Fall is here. Halloween is coming, and the idea of ghouls and ghosts, monsters and evil lords has my creative juices flowing. I love this time of year, a time when the eeriness of darkness looms overhead, of mischievous doings, and our inner desires wanting to come out in a full harvest of aspirations. For this Creature Feature entry, I speak of one of the greatest dark lords of all time who fulfills his own ambitions whenever he pleases – Dracula!
Created by Bram Stoker, Dracula was a fictional nobleman who had resided in a castle in Transylvania, Bukovina. He is said to be centuries old, but that is only due to the speculation of what he is suspected of being – a vampire.
But it is the combined efforts of the main characters in the book that truly confirm this, and thus bring the Count Dracula to his demise with putting a wooden stake to his heart, a surefire way of ending any vampire.
Since the novel, Dracula has been portrayed so many times in movies and other works of fiction, that it is nearly impossible to not know of the most legendary “Lord of all Vampires.” He was THE dark lord, the one to inspire all to write about dark lords in massive castles, and becoming the bane of any civilization.
Dracula’s abilities include immortality, which is made from the very idea of vampires being undead, which means that he is almost resistant to most forms of attacks. He is also quite agile, able to leap high bounds, defying gravity itself. The power of hypnosis and telepathy are his for whatever he decides on making of them, seducing his prey for his bloodlust. He could manipulate weather as well and turn into mist to hide himself, and the ability to shape shift made him incredibly hard to track.
While he was all powerful, being a vampire meant having the usual weaknesses: he could not be in sunlight, and had a high intolerance for garlic. Being undead meant that all things holy could ward him off, usually taking the shape of a cross. And the stake through the heart was the surest means of killing the dark lord for good.
Dracula has been seen in many remakes including a TV show that airs nowadays of the same name. However, my favorite interpretation will always be from the Castlevania video game series.
In this series, Dracula was the main antagonist (duh) and being hunted by Simon Belmont who was armed with a legendary whip called the “Vampire Killer,” a weapon passed down to him by the many generations who had hunted the same dark lord over the centuries. The idea of it being a whip is clearly just a video game gimmick, however it has been solidified as the sure weapon to kill Dracula, next to the wooden stake.
Dracula had many minions in the game too: Medusa, a Mummy from Egyptian times, Frankenstein’s monster, and the grim reaper himself, Death. With all of these minions, he waged a war against the living, and it was up to Simon (and any other Belmonts) to stop this guy.
Castlevania recently had a reboot of the series called “The Lords of Shadow.” While the games aren’t critically hailed to be the best, the storyline is phenomenal in my opinion.
(WARNING: If you intend to play this game, then stop reading as I am about to unleash major spoilers. All others, keep reading.)
The story follows Gabriel Belmont (voiced by Robert Carlyle), a knight of an order called the Brotherhood who are in charge of protecting humanity from Lycans, Vampires and Necromancers. Throughout Gabriel’s journey of fighting these creatures, he ends up finding the truth about the Brotherhood, who eventually had tricked Gabriel into his quest. They also manipulated Gabriel into killing his own wife, which set him down a dark road that forever changed him.
After facing all the dark lords that threatened the world, Gabriel was left alone and hating everything. He then is requested to help a vampire child, who ends up turning him into a vampire, and thus taking refuge in the castle that the child’s mother once held, the same vampire Gabriel killed. Gabriel then takes on a new mantle – Dracul, which is Latin for “The Dragon.” But to the common folk throughout time, he is known only as Dracula.
While hated and feared amongst the living, Dracul has a higher purpose in life, in which he is fated to fight the ultimate evil of them all – Satan. He does so and wins, and to my opinion, I think humanity owes him one for it.
I must say, without Dracula we would not have such villains as Darth Vader, Voldemort, or even Sauron. The idea of a dark lord is the ultimate question to the protagonist in which they are tasked to overcome.
Sure it’s cliché, but I think it’s a stereotype that we as writers and readers should never let go of and cherish for all heroic tales. We can bend and twist the idea however we want, however, if that gets old then we can return right back to good ol’ County for times sake. And the idea that Dracula is public domain just makes the possibilities endless now. So here’s a toast to you Mr. Stoker, for creating the greatest dark lord of all time!