DRACULAS, VAMPIRES, AND OTHER UNDEAD FORMS: Essays on Gender, Race, and Culture
Edited by John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan (Kay) Picart
Foreword by David J. Skal
The Scarecrow Press, 2009
Dracula, Vampires, and Other Undead Forms assembles provocative essays examining Dracula films and their movement across boarders of nationality, sexuality, ethnicity, gender and genre since the 1920s. This collection analyzes the complexity Dracula embodies outside the conventional landscape of films with which the vampire is usually associated. Focusing on Dracula and Dracula-type characters in film, anime and literature from predominantly non-Anglo markets, this anthology offers unique perspectives that ground depictions and experiences of Dracula within a larger political, historical, and cultural framework.
David J. Skal
The word “vampire” has almost become synonymous with “Dracula” in the 111 years since Bram Stoker wrote his indestructible novel, one of the best-selling books of all time. But Stoker's conception of the vampire has shape-shifted and fragmented throughout the world in ways he would barely comprehend, and probably not even recognize.
Dracula broke radically with an earlier, romantic conception of the vampire that had been popularized in literature, theatre, and opera, but itself preceded by an animalistic, zombie-like creature of European folklore. However, as this eclectic anthology amply demonstrates, the vampire mythos has as never been confined to Europe, nor to Hollywood. Every culture in recorded time has had its own legends of hungry ghosts who feed on the energy of the living, in one way or another. And very few of them bear much resemblance to Bela Lugosi descending a staircase, holding a solitary, flickering candle that improbably lights the entire cavernous great hall of his castle for the legendary cinematographer Karl Freund.
It would actually take a thousand points of light (black light?) to really)' do the job, and this book adds considerably more illumination to the shadows of Dracula's abode by exploring "Draculas" rather than the vampire king in isolation. Dwight Frye's Renfield is hardly Dracula's only guest in Tod Browning's landmark film, which, however flawed cinematically, galvanized centuries of world folklore, literature, and the performing arts into an image so indelible that it has blocked our appreciation and understanding of the much larger context of ravenous revenants. That empty castle hall is, in essence, a reeling ballroom of the unseen undead.
It took a long time for horror as a category to be taken seriously by academics, and vampire studies in particular have exploded to the point that it is difficult to keep up with every book, essay, or documentary on this bottomless topic. Draculas, Vampires, and Other Undead Forms takes a useful step back from the standard obsession with Bram Stoker and his maddeningly problematic text, however influential it is.
I hope you will enjoy this unique transcultural exploration of Transylvania as much as I have. The word Transylvania, of course, means “across the forest,” and this volume does much to let us deeply examine the forest, not just a single tree.