How Dracula Really Died
by Gail Fletcher
Truth be told, vampires have taken a big hit in the last 10 years. The original Bram Stoker tale with elements of love, tragedy and the more expected horror has fallen to the wayside due to the romanticism of today's writer's.
Now don't get me wrong - Twilight, Vampire Diaries, etc... Good stories, but they have supplanted the meaning of the word vampire in our lexicon. "Vampire" used to be a word that conjured fear in our imagination. It was why when were little and after we were able to get out of the "cutesy" stage of costumes for Halloween we wanted to dress as a vampire.
As we get older, we like some of the ideas that come with being a vampire and we embolden ourselves to believe it. We want to believe in our own immortality, we want to believe we are impervious to almost anything. We want to be stronger than others with miraculous abilities not ordinarily considered human.
Think of what a vampire once was: undead, a predator who hunts humans exclusively, impossibly fast and strong, and if that wasn’t enough - depending on the story - it was a shape shifter, too. All by all accounts at that time, they were evil too.
First of all, they were undead. Now just what isn’t scary about something that was once alive, but then dead, and now is neither? But yet, here it is, moving about!
Second, something that continuously wants to kill and eat YOU - now isn’t that scary?! Think of it - they look at you as if you're just one big food source. And they don't mind having as many as they want.
Speed and strength - now we can kind of expect that with nature and animals and all the supernatural beings that we're familiar with. But just putting that together with the factor that something “wants to kill you” - don't you think that that makes it worse.
Now, I admit, the whole shape shifter ability is kind of cool, until you go back and add that to the whole “wants to kill you” feature. Then that makes that being a lot scarier - because you will never know for sure that anyone is truly themselves until it is possibly too late. “Are you really sure that’s your Mom?”
The truth, as I grew up with it, is that much of the traditional vampire lore is lost on most of our current generation - the fear found in the pages of the original vampire books, most notably Bram Stoker's Dracula, or the old Dracula movies, or even the vampiric series such as in Salem's Lot (if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and find it) - all of it has been cast aside for the softer, newer, more romantic nature of the vampire.
The true fear vampires once inspired in us seems likely forever lost. I will miss the idea that I could go to a theater and truly be scared as much by the idea of what a creature is as what the screen said it was. Sadly, that is the case no more. Van Helsing didn't kill Dracula. Stephanie Meyer, L.J. Smith and Richelle Mead DID!