Saturday, October 4, 2014


Join me as I celebrate Halloween this month by taking a look at some spooky stuff!

"What evil things fill the night sky over musty towers of Count Dracula's castle? Too terrifying to believe!" So promises the cover of Dell's 1962 "Dracula". The cover evokes Universal's 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi, it even includes a copyright for Universal Pictures. That's what originally attracted me to this book years ago. As I mentioned in a post last year, the very first horror movie I saw was "Dracula", so the film and character always had a special place in my heart. But that cover is a little misleading...this story isn't Bram Stoker's or Universal's. It's something unique...called "The Vampire's Curse"

Sir Basil Shawcross speeds through a rainy London in his Bentley on his way to see Professor Janos Tesla. Shawcross, a physician, needs the knowledge of Tesla, a professor of literature and folklore. He needs to know about...vampires! Tesla tells him all he knows, and offers a book, "The Documented History of Vampirism". All the while, Shawcross tells him, politely, that he doesn't believe and there is a logical explanation for these things.

 So why did he drive through a storm and ask for the info? He's in denial. His own son was recently reported Transylvania! 

Before his death though, Basil's son Bruce had sent him several letters about mysterious goings on, including a mysterious girl he met in a local cemetery. 

A girl named Irina that no one else in the village had ever heard of, and her fear of mirrors. He wrote his father about the nightmares that had plagued him since he met her, and a growing weakness that had fallen over him as well. The whole time Tesla basically says "Yep...she's a vampire!" but Basil is still not convinced. He's determined to get to the bottom of this and go to Transylvania to recover his son's body. Tesla doesn't want his friend going alone though, and offers to join him, but not before stopping by his private greenhouse and stocking up on the essentials.

Once in Transylvania they meet up with Bela the local innkeeper. Bela reluctantly confirms Tesla's belief that Bruce Shawcross was the victim of a vampire! He also lets them know that the body is missing! They head off to see the mayor, who had sent the telegram informing Sir Basil of his son's death, but the mayor is no help. With night approaching they head back to the inn where Basil insists on spending the night in the room his son had slept in. He finds a painting of Irina, that seems to transform before his eyes, and herbs hung by the window that he throws away.

Definitely a skeptic, and obviously not believing his friend, he's not even phased when, in the middle of the night, he is visited by his "dead" son. Bruce urges his father to leave the inn and come with him...and like an idiot, or a desperate father, he follows. 

Lucky for him so does Tesla, because Sir Basil finds himself in the back of a coach led by black horses, on the way to see Irina's uncle...Count Dracula! Dracula greets his guests with some classic lines ("I am Dracula." and "I never") before Tesla crashes the party! 

Realizing their cover is blown, Dracula and company set their minds on one thing...blood! Sir Basil's heart gives out, probably fear and shock over his own son wanting to kill him, but Tesla came prepared! He fends the fiends off with wolfsbane and then tosses a cloud of powdered garlic at them. 

The vampires scatter, but Basil is a goner. Tesla carries his body back to the village, where he swears to fulfill a rid the world of vampires forever!

The only credit I was able to turn up is the artist, Max Elkan, so I'm not sure who was responsible for this interesting take on the story. I liked that it wasn't a simple rehash of Stoker's book or Universal's film...but I was a little disappointed that in a book called "Dracula", the title character only appears on 3 pages of an ad free 32 page story! It's also worth noting that it took Dell nearly 4 years to publish the second issue...and then, Dracula was turned into a superhero? Well...that may be something to look at for a future Halloween.

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