What happened to Dracula’s
And that is the question
I find myself asking, as I realize the name Dracula is no longer associated with terror, but instead, is associated with the
cliché of the somewhat chubby, somewhat pale guy, with the penguin suit, telling us he “Vants to suck our blood”.
When did he become so corny?
Could it have been after George Hamilton’s hilarious rendition in Love at First Bite?
No, it had to be before then. How about Christopher Lee’s rendition? No, he was pretty scary for the time.
I can’t truly pin
down the moment Dracula became hackneyed, but the reason had to be television. Reruns of Bella Lugosi's over-the-top
rendition have imbedded a satirical image of the Prince of Darkness in our psyche. After-all,
we all know Count Chocula and the Count from Sesame Street are based on Bella’s interpretation of the blood sucker.
Whenever it was that this tragic event transpired,
we won’t exactly know, but there is no doubt that it happened.
Dracula has lost his terror; he
has lost his cool and his mojo. Think about it; long ago, when the King of Horror would fix his hypnotic gaze out
into the audience in any theatre, people would cringe, girlfriends
would squeeze the life out of their boyfriend’s arms. What’s the reaction of today's audience? Well, I
would say it’s an uncomfortable laugh and a feeling of embarrassment for his Holiness of Fear.
Even when the Dracula character
is introduced into modern films like Van Helsing and Blade III, he is—ridiculous at best (Especially in Blade III, mama
mia! Shirtless, tanned, and wearing medallions like some weirdo at a disco going through a mid-life crisis?
Yeah, scary). Let’s face the facts people, no matter how cool and shirtless you portray him he is not
let’s, for a moment, go back to the original Dracula; Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, the scary guy from the book,
who lived in an incredibly old Romanian castle somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains.
He is an
extremely wicked character, as witnessed through the eyes of Jonathan Harker. Harker’s experience is one that
would give anyone nightmares. He’s traveled through a strange land with strange people, all the way up into the
mountains where hungry wild eyed wolves run about in the fog, only the glow of their red eyes showing. And then he is
introduced to the Count who is a creepy old man who begins to do very strange things—yeah, scary.
the scariest part of all this is that he has nowhere to go; no cell phone to call anyone and absolutely no means of escape. We
can hardly handle going to the grocery store without being 'connected', can you imagine going to Dracula's
nefarious castle? That is scary stuff people. Lucky for Harker, Dracula
falls in love with Harker's picture of Mina, believing her to be the reincarnation of his long dead wife, and so
he lets him escape.
And the question still remains;
If Dracula was so fiendish and terrifying at one point, what changed?
Well, my theory is that society changed—for the worse.
really, think about it.
We aren’t afraid of a guy climbing through our bedroom window unless he’s
got a large knife in his hand and murder on his mind. Slasher movies have become the norm. The boogie man is no
longer an imaginary monster, no, he has become our next door neighbor, our English teacher, our girlfriend, our boyfriend,
our brother, our sister, our mother, our father, our government, and our best friend.
And then we have ghosts and demons.
Very scary. These are beings with powers beyond our understanding
and control, which can at times, manipulate our actions and thoughts. When we are no longer in control, that’s when
we are most afraid. The boogie man is no longer make-believe. Ghost Hunters everywhere have recorded their voices and
footsteps. We've even seen them move objects from one room to the next, right on television, without the help of special effects.
No, alas, poor Dracula is small beans compared to these
bloodcurdling menaces from the great beyond. And the truth is—we still love you Dracula!
Someone just has to bring you back with all your terrifying mojo!
We want to be scared!