Saturday, December 27, 2008

Defining Dracula: A Century Of Vampire Evolution

by Eric Nuzum, October 30, 2008 .

Dracula can't see his own reflection in the mirror because he is a reflection of the culture around him. Ever since Bram Stoker penned Dracula in 1897, the vampire's image has been a work in progress.
In the 43 sequels, remakes and adaptations of Stoker's novel, Transylvania's most famous son rarely appears the same way twice. He has evolved with the society around him. His physical traits, powers and weaknesses have morphed to suit cultural and political climates from the Victorian era to the Cold War.
Read on to see how the "Son of the Devil" has changed over time:

1450: The Real-Life Dracula
The original, real-life Dracula was not a vampire, did not drink blood, and didn't worship the devil, either. But he did do many terrible things (i.e., murder thousands of his countrymen) that would make "actual" vampires pale in comparison.

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia or "Vlad the Impaler" is Count Dracula's historical namesake. His chosen last name "Dracula" translates to "son of the devil," or "son of the dragon" - a reference to a religious order founded by his father (Vlad Dracul).

Despite his famed ruthlessness, it is most likely that his name - chosen randomly out of a Transylvanian history book - was all that Dracula author Bram Stoker ever knew of him.

1897: Modeled After Walt Whitman?
Today, Dracula often conjures up images of a sexy, mysterious, debonair aristocrat, but Bram Stoker's 1897 Count Dracula was none of those things.
There are many theories about how Stoker crafted Dracula's look; some have speculated that the Irish author modeled him after his personal hero, Walt Whitman. (Stoker once confided in a fan letter that Whitman could be "father, and brother and wife to his soul.")

Stoker writes that Dracula had a thick mustache, a large nose and white hair that "grew scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere." (See how those rumors about Whitman - pictured above - got started?) He describes the Count's general look as "one of extraordinary pallor." Dracula had sharp teeth, pointy ears, squat fingers and hair in the palms of his hands. The sexy, debonair vampire was a creation of later generations.

A lot was going on when Stoker was working on Dracula at the turn of the 19th century: Victorian ideals of repressed sexuality and subservient women's roles were going out of style; Darwinism was just taking hold; and Jack the Ripper was on a murder spree.

Stoker's villain channeled all that - and a lot more - into one super bad guy who resonated with readers for decades. Dracula gradually became the most significant work of Gothic horror literature because it was the perfect vessel for the fears and desires of the era.

1931: Dracula As European Aristocrat
As an evil intruder who disrupted innocent lives, Dracula personified all that was threatening, powerful, alluring and evil. In the 1920s and '30s, this translated into an Eastern aristocrat with slicked-back hair, a top coat and a medallion - a look that became the enduring standard for all vampires to come.

Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi became the quintessential Count Dracula in Tod Browning's film adaptation of Stoker's novel. Lugosi refused to wear any makeup that would obscure his face (he declined to play the original Frankenstein for the same reason), and so Lugosi's version of the Count never had fangs.

Lugosi made less than $3,000 for his work in the role, but nearly 80 years later, he is still considered the definitive Dracula.

1958: Dracula As Cold War Enemy

During the Cold War era, Count Dracula became superbad. His motives were unimportant - he was distilled into a vicious troublemaker with an appetite for destruction. Just as the U.S. viewed Cold War enemies as purely evil, Dracula became a character with whom it was impossible to empathize.

Christopher Lee's 1958 depiction of the Count had red eyes and huge fangs, often with some virginal gore hanging off them. Lee was a pro; he played the Count a total of six times - more than any other actor.

Lee's Count was so inherently menacing, that in one 1966 sequel, Dracula:
Prince of Darkness, he had no lines at all - he just hissed at the camera throughout the film.

1979: Disco Dracula
In the 1979 remake of the original Dracula, the vampire was updated for the disco era with chiseled good looks and severely blow-dried hair. Forget politics or world views with this Count. He represented a sexual creature free of moral anchors - able to do whatever (or whomever) he pleased.

It's probably no coincidence that this manifestation of the Transylvanian bad boy debuted less than two years after Saturday Night Fever. Frank Langella looks as if he plans to do "The Hustle" with Tony Manero right after he drains the blood from a few virgins.

2004: Dracula Goes Goth
Goth, gaunt and hip, today's vampires look like roadies for the Smashing Pumpkins. They exude absolute freedom and irreverent power - and they're handsome to boot.

Aussie Richard Roxburgh played the Count in Van Helsing in 2004. Despite his Johnny Depp good looks, he transforms into a bat-like orthodontic nightmare when provoked.

In HBO's True Blood and author Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, modern vampires disguise ugly evil below sexy allure. Today's Dracula reflects 21st century fears about people who are not what they seem.

Baby, you can drive my car (4)

Who drives this car ?

Anyone know model or year ?

A Review: Dead as a Doornail - Charlaine Harris

What a nice review of book five, Dead as a Doornail by Bela Lee at Life as a Convicted Bibliophile blog and she has reviewed other Sookie Stackhouse books !

Dead as a Doornail is the fifth installment in the fantastic "Southern Vampire Mystery" series by Charlaine Harris.

After participating in the Witch War Sookie tries to settle down into her normal life, but it seems the vampires, weres and shifters have other ideas. While Sookie waits to see if her brother turns into a were-panther as the full moon approaches, she also has to deal with a sniper that seems to be attacking the shifters of Bon Temps.

I particularly enjoyed this one. There is a lot of action to be fitted within the pages of Dead as a Doornail. Just when you think the action is over, there is something else to cause some danger in Sookie's life.

More than the action, what is most interesting is the changing relationships in Sookie's life. Her close relationship with Alcide changes when more details surrounding his ex-girlfriend, Debbie Pelt's disappearance arise. Calvin, the were-panther, and Sookie become closer as a result of the sniper attacks. Thing seem to be heating up between Sookie and her boss, Sam. And, there is a new supernatural on the scene, the mysterious Quinn. Then there is of course Eric and Bill, our favourite vampires. It seems a lot for one telepath waitress to handle at one time.

This one is one of my favourites in the series. There is definitely a turning point for Sookie, as she tries to take on more than she can handle. I have to give a lot of credit to Charlaine Harris, who keeps this series alive with interesting plots and even more interesting characters.

One of her best, yet!

"True Blood" od lutego w HBO Polska - True Blood HBO Poland

We love True Blood international stuff and HBO Poland announces that True Blood will begin airing in Poland in Febrary 2009.

Już w lutym 2009 roku w HBO Polska zadebiutuje nowy serial "True Blood".

Serial opowiada historię Sookie Stackhouse, barmanki żyjącej w Louisianie, która potrafi czytać w ludzkich myślach. Jej życie ulega zmianie, gdy w barze, w którym pracuje, pojawia się wampir Bill,News,id=48414

BookSprouts, A Social Network For Book Worms And Clubs

I don't think there is a Sookie book club yet...

Reading books is usually a solitary experience, but it triggers social activity as well, as the ongoing success of real-life book clubs shows. BookSprouts is a fairly new online community dedicated to book readers who love discussing books over a nice cup of virtual coffee. The social network is designed to make it easy to start an online book club, discuss books with other individuals, organize meetings and write up reviews.

First of all: the website looks and feels great. Signing up was quick and easy, and the lay-out of the website as well as the copy all make it very clear what to do after you’ve registered. There’s a powerful search behind the community layer so it’s very easy to add books you’ve read, or books you haven’t read yet but would like to. Creating and joining a book club on BookSprouts is done in a heartbeat, and you can look for book clubs by book (surprise!), subject, author, or geographic location. Based on the search results, the social network currently counts about 275 virtual book clubs, but some of them are invite-only.

BookSprouts faces the same hurdle most online community websites do when they launch: the inevitable ‘chicken and egg’ problem. I added a couple of books I read to my virtual bookshelf, but none were being discussed in any book clubs, nor were there any reviews. That means there’s not much social about this particular network for me so far. I could start my own book club of course and recruit members from the site or my own friends, and start writing reviews like crazy, but we all know only a small percentage of users actually gets around to being an active creator on these types of services, so only time will tell if BookSprouts can turn enough visitors into online book club ‘leaders’.

I also don’t see the business model behind BookSprouts. You have to dig very hard to find ads on the site and users don’t get charged for anything. What I see are affiliate links for buying books you’ve added to your profile on Amazon or AbeBooks (which recently became part of the Amazon family), but that seems rather pointless as I’m likely to already own books I’m declaring myself a fan of.

BookSprouts will find itself competing with Shelfari (recently acquired by Amazon) and the AbeBooks-backed LibraryThing, both of which are social networks centered around books.

From Techcrunch

The only Southern Vampire Mysteries book/story I havent read ..

I must admit I'm a bit obsessed with reading it - if you have a copy you'd loan me I would appreciate it !

'Dancer's in the Dark' published in 2004 in the anthology, Nights Edge

The collection standout, is Charlaine Harris's Dancers in the Dark. Set in the same universe as her Southern Vampire Mysteries series, Dancers focuses on Rue May, a young college student whose financial circumstances force her to apply for a job with the Blue Moon dancers -- a dance troupe whose members partner up in human/vampire couples, and culminate each performance in "the bite." When Rue's abusive past comes back to haunt her, she's finally in good company.

isbn 0373770103
Published :HQN

HBO store additional 20% off sale stuff

that means 50% + off on Generation Kill stuff
Hats $7
Mugs $5
Aluminum water $8


True Blood New Year's Resolutions (2)

I will not tell Tara "if it seems too good to be true, it usually is"
I will not ask Eric if I can sit on his lap.
I will not try to set up Arlene with anyone.
I will not ask Bill who he fed on after the 'sun'.

Please send me your True Blood New Year's Resolution:

Thanks to everyone for their creativity!

True Blood Music Video of the Day

Snake in the grass by Vallejo

Vampires. Again

Patinagreen writes about one of the favorite fan topics of discussion : The Sookieverse on screen and in the pages.

Book to Film? Book to TV Series? Movie to TV Series? Adaptation has been on my mind lately.

I just read the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris. The first thing I thought? This author is *country*. I say that with all of the admiration, amusement, and pride(ish?) of living in a Southern US state for most of my life. There are incredible metaphors and imagery in that book and the country-flavored ones are the most delightful. The second thing I thought? The TV Show is better. This is when I paused. When - When!? is the media version better than the written? Hardly ever, that's when.

LJ's homepage and writer's block question is all a-flutter with Twilight talk. (Well, so was USA Today for that matter) The writer's block question was about the translation of the book to the movie. I think I would say that 9 times out of 10 I prefer the book for the experience of the story but I'm a huge fan of media in all its forms so I never automatically hate the movie. Life's too short to be a hater. (However, after seeing "The Seeker" I wished, not for the first time in my life, that I could unsee things.)

Back to True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels - how exactly is the book less enjoyable than the series? I've only read the first but it seems pretty clear that there are aspects of atmosphere and moment building that Charlaine Harris just doesn't (consistently) care for. I don't know how many times I read a scene and thought "oooh! Slow down lady! That part is good. Tell me more...wait!" Sookie's voice carries you on in this perky little clip most of the time and sometimes you wish you could jump out of her head and take a break. This is not to say that I won't get the next book in the series but that I'll be sad I don't have Alan Ball's second season of True Blood to accompany it.

Media, and dramatic television in particular, love drawing out little moments of tension. It's just built into the genre. So when Sookie and Bill kiss for the first time in True Blood it's a *thing* and not a stepping stone to the next thing. There are other examples I could give but you get the gist. The writers and, I'm assuming, Alan Ball have done an incredible job condensing and collapsing the characters and scenes to improve the flow of the story. How often does that happen!? I mean, they took Charlaine Harris' somewhat clunky moments and smoothed them out like rolled dough, into a cohesive story. WTF.

Also, they beefed up some characters and, as far as I can see, crafted Tara outta thin air. That explains why some of her scenes seem awkward...I think. You know, this could just be a matter of length. A TV Show at 55 mins an episode is a completely different deal than a 2 hour movie.

Afterall, the 2000 televised miniseries of Frank Herbert's Dune and the entire epic reality that is Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy has taught us that length, and outrageous production values, do count when pulling from a book.

I do have to wonder if, after seeing True Blood, Charlaine Harris' next book in the series will be any different. (She's still writing new ones as far as I can tell) Does she see her characters differently? Can she get Anna Paquin's face out of her mind? Now that's what I would call a authorial mindfuck. Woowee.

Read Swaying Text blog here