Monday, November 5, 2012

You can always Count on him!

I've always been fascinated by monsters. That much should be obvious, since I'm a writer of horror (among other genres). Today's post is about two monsters that played very important roles in the past seven days of my life. One of these monsters was real, and the other is fictional but very, very famous. The real one attacked millions of people, to different degrees in the past week. Her name was Hurricane Sandy. The other monster is...Dracula! This is the story of how the two of them met in a crossover in which I was the primary supporting character.

This post had to be at least partially concerned with Hurricane Sandy. After all, she defined the events in the lives of everyone I know here on the east coast. I was one of the luckier ones, being temporarily inconvenienced but suffering no injuries, losing no property.

Sandy struck last Monday and hit the area hard. I left work at seven in the evening, drove home when the storm was getting bad. The ride home was dangerous. The highway was a blanket of fallen branches, leaves everywhere, darkness as the power failures began. At one point, I made a turn on the road and found a large fallen tree blocking two-thirds of the highway. Luckily, I was able to get far enough to the left that I only had to smash through the top, thinner branches. I kept going, did no damage to my car. I made it home safely, but the power was already out and would remain out for the next five days, finally coming back at two on Saturday afternoon.  

So I got home Monday night and the wind was howling fiercely and the rain was coming down and the house was dark except for the flames of the candles. It had not yet grown cold inside since the heat hadn't had time to dissipate. What does one do on a night like that? Candlelight and books make perfect partners. In a situation like that, especially just before Halloween, the obvious choice was to visit an old favorite, so there I sat with Bram Stoker's Dracula.

I had read it many times before. The old count and I go way back. It's on the short list of candidates for my favorite book of all. I've seen many, many of the movies based on the character (although few come anywhere close to adapting the events that actually occur in the novel!). One of my favorite comic book series is Marvel's Tomb of Dracula, which ran in the 70s and was written mostly by Marv Wolfman and drawn by the amazing Gene Colan. I've even used Dracula and some of his supporting cast in my writing from time to time. And, of course, I'm the author of my own vampire novel, 100,000 Midnights. 

Before even sitting down with the book, I couldn't resist gesturing toward the window as the wind moaned and shrieked outside, and reciting one of the most famous lines from Dracula, "Listen to them, the children of the night! What music they make!"

If I had to choose a favorite villain from all of literature and/or film, Dracula would be the one, but my familiarity with the character can also make him a comforting presence, like visiting an old friend, and that's what a rereading of that wonderfully eerie book did as the brunt of the storm hit the region.  

We were without power for most of a week. That was uncomfortable at times. It's funny how your wish list gets smaller and more basic with each day. At first, I wanted all the conveniences back. That second day, I just wanted my computer on so I could write. By day three, just having any kind of TV or movie-watching apparatus would have been a gift. And by the end of the powerless stretch, five minutes of hot water would have been something no word short of "heavenly" could describe! Even "orgasmic" might not be much of an exaggeration. But I made it through, and I feel terrible for those who suffered real damage in the storm or who are still without power and heat as I write this.

The world around here has been quite surreal lately. The patches of darkness where power is still a dream, the highways emptier than usual and those who are out and about waiting in long lines for gasoline. We're just missing the zombies.

But, back to Dracula. He was there when the week began and he showed up again at its end. Saturday, the power came back, but not the internet. So I had no Netflix and there is very rarely anything on regular TV worth watching. I had to look through my DVDs to find  a movie to watch as I finally relaxed and got the week-long chill out of my body and mind. I found the 1931 adaptation of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, probably the most famous movie version of the vampire legend. Since Sandy had fouled up Halloween, I hadn't had the chance to watch anything for that night, so I thought Dracula would partially make up for it. But, truthfully, I wasn't sure if I'd make it through the whole film. I've just seen it so many time that it was almost too familiar, had lost any bite it may have once had. I feared I'd get bored or doze off. Then something amazing happened.

Normally, I'm against later additions to classic films. I dislike the updating of special effects and adding things that feel incongruous with the flow of the original versions of movies (yes, George Lucas, I'm looking at you!). But, as I sat there looking at the DVD case for Dracula (I own the version called Dracula: The Legacy Collection), I noticed an option to view the film with a newer musical score, composed by Philip Glass for the 1999 DVD release of the movie. I decided to take a chance, knowing I could just switch to the regular soundtrack if I changed my mind.
Wow! The different music added a fresh, eerie creepiness to an old favorite that made it feel like an entirely new movie. I'll still always love the film with its original score, but this was an amazing experience, chilling and dark. I guess this makes up for the storm preventing me from watching anything on Halloween. Anybody who loves old horror movies should check out the version with the Glass score. It made a film that had become familiar cinematic comfort food into something scary again. 
Soon after watching Dracula, my internet came back and all the modern conveniences I'm used to having were restored. That meant it was time to get back to work writing and editing. What am I working on right now? The sequel to 100,000 Midnights. From one vampire story to the next!
So that was my week. The hurricane put a lot of things on hold, and the most feared monster in fiction made the wait for normalcy quite a bit more bearable. Sometimes it's good to have the Undead on your side!

No comments:

Post a Comment