Dracula – Resources and Show Notes:
I promise I’ll figure out an actual format for these soon enough. There will be some reference materials that will get mentioned more than once, as a lot of them are books and certain chapters or articles will have more than one relevant point (imagine that!). Wherever possible, I have tried to make it so that you are able to follow along and each resource is listed as per when it is first mentioned or quoted. I figured compiling it all in one shot would be the easiest way for you to do your own reading, if you so choose. Enjoy!
“No Children Allowed: Introducing Lilith, the Jewish Vampire Queen” – Odelia Barkin-Kamil – The National Library of Israel blog – July 2017
A brief but interesting look at the origin of vampires as per Judaism. There is more to the mythological origin of Lilith here and how to protect specifically children from her wrath. Though it’s tangential, I do think that in looking at history, there’s more to lose than to gain by ignoring the different cultures who have contributed to the vampire, and specifically Dracula, we know now.
“Lilith: Lady Flying in Darkness” – Rabbi Jill Hammer – My Jewish Learning – Date not given
An interesting take on the demon and her origins and has more about the interaction with the angels that were meant to come to bring her back to Adam. The end of the article is also notable as it features some more modern works where authors tackle the disconnect between Lilith and Eve, some making the two friends, lovers or the same woman with a complicated and more faceted sense of herself.
The Vampire Book: Encyclopedia of the Undead
J. Gordon Melton – Visible Ink Press – 1999
Articles quoted: “Lilith” pg 421-422,
You’ll note that this is a rather dated copy of the book. There have been updates since mine was published but I’m not kidding when I say that this book is a door stopper and I only have so much room around the house. It should be noted, however, that this is very much an encyclopedia with some decently researched but ultimately very short passages about everything that Melton has been able to find, thus far. The information on each article is a bit on the light side, as is to be expected in cases like this. That said, it’s an excellent resource if you are looking for more vampire media and it’s absolutely invaluable if you are in need of more information at the ready for any given adaptation or just want to know more about other kinds of adaptations like in comics or in games, which are often absent from regular scholarly media.
The Vampire: A New History
Nick Groom – Yale University Press – October 2018
Very interesting and well written book about the link between the roots of vampire folklore and how it informed and shaped vampire literature. It is a bit on the academic side so this might not make for a satisfying beach read unless, like me, the idea of being on a beach hurts you in your soul. The conclusion was a wee bit weird with the potato reference and though I know what he was getting after, it was an odd choice to end the book on. That said, the information checks out, it is extremely thorough and goes through a lot of the changing tastes and conventions as Gothic literature and specifically vampire lit developed through the 19th century. A good book to have in your library if you want to know more about folkloric vampires.
“’Vampire Grave’ in Bulgaria Holds a Skeleton with a Stake Through its Heart” – Rachel Nuwer – The Smithsonian Magazine – October 2014
A very lite entry but it does go to show that these practices are quite old and that you can’t necessarily count on the vampire timeline to be so clear. As mentioned in the podcast proper, even the article states that this is only allegedly a vampire grave. It’s important to remember that while it’s easy to apply these rituals to our hindsight observations that these could be suspected vampires, it’s also entirely likely that these rituals had more context that was lost to time.
The Vampire in Europe
Montague Summers – Bracken Books – 1929; reprinted in 1996
An interesting, if somewhat lengthy, exploration of vampire lore specific to Europe by writer Montague Summers, who made a name for himself in his translation work, probably most interestingly of the Malleus Malificarum, much to the chagrin of the Catholic church. Some have said he was a scholar and while he did indeed attend university, it should be noted that he did much of his research outside of any, if not all, academic institutions. He was also never ordained, so while he was a devoted Catholic, he was a bit more of a Catholicism fanboy than he was an actual member of the clergy. Summers was a lot of a weird guy with a very fascinating history unto himself that’s worth looking into. His writings are somewhat useful in that they showcase a particular point of view from the time and he is pretty thorough in what he does put down. That said, as mentioned in the podcast, it is all through that very very religious lens so it’s worth it to take it all with more than just a grain of salt. Also, I landed my physical copy of this book by absolute fluke but you can find the ebook variety through Amazon at present time for next to nothing.
“Do Hair & Nails Grow After Death?” – Caitlin Doughty – Ask a Mortician – January 2016
The start of the answer about the question begins at 0:50 in the video. There is also a short video on exhumation of bodies on the channel for more on that, if you’re interested. It should be noted that this is something that does actually happen in different countries more than it does here in North America for a wide variety of reasons. For all your death needs and to learn more about death culture, specifically any questions that you have about post mortem behavior of corpses, this YouTube channel is a must for your resources.
“What Happens to your Hair After you Die?” – Vaishnavi Patil – Science ABC – May 2020
Quite a thorough investigation of what happens to the hair and nails of a body after death and also goes into the science of why hair can turn red after death. It is a little bit on the technical side but it does give a good answer that expands a bit more on what Caitlin Doughty had said in the video cited above.
Vampires, Burial & Death
Paul Barber – Yale University Press – 2010
An invaluable resource on historical vampires and how communities dealt with them. Barber goes out of his way to translate the actual reports, which he even says are rather well documented, even if they do tend to jump to conclusions in regards to cause. It was their meticulous level of details that did allow us to find out more about what had been going on in these communities and while, obviously, we’re still at the mercy of those who wrote down the accounts, they did take some pretty impressive notes. That said, Barber admitted that he was going more for accuracy of what was said rather than style so some of the accounts are a might bit difficult to read. Not something that you are going to enjoy curling up to read before bed, unless you really enjoy relaxing to tales of putrifaction and the slowing or quickening thereof.
Entry on Arnold Paole – Wikipedia
Gives a little bit of background and context to the man’s death, though if you want a fuller picture, you can find the full report of his death in Barber’s book. As with all things Wikipedia, it’s a good touchstone for getting the basics, and, in this case, the sources are more or less pretty sound but it won’t provide you much in terms of anything to do with the man, himself. Any other sources on Paole are pretty overshadowed by his induction to vampire history, with even the list of notable Serbian hajduks including him as being only a militiaman and notable alleged vampire.
“How to Properly Bury a Vampire” – Benjamin Radford – Live Science – June 2012
Apparently we meet again, Benjamin Radford. Why yes, this is indeed the same person who brought us the book Bad Clowns that we became so familiar with last month. This article is a bit on the sparse side by comparison but it does give a good run down of the methods for dispatching a vampire, should you want to. It also brings up another case where anthropologists are quick to warn people against assuming the remains that are found by anyone in modern times have been treated for vampirism. This article also states that the bodies found in Venice, Italy, dating back to the 16th Century may be the oldest but it should be noted that this article came out two years before the report on the remains found staked in Bulgaria.
“Medical Definition of Miasma” – William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR – Medicine Net – No date given
A very bare bones definition of what miasma theory entailed and part of why it lingered so long. Also, the flowers that are mentioned in the article were used in plague doctor masks in order to keep said medical professional safe. It should also be noted that during Stoker’s time, while “bad air” wasn’t actually the culprit for infectious disease, the horribly toxic and infamous London Fog were no doubt responsible for quite a few respiratory issues back in the day. That is another topic for another time, however.
Food for the Dead
Michael E. Bell – Wesleyan University Press – 2011
An absolute go-to resource for those who are interested in New England lore and tracking how people dealt with the spread of consumption back in the late 1800s. I will say that I really liked this book but it also highlights something that all people who are fascinated by lore and history could stand to remember. In doing the research for Mercy Brown, the story itself was fascinating but it was also a little cringey to read about how people had turned someone’s long dead relative into a tourist attraction that sometimes leads to vandals chipping away at the grave stone or, in one case, stealing the headstone entirely. It goes without saying but this causes a lot of unwanted stress for the surviving family. As always, I urge people to remain curious and pictures of the grave site are perfectly fine, but I also urge people to always keep the family and what they will have to deal with in mind when visiting places such as this. Graveyards are wonderful, beautiful, historical places that we all would like to continue getting to see and the easiest way to do that is being kind and respectful of those who are resting there and those left behind who come to visit them.
“Grave of Mercy Brown” – J.W. Ocker – Atlas Obscura – No Date Listed
This article gives a very basic rundown of the story of Mercy Brown and also gives a bit of a divergence from the account that was detailed in Bell’s book, though technically both are possible stories. In this case, the article states that some people said that Mercy was dug up after burial, which coincides with what her relative said in his account that was passed down to him. However, others state that because she died in the winter, her body would have been placed in a shelter, which would have doubled as a kind of cold storage, until the ground thawed enough that they could have a proper burial. Given the timeline of when she had died and when her body had been exhumed, it’s entirely possible that either or both stories are true or partially so. That said, there are some excellent photographs of the site and some extra lore about another supposed vampire located nearby. The article does give directions to both and while it says that there are now means of protecting the graves, at the risk of sounding a little heavy handed, I am asking anyone who visits to be please be respectful of this historic site. Even a little bit of vandalism can mean that the site can be closed off and visitors will no longer be welcome. Likewise, if you hear of anyone going to this, or any other site, and threatening to do damage, please contact the local authorities.
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker
David J. Skal – Liveright Publishing – October 2015
An incredibly detailed look into the life of Bram Stoker, from his childhood illness right into the later years of his life. Be forewarned that this book has A LOT of background on his life and while a lot of it is illuminating as to the life and times that Stoker lived in, it should also be mentioned that Skal occasionally chases the outer strings of Bram’s life into some places and it can lead you to wonder how any of this still relates to the man on the cover. That said, it’s never boring and it’s kinda like you get a bonus look at the life and times of Oscar Wilde while you’re reading so it’s still recommended. While I think that the content is still rather important for setting up how Stoker came to write what he did, the relevant Dracula information starts at around chapter 7.
“Vlad the Impaler: The Real Life Dracula” – Steve Theunissen – Biographics – July 2018
A very Cole’s Notes of the life of Vlad Dracula but it still hits all the highlights of what you need to know about him and his rise to power. Be forewarned that this is not appropriate viewing for those who aren’t really good with historical violence because there is a lot of it. Vlad the Impaler was a ruthless warlord and his tactics were both cruel and exceedingly painful by design. This little documentary does help to contextualize this but it also gives you small but uncomfortable accounts of the kinds of horrors that he inflicted on both invaders and his own people. Don’t watch if you’re of the weak stomached crew because while it’s not graphic and there’s nothing in terms of gross images, aside from a couple of woodcuts, what little they do cover is still pretty disturbing. Also: one point of correction was that this video, while mostly fine in terms of giving the background on Vlad the Impaler, makes the mistake of suggesting that this was the inspiration for Count Dracula, which we know is not the case. Stoker’s book used only the name but he knew little to nothing about the actually Prince Vlad Tepes.
Elizabeth Miller’s “Dracula’s Homepage”
Featured Articles – “Vlad the Impaler: Brief History”, “Frequently Asked Questions”, “Bram Stoker: A Brief Chronology”
Note that this webpage is full of some incredible resources and an aesthetic that is sure to take you back if you are of a certain age. Seriously, once upon a time, all websites looked like this and it was glorious dammit. My appreciation for the site and the nostalgia it inspires in me aside (shut up), I will say that Miller is one of the most notable and respected scholars to ever study vampires and specifically Dracula, both as a historical figure and a literary phenomenon. Also: This is one of the sources you’ll want to be aware of if you are a bit on the squeamish side, specifically when it comes to anything to do with the Impaler. Miller doesn’t go into much detail in the articles but it can get kind of gruesome.
“Vlad the Impaler. Forest of the Impaled” – No author listed – The History Hour – January 2019
Fair warning that this has some less than wonderful descriptions of the “Forest of the Impaled”, though I’m sure that most people could tell from the title. This is a short article but gives more context about why the unfortunate forest existed and what it ultimately accomplished. There’s really only one passage in here that will really gross you out if you’re squeamish, so if you aren’t the type to be able to read about bodies on stakes and the condition they were found in, skip past the part that’s introduced as the Sultan’s reaction to what he saw after the scorched earth and poisoned well tactics.
Slightly unruly link thanks to Google but for those who want to get a better picture of what Castle Bran looked like, this is a great slideshow that gives you a look into where Dracula lived and what his dwelling actually looked like. Unlike the castles that Stoker would be more familiar with from Ireland and England, and what would later be a staple of the Universal sets, this gives a very different look at what kind of environment Vlad the Impaler actually lived in. It is something you can click through as well so it’s kind of like taking a virtual tour if you are so inclined.
“Vlad the Impaler vs Count Dracula” – Epic Rap Battles of History – October 2019
Okay so this is hardly something I’m going to quote but props to the guys who make interesting figures of fiction and history rap for supreme dominance. One thing I will note here is that they always include actual elements of history and they do read up on the people they’re portraying. And they also prove that history is fun. This is a pretty fun battle and you can decide who you think won.
“Charlotte Stoker, A Family Perspective” – W. Parker Stoker – The Bram Stoker Estate site – 2018
Very brief look at the matriarch of the Stoker family. For those who are wanting to know more about her life, the Skal biography has a lot more information. That said, everything that Skal wrote about her seems to be verified here, more or less, and you get a pretty decent summary of everything you’ll find in the longer work.
“The History of Pantomime” – Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins – The Magic of Pantomime (its-behind-you.com) – 2002
While this is only a very brief talking point in the show, I figured that I would include this here for anyone who is interested in knowing more. We’re revisiting our old friend the commedia dell’arte, this time leaving the clown talk to see how these shows transformed over the years and what role they played in the UK. It does have a particularly English tone but unless otherwise stated, these shows would have been the ones that Stoker and his family would have been enjoying when he was a boy too. It should also be noted that you can still see Christmas pantomime shows in certain places as well. If that is something of interest to you, maybe make it a new tradition and take in a show this holiday season if there’s one in your area.
“Buffalo Bill Meets Dracula: William F. Cody, Bram Stoker, and the Frontiers of Racial Decay” – Louis S. Warren – Originally published through The American Historical Review (Vol. 107) but accessed through Semantics Scholar – October 2002
Very good paper that examines a much forgotten but important member of the vampire hunters, Quincey Morris. There is also background here to be found about Stoker’s work with Irving and how it would have been affected by Henry’s friendship with William F Cody, or “Buffalo Bill”. This piece gives a lot of context for the background on how this character would have played a role in Stoker’s novel, not only in Morris but also in the big bad vampire, himself. It also gives a different view on some of the racial tensions that would have been bubbling in the Victorian English imagination at the time that Bram wrote his novel. Excellent read and highly recommended.
“Henry Irving and Bram Stoker: A Working Relationship” – No Author Listed – The Irving Society – Last noted date that this was listed for copyright was 2018
Okay so fair warning, I really really debated on listing this as a resource because it is a bit less than objective than I would like. The way that the author glosses over certain behaviors of Henry Irving, sometimes dismissing outright the things he did to people under his employ, is a bit telling. Granted, this is the society dedicated to Irving as an actor and considering how much this Victorian figure, who was genuinely popular and even well regarded for his work in the theatre, became completely overshadowed by the man who acted as his manager, a bit of defense of the man can be slightly forgiven. This is also one of the sources that utterly denies any kind of sense of romance between Stoker and Irving and while I will still say that there’s no way to tell what Stoker actually felt and it’s unfair to the author to make assumptions on such things, I will say that they are still taking some liberties in commenting on how good their friendship was. From most accounts you’ll read, Irving was nothing if not incredibly difficult to work with and there are first hand accounts of how he could be not just ruthless but also manipulative and kind of abusive, if we’re being frank, towards people. It’s also a bit of a leap that they would assume that Florence Stoker would have been thrilled to have her wedding rushed and her honeymoon postponed indefinitely because of the move to London. All this taken into account, I did quote from it because I wanted to show contrast in attitudes and while I don’t think this resource is as fair as it should be, it does represent a different point of view. Reader advance with caution.
Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving – Bram Stoker – 1906
Made available through the Web Archive site, you too can read what Bram Stoker thought of his employer, Henry Irving, in his own words, if you so choose. Whether or not you’ll find any hint of where he was inspired to create Dracula, much like the rumors of his so-called secret love for the actor, are honestly most likely to be projection rather than finding real puzzle pieces to either men. If nothing else, if you are interested in the world of Victorian theatre and how the author of Dracula experienced it through one of the most popular actors of the time period, you can find it there. Also, if you are able to, Web Archive does have physical copies and could use the support in the matter. Always give if you can but even if you can’t, you can still enjoy this book.
“The Long and Bloody History of Vampires in Literature” – Tracy Mumford – MPR News – January 2016
A very quick and dirty list of vampire fiction which tends to hit most of the highlights. It does miss a few marks here and there in the sound bite, particularly when they start talking about how the first sympathetic vampires were the Americans. While they are correct that Anne Rice was really the one to put these kinds of vampires into the forefront of pop culture, this article kind of glosses right over LeFanu’s Carmilla. The interview also states that Lestat was thousands of years old and that he was kind of the first vampire we got to know in the Vampire Chronicles, which is untrue. Lestat is only several hundred years old and though he is undeniably the main attraction and star of that book series, the first vampire that we meet in it is none other than his beloved Louis. Yes, I’m a nerd about this, no I am not letting these tiny things go, even when we’re talking about entirely different vampires altogether. That said, the article isn’t the worst and as a quick reference, it will give you the overview you need in a hurry. It also listed the very first fictional vampire as being in Ossenfelder’s 1748 poem, “The Vampire”.
“The Bride of Corinth” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Poets.org – No date given for the translation or the post itself, the poem was originally written in German in 1797
You may see other translations of this poem with different or more accurate wording. Included here more for reference than anything.
Stage Blood: Vampires of the 19th Century Stage
Roxana Stuart – Popular Press – January 1994
The specifics that I used for this episode can be found from pages 30 to 40. This might be a bit on the difficult side to find, though it is available through places like Amazon. Not strictly necessary for getting the full picture of what is available for vampire literature, but it does have a pretty in depth look at the pedigree of the vampire in fiction through different channels and is an interesting piece if you are specifically looking for stage adaptations of those early vampires. There is a lot more on the fragment that Byron wrote as well as how the tale progressed after Polidori took it over and developed it.
“The Vampyre” – Written by John Stagg in 1810 and performed by G.M. Danielson – HorrorCraft – June 2016
One of the earliest known English pieces that contained the vampire as we know it now, though in poem form rather than prose. I include this piece as just another look at fleshing out the kinds of prose and poetry that would have been available to Stoker. The link also has a reference link for you to follow along with if you would like to read it but Danielson is an excellent voice actor and really gives the poems a great spooky flare.
“Vampires in Gothic Literature” – You’re Dead to Me podcast – BBC Radio 4 – August 2020
Great podcast that’s a lot of fun to listen to and a great resource for history nerds, such as myself. It is produced for the BBC so it is a bit centric on the European and specifically the British literature of the 19th Century but it is still a good resource that helps to give a brief rundown of stuff that was floating around at the time that Stoker wrote Dracula. It also serves as a great highlights reel for the bigger names in vampire fiction.
Varney the Vampire (or the Feast of Blood) – Thomas Preskett Prest but also attributed to James Malcolm Rymer – Project Gutenberg – Originally a serial publication that began in 1845 but was released on the site in 2005
This was one of the infamous Penny Dreadfuls from back in the day. I have read some of it but I will warn you right now that if you think that modern comic books have a million trailing plotlines and their stories get really bloody weird, you are still not going to be prepared for the odd turns of logic this narrative takes over the course of its run. It’s worth it to remember, however, that this was written over years and usually the writer got paid by the word, thus making it more profitable the more that prose turned purple. All of this taken into account, it still remained popular because it does have some excellent atmosphere in here and keep in mind that without Varney, there likely would never have a Dark Shadows. As far as the author goes, I believe it was Thomas Preskett Prest but I know that the copy that I had also listed the other one. If we are ever wanting to cover this again, I will look into it further.
Carmilla – J. Sheridan LeFanu – Project Gutenberg – Originally published in 1872; no upload information given on PG as it lists several links for different ebooks that were transcribed to the site.
Dracula – Bram Stoker; performed by Andi Sex Gang – Cleopatra Records – Available as of August 2020
It should be noted that this is an abridged version of this book and there’s quite a bit that they cut down on but it is still very atmospheric and very worth a listen. It also makes a great reference if you already know the story but would like to know how certain key scenes went if you need a refresher. Andi really does have a great voice for reading this and he does a great job. I highly recommend this version, especially if you’re one of the people who enjoys different versions of Dracula.
Dracula – Bram Stoker – Kindle Format available through Amazon
This should give you options regardless of where you are in the world and most of the time, you can find a version like the ebooks for very cheap or free, as in this case. There’s also the audio book which, I believe, is the full version and features a pretty stellar cast.
“Kiss Me with Those Red Lips” – Christopher Craft – Representations: The Regents of The University of California – Fall 1984
*Note* I am not sure if this will be available beyond December of 2020, as a lot of universities have been allowing access to certain materials during the Covid pandemic. If you do have access to jStor, I know it is on there as well but you need access to the database through an institution or library. There is a lot to unpack with this paper but it does make some very interesting and valuable insights, especially in regards to what we know about Bram and his history from his biography. Even lacking that, however, it does make some very important points about the gender roles in this story and how they play out. The author also gives us some pretty important background to know about queer identities and what did and didn’t exist back in Victorian times. This is also something that comes up in regards to Wilde and other authors who struggled with the rigid sexual restriction of this period like Radcliff Hall.
“Between Men” (Chapter 5) – Eve Kosofsky Segwick – Originally published as the book Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire but was accessed through Academia.edu site – 1985
A bit of a heads up, this article is good but Segwick is one of those scholars who loves her some two dollar words where a quarter will do. The information is good and if you can get through the verbose elements of the paper, it’s worth reading. The content also is pretty good for framing power dynamics and how they have been used to create and maintain imbalances.
“The Dublin Years: The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker” – Ashley Fantz – Originally posted on CNN but archived on the Bram Stoker Estate site – Implied date is either 2011 or 2012
An article posted on the estate site that gives a good view of how hard it has been to track down everything that went astray after Bram’s death. It should be noted that this journal and the one that they say is missing at the end of the article were discovered before historians started looking into the translations, so there may very well have been more discoveries made since then. And if the notes are of interest to you, click the next link for the youtube video listed below.
“The Bram Stoker Signature Shop” – Elisa Hansen – The Maven of the Eventide youtube channel – September 2020
It’s very likely that Elisa’s channel will get at least one more link in these notes, as she is a youtuber who has dedicated almost the entire channel to her love of vampire fiction. Her analyses of what she covers are really well done and I recommend you check them out. This was a follow up to a full interview that she’d done with Dacre Stoker but the reason I wanted to draw attention to this is the announcement that Dacre made about working to restore the collection of notes in a way that you could buy if you are a super collector. These would be facsimiles and they would be a limited edition art collection item but if you are interested in the process by which Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, this would be good to know about.
Powers of Darkness – Bram Stoker/ Valdimar Asmundsson – 1900
Also known as Makt Myrkranna, this is the Icelandic reimagined version of Dracula that had been adapted from the Swedish serialization of Stoker’s novel.
Dracula in Istanbul – Bram Stoker/ Ali Riza Seyfioglu – 1928
Also known as The Impaling Voivode in Turkey, this version of the story pulled the same trick as Prana did with Nosferatu and adapted the story with changes to the characters’ names and location but, unlike that film, this story also adapted the specific details to fit within its pro Turkish message after the war for independence.
“Unwinding the Dracula mysteries with Hans De Roos” – Toothpickings – Youtube – July 2020
Excellent interview with photographer and researcher Hans De Roos, who is responsible for bringing Makt Myrkranna (or Powers of Darkness) the Icelandic version of Dracula to the English speaking world. De Roos shares some of what led to him getting into researching Dracula, how he traced where Castle Dracula actually could have been, talks about the real life volcano that it was supposedly built on and even discusses some mysteries that still remain about both Powers of Darkness and Stoker’s Dracula. It is worth it to note that both he and Dacre Stoker disagree on how much involvement that Bram actually had in these copies of the original work, which also muddies the waters a bit on the topic but, if you dip farther into this world of translations and piracy, the waters were plenty murky to start with.
“Taste the Unauthorized Adaptation of Dracula” – Angela Englert – The Cultural Gutter – August 2017
For those who are wanting a more in depth run down of the plot and differences of Dracula in Istanbul, this article does a pretty good job of giving you the basics and unpacking the plot fairly well. While it does kind of gloss over some of the elements that make this version unique, particularly in how the author tackled the integration of both Christian and Muslim faiths as a tactic to be used against the vampire, the author also points out how adaptable Dracula as both a character and a story is.
Dracula in Istanbul – Full film available on youtube – 1958
Fair warning that I don’t know if this will be on here forever so watch it while you can, just in case. That established, this is a weird version of this story that tends to run somewhere between gothic novel and fever dream between the pacing and the very very limited English of the person who made the subtitles. Don’t get me wrong, the story is pretty easy to figure out regardless and for the most part, the subtitles do what they need to but there are some inadvertent funny bits, like when the vampire is given the title the “poker”, which is all that much funnier if you’ve seen What We Do in the Shadows. Slight English issues aside, this is probably one of the most faithful adaptations you’ll see of Dracula, even with the changes to the name, location and the fact that the Mina character is now a kind of showgirl.
“Modern Classics Summarized: All Quiet on the Western Front” – Overly Sarcastic Productions – Youtube – January 2019
Because I brought it up more than once, I figured that I would include this summary of the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. For one thing, it gives a pretty good picture of what the climate of post war Germany was like in and around the time that Nosferatu was filmed. The summary also includes some bonus very quick and dirty history about how the war got started too. This is obviously not required reading to know more about our vampire films but it does contextualize the horrors of war and, considering that it gives a fairly accurate view of what it did to Germany through the eyes of a war veteran, it helps to better understand what was happening in the country at the time. Also, considering that they had a massive outbreak of the Spanish flu and a famine shortly after the war came to an end, this context gives us a lot more accurate idea of the general mood around Germany at the time and where some of the imagery and atmosphere of Nosferatu came from. And as an added bonus, the summary is super sad on its own and will give you most of what you need to know about the book, in case you were curious about it but weren’t sure if you wanted to completely ruin your week.
“Stereotypes of Jews” – Wikipedia
Primary focus for this article was to give examples of the physical stereotypes that were circulated in propaganda materials that were produced in the 19th and early 20th century. You’ll note that while Nosferatu does encompass these characteristics, the features were also present in Stoker’s original novel, Dracula having been noted for having the “aquiline” nose. So while Nosferatu‘s anti-semitic elements might have been dialed up in accordance to what was going on in Germany at the time, the film certainly didn’t invent this feature so much as it played on elements in the text that were already there.
“Six Degrees of Nosferatu” – Thomas Elsaesser – Originally published in Sight and Sound Magazine – Feb 2001
Long but decent article that gives you probably more than you ever wanted to know about F.W. Murnau. It does give us some insight into how Nosferatu was made but it also gives some background information on the man behind the camera. It also discusses, briefly, the film Shadow of the Vampire, which is a fictionalized account on how the film was made and the rumors that sparked that particular adaptation. We aren’t going to have time to check that particular film out but if you get a chance, while it is fictional and not really that connected to the plot of Dracula (it pays more hommage to Faust, which is going back to one of the ingredients of Stoker’s novel), this is a good film and I highly suggest you check it out if you like Nosferatu.
“World War 1 and the Jews” – Eli Barnavi – My Jewish Learning – Date not given
A very quick look at some of the budding hostility that was levelled at the Jewish people following the Great War. It also gives a sense of what it was like for those who had fought on the side of Germany and Russia during that war and how they were, essentially, betrayed by their own countries as the people around them began to distrust their loyalty. It should be noted that this was something that was printed with permission by the author for this website and is part of a larger book about the history of Jewish migration over the world.
Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula From Novel to Stage to Screen
David J. Skal – Farrar, Straus & Giroux – October 2004
Skal is basically a go-to when it comes to learning more about Dracula as a pop culture icon. This book was originally released in 1998 but the re-release has been updated and highly recommended. As tends to be the way when it comes to Skal’s work, there’s almost too much information but it’s a must have if you are a fan of Dracula from Universal and it gives well more information on exactly how tenuous it was that we would have seen either the English or the Spanish film and how it was only through chance and some arguably bad decisions that we may not have seen Bela Lugosi at all.
“Listen Back to a 1990 Interview with Actor Christopher Lee” – Interview conducted by Dave Davies – NPR – June 2015
A brief but insightful look at the veteran actor’s take on being the infamous Count. Lee’s commentary is still interesting today because it helps contextualize how, even when the director is that the helm, the story is still created by its players just as much as the people who write and film it.
“Dracula 1979: Celebrating Frank Langella’s Rock Star Count” – Tony Sokol – Den of Geek – October 2019
Slightly fanboy-esque kind of review of the film but it does hit on the major element of what draws people to this story and what it does, specifically for its female audience. There is also a bit more analysis in this article about the dichotomy of Langella’s sex appeal versus Olivier’s attempts to curb its influence in the women around them. This is also one of areas where the author casts Van Helsing and company as the villains of the story, specifically from the audience’s point of view. The writers are obviously going with that angle, and it’s not the first time, but it is one of the rare times that a reviewer calls out this role for what it is. The inclusion of that kind of discussion is something that often gets hand waved and makes this an interesting article.
“Blacula 1972: Flawed but Important” – Kevelis Matthews-Alvarado – Horror Homeroom – March 2020
This article is a good look at how Blacula as a film looks from a non-white perspective and can better speak to how it works and address where it doesn’t serve the Black community. For my own two cents, for whatever that is worth, I will say that the character that Dracula creates in Mamuwalde is still a dignified one that doesn’t really tarnish the African prince, even while he’s engaging in some problematic behaviors. While I appreciate the the author in this case is talking to the dichotomy of the accepted professional versus the African brute stereotype, I put forth the very slight argument that in respect to what came before, they were working with a monstrous tale. The filmmakers were able to get away from the white storyline that we know already but when dealing with the vampire as a creature, I don’t know that he has any choice but to embody the monstrous elements of society. That said, Matthews-Alvarado makes some good arguments and this is well worth reading up on.
“The Bleeding Heart of Dracula” – David Crow – Den of Geek – November 2019
This article is a pretty quick and dirty look at the evolution of Dracula and fills in some gaps that we didn’t have time to cover. I will mention up front that while I do think the author is mostly correct on everything, I do dispute the part of the article where he claims that the vampire no longer stands for “otherness” and how it is slightly optimistic of how accepted LGBTQ people are. I understand the author isn’t intending to be reductive, but I feel like this might be a blind spot that isn’t entirely accurate. That said, the article is still good and worth a read.
“The 50 Best, Worst and Strangest Draculas of All Time” – Olivia Rutigliano – Crime Reads – October 2020
This list is really just here for fun. Some of the ranking, I can get behind while others, I question with a very critical side eye but it is a good list, even if it just helps you find another Dracula you might have missed.
Rose Sinister: Vampires Podcast
I don’t know that I’ve stressed enough that this has been a very large topic and I didn’t have a prayer of covering everything to do with Dracula. That said, as I mentioned in the podcast itself, there’s always someone else out there who can come at this from a different point of view or will notice something I didn’t. I really do believe that there is merit to checking out different points of view and I know for a fact that Rose takes her research seriously and will offer you a lot of great information and insight. Given her background as a vampire tour guide in New Orleans, she is great at telling tales and it’s very easy to binge her episodes, well beyond the episodes on Dracula. This podcast comes with a very high recommendation!
The Dark World series by S.C. Parris
This is where we’re mostly getting into treat territory in the show notes but, it does have tie backs to Dracula, so it still counts. This is a dark fantasy series by an American author that re-imagines the vampire king as an actual king of his own realm. Give some love to an author this Halloween and treat yourself to a book!
And as an added bonus for anyone who appreciates my hard work in bringing these (late) show notes to you, I’ll let you have your first clue as to where we are headed next in our Universal Monster showcase. In Universal’s Draculas, our fair Count had no interest in romance, really, but that doesn’t mean all our Monsters are living the single life. Our next one might not have been very good at that romance stuff but that didn’t stop him from trying it out for himself! Stay tuned for more clues next month!