News Article

Auld Fang Syne

A history of vampires -- We trace the path of the blood-suckers

The Beginning
Yes, there really is a placed called Transylvania: The storied region is a 39,000-square-mile chunk of Romania surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, the Transylvanian Alps, and the Bihor Mountains.

15th Century
Vlad the Impaler — the real-life nobleman who would later inspire Bram Stoker's fictional Dracula — earns his nickname by skewering enemies on long wooden staves and leaving them on public display. In 1464, Vlad impales 40,000 men, women, and children from one Romanian city after residents refuse to submit to his rule. Vlad even looks like Stoker's vampire: He has a hatchet face, cold eyes, a long nose, and a flowing mustache. However, the real Dracula never drinks anyone's blood: Mr. Nice Guy is captured and beheaded by the Turks in 1476.

1897
Stoker's Dracula, the story of the Transylvanian Count on the Mount and his plasma plagued palate, is published, becoming and immediate success. The Count's creator was born in Dublin in 1817 and died in 1912.

1931
Bela Lugosi, a 6-foot-tall, blue eyed Hungarian, begins a long line of heavily accented bloodsuckers on celluloid in Dracula, Universal's biggest moneymaker of the year. When Lugosi dies in 1956, he is buried in his Dracula cape.

1958
Christopher Lee dons cape and fangs for The Horror of Dracula, beginning a string of Lee vampire roles like Count Dracula (1971), In Search of Dracula (1975), Dracula Père et Fils (1976), and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1978).

1962
''Out from his coffin, Drac's voice did ring: Seems he was troubled by just one thing. He opened the lid and shook his fist, and said 'Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?''' sing Bobby ''Boris'' Picket and the Crypt-Kickers in their No. 1 hit ''Monster Mash.''

1964-66
Al Lewis makes the Count look cudly as the family vampire in the popular CBS sitcom The Munsters. As Grandpa Munster, he never nips anybody's neck (at least on camera) but he does change himself into a bat when the situation warrants. Today Lewis runs an Italian restaurant — Grampa's — in New York City. They do serve garlic.

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