Saturday, 28 January 2012

Dracula fan's Facebook page swiped

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internets, seems like the ghost of SOPA's still lingering about. Bertena Varney published a highly disturbing article today: 'Universal Studios claim Dracula fan's Facebook page'. What. The. Hell?!

The owner of the page is—full disclosure—a friend of mine, Charles E. Butler. He wrote The romance of Dracula: a personal journey of the Count on celluloid (2011). The article reveals that on January 20th, Facebook sent him the following message:

You may have noticed that you're no longer an admin of one of the Facebook Pages you used to manage. The Page was claimed by someone who proved that they're authorized to represent it.       

The Facebook Team
Short, sweet and sucky. Varney adds, 'He then went to visit the website and it was under another admin that he found later was Univerisal Studios, the owner of the orginal Dracula movies.' Now, I don't know what 'proof' they offered—and neither does Butler, because five emails to 'The Facebook Team' have gone unanswered.

Proof is the key here, because even though Universal made the first (official)1 Dracula movies after negotiations with Bram Stoker's widow, Florence Balcombe Stoker, they do not own Stoker's work or derivatives from it—unless, of course, it exploits their Dracula franchise, namely Dracula (1931), Dracula's daughter (1936), Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein (1948), etc. 

As respected Dracula scholar, David J. Skal notes, 'due to a loophole in copyright law, Dracula was – and always had been – in the public domain in the United States. Although Stoker had been issued a copyright certificate in 1897, and his widow a renewed certificate in the 1920s, Stoker had never complied with the requirement that two copies of the work be deposited with the American copyright office.'2 Therefore, Universal simply has no right to claim 'Dracula' from someone else.

Add your signature to a petition asking Universal to give Butler's page back. I've signed it; hope you do, too. Stand up for the 'little guy'!

1. F.W. Murnau's well-known Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) was an unauthorised rip-off.

2. DJ Skal, Hollywood gothic: the tangled web of Dracula from novel to stage to screen, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1990, p. 180.

Monday, 23 January 2012

On the feast front

I recently mentioned an upcoming book called Bram Stoker’s Dracula: the critical feast, an annotated reference of reviews and reactions, 1897-1920, which is compiled and edited by John Edgar Browning. John saw my post and shared further information, 'hot off the press', on the 18th via Facebook:
An Annotated Reference of Early Reviews and Reactions, 1897-1913

Compiled and Annotated, with an Introduction, by
John Edgar Browning

Bibliographical Afterword by
J. Gordon Melton

“Both scholars and devoted fans will rejoice in Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Critical Feast. This exhaustive compilation fulfills a long-standing need in the realm of Dracula studies and provides a valuable fresh perspective on the early popular and critical reception of Stoker’s masterpiece.”
—Dr. Margaret L. Carter, The Vampire in Literature: A Critical Bibliography and Different Blood: The Vampire as Alien

“This meticulously researched book puts to rest misconceptions long held by many Dracula scholars (myself included) about the reception of Stoker's novel. A superb achievement and a scholar’s delight!”
—Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Documentary Journey into Vampire Country and the Dracula Phenomenon and Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition

“Dryden said of The Canterbury Tales that “here is God’s plenty,” and one might say the same thing about Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Critical Feast. Browning has assembled an exhaustive collection of contemporary reviews of Dracula, reviews that put Stoker’s novel into context and demonstrate its almost instantaneous popularity. In addition, The Critical Feast includes copies of early covers and photographs of Stoker. This is a book that every student of Dracula will be proud to own…and pore over, a feast for the eyes and for the mind.”
—Dr. Carol A. Senf, Bram Stoker (Gothic Authors: Critical Revisions) and The Critical Response to Bram Stoker

There is a common misconception that the early critical reception of Bram Stoker’s famed vampire novel, Dracula (1897), was “mixed.” This reference book sets out to dispel this myth en force by offering the most exhaustive collection of early critical responses to Stoker’s novel ever assembled, including some 91 reviews and reactions as well as 36 different press notices, many of which have not been seen in print since they appeared over 100 years ago. What these early critical responses reveal about Dracula’s writing is that it was predominantly seen by early reviewers and responders to parallel, even supersede the Gothic horror works of such canonical writers as Mary Shelley, Ann Radcliffe, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Accompanying the critical responses are annotations and an introduction by the editor, a bibliographical afterword by J. Gordon Melton, 32 illustrations, and a bibliography.
Sounds good! Personally speaking, I find it interesting to read contemporary views on the novel, long before it morphed into the Gothic legend it's become. Back when it was more 'grounded'. Anyhoo, John also kindly sent me the book's cover, today. Here tis:

Nifty, ain't it? He also let me know that 'with any luck, I'll be contracting my 9th and 10th book in the next 30 days'! Considering the first book he edited appeared in 2009—Draculas, vampires, and other undead forms: essays on gender, race, and culture—that's a hell of an achievement. Let's not forget his 'critical edition' to Montague Summers' The vampire in Europe (1929) is also due sometime this year.

In this capacity, John reminds me of Peter Haining (1940–2007), another prolific guy with a knack for turning up obscure goodies.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

New Van Helsing flick?

It seems Sony Pictures is gearing up to make a flick tentatively titled Van Helsing and Dracula or Dracula and Van Helsing. Not the most inspiring titles.

Thankfully, it's not connected to the dreadful Van Helsing (2004) written and directed by Stephen Sommers, the poor man's Stephen Spielberg. 'Gabriel Van Helsing', indeed. Pfft.

You know what Van Helsing flick they should make? The proposed sequel to Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) they talked about years ago: 'A sequel, Van Helsing's Chronicles, will continue the story of the vampire hunter starring Anthony Hopkins.'1 Now that would be awesome. I wouldn't even care if they didn't bring back Count Oldman; to see scenery-chewing Hopkins and his band of merry men (yes, even Keanu) go up against more vamps would be fantastic. The 'love story' sucked, anyway.

DVD beaver

Sony Pictures Entertainment even owns it: 'Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment'. Maybe that's the flick they're proposing. I hope so.

So, bring back Coppola, Hopkins, hell, even James V. Hart. Dispense with the sub-par Blade/Underworld action theatrics of their imitators and let's have ourselves an operatic clusterfudge of a Van Helsing flick. Bring it on. Beat Dario Argento at his own game.

In the meantime, here's a great little DVD overview of the 1992 flick.Oh, and props to Vampire news for featuring the story.

1. JG Melton, The vampire book: the encyclopedia of the undead, Visible Ink Press, Detroit, 1994, p. 124.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Another dustjacket intact!

I previously discussed the rarity of finding Montague Summers' The vampire, his kith and kin (1928), dust jacket intact. This scarcity also applies to its companion tome, The vampire in Europe (1929). 

Last night, I stumbled across one Weiser Antiquarian Books' website. They're selling it for a cool US$350.00 (left).

It has a prestigious link, too: it's 'From the collection of English bibliophile and Aleister Crowley scholar Nicholas Bishop-Culpeper (1942-2011)'. A little more about him here.

As it happens, Summers knew Aleister Crowley (1875–1947). But the extent of their relationship varies depending who you ask. For instance, Rosemary Ellen Guiley states:
Their exact relationship remains unknown, for neither said much publicly about the other. Their friendship was well known, however. Summers privately confided his interest in Crowley, and collected a huge dossier of magazine and newspaper clippings about him. He told Lance Sieveking, a Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) hero and important figure with the BBC who knew Crowley, that everything about Crowley should be preserved because he was "one of the few original and really interesting men of our age."1
Meanwhile, in the same book, Gerard P. O'Sullivan notes 'they were not friends, but acquaintances, and dined together only twice'2, adding '[Charles Richard] Cammell, one of Aleister Crowley's several biographers, was the man who brought Summers and Crowley together to dine at his flat in 1938'.3

1. M Summers, The vampire, his kith and kin: a critical edition, ed. JE Browning, The Apocryphile Press, Berkeley, Calif., 2011, p. xxii. Introduction by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

2. ibid., p. xliv. Prologue by Gerard P. O'Sullivan.

3. ibid., p. lii.

End of an era

Feeling fictional
After an impressive 737 blog entries, Patricia's vampire notes is no more: '2011 had been a very intense year for me. Some positive happenings, some not so much, but altogether it has meant that I have had very little time for the PVN blog site.'

Its author, Patricia Altner, is best-known for her 1998 book, Vampire readings: an annotated bibliography. It expanded into Vampire readings: the online vampire bibliography, which, in turn, was followed by her blog.

She's to be commended for even attempting the nightmare task of cataloguing and keeping track of vast arrays of vampire fiction—especially with the boom in the past decade, alone. Her efforts will leave a big hole in the vampire blogging world. I hope readers wish her well on future endeavours. Hint, hint. 

In the meantime, here's an insight into her work, via an interview conducted with Vampire wire. It was held in conjunction with a competition they ran to give away a signed copy of Vampire readings

While I was Googling about for the image to add to this blog entry, little did I realise the stand-out turned out to be a picture in a blog entry—written by the same person who won Vampire wire's competition! Freaky.

Monday, 9 January 2012


As Niels points out, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker's passing. His death was largely overlooked at the time, due to the aftermath of a certain event. Bad timing, Bram!

Niels' post also reveals that Constable & Robinson—the modern incarnation of Dracula's original publisher, Archibald Constable and Company—will be releasing a facsimile edition of the 1897 novel. The pre-release prices for the hardback edition are, how should I put this—exorbitant. However, paperback copies will be far cheaper.

I'm sure the book will be invaluable to Dracula scholars, as an original text, rather than various abridged versions published over the years. But did you know Stoker's work was republished with edits made by the author, himself? That's the 1901 edition. Transylvania Press reprinted it in 1994. Unfortunately, it was a limited to a press run of 500 copies—all sold out.

Barring the original works, themselves—which sell for thousands—the upcoming facsimile and the 1901 abridged edition reprint would be perfect companions to Bram Stoker's notes for Dracula: a facsimile edition (2008).

Speaking of companions, John Edgar Browning has complied and annotated Bram Stoker’s Dracula: the critical feast, an annotated reference of reviews and reactions, 1897-1920 which will be published by The Apocryphile Press. So, stay tuned for that.

He's previously co-edited Draculas, vampires, and other undead forms: essays on gender, race, and culture (2009), edited The vampire, his kith and kin: a critical edition (2011) and co-wrote Dracula in visual media: film, television, comic book and electronic game appearances, 1921-2010 (2010). He even made contributions to S.T. Joshi's Encyclopedia of the vampire: the living dead in myth, legend, and popular culture (2010).

The guy's a machine. He's been involved in consistently good works, too, so if you see his name attached to something, chances are, it'll be a recommended purchase.

All up, 2012 looks like it'll be a great year for Dracula scholars. Let's not forget upcoming conferences like the University of Hull's Bram Stoker and Gothic Transformations on 12-14 April and Bram Stoker: life and writing, which will be held on 5-6 July at Stoker's old stomping ground, Trinity College, Dublin. You can read about other commemorative events via Stoker's estate website.
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