Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Romance of Dracula – review

Author: Charles E Butler

First published: 2011

Contains spoilers

The blurb: A review of the fourteen Major film adaptations of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Complete with illustrations of the fourteen major Counts.

From Max Schreck to Marc Warren, The Romance of Dracula is the most concise account of the Count on screen.

The Epilogue concentrates on the Count's further/major appearances in fantasy horror films and the book takes interesting side-roads into the exploration of the myth through The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), the original Fright Night (1985) and The Shadow of the Vampire (2000). An engrossing must-have read for the casual onlooker and the ardent aficionado.

The review: What we have, with the Romance of Dracula, is one fan's look at the major films about the Count, with a blow by blow synopsis of each flick, his views on the quality (or otherwise) and some interesting interpretations of character motivation.

Bar the last aspect (potentially), therefore, the book is kind of like this blog and therefore the question becomes, what’s not to like! It is, actually, a serious question. Butler is clearly a fan of the Count and thus, even when I found myself disagreeing with his viewpoint on a film (we would definitely debate the relative merits of the various Hammer films, methinks) or (the rare) moments when I questioned accuracy (for the record, in Dracula 2001, Van Helsing is the Van Helsing and the suggestion that he “curiously bleeds himself with leeches on a regular basis to keep his immortality” misses the actuality that, rather, he uses the leeches to bleed Dracula’s blood, thus purifying the blood in some way, which he draws from the leech by syringe and injects into himself, thus making him immortal but not vampire - sorry, that one needed correcting), I still thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The language conveyed Butler’s love of the genre and my main frustration was that it wasn’t a conversation as I am sure I could while away many an hour talking vampires generally and Dracula specifically with the gentleman.

Each chapter is illustrated with a picture of that incarnation of the Count, drawn by Butler, and I would say the main weakness of the book is that the many facts that Butler adds into his reviews are not referenced.

Butler suggests “Once you have read the text I hope that it prompts you to re-view these films yourself in a different light than you've ever watched them before.” Whether I’ll watch them in a different light or not, I don’t know, but there is nothing like someone’s enthusiasm for movies you love (sometimes despite themselves) to make you want to go back and revisit them yet again.

For the book 7.5 out of 10, with a suggestion that, should it be revised, referencing is included.


Zahir Blue said...

As it happens I've chatted with Charles and the experience was indeed very fun.

Unknown said...

I must admit I found the reviews of the film a little mechanical and lacking in any critique of the film-making process and decisions taken in making the film.

Still worth adding to a library of vampire tomes.

Lack of page numbers was a slight irritation.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Dean, thanks for the comment.

I wasn't too aware of the page numbering as I read the book on kindle and so had a position bar, as it were. As I mentioned, it was the lack of referencing that was my personal irk but, as you say, worth adding to a library of vampire tomes.

Charles E Butler said...

Thank you for your comments, I just saw these. I have completed three more volumes on the vampire in film, Vampires Everywhere, Vampires Under the Hammer and Vampires the Final Hunt finishes the quartet. I would love to have them reviewed by Talesin if that is at all possible?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Charles, no worries. I always hope that, when I review, the author (in the case of books) takes any criticism as constructive and clearly you do if you want me to look at the others in the series.

And doing just that is more than do-able. Just drop me a line :)

Charles E Butler said...

I like constructive criticism and know - as an independent - I am not infallible. On reading The Romance recently and taking accounts of comments, I have to agree and thank you for a very fair review. A lot of that book was written in enthusiastic fervour. It will always remain the one on my personal top spot as it began a lot of things for me. But I have had many good reviews on it. Look forward to hearing your views on the rest. Thank you.