Dracula with a long black cape, a Hungarian accent, and incredibly expressive eyes. Bela Lugosi is probably the most well-known vampire ever. But his incredible performance is only the tip of the iceberg. Vampires have been with us since the misty beginnings of human existence.
"The Mysterious Stranger," a German tale whose author is unknown, is possibly the earliest written tale of the vampire. This work, Kipling’s poem "The Vampire," The Vampyre: A Tale By Lord Byron (actually written by John William Polidori), and the work of F. Sheridan Le Fanu all likely influenced Bram Stoker when he wrote the most famous vampire tale of all time--Dracula.
Though most people believe the historical Vlad the Impaler was the inspiration for Dracula, there is controversy about this among scholars. Stoker’s original title was The Un-Dead. It wasn’t until he’d begun that he saw photographs and read of Transylvania and it’s ruler Vlad Dracul. His bloody reign of this man probably inspired many of the traits of the fictional Count Dracula, however.
In the book, Dracula is an evil, horrible creature. There are subtle themes of sexuality in the work, but sexy is not a word that could be used to describe the predator vampire. The same mix is used in the movie Nosferatu. The 1922, silent German film was based on Dracula, but could not get permission from Stoker's widow to use the name. It wasn’t until 1931 that Lugosi made the famous Count something to be lusted after.
Today, vampires run the gamut of horrible evil to sexy heroes. And they are everywhere. In the movies, on television, in books of fact and fiction, vampires abound. The thirst for blood-sucking creatures of the night is all but insatiable.
Still, there are those who still believe that under certain circumstances the dead can rise. In 1897 when Dracula hit the shelves, belief in vampires was common. And to this day vigils are held in cemeteries. As you lie quiet in the dark tonight, remember somewhere there may be those who wait for the dead to rise.
But it’s only a story. Right?