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And that is the question I find myself asking, as I realize the name Dracula is no longer associated with terror, but instead, is associated with the cliché of the somewhat chubby, somewhat pale guy, with the penguin suit, telling us he “Vants to suck our blood”. 

When did he become this corny?


Could it have been after George Hamilton’s rendition in Love at First Bite? No, it had to be before that.  How about Christopher Lee’s rendition?  No, he was pretty scary for the time.  I can’t truly pin down the moment Dracula became hackneyed, but the reason had to be television.  Reruns of Bella Lugosi's over-the-top rendition, have imbeded a satirical image of the prince of darkness in our psyche. We all know Count Chocula and the Count from Sesame Street are based on his interpretation of the blood sucker.

Whenever this tragic event happened, we don't know, but there is no doubt that it happened.

Dracula has lost his terror; he has lost his cool;his mojo.  Think about it; long ago, when the king of horror would fix his hypnotic gaze out into the audience in any theatre, people would cringe, girlfriends would hang on tightly to their boyfriends.  The reaction of today's audience? Well, an uncomfortable laugh and a feeling of embarrassment for his holiness of fear.
 

Even when the Dracula character is introduced into modern films like Van Helsing and Blade III, he is—ridiculous at best (especially in Blade III, mama mia!).  Let’s face the facts people, no matter how cool and shirtless you portray him he is not scary.


But let’s, for a moment, go back to the original Dracula; Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, the scary guy from the book, who lived in an incredibly old Romanian castle somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains. 

He is actually an extremely wicked character, as witnessed through the eyes of Jonathan Harker.  Harker’s experience is one that would give anyone nightmares.  He’s traveled through a strange land with strange people, all the way up into the mountains where hungry wild eyed wolves run about in the fog, only the glow of their red eyes showing.  And then he is introduced to the Count who is this scary looking weird old man who begins to do very strange things—yeah, scary.
 

And the scariest part of all this is that he has nowhere to go; no cell phone, no means of escape. We can hardly handle going to the grocery store without being 'connected', can you imagine going to Dracula's nefarious castle? That is scary stuff people. Lucky for Harker, Dracula falls in love with Harker's picture of Mina, believing her to be the reincarnation of his long dead wife, and so he lets him escape.

So, the question still remains; If Dracula was so fiendish and terrifying at one point, what changed? 

Well, my theory is that society changed—for the worse. 

No really, think about it.
 

We aren’t afraid of a guy climbing through our bedroom window unless he’s got a large knife in his hand and murder on his mind.  Slasher movies became the norm.  The boogie man was no longer an imaginary monster, no, he became our next door neighbor, our English teacher, our girlfriend, our boyfriend, our brother, our sister, our mother, our father, our government, and our best friend.
 

And then we have ghosts and demons; how scary are they?  Very scary.  These are beings with powers beyond our understanding and control, which can at times, manipulate our actions and thoughts. When we are no longer in control, is when we are most scared.  The boogie man is no longer make believe. Ghost Hunters everywhere have recorded their voices and footsteps.  We've even seen them move objects from one room to the next, right on television, without special effects help.

No, alas, poor Dracula is small beans compared to these bloodcurdling menaces from the beyond.

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