Tuesday, January 17, 2012
In recent years, I feel like we've been inundated with sparkly-inspired vampires. Vampires that are your boyfriend, that walk around in the daytime and are all brooding and cute. What happened to the vampire who only wants to rip out your throat? I love Lestat, the vampires of Blade and Buffy. (I know Buffy also started as a teenager, but she killed almost every vampire and demon that crossed her path; she saved the world on a regular basis. Yes, she dated a vampire too, but she also sent him to hell to save the world.) I wanted a dark vampire story, where the vampire is the villain and the heroes work tirelessly to save the ones they love and maybe they aren't always successful.
I recently re-read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and felt that another classic horror was calling to me. Dracula was the answer. It was classic, with blood, violence and death. Anyone who calls themselves a vampire fan, has to read this novel. Bram Stoker is the one who really started the modern fascination worth vampires. Yes, there have been different authors, television shows and movies during the various surges in popularity, but without Dracula, would it be the same? Dracula will wine and dine you, before killing you. Dracula will steal your loved ones from you, just for fun. Dracula is the immortal serial killer.
I really enjoyed Dracula. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel in the end. The entire novel is told through various letters, journals, articles, etc., which is fine; I've read stories like that before. I liked the different perspectives and narrators. The first part of the novel is told through Jonathan Harker's journal; he is the young lawyer who travels to Castle Dracula. It was intense, going along with him into all the dark parts of the castle, through all his discoveries and the realization that he was trapped. It was exciting.
Then we moved to Mina, Jonathan's fiancée and her friend Lucy. I was bored by these two ladies. I wasn't sure I'd make it through the novel at a few points. Some of the information was necessary to set up the rest of the novel, but it seemed to go on forever. I'm glad I pushed through. Once the men start trying to save Lucy, it gets more interesting and we are finally introduced to Professor Van Helsing.
Van Helsing is crazy and fantastic. How does he know what he knows? If Dr. Seward didn't know him, they would have lost. Van Helsing was the key. He knew what to do. He told them that Dracula/the Undead/vampires were repelled by something sacred, like a crucifix or holy water. My side question here, sacred to who? If it is anything sacred, would the Star of David or Om work as well? Also, garlic, how did he figure that one out?
One other point about Van Helsing, I know that he's from Amaterdam, but did Stoker have to write his speech that way. Occasionally, when reading certain notes or dialogue from Van Helsing, I had to re-read it to understand what he was saying. Stoker also did this with other people who weren't speaking perfect English. Trying to read accents and dialects was not always fun.
Perhaps a minor spoiler here: Another part I found frustrating was when they are at Dr. Seward's, first Mina, then others, talk about the mist. How do they not know? Dracula is the mist! They're trying so hard to protect Mina that they're ignoring the signs. Very frustrating. I hope I'm not giving anything away, but was so obvious to me.
[I'm moving past the men protecting women issue (man-brain, woman-brain, really?), because of the era of the novel.]
One continuity note, when Dr. Seward is introducing the men to Renfield, where did Harker go?
Reading Dracula has made me want to watch the movie. We have it. I'm not sure how long it has been since I watched it. I barely remember it. That's good, I think, for reading the novel, but I know there are differences and I want to see now how it compares. That might be something for this weekend.
So now I've read and enjoyed the big three of classic horror, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein. It's been a whole decade since I read Frankenstein. I think I'll re-read it in October.
"Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot?" - Dr. Van Helsing.