This week, I began reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. For the third time. In truth, it is the only book I have ever read more than once, aside from the Scary Stories or Tales for the Midnight Hour series. Each time I read it, I find a new sense of enjoyment for it. This time is the best so far. It is such a descriptive and intriguing story, and it frightens the reader with dark imagery that most modern novels (in my opinion) seem to be lacking. Of course, reading the novel makes it even more abundantly clear how much of a disservice has been done to this tale by Hollywood.
I know what you’re thinking: “But, Twisted Libra! Your favorite film is the 1931 Dracula!” True, I do adore a Hollywood version of my beloved count. However, I recognize that this film, and many that followed, are based on the stage play by Hamilton Deane and John Balderston. Their version, while somewhat of an homage to Bram Stoker’s original creation, was a vast departure from Dracula in his literary form. I love that film for it’s original take on the legend, and for the perseverance of the cast and crew through what was undeniably a tumultuous shoot. And hey, Bela Lugosi. Enough said.
However, being a true fan of Dracula, I cannot deny that Hollywood seems to keep shitting on the best parts of the novel. I held hope back in 1992 when the Francis Ford Coppola film arrived, promising to adhere to the original story. Well…it failed. I mean, yes, in many ways it did hold true…but it embellished or altered many parts that I feel would have been best left alone. A prime example is when Mina awakens to find Lucy missing in the night. She tracks her down, only to find her with some dark entity of sorts. In the novel, she sees Lucy in her white nightdress, sitting on a cemetery bench with her head back. A dark figure seems to be leaning over her shoulder from behind. It looks up, its eyes glowing red, and then it seems to vanish while clouds briefly obscure the moonlight. This is written so well, and is so creepy to read. Did the film do this?
Um…no. No, they did not. In the 1992 film, Mina finds Lucy mid-coitus with some huge, ridiculous-looking werewolf type beast on a bench in the middle of some garden. And given that Lucy is presumably sleep-walking and up to this point has been unaware of any influence from Dracula, this gives the sex a somewhat rapey subtext. Hollywood was trying to spice up the story with unnecessary sex appeal and, in the process, ruined what could have been an utterly terrifying scene. Hooray for Hollywood?
I don’t mean to sound as though I am against Dracula films. I rather enjoy them. I would just like to see a film stay absolutely true to the book for once. To my knowledge, that has yet to occur. If I am wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments. I don’t particularly care for that 1992 version. It tried and came so close, but the things it did change were just too senseless and pretty much ruined the story. For me, anyway. I will say, the original novel is better than any film. Of all the films, the 1931 version is still my favorite. I have my reasons; perhaps I will discuss them in a future post. Until then, enjoy the novel, enjoy the films, enjoy the genre. Take a big bite.
As always, if you enjoy this post, you can find all of my wicked creations over at my cemetery! Open to all, there is something devious lurking for each of you within the crypts and tombs! Find it here: http://www.twistedlibracemetery.com