CHAPTER 2
Dracula’s American

I heard once of an American who so defined faith; “that which
enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue.” For one,
I follow that man.

—Professor Van Helsing (Stoker 2002, 202)

The title of this chapter, “Dracula’s American,”could be inter preted two ways. It could be seen as a contraction for “Dracula is American” or it could refer to Dracula’s American—the American character in Dracula the novel. Although I will focus primarily on the second meaning, I wanted to point out the first, because Stoker’s Dracula has, in many ways, become American. The American film industry is primarily responsible for taking a central European character invented by an Irish novelist writing in England and making out of this international mixture a figure who is now recognized around the world. For many people, the name Dracula and the term vampire are synonyms, referring to a suave, masterful, and predatory creature wearing a cape, who drinks blood, has hypnotic powers, and can transform into animals and mist. He also has the ability to reproduce by transforming human victims into vampires. We all know as well that he is an animated dead person.

Stoker’s novel is the source of this present incarnation of a figure from folklore that was originally closer to what we now think of as a zombie, a night-walking corpse who preyed mostly on family members. Today, we remember Bram Stoker as the author of Dracula. However, in his day, Abraham Stoker would have been known by his contemporaries, if he were known at all, as the manager and biographer for a much more famous person, Henry Irving. Irving was a celebrity, a London theater owner, who was also one of the most prominent actors of the time. He

-9-

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Vampires in the New World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Introduction - Taking Vampires Seriously vii
  • Chapter 1 - Vampire Scholarship 1
  • Chapter 2 - Dracula’s American 9
  • Chapter 3 - Early New World Vampires 17
  • Chapter 4 - Vamps in Hollywood 27
  • Chapter 5 - Blood and Pulp 33
  • Chapter 6 - Class-IC Horror 41
  • Chapter 7 - Urban Legends 49
  • Chapter 8 - Hammering It Home 57
  • Chapter 9 - Countering Vampire Culture 63
  • Chapter 10 - Black Vampires 69
  • Chapter 11 - Vampire Celebrities 77
  • Chapter 12 - Blood Consumers 87
  • Chapter 13 - Buffy Rules 99
  • Chapter 14 - Vampires for Children 107
  • Chapter 15 - White Trash and Teen Melodrama 121
  • Chapter 16 - Vampire Comedy 131
  • Afterword - Where Do We Go from Here? 143
  • Selected Chronological Filmography 149
  • Bibliography 163
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 177
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