It took Bram Stoker piles of notes, tens of charts, and an unspecified number of annotations to complete "Dracula", but reception to the novel would surprise fans of vampire literature. According to Victorian readers, Jonathan Harker's excursion into Transylvania wasn't different from Allan Quatermain's African adventures. In other words, the blood-sucking Dracula could be placed along the apex predators of recent time. Some Victorian readers sensed the brilliance behind the book, though. It was a novel, but rather a compilation of letters, diary entries, and newspaper reports. The Irish author was the only one who pulled such a feat.
"Dracula" was published on May 26, 1897, which wasn't a life-changing turn for Stoker. He remained a pauper until his dying days, unable to witness how cinema transformed his book into an influential piece of writing. He had no idea that Valdimar Ásmundsson serialized his book. "Powers of Darkness" (1900) could be seen as an Icelandic counterpart of Stoker's masterpiece, and not a few suspected that Ásmundsson used an early draft of "Dracula" as his reference. Was there a communication between the two? It would be hard to prove. Then again, the strange power of "Dracula" would be known to those who were more than regular readers. "Powers" featured very long walks, as well as frequent references to scantily-clad women. There wasn't any mention of Van Helsing and his bromantic moments with Lucy Westenra's suitors, not even the hellish inversion of communion. After all, the freezing temperature would be good enough for a metaphor. This could lead to an intriguing theory. There could be other variations of "Dracula".
As far as cinema would be concerned, there were many adaptations of Bram Stoker's opus. Anyone could lose count if the others were included in the list. These were liberties, an outcome of screenwriters letting their imagination carried them to places that they shouldn't go. Let's have a look at the most interesting set:
Vampyr (1932) by Carl Theodor Dreyer. The running time was 73 minutes, yet it was a deliberately-paced film. Furthermore, Dreyer's black-and-white images were ambiguous, to say the least. It influenced initial reception, which was mixed to poor. Dreyer could console himself with the fact that Stoker experienced the same thing. The pace would be similar to a hypnotic experience while the ambiguous scenes should force viewers out of their comfort zone. Fear would be the first reaction in an unfamiliar place. Check out the dream sequence.
The Cloak (1971) by Peter Duffell. An actor was about to shoot a vampire film and decided to buy a black cloak from a peculiar shop not far from the location of the shooting. He had no idea that the cloak had strange powers, but his temperamental nature could have made him realized it sooner. It was set in an English countryside, yet Duffell injected campy elements into this bizarre tale. It must not be taken seriously, but curiosity would prompt our man to do otherwise. Anyone could relate to it.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) by Francis Ford Coppola. If Stoker were around, then he would love Coppola's faithful rendition of his book. The Gothic elements were hard to pass up. (You would be color blind if you haven't noticed the dominantly red setting.) Moreover, the "Godfather" director injected foreign influences. (Check out Dracula's kimono-inspired robe.) After all, Lafcadio Hearn lived in Japan. He chose to pen about the supernatural from the Far East and found out that it more or less the same as his place of origin.