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Brad and Sherry Steiger

Please Visit his Official Web Site ~ edwardshanahan.com

Conscious Channeler Edward Shanahan

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The Dracula Legend in Film

Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” is written in the “espistolary” style as a collection of journal entries, letters, and telegrams exchanged between the main characters; fictional newspaper clippings help to round out the story. This literary style was almost outdated by the time “Dracula” was published in 1897 but was familiar to most late-nineteenth century audiences who appreciated the sense of realism and urgency this provided.

No one is certain why Stoker chose a little-known fifteenth century Romanian prince as the model for his main character, but scholars have concluded that Stoker had at least a peripheral knowledge of his character as well as the subject matter. Stoker is also said to have maintained a close friendship with Hermann Vamberger, a Hungarian professor from the University of Budapest, and many suspect this to be the author’s true source of information about Dragwyla’s life and history. In fact, Vamberger, whose name in his native Hungarian is actually Arminius Vambery, appears in the novel as an absent friend of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing who mentions his “friend Arminius” as the source of his knowledge about Dracula; this seems to support the hypothesis.

Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that Stoker’s novel is, in fact, the only real link between the historical Vlad “Dracul” (1431-1476) and the vampire as it appears in modern culture. In fact, Stoker’s creature is actually a composite drawn from several different folklore traditions as well as historic references and materials that were available to the author at the time the novel was written but which are unfortunately lost to us.

Stoker’s 1897 novel has been the basis for countless films, plays and theatrical treatments, and even for comedies, musicals and popular television characters such as Al Newman’s “Grandpa” on the late-sixties sitcom “The Munsters.”

Over the years seemingly numberless adaptations and retellings have been made of Stoker’s original novel – some good, some really bad with the occasional shot at excellence breaking from the rest. Three of the most famous film treatments of the 1897 work are “Nosferatu” (1922); the infamous Universal studios film “Dracula” (1931) which perhaps single-handedly shaped the image of the vampire for generations to come; and Francis Ford Coppola’s excellent, if flawed, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992).

“Nosferatu,” infamous for its silent, haunting atmosphere and the gaunt Max Schrek as the preying vampire, was almost never made because it was produced while Stoker’s widow was still alive. Awash in copyright controversy, the producers opted to change the location (what appears to be Transylvania is really Slovakia) and the character names (Count Dracula become Count Orlok) to avoid lawsuits. Notwithstanding all these challenges, “Nosferatu” stands at the forefront as one of the creepiest treatments the novel has ever received on film.

Unlike film adaptations to follow which would ultimately create a more romantic and tragic Dracula, the vampire of “Nosferatu” is nothing like his sensuous and erotic successors. This creature embodies and brings to life reviled memories from Europe’s collective horror memory and thus we see the Count as more of a walking corpse, bloodless, lifeless, with a rat-like face, elongated ears, and sharp teeth and nails. His halting gait and relentless lust for blood are more like a Dans Macabre come to life than the vampires we have come to know (and sometimes love) in more recent adaptations, having many of the hallmarks of traditional European vampires.

Though often camped and imitated over the years, as the vampire has made his way deep into the heart of modern American culture, this nosferatu stands apart as a very bad thing, indeed, to come across on a dark and moonless night.

To watch the full movie version of director F.W. Munarau’s fantastically eerie “Nosferatu” follow this link:


Perhaps no film treatment of Stoker’s work has done more to cement the image of the vampire in the world zeitgeist than 1931’s “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi.
Here the bloodsucking Transylvania Count becomes a larger-than-death caricature of the novel’s villain, ramped up to meet the expectations of Depression-era filmgoers. Responding to the public need for extraordinary escapism from the melancholy reality of American life in the early 1930’s, Universal introduces the aristocratic vampire complete with tuxedo and cumber bund, flowing cape, and slicked-back black hair; this Count reeks more of money than of the grave.

Despite the fact that at the time the film was made Lugosi could only barely speak English (he learned his lines phonetically, responding to cues) he nevertheless fit the bill as just what the public wanted in their anti-hero heroes. Mostly required to stand about looking menacing and austere, accompanied by the obligatory bats and fog, Lugosi’s treatment was immediately etched upon the public psyche. If there was such a thing as a vampire – not impossible in a world gone seemingly to hell – then THIS is surely how he must look and act.

Thanks to Lugosi’s hammy acting skills and Hollywood’s clout, this image – the aristocratic Transylvanian count – would be the most enduring film image of Stoker’s original Dracula. Generations the world over immediately recognized the flowing cape and black evening dress of the Lugosi vampire and over the years it has been redone and revamped by everyone from Christopher Lee to George Hamilton and by countless Halloween partygoers in between.
For more information on “Dracula” and other Universal monster classics, follow the link, below:

In 1992 Francis Ford Coppola, the brilliant director who brought us the Godfather films and who now puts fine dinner wines on our table, took a stab at Stoker’s novel. The result was his film adaptation “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

Coppola chose the amazing Gary Oldman to portray Count Dracula as a more sympathetic and sadly romantic figure that was at once similar to but different from every previous interpretation. Coppola made the book’s count into a Prince and added to or expanded on many of the folkloric aspects of the book’s vampire, including his power to control animals and to affect the weather. Coppola’s version also gives Dracula a love interest in the form of Johnathan Harker’s wife, Mina, whom we discover to be the reincarnation of the princess who leapt to her death from the top of Poenari Castle. This plot addition makes Dracula immediately more tragic and his demise more poignant. In most other regards, Coppola adheres to the book as written by Stoker and the adaptation works surprisingly well, giving us ultimately a Count whose horrible acts can be judged against a backdrop of tragedy and loss.

Besides this, Coppola’s version gives us three of the most beautiful and seductive Vampire Brides ever put on screen; sexy, clad in stained, decaying shrouds, they appear to have stepped directly out of Eastern European folklore and into the film. Add to this Coppola’s attention to traditional details in creating a realistically creepy and foreign atmosphere and this 1992 adaptation far outranks anything that came before it.

As a footnote, this film single-handedly caused the clip-on spectacle and monocle markets to soar as hundreds of Gary Oldman wanna-be’s sought to recreate his vampire look. After this everything from broody Goths to failed, fire-eating magicians just HAD to have a pair of those “cool” glasses …

The Vampire Motif in Fiction

“The modern vampire of … fiction and the media has come to be seen as an appealing, seductive figure who offers eternal life in exchange for a voluptuous, quasi-sexual sharing of blood. It’s no wonder that people find the image an attractive one, even to the point of trying to adopt it for themselves.”

Films and plays may come and go, but in the literary world there is only one work of fiction that can stand in comparison to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” – and this work itself owes a lot to the 1897 classic. We are talking, of course, about “The Vampire Chronicles” of novelist Anne Rice.



Besides “Dracula” itself, no other work of fiction has had more of an impact on shapingthe concept of the vampire in modern culture.

From its beginning with the publication of “Interview with the Vampire,” Rice’s Vampire Chronicles have taken the reader on a fantastic roller-coaster ride over, under and sideways through the world of the Undead. With the preternatural anti-hero element embodied in the undead rebel Lestat, Rice has woven a tale so deep and vivid that it has quite literally spawned an entire subculture of would-be and wanna-be vampires that thrives across the world to this day.

The fact that Rice’s vampires are simply extrapolations on the Stoker theme apparently seems lost on her minions of followers who have adopted the look, dress, mannerisms and habits (good and bad) of Rice’s characters and who live out the fantasy of a dark and brooding pre-Victoriana aristocracy of the undead in their daily lives.
This vision of the Dracula mythos, although true to the characterizations of Stoker and Rice, is nonetheless entirely removed from the real vampires that actually lurk among us. It does prove, however, the power of literature to create cultural motifs and its ability to sustain those motifs so strongly that these actually become – despite all proof to the contrary – a widely accepted concept of reality for many people.

Other writers have tackled the realm of the undead with more or less success, but none have made such a lasting contribution to this, the Gothic literary genre, than Stoker and Rice. It would take generations of argument to undo the alternative vampire reality that they have created and unless the decision is based on an encounter or experience with a REAL vampire, very few who have adopted this lifestyle will readily give it up for what passes as our reality.

It is safe to say, therefore, that no matter how erroneous they may be, the Dracula and vampire myths will be with us for a long, long time.

“. . . reality is a good deal less pleasant. Actual vampires are about as appealing as bubonic plague and as seductive as bloodsucking leeches. A predatory ghost who murders people to prolong its own unnatural existence, the vampire is perhaps the least attractive and most destructive of all monsters. All the other [monstrous] entities … even those that are highly dangerous to human beings, can be dealt with in ways that stop short of annihilation – by means of magical protections and banishings, ordinary caution, or a simple willingness to live and let live. No t so the vampire: it must be destroyed or it will kill, over and over again.

In order to make sense of the vampire, then, the first and most crucial step is to forget everything you think you already know about vampires … ”

“The Shadow of Lugosi’s Cape Reaches Far”

Far from all the posing and play-acting, and far from the maddening whir of the everyday world, the fact remains that vampires DO exist. True, they do not appear in our reality as anything like the Hollywood or literary icons, but they are there.

So, if we don’t have the benefit of the long black cape and thick Eastern European accent to guide us, or the mysterious preternatural (a word entirely overused where vampires are concerned) gaze and beautiful, lanky frame of Lestat just isn’t the real thing, how do we know when we’ve encountered a real, bona fide vampire?

There are experts who agree that most vampires exist because they are “willed” into being. When dealing with a vampire, it is important to remember that you are dealing with the manifest will of a very powerful magician or witch who has made a magical grasp “aimed at personal immortality” and who will not be easily dismissed or destroyed.

These creatures are certainly not the vampiric clones that populate the literary and Hollywood mythology and as such they cannot be dealt with by anyone who is in the least enamored of the vampire state or who does not have a firm grasp on the reality or on the dangerous nature of the creature itself.

That vampires and vampiric spirits are the product of magical workings has long been known in the occult community, although the methods of constructing the vampiric etheric revenant are high up on most magicians’ list of “knowledge better off forgotten.” Still there persist in the magical community those who, for one reason or another, resist entirely the death process and opt instead to deliberately evade death in such a way that “their souls stay within reach of the world of the living.”

Ghosts, it is said, fall into this state by accident. With vampires, the condition is intentional and it has been found in many cases that would-be vampires begin the process of evading death even while still alive, using exercises to strengthen the etheric body, “helping it to resist the disintegrating processes of … death.” In other cases, certain types of magical practices strengthen the etheric body by default, and increase the possibility that one might become a vampire. Another example, widely expressed in the axiom “too mean to die,” becomes reality when a soul who is so mean and hateful and grasping in life refuses to let go in the death process; hanging onto the imitation of life found in the twilight state of death, these souls join the ranks of the true “undead.”
Once in a vampiric state, the soul, or etheric revenant, will continue to seek out energy to sustain it most notably from living human beings. Much like the bloodsucking vampires of fiction and movies, the true vampire will prey upon the energy of its victims and bring about the same state of malaise and general illness that is traditionally associated with vampire attacks.

As long as the actual body of the vampire is intact, and the etheric link is not otherwise broken, the creature will continue to prey and grow strong until its danger to humans matches its desperation to stay alive. This is why most authentic vampire traditions require that the corpse of the suspected vampire be subjected to such horrible methods of destruction – to assure that there is nothing left to form a link for the vampire’s spirit. The corpse of a suspected vampire is thus often beheaded, even dismembered, and then summarily burned. Often these acts follow numerous others that, though not as grisly, generally only serve to confuse but not destroy the creature.

In modern times, finding a vampire with an intact body and a strong etheric link is rare, especially owing to modern funeral and burial customs. However, this does not prevent the birth of vampires among us because, as stated above, if the will of the dying soul is strong enough it may cling to life long after the natural process of decay has passed. When this occurs, the vampire is technically more like a ghost, but a predatory ghost animated by an independent will that is so powerful and so intent on survival that it has found a way to transcend death itself.

Despite this, however, the vampire’s existence is a precarious one and one that is daily becoming less and less viable. In many instances nowadays what is thought to be a true vampire is identified as an angry ghost. Nevertheless, the existence of vampires should not be doubted because they are still among us, albeit in varied forms, and are still quite able to suck the very life from us.

Some experts have hypothesized that modern vampires are actually spirit larvae that have evolved into a more substantial form. Others believe that, as stated above, the firm, directed will of a powerful worker of magic can and often does avoid the death process entirely, only to find that it cannot maintain this state without making prey of the humans it finds peopling its twilight world.

Still others warn about a more real and deadly vampire than any thus far mentioned. This is the living “psychic vampire,” or living individuals who indulge in the same actions as true vampires – that is, feeding on the etheric energy of everyone around them. Though their “attacks” are not as drastic as those of an actual vampire, they nonetheless can produce states of ill-health and exhaustion in their victims.

Many people become psychic vampires by accident and don’t even realize they are feeding on the energy of healthy individuals around them. Others, especially individuals who have some knowledge of magic or the manipulation of the etheric realm, and yet have no actual intent of becoming a vampire in death, will prey on the energy of people around them simply because, by virtue of their higher understanding of the process, they can.

When such an individual dies, however, there is a good chance that he or she may become a vampire, the living etheric revenant who resists the death process intentionally and clings to a shadow of life by sucking the life force and etheric energy from everyone around them until something happens to break the link and total death finally occurs.

Viewed in this light, there are probably not many of us who need to go to the movies or rent a DVD to get our fill of really scary vampires. Most likely every one of us can think of just such a person in their daily life.
Is there such a vampire in your reality? Could very well be.

Have you had an encounter with the Prince of Darkness or one of the legions of the Undead? Are you a modern post-Anne Rice vampire? Have you been attacked or preyed upon by a real vampire?
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