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A Personal Review of ‘Dracula The Un-Dead’.

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by Sahkmet

My review of the ‘sequel’ to the famous novel  Dracula.

To better understand this review, it is best to have read the book first, as the title says, I’m going to be basing from my perspective towards open-minded.


Our book that has garnered my attention for today is the official sequel to Dracula, known as Dracula The Un-Dead. Written by the great-grandnephew of Stoker himself Dacre and horror-enthusiast (and had originally garnered the idea of an official sequel back in the 90’s) Ian Holt. This novel is designated as official because it has been endorsed by the Stoker family.

However upon finishing this reading, I have come to the sad conclusion that it has not satisfied me as much as I wanted in an official, pure sequel to the original novel. It definitely supports the idea of an ‘official sequel’ in the constant add-ins of homages to people and characters associated with the universe of all things sufficiently and proper Dracula of the family’s specifications, while even including Bram Stoker himself and the first novel inside this story! As such this book is plagued with the anguish of the Stoker’s history; The Stokers have had much dismay at how the world of Dracula has been left out of their hands and become a cultural icon constantly re-arranged and exploited. Thus this novel to become part of the original cannon is abundant in subliminal ‘righteous’ things, and by doing so a sequel to garner more respect for the Stoker name and the original that is Dracula, even as far to name this book the original title Dracula was to be.

Another attention that caught my eye was the co-writer Ian Holt. Apparently his story is he is a horror and Dracula enthusiast, and for many years was hounding the Stoker family to pitch the ideas of an official Dracula sequel. Finally the younger generation came about with Dacre Stoker, and so he latched on with this good well-meaning idea, and thus the novel here was penned. If only this book didn’t so change the cannon of the original story, I would have been well pleased. Alas I am pure and I found little of what I thought was to be in this augmentation of Stoker’s Dracula world.

Before I continue, let it be known that I am at this time 17 years old, my view if my opinion and this is my attempt to logically explain myself, and that I have read only some short reviews prior.

So now let us discuss the bad and the good things for the sake of pointing out in detail, because I’m feeling nitpicky and frustrated with the book, to show to light what has made me the feeling of frustration.

1. The Writing Style.

What disappointment! I was quite expecting of course, that the novel would now be in the style of the original: of letters, journals, diaries etc. of the character’s point of view of the plot. However I had higher hopes that it would be, possibly, be written in the style of Stoker and the period of the original. To be a compelling Gothic horror of the Victorian period, and as the original to not go into compelling detail of the sexual and gore symbols and aspects, instead to remain intriguing and an intelligent read with mystery. This book lacks it, and instead becomes a modern quick-and-action style of realism, violence, detail and modern ‘eloquence’. This I really didn’t want in a sequel to a novel that is NOT that. This book is not heavily romanticized in that way at all, and in the way it is written it certainly appeals to the modern generation to write this way. The gap has proven to be too large in this.

2. Countess Batharoy and her relationship with Dracula.

Our original Dracula was a pretty straight-forward plot with our main villain Count Dracula, seductive and evil. However here in DtUD, we find that the original plot of Dracula is actually not in the original true story, because Dracula is read from different points of views, not of the ‘real’ reason why Dracula was there in London, that an omnipresent narrator would explain better if Stoker was to make Dracula NOT the true villain. Once you realize this, it definitely sets up frustration and shock at this change of continuity. If you were to really take this sequel to heart as official, all the decades of Dracula-exploitation, movies, films and other works are wrong. Perhaps this was a secret Stoker agenda…?

Moving on with this, in the sequel (spoilers) it turns out that Dracula was originally going to London in the first novel to combat his former-lover-blood relation the Bloody Countess Batharoy, as he considers himself a hero and is really the good guy. In Dracula he falls really in love with Mina and the blithering band of heros drive him back to Transylvania, where he is ‘killed’ and unable to finish his work to destroy the REAL evil vampire Batharoy. In DtUD we find some dates are changed from the earlier novel to match Dracula arriving in London around the time the Jack the Ripper murders were occurring, which in fact were not caused by him but crazy lesbian Batharoy. Dracula was actually trying to stop her, not himself rise to the pedestal as supreme evil. Because of this naturally you might feel terrible, that the powerful erotic bad-boy figure of Dracula is now remarked as not bad-boy but just erotic, a tragic figure. He already was tragic in a way but he was still a villain. In this sequel I really wanted to enjoy the villain returning but alas I was mistaken, for, as ‘official’ designates, he never was a true villain at all. My womanly heart that thirsts for his type of character with lust and intrigue has been drained and stabbed with the iron stake of Tragic Hero, not Tragic Evil (one hot mutha ‘ucker!).

Bathroy’s type of character is the first of my little frustrating pet-peeves in literary works and film; she is a vicious bitchy lesbian psychotic vampire, who is extremely bitchy, ludicrisiouly evil and her plot she enacts creates all sorts of pet-peeves for me, to be mentioned down the list. I dislike the cliché of an Evil Eve fighting a powerful lawful evil/or good figure. Then comes the idea of why include a not-very related vampiric figure with the world of Dracula? The authors’ justification is that since Bram created this Count Dracula from the real Prince Dracula, perhaps it was also right to create this vampire Countess from the real Countess, as their historic-figure histories (and even some blood relations between these two families) were similar in terms of massacre, blood fetish and cruelty.  Another smaller concept is to also add more space and depth to DtUD in plot.

It should be noted that in general media, manga, anime, movies and books that linking the Countess with Dracula is not un-common, and even I in my first series of literary works back in the young days of 2007-08, had linked other vampiric female characters in my (terrible written) fanfic in a similar way this plot of DtUD has done! This makes the spotlight of leading villains even more shared here. My personal preferences was for Dracula at the center, but instead I got a vicious woman as the perpetrator of the crimes in both novels. That, was the killer of my attitude.

In a disturbing moment too was the fact that Batharoy relished torturing Mina Harker who Dracula consummated love with, and even violated her. However the interesting details shall be covered under ‘Good’ plot nit-picks. However the fact of her sharing the evil spotlight is still under annoyance.

3. Continuity.

Already a problem discussed was the ‘fact’ that Dracula was not the real villain in the original story. It turns out that the book this ‘sequel’ is from is a book present and published inside the story of DtUD. Indeed Bram Stoker, his theatre, and real historical events are here in this novel, and that Bram published a novel Dracula based on what he interpreted from the rambles of a drunk Van Helsing, to not be real. Thus in the plot the real Dracula and people he wrote (this novel here is the same Dracula we have here today) come back to haunt him and suffer him a stroke, as Dracula points out the errors in that novel.  Simply put, the Dracula we know shouldn’t be so easily taken for granted and that this ‘sequel’ is needed to fill in the gaps of Dracula’s and bitch Countess’s POV from the first book. Even more gaps is that Dracula does not explicitly mention that Mina actually made love to Dracula; we as fans and readers have interpreted the symbolism and implied to say so. This again justifies why Dacre and Ian wrote in this point of view, as letters and diaries apparently are too hard to get the ‘plot holes’ across to the reader.

If the inserting-Bram-and-the-novel-into-DtUD part doesn’t make you even bat an eye, I must be missing something. I felt this was exploitative and unnecessary to my enjoyment of Bram’s original Dracula universe. My opinion feels it was very odd to do so and any plot-points leading to that idea…alas that the novel needed more assurance that our original beloved Dracula is incredibly flawed, so by putting Mr. Stoker in there with our flawed Dracula seemed needed to get this across and support it. I dang well didn’t like it, for it mixed too much reality and created a novel that wasn’t in the vein of the original that I wanted. Perhaps you wanted it, and that is your preferences, but it is not mine.

Once again, I have come across the support of the preference of what the Dracula universe means to me. Again this nitpicking shows that this is not in a same vein of the original novel’s universe, but is an expansion and widening the possibilities that the original can create. It’s not a truly bad thing, but it is based off of your opinion of what you expected and want.

4. Why was this ‘sequel’ written this way?

Indeed, see above for most of this to be explained.

I believe that the sequel was written to:

  1. Give more say and perhaps if you think, a revenge(?) of the Dracula world that Bram originally created. By writing this book under a Stoker namesake, it definitely gains respect and adds to the original story that has created thousands of Dracula-titles. A show of power that has long been denied from the Stokers since 1931.
  2. In a better light in fact, to expand the universe and create more from the holes that original had; We certainly read not the Dracula POV in Dracula, now did we? This has left room for creativity and interpretation left for the official and unofficial sequels thus created henceforth. And now we have DtUD, which is another prime example of interpretation.

And so I leave you to interpret for yourself. Perhaps comment and add more things I may have missed; I have been writing alot about this and my brain can only take so much at the moment.

5. My little pet peeves.

I am always frustrated at when, with three points of views i.e. in a work, that each point-of-view of the action just…well, it’s complicated. One side knows only this part of the plot, and you read in horror as they collide that with the other people that has the answer and knows other parts as well…as such though it’s complicated and makes the novel not as simple and straightforward but artistically complex. And my own little mind’s eye is annoyed, but you probably don’t suffer this problem unlike I. Truthfully I’m frustrated by extensive writing of these things, especially since I know the plot of the first novel, while the bumbling police don’t. It hurts my brain, and for most people it doesn’t. Sad to say, it freaking annoys me. Really. Didn’t I already say that?

Another is the cliche Quincy Harker has been trapped in. He becomes enraged with cliche young-ruffian reasoning and can’t see logic, plus he knows only parts of the plot, thus in horrible-written anger he is a raging fool throughout the book. In the end it only ruins the book and is not delightful literary tension, instead its a sad type of characterization so used in many works of writing and film. As I keep saying, I wished this novel was intelligently written and thought out, and certainly thebrashness of Quincy should have been better written or hopefully found a way out. It is detestable because of how overused it is.

And now on to the good!

I have to say sadly that the good things that I liked are not as strong to the plot as the ‘bad’ opinions. But these littler things do count in my enjoyment and combat with frustration.

1. Bathroy’s character is a constant theme in many of Stoker’s books.

Bram’s literature often has the theme of the fascination and the terrifying qualities of women. In The Lair of the White Worm our vicious woman is certainly evil and having horrible monster qualities. In Dracula Lucy is persecuted with death and sinful vampirism for being a wild vibrant woman participating in Victorian society,  while Mina is saved by the virtues of being quiet and modest, saved from damnation of being Dracula’s vivacious harlot. Even then Mina to Bram is a strong character fighting against the constraints of Victorian society; she learns to type on a typewriter in a subliminal effort to express her assertiveness as a person while still existing as a conservative weak girl, as so expected for her by men. This view of her feminism is delightfully explored in DtUD; tainted by Dracula’s passion she has the heart of a powerful tiger, but in response to Harker and to choose the ‘good life’ she lives dressed as a modest housewife. In the end it completely unravels. As with Bathroy, she plays the part of certainly the terrifying aspects of women. She is not only cruel and challenging the society boundaries of what a woman is, but she even is more challenging in being a crazy lesbian, truly terrifying in that time. I applaud these consistencies of Stoker-ish thematic development, even if the character exploration is not Stoker-style in writing.

2. Quincy Harker’s relationship with Basarab is similar to Bram’s relationship with Wilde and Irving.

A subtle thing that delighted me was that, in a way, young Harker’s fascination with the powerful actor Basarab was quite a sort of fascination that Bram Stoker had of the also powerful actor Henry Irving and writer Oscar Wilde. Bram, as Harker too, looked up to Irving-Wilde/Basarab to try to learn, compete and benefit from their teachings and ways. I applaud.

3. The Rape of Mina Harker.

There are two ways to go about this. First is Purist thought, then there is Revised reasoning. Let’s start with Purist.

In the Purist way of dealing with this interesting thing, be known the Purist is: Dracula slightly seduced and raped with blood-exchange and/or physical sex, with Mina Harker, in the original Dracula, founding him on true villain grounds. Thus when we read in DtUD Bathroy lesbian raping Mina and a blood exchange, these events are pararel.  To deal with an inconstancy present in DtUD, Mina obviously in this sequel fell in love with Dracula, and the rape from Dracula became seduction to after-sex consent, and not a real honest ‘rape’.

In a Revised reasoning let if be known that: Dracula seduced Mina, however Mina really loved him and wanted the blood exchange and/or sex, and so consented. Thus when Batharoy violates Mina, in this view Bathroy finds herself the villain, and not Dracula. She does an opposite of the sacred sexual exchange Mina had done with Dracula. I prefer the Purist view however since the original plot has steeped itself into my head so long. Choose what you will, for I find both views to be excellent motifs…however much I never wanted any Bathroy and heavy HEAVY lesbian connotations to be so manifest in my preferred Dracula sequel…

4. The addendum of more historical facts to Count Dracula.

I was happy to find more information of Prince Dracula to our Count. I highly believe as our DtUD writers determined that if Bram had done more research he certainly would have added more correct Prince Dracula facts to Count Dracula. DtUD beautifully fixes that somewhat, but in another bout of nitpicky-ness the constant references of calling our dear Count ‘Prince’ feels inconsistent with the original book. But then again, in DtUD the original Dracula we have all read is quite ‘wrong’, so it shouldn’t be considered inconsistent…but mentally in our heads at first, it does bother me a little. It’s a fact truthfully that’s hard to get used to…or you could ignore that fact, because this sequel is really an interpretation. 😀

5. The consummation of Mina and Dracula.

I felt so enthralled and moved by the writing of Mina and Dracula. I believed in the moment, I needed no explicit porn of their lovemaking near the end of the reading, to give the sense of sex and romanticism. Oh, how happy I was of finally a new sequence of Dracula’s sexual relationship with Mina. In fact the only character I truly loved of DtUD was Mina, for she stayed ever the amazing as in Dracula and expanded wonderfully in DtUD. That I give points to Dacre and Ian for.

6. Louis Jourdan reference.

Louis Jourdan played the part of Dracula in a BBC miniseries of Dracula in 1977.  That two-part adaption is often over-looked, but as many fans would agree it is one of the closet to the original source novel. I love his role, his charisma, the elegance, romance and the retaination of the novel’s atmosphere. Well-done Dacre, for recognizing his role!

Final words.

All in all, I have come to realize that this is an interpretation and, because of how the original Dracula so has been part of our culture and my influence, it is hard for me to accept that this sequel has made things of the original Dracula world official wrong and right. Therefore I am inclined to reject much of DtUD’s reality and desperately cling to Gothic, sexual horror that is Dracula. In closing I should also note that this sequel lacks the Gothic atmosphere and instead plays heavily in drama, police mystery, shock-horror and perhaps revolting sexual eroticism that I found not lustfully-intriguing but instead curious-intriguing. DtUd has propelled Dracula into the modern era of the 1900’s and our modern world of novel style.  Sadly I dislike our ‘official sequel’. My hope for something hearkening back to those days of the second-period 1800’s vampire-craze perhaps might never be returned to. The key is ‘perhaps’, for I would one day love to contribute and change ‘perhaps’ into reality in my lifetime.

With that I leave you with links and your own opinion to formulate. I highly suggest, my Dracula friends, to purchase or download this book because since its ‘official’ you can expect some changes around here in the future, probably small. At least formulate your opinion of this long-awaited (if you really wanted a sequel) sequel, as this book has in fact thrilled readers while others not. It thrilled me, but my liking of it was affected. Even waiting for the paperback or to rent from the library is good enough. You must read this; you must.

My personal reccomendations.

I have been delighted by a small series of sequels to the original Dracula called Bloodlines, written by Kate Cary. Its only pull-back for me anyways is in the two books I have read so far Dracula is actually dead and NOT returning; instead the sage of Dracula continues with his son, plots of vampire intrigue and very wonderful other plot points that entertained me, despite lack of Count Dracula. Another aspect is how it was written in the style of the original Dracula: letter, journals and diaries. What a homage! Another known good book (I have yet to read) is a prequel known as The Dracula Archives by Raymond Rudorff, which is the events that take place before the Dracula novel. Finally I recommend an alternate-universe of Dracula, whereupon Dracula (in an alternate sequel-like formate) and the vampires of the world create a new world order where vampires and humans coexist…not so peacefully. This would be the Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman. I have only read the second which is The Bloody Red Baron, an alternate vampire-world version of WWI. So far so good, very nice writing and a compelling Dracula-universe, but certainly not to be meant as the answer to a Dracula sequel.

Links.

Dracula the Un-Dead’s official website.

goodread’s review page of Dracula the Un-Dead.

An edition of Dracula with reviews on amazon.com.

My edition of Dracula the Un-Dead for sale on amazon.com.

Information on Bram Stoker’s life, articles of his works, and etc.

Analysis of Dracula at notable source Sparknotes.

Biography of Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

Bloodlines at Amazon.com.

The Dracula Archives.

The Anno Dracula series, inifo at wikipedia.org.

A clip of Louis Jourdan’s role in the 1977 Count Dracula.


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Gift Video!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2009 by Sahkmet

Thank you, Andi!

My dear friend Andi, who has her own sister-blog made a video with lots of Draculas and the ASP song ME. Dracula’s include Rixhard Roxburgh, Louis Jourdan, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, and Frank Langella. For you Dracula/vampire fans, watch their films. All are very sexy in their own ways.

Louis Jourdan and Richard Roxburgh’s Dracula: WHUT?

Posted in Fun Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2009 by Sahkmet
:3

>:3

Seriously man, Louis Jourdan’s role in the BBC 1977 production of <i>Dracula</i> was like…Roxula. Seriously.

I said all this once before but that was awhile ago. Now I managed to actually take screenshots from Youtube and force you to suck down the proof.

He acts like Roxula. He has that smile. Same nose. Almost exact face. Exact outfit, boots and jacket and all! The costume designers of Van Helsing had definitely gotten their inspiration from this. And perhaps even Richard Roxburg himself for his role. Damn man…

Here’s a clip from the two-part TV series of Dracula in all his Roxula-style glory.

Thought you might be interested.

And if you don’t know who Roxula is…he’s Richard Roxburgh playing Dracula in 2004’s Van Helsing. Here are some reference pictures.