For the second in my Origins of My Love of Horror series, we turn to the greatest of all vampire novels, the one to which all roads lead: Dracula by Bram Stoker.
If you have only seen one of the multitudinous movies or shows based on this seminal novel—from Murnau’s Nosferatu to the 2020 Netflix series starring Cleas Bang—then you have missed one of the truly great modern novels. And I do mean modern. Published in 1897, Dracula is an epistolary novel, making up diary entries, news clippings, even telegraph messages as it tells the story of the Transylvanian count who plans to take up residence in London. It’s swiftly paced and full of compelling characters, and includes elements of romance.
While one can read it as a horror novel, it easily can be seen as a thriller along the lines of Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, and its different forms of media make it a prototype for Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves.
In addition, I’m including Tod Browning’s 1931 feature, starring Bela Lugosi. Yes, for many its elements will appear dated. But seeing it when I was eleven on one of Houston’s UHF stations was a transformational experience, providing me with a view of a world adjacent to ours, one can be seen if you twist your eyes in just the right way.
What was your first vampire novel or story? Do you have a favorite vampire movie? Let me know in the comments.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. His work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Rayguns Over Texas!, Horror U.S.A.: Texas, Campfire Macabre, The Dread Machine, and Generation X-ed.
He lives in Central Texas.