Stake through the Heart

September 7, 2010 - 8:07pm -- swingbug

I have just finished reading Dracula (via the free audiobook version available at LibraVox; all hail the public-domain) and I have thoughts to share.

When I first saw the more-recent Hollywood version of this story I remember many people calling it an appalling piece of crap.  I didn't have strong feelings about it one way or the other.  I thought it was entertaining enough and worth queueing up on Halloween, if nothing else.

Then I read the book.

Firstly, I would like to say that this is a good book.  And for a story so often told and retold, there is much in it still to discover.  One of the most frightening and engaging passages I've ever read lies in the logs of the captain of the Russian schooner who unwittingly sailed from Varna with Count Dracula aboard, bound for London, and yet I have never heard this piece of the story before.  You will find the tale of the intrepid Demeter in Chapter 7 and if you read nothing else, trust me and read this section.

And now I would like to address the foul, loathsome fiends that had the gall to call their 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula.  I shall attempt to verbally drive a stake through their hearts and cut off their heads because clearly the evil that has been done here requires this kind of cleansing.

I truly hope that if Bram Stoker ever comes across any of you in the afterlife, that he will promptly slap you across the face for the complete disservice you have done to his female characters.  You turned Miss Lucy Westenra into a wanton trollop.  Lord Goldaming would have skewered you for it, and he would have been right to do so.  That was bad enough, but the complete defamation you have visited upon the character of Mrs. Mina Harker is nothing short of criminal offense.

I understand that Victorian heroines often do not stand well in the light of modern sensibilities. To engage today’s audience, particularly the female portion of it, some modernization of the such female characters is often required.

Such is not the case with Mina Harker.

Her strength of character and will are truly remarkable, in any century. Not only should you be ashamed of the way you portrayed her but you’re fantastic fools to boot.

[Warning: spoilers ahead]

I want you to picture for a moment, Mina Harker scarred and cursed, standing in the bitter cold, wolves descending on one side, a band of heavily-armed gypsies attacking from the other, and everyone racing against the eminent sunset as Dracula bears down upon them all. Picture Mina standing strong and unafraid, at Dr. Van Helsing’s side as she braces her revolver against a boulder, ready to fight for her soul and the lives of those she loves.

And this you traded for an adulterous Winona Ryder flashing around her petticoats and throwing herself into the arms of darkness at her earliest convenience?


You’re fools. Fools, the lot of you. So foolish that I couldn’t possibly explain it to you in words small enough that you could comprehend.

To anyone out there who has yet to read the book, I recommend it. It’s worth the read even if you think you already know how the story goes. It’s earned its place in the canon of gothic literature, and it’s not a bad read for October, Halloween being just around the corner and all that. In my honest opinion, I think you can skip the film though.

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Submitted by Katy on

Amen! I was never a big Dracula fan until a friend bought me a copy illustrated by Edward Gorey. When I finally sat down to read it I couldn't do anything else... I just had to read and read until I'd finished.

I now try to avoid films of it so I don't mess up my memories of the story.

Submitted by Megs on


I fell in love with Bram Stoker's Dracula the movie first. At the time, I had a crush on Keanu Reeves, and I had visited the movie set -- (bit of trivia, the movie Hook, and B.S. Dracula were shot on the same sound stages back to back), so I felt a personal connection to the movie. When it was released, I loved the campiness of the acting, and how the mythic tale had been told from another perspective. I loved that Dracula was seen as more as a lover gone mad over the death of his beloved Elisabetha.

A year later, while meandering through the aisles of the Schenectady Public Library, I found the forbidden book on a high shelf. That was the summer of 9th grade. I remember my heart pounding as I stood in line to check out this book. I call it forbidden as it had been placed so high up and it seemed to be out of order, as if no one wanted you to read it. I remember riding my bike home, curling up and pouring over this delicious volume absorbing the words, and with each page I turned, I too became appalled at how the screenplay writer, James V. Hart and legendary director Francis Coppola had altered the amazing story that Stoker had written.

Granted Coppola and Hart had attempted to tell the story from another vantage point, but alas missed the point and had brutalized entire characters.

I was glad I had read the book after seeing the movie, to me, it was no longer Bram Stokers Dracula (the movie) but rather just another Dracula movie. It would be nice if for just once Hollywood could take a brilliant horror story written more than a century ago, and capture it on film for the true chilling tale it really is.