Dracula lives on and even sparkles sometimes…

Dracula continues to inspire and bring about popular and unpopular features in pop culture. I like to think that the reason the story is still so prominent is due to a few things. The first is immortality. We subject ourselves to invasive procedures in an effort to satisfy that vanity. The fact that Dracula will never die means he must never really age. This plays into the second reason we remain fascinated; many people are afraid of death. We do whatever we can to relieve the anxiety of death such as clinging to religion or something that helps calm our fears of the unknown. Personally, I don’t require such assurance, but understand why some do. As far as why we changed him, it boils down to Hollywood needing to sell tickets. The early silent film Nosferatu featured Max Shrek as a ghastly monster which shocked and fascinated audiences, but you can only tell the same story over and over so many times. In the 60’s and 70’s Dracula movies once more captured American audiences with a suave, debonair version of this elegant Count who could charm and woo those around him, lightening the “monster” image that Stoker worked so hard to show. This snowballed into the lovable Grandpa on The Munsters and further softened our view of the vampire. Now, let’s talk about Twilight ….

FUCK TWILIGHT

That’s enough about that catastrophe where we cheer on a young girl to commit either necrophilia or bestiality.

Seriously, what’s wrong with people? Stoker would roll over in his grave if  he saw the monstrosity that his work had inspired because he placed such an emphasis on insuring that the Vampire was not loved nor revered. Great, now my heart rate is up.

Fucking Twilight……….

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Dracula: The Novel vs. The Movie

The most disturbing part of the movie that coincided with the movie was when Harker observed the Count making his was down the castle wall like a lizard. The book’s description and the movie’s portrayal of it was nearly identical. Certainly it was also the most shocking  part of the film that captured the “creep factor” pretty well. The major difference was the initial meeting of Count. The movie missed out on his obvious animal-like features that the book describes and definitely skipped Dracula’s cool Foo-Man-Chu mustache. This was actually kind of important because that type of mustache is associated with wisdom; wisdom Dracula would have amassed during his extended period of existence. I did like the combining of some scenes for the purpose of brevity and clarity of the narrative. Although we didn’t see it in class, Dracula’s attack on Lucy in the movie showed him in a wolf man form making love to her atop a bench which was where the film REALLY highlighted the monster that Dracula was.

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Dracula and Harker compared after discussion.

After being formally introduced to both Dracula and Harker, they really different differ from what I’d expected. I’ve previously read the book (but definitely walked away with a new perspective), seen many versions of the movie, so nothing took me by surprised. Based on our discussions, I do see a lot more of the monster than I had previously. Likewise, Harker was as I expected, however, I never thought about why it HAD to be him to destroy Dracula. Sharing ideas made me realize that Ms. Vance was spot on in the fact that he had been cuckolded and this was his way of regaining his masculinity. So, in that aspect, I walked away with a new overall view of the stories, not the characters within.

 

What I know about Dracula

It is said that Stoker based his Dracula upon Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes who was a ruler in Romania. He earned the name “Son of the Dragon”, which translates into “Dracul”, because he would impale invading armies, spies, etc on large pikes and let them writhe in agony until they were dead. Some of the impaling began by placing the victim’s rectum at the tip of the pike and……well….you can guess what happened from there.

Based on what I’ve read, seen, and been exposed to via Hollywood and the book itself; Dracula is a suave, charming, deadly, and misunderstood undead guy. Highly sexual, he’s also a romantic- the dude wants his only love back. Legend tells that his wife committed suicide after receiving a fake letter that her husband had been killed in battle. Upon learning this, Vlad turns his anger towards God and is cursed to become a vampire.

Obviously, I’ll walk away with a different opinion after today’s class.

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Cultural Presentation: Jack the Ripper

 

 

 

 

 

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Jack was a serial killer in east end London in an area known as Whitechapel.

The number of murders he committed is questionable and debatable among those who study him along with the dates of the Ripper’s crime spree. This is based upon 11 murders being committed in Whitechapel from April 1888 through February 1891, but the most popular opinion is that the reign of terror went from August 31, 1888 until November 1888. This is because five of the murders committed by Jack are called the “Canonical Five” as they are confirmed as being committed by him. The Canonical Five murders took place from August through November of 1888. Six other women were killed in similar fashion, but circumstances surrounding them cast doubt that they were done by our killer.

Jack may have sent letters to the police, but so did a lot of the public. As the terror gripped London, many letters were written to the media and the police claiming to be from the killer. With so many regarded as hoaxes, they were easily discarded, however three of them seem to have some merit as being written by the Ripper himself. One such letter titled Dear Boss arrived at the Central News Agency on 27 September 1888.  Dated September the 25th, the letter mentions cutting off the ears of his victim. On the 30th of September, Catherine Eddowes, one of the Canonical Five, with one earlobe cut off in addition to other wounds. Years later, in 1931, a reporter by the name of Fred Best claimed he wrote the letter, but his claim was never proven.

To this day no one knows the true identity of Jack the Ripper. Some people claimed he was a doctor based on his removal of organs and clean slices who came to Whitechapel to commit his crimes. Other experts believe he was a butcher or common worker and a Whitechapel native. There were a number of suspects, some of whom were famous and possibly linked to the murders via documents found years later. 16 suspects were “favored” to have been Jack the Ripper and many investigators since have leaned toward an insane Polish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski as being the infamous killer based on what some claim is DNA evidence taken from a shawl worn by the first victim.

 

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For the purpose of brevity, only the Canonical Five victims will be discussed. These are the common attributes shared by the five victims that were undoubtedly the work of the ripper. Some of the similarities help to give investigators some idea of who he was. The organ removal was a driving force behind the theory that Jack was a trained medical professional while the fact all were murdered on the weekend supports the theory that it was a butcher or common worker that worked regular hours.

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Mary Ann Nichols was found dead at 3:40 AM on the morning of August 31st . She had been slashed open at the abdomen, cut open from the breastbone to the pubic area so deeply that her innards were exposed, and her throat was cut.

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Annie Chapman’s lifeless body was found at 6 AM on the morning of September the 8th. She was even more mutilated than Mary Ann Nichols.

Annie’s throat had a similar cut to Nichols in that it went from the left to the right and a gash in her abdomen made by the same knife. Her intestines had been torn out and placed on the ground over her right shoulder, but Jack left them connected to her body. Her uterus  was missing along with parts of her bladder and vagina.

It is said that the body was so grotesque that the doctor who conducted the autopsy wouldn’t discuss it fully with the police when questioned about it.

 

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Elizabeth Stride was the third victim of the Canonical Five, but some claim she should not be included because she did not have the abdomen wounds the other 4 victims had. This has been countered with the argument that the Ripper was interrupted while conducting his crime, leaving her “unfinished” so to speak. Also, there’s the possibility of a different knife used in her attack.

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Forty five minutes after Stride’s body was, Eddowes’ body was discovered. Her throat had been severed and her abdomen torn open with a deep, jagged wound. Her left kidney had been removed, along with a major portion of her uterus. The Stride and Eddowes murders were later referred to as the “Double Event“ which plays into the theory that Jack was “interrupted” with Elizabeth Stride, but was compelled to complete  the night’s activities.

Remember that I mentioned he possibly taunted police by sending them letters. One of the letters was a post card referred to as the “Saucy Jack postcard” showed up to the Central News Agency with similar handwriting as the Dear Boss letter and mentions the “Double Event”.

 

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Jack’s final victim of the Canonical Five was Mary Jane Kelly. Kelly’s body was mutilated beyond recognition. Her entire abdominal cavity had been emptied out, her breasts cut off, and the remains placed beneath her head and on the bedside table. Kelly’s face was hacked away and her heart removed, which was also absent from the crime scene. Kelly’s murder was by far the most grisly and ritualistic of all.

 

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This map demonstrates the places where the murders take place. The Canonical Five are indicated with red dots. Notice the close proximity of the victims.

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Motives range from mental health issues such as schizophrenia and late stage syphilis, to revenge for contracting a disease; elaborate schemes concocted to protect a wealthy person, and even cult or secret society activity. The truth is that we may never know.

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Jack the Ripper holds our interest to this day. From ongoing independent investigation books to video games, comics, and movies, our obsession still hasn’t ceased with this infamous killer nor do I believe it ever will.

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Dorian Gray and I: Growing old, but not up.

We truly aren’t that departed from the Victorians are we?  Just as Dorian longed to hold on to his youth and beauty, we scramble to do the same. Physically, we subject ourselves to everything from Botox therapy (it’s a POISON that we willingly allow to get shot into us to shew away those pesky age lines) to physical mutilations (read: plastic surgery) just to maintain our youth and feed our vanity. Just as concerned with our youthful appearance, many people (myself included) will continue in the indulgences of our youth; consequences be damned. As we age, we aren’t supposed to drink way into the early morning then be fully operational come the workday, but some of us do. That’s the “culture” in which I was raised, but my culture wasn’t a “normal” one. It was not only acceptable, but encouraged to drink until 3 AM, sleep for two hours then sweat it out on a five mile run at 6 AM. There were no consequences UNLESS you couldn’t keep up. As a result, my own Dorian Gray like behavior has followed me into “regular” society where many of my indulgences aren’t acceptable. Though I’ve faced consequences from my actions, unlike Dorian, I choose to continue “being me”, only there’s no painting to absorb my own destruction.

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The Perils of Invisibility

I think we’ve all thought about what we would do if we were invisible and I’m willing to wager that most of us first imagine doing the bad things we could get away with, but most will blog that they would stay on the good side of things and use the ability to help others.

I call bullshit.

Who wouldn’t sneak into the men’s or women’s locker rooms? It’s the first thing one would do because it’s taboo, a forbidden zone, and EVERYONE wants to see naked people.

Not me, of course, because I’m not a pervert. I’m talking about other people. I’d be busy “haunting” folks, but who?

  1. My neighbors. They’re loud, obnoxious and I’d love nothing more then to sneak in, steal batteries from everything I could, unplug all appliances, set all their dishes on the porch, etc. then just sit back and enjoy their reaction.
  2. Potheads. Because who doesn’t want to make objects “fly” in front of a bunch of smoked out hippies?
  3. My wife. She believes in ghosts, so I’d definitely set up a hidden camera to catch her reactions to the “haunting”. I’ll also need an alibi because she may have a heart attack, so can you hook me up?
  4. The Women’s locker roo………uh, I mean the grocery store….Yeah, the grocery store.

Being invisible would probably bring about the worst in me and allow my own Mr. Hyde to appear, so I’ll just remain visible…for now.

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