The Romance of Dracula by Charles E. Butler is, in his own words, “a personal journey of the Count on celluloid.” I think that is a perfect way to describe this book, which is part film critique, part essay, and part personal reminiscence. Like Mr. Butler, I love the vampire film genre as well as the literary, which is further explored in the upcoming sequel to Romance called Vampires Everywhere: The Rise of the Movie Undead, so this was a book that I felt I was going to enjoy before I started reading it.
I was not disappointed.
The writing is casual and conversational, which might disguise the enormous amount of work and research that has clearly been put into this effort. The basic structure is a review of each of the major film versions of Count Dracula, each given its own chapter, with an epilogue at the end that discusses many of the films, mini-series, and Dracula-influenced films that did not warrant chapters of their own. Each Dracula from Max Schreck to Marc Warren gets a full synopsis of their film followed by an in-depth review (in the case of the Christopher Lee series, Horror of Dracula is summarized in full with the sequels being discussed in the review section) and some excellent portrait work by Mr. Butler himself. Both sections make for excellent reading whether you’ve seen the version being discussed or not. Naturally, I didn’t always agree with Mr. Butler’s evaluations and opinions, but I always understood why he felt as he did and could tell that his judgments had been weighed and considered before being committed to paper. Part of the fun of a book like this is that it’s not a dry textbook attempting to objectively quantify these films by the standards of world cinema. This is a book by a vampire fan that is intended to be read by vampire fans. Certainly we’re going to disagree, but it’s wonderful to be given the opportunity to have the discussion in the first place!
Based on what The Romance of Dracula has as its stated purpose, I think Mr. Butler succeeds here tremendously. It is indeed a personal journey with the Count, but it’s a journey that many others like him have taken before or since. Even for old “fang-boys” like me, this book presented material that was new and exciting as well as unearthing some fond memories of my own experiences with the Count. I highly recommend it for anyone with more than a passing interest in vampire films or Stoker’s famous vampire in particular!
Charles E Butler was born and raised in the Yorkshire town of Leeds in the UK. He is a writer, actor and artist of independent comic books. He quickly developed a taste for the fantastic through comicbooks and the movies. His own short films under his Su asti banner are submitted to festivals and have been viewed as far afield as New Orleans. He has written vampire essays for various sites on the Internet and his special tribute Dracula and Werewolf pages can be found on Facebook. The Romance of Dracula is his first book and a sequel, Vampires Everywhere, The Rise of the Movie UnDead is now available.