Guest Post: Of Fangs and Fandoms

Hello, dear readers!  Today, you’ll be hearing from one of my best friends about her own passion for Dracula and the many movies made about him.  (Somebody had to say something positive before I sink my sharp, pointed teeth into 1979 Dracula and Coppola’s Dracula next week.)

Welcome to my guest post! Read freely of your own will…and finish with some of the happiness you bring! I am Alison Conlin, and I bid you welcome, dear reader, to this post! Lauren has permitted me to write a guest post on her Adaptation Station blog in order to share my own personal story and view on what it is like to have a fandom and how it comes to play an important role in one’s own life! It could even make someone the lovable person they are today and by what their friends and family remember them the best!

This day, October 12, 2016, marks 15 years since I have become what I call a “Dracula Die-Hard”! As of this post I am 27 years old, and have been a huge fan since I was only 12 years old!  Although where my fandom began was not necessarily the correct way to begin a fandom.  The whole process becomes a learning experience and as time goes on, once you get your ducks lined up in a row, you are able to pass on the knowledge you have discovered for yourself and freely pass it along to those who spark an interest in your fandom! For instance, I am the reason why Lauren is writing these blogs and now includes discussions about Dracula into every day conversations with others! You’re very welcome!

I met Lauren at Freshman Orientation at Immaculata University in July 2007. At that time, I was new to the whole area and did not know anyone from the Man on the Moon! I met Lauren through our new friend, April, and we exchanged emails over the summer getting to know one another better! Prior to getting ready for the Halloween dance at IU, I offered to show the 1931 Dracula to Lauren, April, and our friend, Amanda, as an introduction to the world that had been mine for six years at the time! As Lauren had mentioned in an earlier post, she wasn’t too intrigued by the story as I was, but did enjoy watching the films with me! We watched a variety from Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee, to Frank Langella to Leslie Nielsen with me educating Lauren on the concept of the films and Lauren’s curiosity growing! But then, in 2011, practically around this time, when I was celebrating my 10th Dracula Anniversary, Lauren read Bram Stoker’s novel and her fandom had officially taken flight!

In my opinion, everybody should have at least one fandom in his or her life! Fandoms usually range from a book series, TV shows, movies, music genres, Broadway shows and theater alike, sports teams, and even one’s own faith! It takes true dedication for it to become a full-blown fandom! Let’s face it, adult life is stressful and it’s not exactly the “Leave It To Beaver” lifestyle in which the mom bakes an apple pie for her husband and sons when they come home from work and school! Adult life consists of a juggling act of working long, stressful hours, trying to make a good income, paying bills, striving to save money, spending quality time with your family and friends equally and choosing the next President! Focusing on these things day in and day out without fail is a recipe for disaster and can cause burnout! Having a fandom allows your brain to take a little break from the daily struggle known as “The Real World” and permits your mind to think of the qualities that make this fandom your own!

So how did it all begin? Well…I’ll tell you…from a very unusual source!  Fifteen years ago, I only affiliated Dracula with Halloween and Scooby-Doo cartoons.  Little did I know that Dracula was to go above and beyond to become the greatest fandom of my life!

Back in 2001, Hostess Cupcakes had a commercial shot entirely in black and white that featured a vampire and his lovely victim, and, like all Hostess commercials, a mirage of the cupcake occurs and an unfortunate incident with the confused character inquiring about the cream filling! The very idea of a vampire going after a beautiful young woman left my mind pondering at what type of phenomenon like this exists. Those of you who know me well are probably not surprised that the “spark” was ignited on the influence of a cupcake commercial, but I swear every word of it! In fact, here is the commercial that started the madness!

A couple of days later, I was in the living room flipping through the channels and came across the horror spoof Young Frankenstein on AMC. I watched the film from middle to end, liking what I was watching!  So, I flipped through the TV Guide to see if Young Frankenstein was going to play again during the week (mind you, this is when VHS tapes still existed and DVDs were slowly making their debut!). Instead, I found another film that would change my life forever!

According to the TV Guide, on October 12, 2001, at exactly 2PM (yes I remember the time), AMC was showing a horror comedy called Love At First Bite, which stared the Tanned One himself, George Hamilton (who I did not know about at the time!)! The description in the small box read as “Count Dracula woos a New York supermodel”. Much like the Hostess commercial, this description stayed in my mind practically all week and I eagerly counted down the days and hours until the VCR at home would start recording! I got home from school around 3PM, quickly changed out of my school uniform and into comfy clothes and watched the last 40 minutes of the movie. Then, I rewound it downstairs and watched it again…and again…and again…and again…okay you get the picture…all weekend long! I was caught hook, line, and sinker with no chance of being released! Little did I know that this was the beginning of a beautiful fandom that people would know me by for years to come!

As time wore on, I started off slow with black and white films, such as Dracula with Bela Lugosi and Son of Dracula with Lon Chaney Jr., who is best known for his role in the film The Wolfman! I purchased a copy of Bram Stoker’s novel from the Troll Book Club we had at school and it’s an edition I treasure to this day! I have not found another duplicate of it at any used book sale, antique store-you name it, I never found it! So, it’s pretty special if I do say so myself! I also found myself writing a few short stories involving Dracula, two of which were assignments for English class! One of the two mentioned, looking back on it 15 years later, is not bad for a newbie to the Dracula world, but it is hilariously written with a bunch of what I like to call “Dracula Stereotypes”! No, I do not have him say “Blah-Blah-Blah!” as mentioned in Hotel Transylvania, but the stereotypes are just as ridiculous! Such as Dracula telling his young victim that he has “come to bite her in the throat”! Gee, I never would have guessed! I thought he was coming to tell her she won an all expenses vacation to Disney World!

A few months later, my fandom was really and truly coming to life! I had begun to watch some of the Hammer Horrors such as Horror of Dracula with the awesome Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing duo, and The Brides of Dracula with the gorgeously handsome David Peel! I had also begun to see the modern films such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula! When I become obsessed with anything, the idea literally never leaves my mind! It’s like the illusion of having my head in the clouds! I think about it all day even when I’m supposed to be concentrating on more important things like schoolwork or even nowadays, working with my clients at my job! I thought of the scenes in the film as I wandered through the hallway from class to class and when certain subjects, such as English, became very boring and monotone! I even envisioned Dracula at the end of a long hallway and I would visualize a re-enactment of Helen Chandler meeting Bela Lugosi in the garden during Dracula. My then thirteen-year-old mind knew no bounds when it came to Dracula! Many more films, fanfictions, and theories had followed and honestly the rest is history! Like the theory of inviting a vampire into your home to allow him permanent access inside, I invited Dracula into my mind and he has never left since that day I watched Love At First Bite!

These past fifteen years with a Dracula Fandom have truly been incredible! As you can see, this fandom has existed for the majority of my life and I have neither shame nor regrets! It has become the person my friends know me with today and I cannot be any happier or any more thankful to have something so spectacular to lean on, to rest my overworked mind upon, and a topic to discuss with anyone who would listen!

For fifteen years, I have been in awe of the inspiration of Dracula dating back to Vlad The Impaler, enamored by the original novel written by Bram Stoker in 1897, chilled by the performances of Max Schreck and Klaus Kinski in the Nosferatu films, enchanted by the roles of Bela Lugosi and Frank Langella in Dracula based off an original play, drawn in by the original Dream Team that was Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the Hammer Horror Dracula films (enemies on screen, best friends in real life!), had my funny bone tickled by both George Hamilton (Love At First Bite) and Leslie Nielsen (Dracula: Dead And Loving It), and received goosebumps on my arms by Gary Oldman, (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) Gerard Butler, (Dracula 2000) and Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing) when their lyrical voices filled my ears with their spectacular roles and take on Dracula!

Also, yes I’m going to say it, Lauren, get ready! A shout out to Jonathan Rhys Meyers for his role in NBC’s Dracula for not only being his gorgeous self but also showing us how a Dracula adaptation is NOT to be made! (However I will leave that to Lauren to tell the tale, for I am merely a guest on this blog!) (Lauren Note: Ohhhh yes, I will “tell the tale.”  I WILL TELL THE TALE.) Out of all the above mentioned Draculas, I might sound a little biased, but I am serious when I say that Bela Lugosi is my favorite of them all!

If you were to ask what it was about Dracula that drew me in the first time…one reason honestly is preteen hormones! After all, I was twelve and in 7th Grade when I got into Dracula! While many girls my age chased after and flirted with boys, I chased after Dracula and wanted to learn more and more about him as I can! Now, as a 27 year old woman who has held onto this Fandom for a decade and a half, let me tell you….this is a question that has plagued my mind for years! Usually I come up with a reason when I think long and hard and try to determine the origins of where such things started! I thought…and thought…and thought…and thought…and then it came to me…..it is an interest that I cannot explain! There is something about this Fandom that has held me close to it for the past 15 years and has not permitted me to let go! Something unknown, something spectacular about this vampire count that pulled me in and has attached itself to me! It truly is one of those things where you cannot explain why you love it but…deep in your mind…and especially your heart…you know it’s there and that it will become a part of your life…and that those who love you…not only love you for the way you are…but by what makes them the person they are…what Fandom they possess and freely share with others! I hope that of you receive such a joy and such a splendor through your Fandoms as I have for 15 years!!!

Final thoughts: Do not make the same mistake I did and watch a parody before watching the real deal! Otherwise, you will be completely lost! Shout out to Lauren for permitting me to guest blog on her Adaptation Station!  Thank you for reading! ❤

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