Science fiction and fantasy novelist Philip Jose Farmer (1918-2009) left behind a fair number of popular works when he passed, but one project he began continues to this day–with no end in sight. He posited many books, plays, stories and films share the same reality. In other words Tarzan and James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlett Pimpernel, Fu Manchu as well as Solomon Kane–all are (or can been seen as) part of the same reality.
Here was an idea that had legs!
Scholars of Farmer’s theories continue to carry forth this idea with dizzying abandon (did you know Flash Gordon and Commissioner Gordon of Batman fame were related?) but according to set rules. One of the most obvious is through crossovers of one kind or another. In a novel of the Man From U.N.C.L.E series for example the secret agents came across a tree in a small town in Maine. There, carved many years ago, were the words “Barnabas Loves Josette.” Voila! Dark Shadows shares the same reality.
Now we turn to MONSTAAH, i.e. Maximum Observation and/or Nullification of Supernatural Terrors Autonomous Agents’ Headquarters. Here scholars pursue Farmer’s theories and research, but with a specific aim. Namely, monsters. Werewolves, demons, the convoluted history of the house of Frankenstein–and of course vampires. Especially Dracula. The Prince of Darkness. Lord of the Undead. The Impaler himself. Herein experts dedicated to unearthing the full truth about this threat to humanity itself compiled a detailed history. Part of this accounts for an abiding question about the Vampire King. Which of the many adventures and stories in which he features can be said to be true?
The answer–almost all of them!
Perhaps you’ve seen the motion picture The Seven Golden Vampires? In it, Dracula (who, as noted by Stoker studied occult lore at the scholomance) turned a Chinese supplicant into a vampire who contained somehow the essence of Dracula himself. Consider, though, how insanely useful such an ability might prove! Exactly that insight led Prof. Chuck Loridans (founder of MONSTAAH) to speculate that the Impaler had been creating soul clones of himself for centuries! Oh, not all proved successful. Few ended up with anywhere near the raw power of Dracula Prime. A few even proved impossible to control (such as a certain French nobleman who later fictionalized his life story to a novelist). But others became famous in their own right, staining history with blood pursuing the goals of their Master–whom they believe themselves to be!
Arguably the most famous of these soul clones is Lejos, a Hungarian nobleman who has used many an alias in his time including Armand Tesla (Return of the Vampire) and whose progeny include Marya Zeleska (Dracula’s Daughter) and a gypsy tragically cursed with
lycanthropy (The Wolf Man). He may have been destroyed leaving behind a son, Edgar, and a daughter named Nadja.
Denrom is nearly as famous, although he never seems to have achieved the full range of powers of his progenitor. He never could transform into bat, wolf or mist, for example.
But a very powerful indeed proved Mordante, foe across the years to the benevolent undead Vampirella. This soul clone for a time became allied to the Lovecraftian entity Yog-Soggoth (using the alias CHAOS) but in the early 20th century became vital to what has been dubbed the Dracula Revenge Squad. Quite simply, Dracula Prime never forgot or forgave the families that wrecked his plans on taking over England. Circa 1907 a groups of adventurers traveled to Transylvania and explored what they believed to be a long-deserted castle. Alas, they found it the lair of Mordante, who not only fed upon them but succeeded in transforming the group into soul clones of himself! In 1909 they were each dispatched to seek vengeance against the Harkers, the Sewards and the Holmwoods. The details of their efforts were later dramatized, with details altered to make each seem more like a retelling of Stoker’s novel–names changed, locations altered, etc. All save one were destroyed but only after wrecking havoc with the lives of those innocents they encountered. The survivor, known as Dracula-Pan (he had been an evil occult expert with a previous exploit recorded in The Great God Pan) later figured in the film Dracula in Istanbul as well as the novel The Historian. Each of the other members of the squad managed to turn at least one victim into a vampire before being dispatched–sadly, one of those victims a young lady of the Van Helsing family (this would be Balderson).
Still the files at MONSTAAH do record some happy, even surprising endings among the soul clones. Most happy, and perhaps most strange, would be the creature known as Grimpod. In life his family enjoyed wealth and status (although they later lost this, resulting in a descendant becoming a professional criminal with the alias of The Penguin) but he himself proved incompetent when it came to Impaler’s evil schemes. Let go to his own devices, Grimpod eventually had a daughter named Lilith (aka Lilly) whom Dracula Prime hoped to use, ensnaring (he hoped) the latest member of the Frankenstein family to create an army of monsters. Frederick Frankenstein did make a Creature, but befriended his “child” and in the end this being took the name “Herman” and married Grimpod’s daughter. The three adopted a young boy who’d been bitten by a werewolf then settled down to live a life of suburban happiness, with an agent of MONSTAAH living among them to monitor their efforts at normalcy.
At last report they were all living happily ever after.
In truth, though, the insidious Dracula Prime continues as well, with many soul clones at his disposal and continuing his plots. A full explanation of what has been learned about his history over the centuries await your perusal at the MONSTAAH website (where further research continues).