Staff Picks Genre Study - Renfield: A Further Telling of the Dracula Story in Film

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Count Dracula and the undead vampire have been a part of popular culture for all of living memory. With roots going back to 1720s Germany, the vampire has sunk its teeth deep into western literature and cinema. One of the first appearances was Thalaba the Destroyer, an 1801 work by English author Robert Southey. It was in 1847 that Varney the Vampire first portrayed the monster as coming in through a window and attacking the young maiden while she slept. Bram Stoker gave us the most enduring version of the vampire in his 1897 masterpiece Dracula. Here we have the Transylvanian Count complete with coffin, seductive charm, and eventual death by a stake through the heart. Here too is born the vampire hunter Van Helsing. All of these components would later be paralleled in Stephen King’s early work Salem’s Lot. Over the years we have seen more vampires which continue the Bram Stoker vision of the undead Count. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as the forever young characters Lestat and Louis displayed the same charm Bela Lugosi did when he created the look of the vampire decades before. Different portrayals of vampire have included I Am Legend, most recently a film version with Will Smith, as well as the admirable “vegetarian” vampires in the Twilight series who hunt animals rather than their fellow humans. The dark prince was even portrayed lightheartedly by Leslie Nielsen in the comedy Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Renfield, set for release to theaters in April, is to be the story of Dracula’s devoted servant who begins to wonder if there is something better than the hope of immortality from continuing to serve his master. With Nicholas Cage as Dracula and Nicholas Hoult as Renfield, it is a welcome addition to the vampire legend.

Merrick: A Novel by Anne Rice

Almost immortal vampire David Talbot, having gone to Merrick to plead with her to raise the ghost of the dead vampire child Claudia thus easing the guilt of his friend and fellow vampire Louis, instead finds himself in the grip of an obsession with the powerful witch.

Memnoch the Devil: The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

He is brought into direct confrontation with both God and the Devil, and into the land of Death. We are in New York. The city is blanketed in snow. Through the whiteness Lestat is searching for Dora, the beautiful and charismatic daughter of a drug lord, the woman who arouses Lestat's tenderness as no mortal ever has. While torn between his vampire passions and his overwhelming love for Dora, Lestat is confronted by the most dangerous of adversaries he has yet known. He is snatched from the world itself by the mysterious Memnoch, who claims to be the Devil. He is invited to be a witness at the Creation. He is taken like the ancient prophets into the heavenly realm and is ushered into Purgatory. He must decide if he can believe in the Devil or in God. And finally, he must decide which, if either, he will serve.

The Queen of The Damned by Anne Rice

Akasha, the queen of the damned, who has risen from a six-thousand-year sleep to let loose the powers of the night. Akasha has a marvelously devious plan to “save” mankind and destroy the vampire Lestat.

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Once an aristocrat in the heady days of pre-revolutionary France, now a rock star in the demonic, shimmering 1980s, he rushes through the centuries in search of others like him, seeking answers to the mystery of his eternal, terrifying existence.

Interview with The Vampire by Anne Rice

Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly sensual, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force--a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

The population of the entire world has been obliterated by a pandemic of vampire bacteria. Yet somehow, Robert Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of what happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him nightly. As months of scavenging and hiding turn to years marked by depression and alcoholism, Robert spends his days hunting his tormentors and researching the cause of their affliction. But the more he discovers about the vampires around him, the more he sees the unsettling truth of who is—and who is not—a monster.

Blood Groove by Alex Bledsoe

When centuries-old vampire Baron Rudolfo Zginski was staked in Wales in 1915, the last thing he expected was to reawaken in Memphis, Tennessee, sixty years later. Reborn into a new world of simmering racial tensions, the cunning nosferatu realizes he must adapt quickly if he is to survive. Finding willing victims is easy, as Zginski possesses all the powers of the undead, including the ability to sexually enslave anyone he chooses. Hoping to learn how his kind copes with this bizarre new era, Zginski tracks down a nest of teenage vampires. But these young vampires have little knowledge of their true nature, having learned most of what they know from movies like Blacula. Forming an uneasy alliance with the young vampires, Zginski begins to teach them the truth about their powers. They must learn quickly, for there's a new drug on the street-a drug created to specifically target and destroy vampires. 

Blood Trail by Tanya Huff

P.I. Vicki Nelson and 450-year-old vampire Henry Fitzroy--once again join forces to solve a crime of supernatural proportions in modern-day Canada. As silver bullets take their toll, Vicki and Henry fear they won't be able to stop a crazed killer.

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Zach Barrows is an ambitious young White House staffer whose career takes an unexpected turn when he's partnered with Nathaniel Cade, a secret agent sworn to protect the President. But Cade is no ordinary civil servant. Bound by a special blood oath, he is a vampire. Cade battles nightmares before they can break into the daylight world of the American dream, enemies far stranger-and far more dangerous-than civilians have ever imagined.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot in the hopes that living in an old mansion, long the subject of town lore, will help him cast out his own devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods and only one comes out alive, Mears begins to realize that there may be something sinister at work and that his hometown is under siege by forces of darkness far beyond his control.

A Coven of Vampires by Brian Lumley

A Coven of Vampires, featuring a collection of 13 classic vampire tales: What Dark God?, Back Row, The Strange Years, The Kiss of the Lamia, Recognition, The Thief Immortal, Necros, The Thing From the Blasted Heath, Uzzi, Haggopian, The Picknickers, Zack Phalanx is Vlad the Impaler, and The House of the Temple.

Always the Vampire by Nancy Haddock

Cesca Marinelli has been slacking in her duties as a vampire princess, but she will be the best maid of honour ever for Maggie's Victorian wedding. However, when her mostly human honey, Saber, falls ill due to a magical construct called the Void, she knows she'll have to go beyond the call of a bridesmaid's duty. The Void is affecting every supernatural being in Cesca's afterlife, including her shapeshifter ex, Triton. To counter the Void's reign of terror, Cesca must fully summon her vampire powers - which may lead to her own doom.

The Mammoth Book of Vampires by Stephen Jones

From the classic stories of Edith Wharton, Edith Nesbit, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon to modern incarnations by such acclaimed writers as Poppy Z. Brite, Nancy Kilpatrick, Tanith Lee, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Angela Slatter, these blood-drinkers and soul-stealers range from the sexual to the sanguinary, from the tormented Good to the unspeakably Evil. Among those memorable Children of the Night you will encounter are Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Byronic vampire Saint-Germain, Nancy A. Collins' undead heroine Sonja Blue, Tanya Huff's vampiric detective Vicki Nelson, and Freda Warrington's age-old lovers Karl and Charlotte. Nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the International Horror Guild Award, and now revised and updated, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women fulfils the bloodlust of the somnambulist horror fan, delivering the ultimate bite.

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