Archive for the ‘Dracula’ Category

DRACULA’S GAY SHAME: Historian Finds Skeleton in Vlad’s Closet.   Leave a comment

HERO or HOMOPHOBE? Prince Vlad, AKA Dracula, had mixed record on human rights.

By C. Michael Forsyth

Vlad the Impaler, better known as Dracula, took a shameful secret to his grave. He murdered his own kid brother because he was gay!

“Contrary to popular belief, the real-life Dracula was not a vampire,” reveals Romanian historian Eugen Croitoru. “Quite the opposite, the 15th century warlord was one of history’s most prolific vampire slayers — impaling as many as 100,000 of the undead on wooden stakes during his reign.

“His younger brother Radu WAS, however a vampire, and Vlad drove a stake through his heart with his own hands. Not because Radu drank blood — but rather because he was a homosexual.”

GENTLE Radu the Handsome was easily seduced into vampirism.

Prince Vlad III of Wallachia, upon whom author Bram Stoker based the aristocratic bloodsucker of his novel Dracula, is regarded as a national hero by Romanian historians.

That’s because he singlehandedly repelled the Ottoman Empire’s invasion of their homeland and thus prevented the Muslim Turks from overrunning Europe. The fact that the invading Turkish army was infested with vampires is left out of most accounts.

“Just as Australian historians play down the country’s origins as a penal colony, most Romanian historians are embarrassed to talk about vampirism,” explains Croitoru. “But trying to keep vampires out of the Vlad story is like trying to tell the story of Native Americans without bringing up buffaloes.”

Prince Vlad is a national hero in Romania.

Vlad III was born in Transylvania, a region adjacent to Wallachia in what is now Romania, in 1431. His moniker Dracula meant “son of the Dragon.” While he had two older half-brothers, he was closest to his sweet and gentle kid brother, aptly named Radu the Handsome.

“Vlad and Radu were inseparable,” recounts Croitoru. “They spent their early years playing ‘soldier’ and other games together in their mother’s home. But when the boys were in their early teens, their father agreed to send them as hostages to the Ottoman court, to keep peace with the Sultan.”

The Sultan had promised the young princes would not be harmed, but soon after they arrived, he demanded that they renounce their Christian faith and drink vampire blood.

“Vlad defiantly refused. He was tossed in an underground dungeon where he was whipped and beaten daily,” says Croitoru. “But, despite years of torture, he never cracked.

“His softer, younger brother Radu didn’t have the strength to resist. He eventually knuckled under and converted to Islam. He also allowed himself to be bitten and to drink the blood of the Sultan’s son Mehmed II, who, according to the historical record, was a vampire.

“Vlad was horrified and heartbroken when guards gleefully told him that his brother had not only become a Muslim but a vampire as well.

“But if he had known the full story, he would have been even more mortified. Mehmed was gay, and Radu’s pretty face and pale skin caught his eye. He seduced Radu, converting him into a homosexual too.”

Vlad managed to get free, but Radu — now a full-fledged vampire — chose to remain behind. He became a member of the Ottoman court and a fawning minion of his vampire “sire” Mehmed II. When Mehmed’s father died and he was crowned the new Sultan, he put his sweetheart Radu in charge of a battalion made up largely of fearsome undead troops.

After Vlad’s father and his older brothers were killed by the enemy, Vlad inherited the throne of Wallachia and took a bride — only to learn that the Mehmed II had dispatched Radu and his unholy army of darkness to destroy him.

“Radu did his master’s bidding without mercy,” says Croitoru. “When Vlad was away fighting, Radu’s battalion besieged his castle. Vlad’s wife learned that she was to about be taken prisoner and forcibly vampirized.

“She bravely hurled herself from the tower into the Argeș River, declaring that she would rather ‘rot and be eaten by the fish’ than join the ranks of the undead. When Vlad later learned his own brother was responsible, he was devastated — yet knew that as a victim of vampirism himself, Radu was not truly to blame.”

GAY vampire Sultan Mehmed II aimed to conquer Eastern Europe.

With immensely strong and hard-to-kill vampires now making up an estimated one-third of his forces, Mehmed II became unstoppable. After capturing Constantinople in 1453, his armies marched through the Balkans, killing or converting all those who stood in his way. His goal was to drive out Christianity and turn all of Europe into a bastion of evil.

But Vlad had other ideas.

“He transformed Wallachia’s joke of an army into a formidable fighting force, and created a militia of peasants to fend off the invaders,” says Croitoru. “Though vastly outnumbered, he mounted a fierce guerilla campaign against the Turks.”

The Sultan dispatched an army 12,000 men strong to conquer Wallachia, led by a high-ranking vampire lord named Hamza Pasha.

“When the troops were marching through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad staged an ambush. The Wallachians showed no mercy. The vampires were all caught and impaled on wooden stakes, with their general Hamza Pasha impaled on the highest stake as a message to the Sultan.”

VAMPIRE SLAYER Vlad the Impaler earns his nickname as he oversees the mass execution of hundreds of captured Turkish blood drinkers.

Vlad went on the offensive, annihilating enemy troops from Serbia to the Black Sea. He constantly organized small surprise attacks on the Turks, using bold tricks not unlike those later employed by America’s Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox.

“Disguising themselves in the traditional garb of Turkish vampire warriors, he and his men infiltrated enemy encampments and used stakes to dispatch scores of Turks at a time,” the historian says.

“He even struck at night — an unprecedented strategy when facing this kind of enemy. With the element of surprise on his side, the famous Night Attack succeeded. He was able slaughter hundreds of vampires before they could even draw their weapons.”

THE EVIL EMPIRE: Turkish invasion swept over Eastern Europe, bringing with it the scourge of vampirism.

Furious, in the spring of 1462, the Sultan raised an army of 90,000 troops and personally led them toward Wallachia.

“When the Sultan and his troops crossed the Danube, they found the bank lined with the corpses of 20,000 vampires impaled on 14-foot-stakes. They were so horrified that they turned tail in terror and returned to Constantinople,” says Croitoru.

“Basically, their reaction was, ‘Yes, we know these are the bloody Middle Ages, but this mother f_____ is crazy!’ ”

Enraged at being thwarted and humiliated by Vlad time after time, the Sultan gave Radu a huge army with marching orders to take down his brother once and for all. After a grueling battle, Radu and his better-equipped forces finally captured Poenari Castle, Vlad’s famed mountain lair. The Sultan appointed his loyal boytoy Radu the Handsome the new ruler of Wallachia. And the deposed Vlad soon found himself imprisoned in a dungeon — again.

“For more than a decade, Vlad languished in a prison cell as a steady stream of henchmen (and lovely henchwomen) sent by his brother tried — again — to convert the stubborn prince to vampirism,” says Croitoru. “Sometimes he would be left in a cell for weeks at a time with no food and only a tempting goblet of blood on his table. But always the strong-willed Vlad resisted.

“Finally, one stormy night in 1475, Radu arranged to meet his brother in secret face to face, hoping to convince him that joining him on the dark side was his only hope.”

Although 40 years old by this time, Radu still looked like a handsome lad in his teens, his skin smooth and his “lips as full as any woman’s” in the words of a Hungarian account dug up by the researcher in 2009.

“Vlad bitterly demanded to know why his beloved brother could have abandoned the Christian faith and taken up arms against his own people,” says Croitoru. “Hoping for understanding, Radu confessed that he had acted out of love for Mehmed II and that they were lovers.

“Vlad was infuriated. He could forgive his brother for becoming a Muslim and a vampire, yes, for killing his wife, yes, and for usurping his throne, yes — but not for submitting sexually to another man. To a deeply religious Orthodox Christian like Vlad, such an act was an abominable sin.”

Although he was unarmed at the sit-down, Vlad picked up a heavy wooden chair and smashed it over Radu’s head. Then, consumed with rage, he took a broken chair leg and rammed the sharp tip through his brother’s heart.

With his brother dead, Vlad retook the throne of Wallachia on November 26, 1476. His hatred and loathing of the enemy that had turned his kid brother into a gay vampire now drove him to the brink of insanity.

NO MORE MR. NICE GUY. Vlad’s “enhanced” impaling technique was a real pain in the keister.

“Instead of traditional chest-staking, captured undead soldiers were now lowered naked onto a huge stake described as ‘thick as a burly man’s arm,’ and deliberately dull at the tip so that death would come slowly,” Croitoru explains.

“The vampire’s weight would cause the victim to slowly sink onto the immense stake as it entered the anus, ripped its way inch by inch through the organs until, mercifully, it penetrated the vampire’s heart.

“It was a very undignified and excruciating death — which was exactly what Vlad intended. He was sending a message to Sultan Mehmed II, the man who had both vampirized his younger brother and introduced him to sodomy.”

Vlad’s relentless, take-no-prisoners campaign worked like a charm. Mehmed II eventually withdrew from the Balkans, his dreams of glory and world domination crushed. His existence remains today only an interesting historical footnote.

Sadly, Vlad lived for only another year before he died, a grief and guilt-ridden man who never got over the fate of the young brother he once so loved.

“Prince Vlad is rightly remembered as a valiant patriot and one of history’s greatest vampire killers,” observes the historian. “But for the sake of historical accuracy, he must also be remembered as one of history’s greatest homophobes.”

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

If you enjoyed this mind-bending story by C. Michael Forsyth, check out his collection of bizarre news, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.

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Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D: Three Dimensions of Dumb   Leave a comment

Legendary horror maestro Dario Argento tries to recapture the feel of classic Hammer Studios flicks.

Legendary horror maestro Dario Argento tries to recapture the feel of classic Hammer Studios flicks.

By C. Michael Forsyth

When I saw a poster for Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D, which had the look of an old Hammer Studio’s movie, I was skeptical. There have been so many versions of the original novel, including Francis Ford Coppola’s big-budget Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was there any point in trying another lavish costume epic? Hasn’t the story been drained dry? But Italian director Argento is a legend in the horror genre, the creator of such masterpieces as the atmospheric and suspenseful Susperia. How bad could it be?

Pretty darned bad, it turns out. I should have taken that “3-D” in the title as a warning.

This stinker received a well-deserved 11 % rating on Rotten Tomatoes. One reviewer put it so succinctly I’ll just quote him: “Argento’s Dracula 3-D is an absolute travesty of a film completely devoid of creativity or imagination. It’s like taking your favorite folklore, stripping it of everything you love, making it as dull as possible, and then lighting it on fire,” wrote Chris Swann of Examiner.com

plays a rather unenergetic Dracula.

Thomas Kretschmann plays a rather unenergetic Dracula.

The best that can be said is that Argento does not simply retell the tale we all know so well. He revamps it with the main elements intact, but details changed in unexpected ways. The problem is that in almost every case, the changes are for the worse. Jonathan Harker does not escape from the castle; instead he’s killed almost immediately — robbing the movie of its logical hero. Instead of Dracula crossing the ocean and menacing Mina in England, all the action takes place in Transylvania. Instead of three brides, Dracula only has one. But three was better, right? Dracula turns into unexpected animals in addition to the usual bat and wolf. Unfortunately, the critters are absurd, especially a giant praying mantis rendered in unconvincing CGI!

AMPLY endowed vampire Tania bares more than fangs.

AMPLY endowed vampire Tania bares more than fangs.

Among the movie’s other glaring flaws: The budget did not seem to allow for set decoration. In scene after scene, whether it be a tavern or a room of a mansion, there is literally nothing on the walls.

German actor Thomas Kretschmann is a lackluster Dracula, injecting the same amount of passion into the role as if he were standing in line at Starbucks waiting to order a latte. Initially, his staid and dignified manner works, when he plays the “old” Dracula Jonathan Harker first meets in the castle. The trouble is that low-energy approach continues throughout the entire film.

The actress playing Lucy is so homely you wonder how she got the part. Oh wait, she’s Asia Argento, the director’s daughter. Which makes the gratuitous nude scene where she’s bathed by Mina a little creepy.

There are a few good things about the movie. Rutger Hauer plays Dr. Van Helsing, though he appears late in the film, has little to do and is not nearly as good as you’d hope he’d be. And Miriam Gionvanelli does an admirable job as the buxom beauty Tania who becomes Dracula’s sole bride, petulant and jealous with the impressive cleavage that brings back fond memories of the great Hammer films. Making one of Dracula’s brides a speaking role was one of the few interesting choices.

THE DOCTOR is in. Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing.

THE DOCTOR is in. Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing.

I did like the twist that the villagers are actually Dracula’s protectors. In exchange for their not heading up the hill to the castle with pitchforks and torches he’s made them wealthy – and even built a school for the kids. The scene in which the town fathers plot against the aristocratic vampire and Drac takes bloody vengeance is just about the only good one in the movie. But sadly, overall I can only give the movie a one out five stake rating.

IN A RELATED STORY…

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women's prison.

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women’s prison.


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I’m excited to announce the launch of my first graphic novel, Night Cage! The premise of the horror story is simple: Vampires take over a women’s prison. Just imagine Orange is the New Black meets Salem’s Lot.

The project is being funded through Kickstarter. Folks who jump on the bandwagon will get a boatload of goodies and rewards, ranging from advance copies of the book and exclusive art, posters and T-shirts to a chance to be drawn into the graphic novel as a character!

Please check out the video out HERE, and share the news with all your social media friends!

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

Speaking of horror, if you want a good scare check out my horror novel Hour of the Beast.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

BRAM STOKER’S GREAT-GRANDNEPHEW PENS TERRIFYING DRACULA SEQUEL   3 comments

Bram Stoker wrote the grandpa of all vampire books.

Bram Stoker’s kinsman reclaims the famous character in this gripping sequel.

By C. Michael Forsyth

The story of Dracula ends with the blood-drinking fiend destroyed and newlyweds Jonathan and Mina Harker living happily ever after.

Or does it? In the book Dracula the Un-Dead, an exciting sequel to Bram Stoker’s classic written by the author’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, the tale of terror continues to unfold.

I had the good fortune to run into Dacre at the Horror Writer’s Association’s Bram Stoker Weekend, an annual gathering that pays tribute to his famous forebear. A courtly resident of South Carolina, he was quite generous with his time. After his presentation on Bram, we chatted about the extensive research that went into the novel. We traded books, and I’ve finally had a chance to sink my teeth into this juicy vampire yarn.

The book is set in 1912, about 25 years after the events in Dracula, and the band of heroes who put the vampire down are in a sorry state.

Jonathan Harker, once a paragon of Victorian virtue, has been reduced to a whoring, alcoholic wretch. He’s tortured by his inability to sexually satisfy his wife the way that her superhuman “dark prince” could.

Mina, forever tainted by her sip of Dracula’s blood, remains eternally young like Dorian Gray. Guilt-ridden, she counts her youthful appearance as a curse, not a blessing.

Dr. Van Helsing, the wise and fearless vampire killer, is now a frail, vulnerable old man terrified of death.

Dr. Seward, once the esteemed head of the asylum that housed Dracula’s bug-eating flunky Renfield, is himself a drug-addicted lunatic.

Aristocratic Arthur Holmwood, who was forced to stake his fiancée Lucy, is a bitter recluse who blames his former friends for her fate and is driven by a death wish.

IN HAPPIER TIMES: Jonathan Harker, played by Keanu Reeves in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” finds that middle age is “totally bogus.”

New characters are introduced, most prominently Elizabeth Bathory, a real-life relative of Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula. The 16th Century noblewoman was the most prolific serial killer in history, making dudes like Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy look like pikers. The Bloody Countess tortured and killed at least 650 servant girls, bathing in their blood in a quest for immortality. Here, she too is a vampire – and a far more vicious one than the gentlemanly Count Dracula.

BLOODY COUNTESS: Elizabeth Bathory slaughtered at least 650 young maidens — for their blood.

Also taking the stage is Basarab, a handsome and charismatic actor who is Bathory’s hated foe.

Details from the original are cleverly woven into the novel and supporting characters like Renfield and Seward are fleshed out with interesting backstories. Arthur Holmwood, usually little more than an uptight prig in movies, is a fully realized character who’s led a colorful life of adventure. Even Quincy Morris, the Texan who almost never makes the cut in film versions, is given his due.

Usually just an upper-crust square (as played here by Cary Elwes) Lucy’s fiance Arthur emerges as a swashbuckling hero.

Dacre and his co-author Ian Holt, in addition to having access to family lore, dug deep into original sources to find nuggets that enrich the sequel. Dacre traveled to the Rosenbach Museum to comb through Bram Stoker’s notes. Among the fascinating tidbits he uncovered was the character sketch for a detective Bram toyed with including in Dracula but ultimately abandoned. Dacre resurrects Inspector Cotford in the sequel.

Equally painstaking research into early 20th Century London is evident in the authoritative descriptions of locations such as the Lyceum Theater that bring the setting vividly to life. Real people of the time show up, including boozing stage legend John Barrymore — and, surprisingly, Bram Stoker himself!

TOO WISE TO LIVE? Dr. Van Helsing (Everett Sloane) had the will power to resist Dracula in the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie.

Yet despite the loving attention to detail, Dracula the Un-Dead is not slavishly true to the original in that it inverts Dracula’s nature, reimagining him as a Byronic hero rather than a monster. In a sense, the book is not a sequel to Dracula as Bram Stoker told the story so much as a sequel to the story as DRACULA would have told it. (It made me think of the kids’ book My Side of the Story, in which Sleeping Beauty is retold from the witch Maleficent’s perspective.)

MR. NICE GUY? Dracula (portrayed by Gary Oldman in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”) saw himself as a romantic hero misunderstood by medding male mortals.

In turning the Victorian worldview upside down Dracula the Un-Dead is likely quite different from the sequel Bram Stoker would have written. But who cares? Do we really need another follow-up to Dracula that carries forward the plot on its trajectory in an easily anticipated way? We’ve already seen movies and comics in which Mina’s son Quincy Harker is an elderly hero waging a crusade against the undead.

Here instead Quincy is a naïve young aspiring actor who puts his dreams of stage success above all else and fawns over his idol Basarab. (Quincy is so clueless he makes Jimmy Olsen look like Albert Einstein). That’s only the first of many surprises the book offers. Co-author Holt is a screenwriter and the fast-paced, action-packed novel is perfectly suited for a movie adaptation.

IN PAST follow-ups in comic books and movies, Quincy Harker is often a gutsy old vampire slayer.

I asked Dacre whether the Stoker clan was still living off “all the Dracula money.” He gave a wistful smile and said no. Sadly, he explained, the family lost the U.S. copyright to Dracula through a clerical error early on and it’s been in the public domain ever since. They haven’t been paid a dime by Hollywood since the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie and unlike the kin of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, have had no control over the wildy popular character and his many — often embarrassingly stupid — incarnations. One of Dacre’s goals was to reclaim Dracula for his family.

“I think Bram would be proud that a family member has taken this initiative and finally done justice to the legacy he created,” he writes in the afterward.

IN THE BLOOD: Dacre Stoker, great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker with C. Michael Forsyth, author of Hour of the Beast, at the Horror Writers Association convention.

IN A RELATED STORY…

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women's prison.

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women’s prison.


*********************************************************************************************************

I’m excited to announce the launch of my first graphic novel, Night Cage! The premise of the horror story is simple: Vampires take over a women’s prison. Just imagine Orange is the New Black meets Salem’s Lot.

The project is being funded through Kickstarter. Folks who jump on the bandwagon will get a boatload of goodies and rewards, ranging from advance copies of the book and exclusive art, posters and T-shirts to a chance to be drawn into the graphic novel as a character!

Please check out the video out HERE, and share the news with all your social media friends!

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

ON THE HOUR OF THE BEAST FRONT…

I attended Dragon*con 2012 in Atlanta to promote my horror novel Hour of the Beast and pick up tips on independent filmmaking. Some great panels on subjects ranging from movie pre-production and distribution to the future of black science fiction. The highlight was Stan Lee talking to a packed ballroom. The comic-industry giant is feisty as ever, his brain still bubbling with creativity. Of course, I didn’t completely ignore the gazillion gals in skimpy costumes. Some were marvelously imaginative, others not so much. You’d think a guy would never get tired of seeing women in that barely-there bandage getup from “The Fifth Element,” but after number 30, I did!

STAN THE MAN

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

SHREK’S GAL

LADY IN RED

The author of this article also wrote the acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast. In the opening chapter, a bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. Then things get out of hand.

Hour of the Beast is available in hardcover and softcover at Amazon.com. But you can save $4 by clicking HERE! The Kindle version is just $7 and the Ebook is a measly $5. Be the first on your block to read this bone-chilling tale — before the motion picture hits the big screen.

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