Let me start by saying that this is a totally non scholarly review. I have no idea of why or how it fits in the literally canon. I wasn’t paying so much attention to its religious undertones/overtones or its victorian setting. Not because I didn’t care for that, but my approach was simply to just read a good old scary story.
Dracula’s influence in the horror genre is undeniable and it’s the quintessential vampire novel. It’s “the novel that started it all”. Like I mentioned before, I was really surprised on how much more of a monster Dracula is than how he’s portrayed in films.
This brings me to the angle I have with this review and the reason for the title of the post. There’s something definitely interesting about Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Dracula character, that is. But I’m not sure what exactly. What was it that first time readers, particularly Hollywood, saw in the Dracula character that they decided to turn him into a morally complex villain? Because I’m not sure there’s much complexity in there. Besides the first four chapters, if the Count has more than ten pages of dialog, it’s a lot.
And really, Dracula’s interestingness is what has made the novel endure. Nobody is really a fan of Jonathan Harker or Dr Seward. Well, there’s Van Helsing, but Jesus! This guy is so smart he’s stupid. Even in the end, after the researching and the extensive journaling, he still wonders why Mina falls asleep so deeply during mornings. I wonder if this is Stoker making fun of the “journaling fad” at the end of the 19th century.
You can’t say that Dracula is a typical and simple villain though. That’s for sure. Hell, he’s the Superman of monsters. He can walk through walls like a lizard, control his victims minds, summon a rat attack, can turn into bats, dogs, and wolves, can create and control mist and oh, he’s freaking immortal. But he’s still just a bad guy. He’s like the shark in Jaws. His motives are simple: feed to survive and “spread his seed” every now and then.
But still, there’s something there that clicked with people. I’m sure that Stoker didn’t set out to make an anti-hero and the intention was to make a scary and powerful villain. But I suppose there’s something about the moral ambiguity of the vampire in general that’s appealing. The Count is Evil, but he’s not Evil for the sake of being evil. He’s not the HA, HA, HA, laughing villain. He has to kill to survive. Perhaps that’s what sparked the imagination of writers and film makers.
To conclude: Dracula is as good as classic horror can get. It’s an essential read if you’re a fan and it’s unquestionably entertaining. Spooky country scene setting. Old castles on top of cliffs. Howling wolves. Female voluptuous vamps forming out of thin air. Psycho sexual erotica. Asylum patients. Bats, rats, and mist. Telepathy. Graves. Blood transfusions. And finally, beheadings and stakes through hearts. This is totally metal.