I just finished reading Dracula and a friend sent me a link to a trailer for the new NBC Drama, “Dracula”. I find the premise of the series completely infuriating. It has lead me to the conclusion that Brahm Stoker is one of the only people capable of telling a truly compelling (and actually good) vampire story.
This really confuses me, because I think Dracula is an absolutely fascinating, intriguing, suspenseful, and well told tale. Yet, every incarnation of the story in a visual format (TV and Movies) pales in comparison.
My conclusion is that the focus is all wrong.
The problem is that as soon as someone tries to tell a Vampire story, they want to tell it from the point of view of the vampire. I don’t understand this at all. They want to humanize the vampire. They want to talk about how hard it is to be a vampire. This does not make for a good story. Vampires are not human, they are undead, they are abominations, and they shouldn’t be the main character.
The reason Brahm Stoker’s Dracula makes a better love story than Twilight is that the Vampire is the antagonist. The real story is how a band of strong-willed godly gentlemen and women are fighting to save friends they love and the souls of others.
So how do you tell a compelling vampire story:
The unknown is more terrifying than the known. Danger that is alluded to or monsters that are implied are more scary than poor CGI effects in horror movies. This is the first mistake of the vampire film. As soon as Hollywood starts thinking about Vampires they go straight to the special effects team and oder six hundred gallons of fake blood and then go to town making a splatter film. If that’s your thing, good for you, but it makes for a terrible vampire flick.
The instances of massive gore within Brahm Stoker’s Dracula could be counted on one hand. I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t read the book, so I won’t go into details, but I will say that many of the instances of blood sucking leave only two small red dots on the victims neck. Vampires can be quite subtle if they don’t want to be noticed.
If they don’t go for gore, they give the vampire a love interest. Which is JUST. FRAKING. STUPID.
As already stated, the Vampire should not be the main character. He is the antagonist, and he should be mostly unseen. Vampires are instinctive and animalistic. They are capable of reason, planning, plotting, but they have limited emotions. They are no longer human in this regard. They display fear and aggression mainly.
Vampire’s need not be completely flat characters, but they should not be very dynamic. Vampires like Dracula have lived for centuries most of which time they have been living in secret in the far corners of the world. You don’t stay unnoticed by being rash, outrageous, and messy. Yet, Dracula is referred to as having a “child brain” and slowly experiments with his abilities, learning as he goes.
The story must, MUST, focus around people. People who are relatable. Good men and women who, while not perfect, are worthy of admiration.
Characters tell stories. Characters are the reason we are pulled into tales.
Hollywood, today, is completely incapable of differentiating between the different types of love. The characters within Dracula are bound together with bonds of friendship and brotherly love. Their devotion to one another is unconditional. Now there is certainly hints of romantic love between the newly wedded couple, but this is secondary to the gratitude they display to one another for their support and help.
The seduction of vampires is not romantic at all. The feelings described by characters within the vampire’s trance are mixture of desire and repulsion. The will of the victim is suppressed and replaced by that of the undead.
Strong Female characters. Within the world of film, strength so often means fighting. Mina, however, is a wonderfully strong character, even though she does not venture out to the front lines. Her brave face in the mist of danger is actually contrasted against her husband who groans in agony when subjected to the things his wife has had to suffer. (Though I would not call any of the characters in the book cowards, by any means.)
But… I guess it’s silly for me to expect anything else from the TV industry.