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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Charles E. Butler tells about his new release, The Romance of Dracula; a personal journey of the Count on celluloid

Today on Illusions of Intimacy, I'm talking to Charles E. Butler about his new release, The Romance of Dracula; a personal journey of the Count on celluloid.

Welcome, Charles! Please tell me about your new book release, The Romance of Dracula; a personal journey of the Count on celluloid.

CEB: It’s all in the title. A personal recollection of the major 14 adaptations of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.

What inspired you to write this book?

CEB: I have read – devoured would be a better word – many great review books on cinema in general. The vampire/horror genres being my favourites. But I get depressed if I read a wrong fact or hear a reviewer misidentify an actor in this-or-that movie. In July 2007, I read a review book on a major horror film studio. The blurb had told me that this reviewer/author had been specially comissioned to write the work. When I found no less than three obvious mistakes in his research I threw it down in disgust. I looked at my own film collection and simply realised, “I could do that!” So, taking the bit in my teeth, I began by rewatching all the major adaptations of Dracula, from Max Shreck to Marc Warren. I found myself literally noting every scene as they happened. When the viewing was over, I simply typed up a raw review. The original draft took just under six weeks between August and September of 2007. I never realised the fun that I would have doing it. When it was finished, I found that I’d written a book that I wanted to read. One that I could dip in and out of at my leisure. I never thought about publishing it at all.

Of all the Dracula films, which is your favorite and why?

CEB: Nosferatu (1922), Without a doubt. Because FW Murnau understood the reality of imagined fear. His film mirrors his times and plays on Stoker’s original theme of invasion. To many people, it is laughable now, but imagine for a moment, if you were living in the time of the Nazi uprising? Murnau – and many of the great expressionists; Leni, Lang etc – knew this fear firsthand and caught the terror in their films while it was white hot. A monster is coming and he’s going to leave a monumental disaster in his wake…and he can’t be stopped! Nosferatu is the epitome of those fears and was worked on constantly by Murnau right up until the director’s death.

Which do you prefer, the classic retelling of the Dracula legend or more historical tales such as Dark Prince? Why?

CEB: I don’t cover this topic in my book as much as I should have, really. Stoker had changed his vampire’s residence from Styria – the home of Count Karnstein – to Transylvania – the home of Prince Vlad Tepesh III. As Count Wampyr, in Styria, he became Count Dracula-instead of Prince Dracula-in Transylvania. The author also bowdlerised the Impaler’s history to give the monster a cruel past. Film makers have constantly been trying to fuse the two characters together since 1972, when Raymond T McNally and Radu Florescu brought out their biography of Vlad in In Search of Dracula. I tend to get a little depressed over these straight adaptations, or studios …”telling the story as Stoker wrote it!”, because it all becomes lost in apocryphal facts and a lot of heavy breathing. I like Dracula to stay in the comfortable confines of the B movie. A lot of fun and he can be as dastardly as I believe that Stoker intended him to be. The best fusion movie is Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1973), with Jack Palance. Only the ridiculous concept of the lost love motif lets it down.

Apart from the legend of Dracula, what general vampire movies appeal to you?

CEB: I watch all vampire movies, no matter how bad, because there is always…something. I like the way in which the characters behave after they have been turned. It is something deep in all of us. The prospect of being able to cut loose without fear or remorse. To do whatever you like. Sleep all day, party all night, it’s great to be a vampire! My own favourites include; Fright Night, The Lost Boys, From Dusk till Dawn. All these films play in the aforementioned B movie category. They are a lot of fun and we know that the vampire is going to get his in the end. We leave the cinema without feeling maudlin or depressed. Or, as in the case of most films today, cheated.

What future works can we look forward to reading from you?

CEB: The Romance of Dracula wasn’t originally intended for publication. But I had already thought about two more review books on Vampire movies and one on the Werewolf genre. I also have ideas concerning a couple of interesting screenplays. So watch this space.

Synopsis: Charles E. Butler is looking for reviews for his new Ebook- The Romance of Dracula. It is a series of essays on the key film versions of Dracula, including NOSFERATU, DRACULA (1931) and its Spanish version, Hammer's 1958 DRACULA(AKA Horror of Dracula in the US), COUNT DRACULA (El Conde Dracula, 1970), the 1973 DAN CURTIS' DRACULA, and more.

Background info: I'm a local writer, actor, artist in the yorkshire area of the UK. I write reviews for Joseph O'Donnell's The Eerie Digest online magazine in Hollywood and general interviews when required for the Vampirefilm Festivals run by ReelEnergy. I also dabble in illustrating indie comicbooks and sometimes attend conventions in the UK.

Links to Charles and his book:

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Amazon purchase link

6 comments:

Bertena Varney said...

Thank you
Marsha for the wonderful blog.
This really is a unique and interesting read on the Dracula movies.
Does anyone have any questions?

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks, Bertena. It is a fascinating topic.

Zahir Blue said...

Interesting. I'm more intrigued to read this specific POV (although who is Count Karnstein?).

Bitten Twice said...

Excellent interview. I can't wait to read it.

Donna Anderson said...

Great interview and what an interesting way to come up with a book. 'Lost Boys' is one of my favorites, too, and for the same reason - it's fun and you know the Vamp is going to get it in the end. I'm more a fan of the vampire as a monster and something to be feared than I am the newer works that portray him as a romantic interest. Thanks for this. He sounds like someone I'd like to meet someday.

donwantstobesedated13 said...

Great interview, Charles! I'm looking forward to reading your book. Good luck on your tour!