Ultimate Dracula, The

Rating: 
4
The Ultimate Dracula
Review by Dragon, submitted on 30-Sep-1991

As with many anthologies the quality of the work presented varies considerably; ranging from the weak and sophomoric to the powerful and thought provoking. I don't think that any of these stories will ever achieve the status of classics but most are worth reading and some are truly outstanding. In addition to the works of fiction the book includes and introduction by Leonard Wolf that discusses the impact of Lugosi's 1931 version of Dracula along with a brief history of vampire fiction through the publication of Dracula. The introduction also includes some very brief comments on the life of Vlad Tepes.

"The Master of Rampling Gate"(c) 1985 by Anne Rice
One of the better stories in the anthology. The story involves a brother and sister who return to their long abandoned ancestral home to carry out their father's dying wish that the old mansion be destroyed.

"All Dracula's Children"(c) 1991 by Dan Simmons
Another excellent story though I found the denouement a little disappointing. A team of investigators from the West travel to post-Ceausecu Romania to look into the country's need for western aid. One of the investigators stumbles upon a sinister cause behind all of Romania's HIV children.

"A Matter of Style"(c) 1991 by Ron Dee
This was probably my least favorite of all the stories include in the anthology. A sexually frustrated teenager receives the 'Dark Gift' and discovers some interesting possibilities in the vampire's shapeshifting powers.

"Selection Process"(c) 1991 by Ed Gorman
This story developed an interesting twist in how and why new vampires are recruited. A hitman receives an unpleasant surprise when he discovers that his next 'assignment' is a little girl rather than an adult.

"The Vampire in his Closet"(c) 1991 by Heather Graham
This is a somewhat humorous store that reminds me a little of some of Damon Knight's writing (though the ending is much more obvious than in most of Knight's work). A writer of vampire fiction discovers the crypt of a vampire concealed in the basement of the old house he just purchased.

"The Tenth Scholar"(c) 1991 by Steve and Melanie Tem
A street-smart girl seeks to gain power and prestige by becoming the Tenth Scholar in a very exclusive school.

"Nobody's Perfect" (c) 1991 by Philip Jose Farmer
A young woman is chosen as the special disciple of a vampire who has gone public as a televangelist. This was one of the more effective stories in the book as you might expect from a writer of Farmer's stature.

"Dracula 1944"(c) 1991 by Edward D. Hoch
The commandant of a German concentration camp makes becomes suspicious of the most recent shipment of Gypsies to enter his camp when the guards begin dying from blood loss.

"The Contagion" (c) 1991 by Janet Asimov
A descendent of the original Dracula is awakened from a long period of cryogenic sleep and is subjected to the ministrations of an attractive therapist with the all too familiar name of Mina. The universe has changed beyond all recognition during his long sleep but it seems medical science has still not found a cure for his familial affliction.

"Sugar and Spice"(c) 1991 by Karen Robards
A unique case of sibling rivalry develops when little Peter's parents adopt an infant girl from Romania.

"Vampire Dreams" (c) 1991 by Dick Lochte
Byron Ruthven, a distinguished actor who made his fame playing vampires during the classic period of Hollywood, returns to the screen for one more film at the appeal of his old director.

"Much at Stake" (c) 1991 by Kevin J. Anderson
During the filming of Dracula, Bela Lugosi gains some personal insights into the personality of his role's namesake. This is one of my personal favorites from among the selection of stories in this book.

"The Name of Fear" (c) 1991 by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Another excellent story. Why were vampires so dreaded when they were so easily controlled? Vlad Tepes was unconcerned with that question. He feared nothing. Rather, he was a master at inspiring fear in others. Until one night, on a battle torn hill top, he learned the meaning of fear.

"The Dark Rising"(c) 1991 by W. R. Philbrick
A doctor running a clinic in Haiti discovers the reason for the rapid, world-wide spread of a dreadful epidemic.

"Los Ninos de la Noche" (c) 1991 by Tim Sullivan
A young female reported hopes to score a journalistic coup when she locates the last surviving member of the cast and crew of a long lost Spanish language horror classic; a film that was reportedly haunted by mysterious deaths throughout its filming.

"A Little Night Music"(c) 1991 by Mike Resnick
A booking agent is puzzled by the overnight success and strange habits of his new act, Vlad and the Impalers.

"Mr. Lucrada" (c) 1991 by John Lutz
A teenage boy becomes suspicious of his sister's reaction to their elderly neighbor when his family moves to Florida.

"In the Cusp of the Hour" (c) 1991 by John Gregory Betancourt
A young and successful business woman finds the service less than satisfactory when she arrives at the mall a little before regular business hours.

"Children of the Night" (c) 1991 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Vampires are a scientifically recognized fact. Of course, that necessitates the establishment of institutions to deal with the threat to society posed by the undead. But what do you do with the children?

The book concludes with a series of reviews (written by Leonard Wolf) of some of the most significant films that have dealt with the Dracula myth. The number of films reviewed is very limited and I found myself often disagreeing with Mr. Wolf's opinions.

Overall I was pleased with this anthology. The only entry that I really disliked was Ron Dee's contribution ("A Matter of Style"). I found it interesting that several of the stories dealt with topics that have been recent subjects of discussion on this list (AIDS, the philosophical implications of hunting vampires). I recommend the book but you might be more pleased if you buy it in paperback or through the SF Book Club. I might have been less pleased with the book if I had paid full hardback price at Walden's or B. Dalton's.

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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  

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