the charming, exasperating, jealous actor she married are interspersed with anecdotes about the rest of her life, much of it involved with other Hollywood personalities. The Afterword, in which David J. Skal describes himself as "a largely unpaid flack for Dracula," gives a fascinating account of Skal's experiences as a Dracula fan, particularly his efforts toward restoration of the 1931 Spanish-language film.

Although it takes a popular approach, DRACULA: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS contains more than media-related fluff. Some articles give a thoughtful and informed analysis of their topics, particularly "Hammer Films and the Resurrection of Dracula" by Gary J. Svehla and "Sex and Eroticism from Dracula and His Brood" by Randy Vest. "The Vampire's Kiss: Echoes of Bram Stoker in the 1980s" by Gary Don Rhodes gives its analysis of the movie THE VAMPIRE'S KISS vis-a-vis DRACULA a decidedly scholarly flavor.

No matter what your background or lack of it in vampire- or Dracula-related matters, chances are this book contains something that you didn't know before. With its numerous illustrations and consistently readable style, DRACULA: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS has appeal on multiple levels for a wide variety of audiences.

Fanged Films

USA, 1968
Shadows on the Wall
USA, 1999
Cold Hearts

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?