Halloween . . . mmmm . . . one of my favourite times of the year. The clocks have gone back and the evenings are darker – with many more shadows – perfect for the creatures of the night. My favourite dark creature is, of course, the vampire. No question. And my favourite vampire is . . . Count Dracula.
Dracula . . . there’s a very good reason why Bram Stoker’s book has never been out of print since it was first published in 1897. Its dark atmospheric pages literally pull the reader in, never letting them go. I first read the book at school and it definitely instigated my love for the paranormal. Beautifully written – once you get used to the Victorian way of speaking of course – with such cleverly observed characters. In an era where women couldn’t vote and were very much dominated by men, Stoker introduced Wilhelmena Murray, a feisty intelligent woman far ahead of her time.
In my humble opinion no-one has, as yet, ever produced a Dracula film which is loyal to Stoker’s book. All have been glamourised and the story changed beyond all recognition. Coppola’s Dracula had the temerity to be titled, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ which it wasn’t. The first appearance of Gary Oldman’s Count has him dressed in scarlet robes with a white wig which looked uncannily like Princess Leia, when the book clearly states he was ‘clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.’ Bit like me really! The Hammer Draculas were a little over the top, even ‘hammy’ but I just love them! My favourite being Dracula Prince of Darkness, it’s so gothic and creepy. The film’s one fault is not allowing Dracula to speak in the film, reducing the character to snarls and hisses. Although I still think Sir Christopher Lee is the best cinematic Dracula to date, with (ironically) a marvellous voice.
I think the BBC’s 1977 version of Dracula still remains the best version of the book itself. Starring Louis Jordan in the main role with Frank Finlay as Abraham Van Helsing and Bosco Hogan as Jonathan Harker. Judi Bowker plays Mina, a role which I saw her play again in a theatre production of Dracula last year. Strangely she doesn’t seem to have aged at all, which made me wonder if she is, perhaps a vampire?
But what of other vampires? They’re back in vogue again – hooray – thanks to the emergence of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997. (Thank you Joss Whedon!) Which brings me to another of my favourite screen vampires, albeit on the small screen. No it’s not Angel, but the totally delectable Spike, or William the Bloody, played so brilliantly by James Marsters. All sculpted cheekbones, leather jacket and a voice to die for. Definitely one of the sexiest vampires to grace any screen. I have to admit to being impressed by his carefully studied South London accent – apart from the usual mistakes of words like ‘chance, dance, patronise etc’ which still sounded Californian. But I can forgive Spike anything.
True Blood has its own collection of hunks too. Our own Stephen Moyer, the Brit who plays Bill Compton, and the delicious Alexander Skarsgard who plays Eric Northman. Eric is a brilliant character too, he’s just so evil, although he still manages to be charming. Another fave of mine is Mitchell, the vamp from the UK series of Being Human. Angst-ridden and desperately trying to stay off human blood, Mitchell makes Angel look like – in Spike’s words – ‘as interesting as a table lamp.’ Aidan Turner starred as Mitchell in the first three seasons, but then sadly for the show, got offered a part in The Hobbit.
I’ve only just touched on a few of my favourite vampires here, but I can’t stop writing without mentioning my own vampire. William James Austen, a three-hundred-year old vampire. Ex Duke, millionaire, property owner and Elder of London, he just happens to be tall, dark, charming, and utterly gorgeous too. What more do you want from a vampire? Check him out in Fledgling published in Black Rose of course – and yes that’s an unashamed plug!