Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dracula and Vampires and Their Christian Themes

The same friendly contest that spurred Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein inspired Byron to try his hand at a vampire story. His friend John Polidori took those attempts and created the vampire genre of literature. Years later, Bram Stoker wrote the vampire novel most influential to horror, and film as well. More movies have been made about Dracula than any other fictional character, save Sherlock Holmes.

Dracula and vampires address just as many if not more moral and religious themes as Frankenstein. However, where Frankenstein focuses on humanity’s capacity for evil, the vampire myth addresses the nature of evil itself. In vampire stories evil is real. It will destroy you and it is terrifying. And yet the evil in vampire stories is enticing and appealing. Much in the same way evil can be in real life. Most vampire stories focus on the issues of recognizing evil, what protection there is against it, and how to defeat it.

Over the years, a fascinating evolution has occurred in the vampire myth that is traceable by viewing the movies released over the years. The myth began as explicitly religious in nature. Vampires were pure evil and the forces of good were always religious, Christian even. Over time the idea of good and evil has become clouded and there are a lot of shades of grey and God is rarely a part of the story.

One theme central to the novel Dracula that has rarely made it into film is the “community of believers.” Where Dracula himself is rarely seen in the novel, but more of an “off screen” presence, the vampire hunters are the main characters. They represent a sort of church; a group of people bound together by their belief that the world rejects.

This genre and its themes are too extensive to cover in a 300 word blog entry. In fact, Nonmodern has an 18-20 chapter book outline with a few sample chapters if there are any publishing houses crazy enough to try to market it. Who would read it? The Christians would reject the horror elements, and the horror fans would scoff at the Christian interpretation of those elements.

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