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Michel Parry – The Rivals of Dracula

Posted by demonik on September 8, 2007

Michel Parry – The Rivals of Dracula: A Century of Vampire fiction (Corgi, 1977; Severn House, 1978)

Introduction – Michel Parry

Rivals Of Dracula

Ramsey Campbell – Conversion
Anonymous – The Mysterious Stranger
Frederick Cowles – The Vampire Of Kaldenstein
Jean Ray – The Guardian Of The Cemetery
M. R. James – Count Magnus
E. & H. Heron – The Story Of Baelbrow
E. Everett Evans – The Undead Die
Manly Wade Wellman – The Horror Undying
Robert Bloch – The Bat Is My Brother
Charles Beaumont – Blood Brother
David Drake – Something Had to Be Done
Steven Utley – Night Life

Severn House hardback edition, 1978: Jacket photo & design by Michael R. Carter

Ramsey Campbell – Conversion: sees our old friend the Transylvanian peasant pay a visit to Castle Dracula to confront him over the death of his sister in law. When he leaves the castle, his mind is a blank – all he can remember is that he found the suspected-vampire very affable. He reaches his house but … why does it smell so horrible all of a sudden?

Anon – The Mysterious Stranger: Often cited as an influence on “Dracula”, and the early scenes, notably an attack by wolves, the setting (Carpathian Mountains) and the vampire count (Azzo Von Klakta in this case) suggest it’s not improbable that Stoker had some familiarity with it. The explanation for the hero Woislaw’s prodigious strength – which is such that Azzo mistakes him for one of his own kind – is just one example of what makes this story a cherished Victorian gem.

Frederick Cowles – The Vampire Of Kaldenstein: Derivative of Dracula, and reads like a story board for the Hammer films of a quarter of a century later. It is, of course, brilliant!
The narrator, traveling in Germany in 1933, arrives at the hamlet of Kaldenstein. There he encounters the usual dour locals at the inn, who cross themselves at the mention of Count Ludwig Von Kaldenstein, warn him against visiting the castle, etc., etc. A local priest of similar ‘superstitious’ bent likewise begs him to give it a miss, but the foolish Englishman won’t be told.

Jean Ray – The Guardian Of The Cemetery: A hobo takes a job as a keeper at St. Guitton Cemetery, where none have been buried in twenty years since the Countess Opoltchenska died. Before her death, the Countess bought the necropolis outright, had a vault readied and stipulated the grounds would be kept by three men, two of them being her servants, the third to be employed and supervised by these two.

M. R. James – Count Magnus: Touring Sweden, the unfortunate Mr. Wraxall discovers family papers in a house in Vestgothland, charting the career of a saturnine seventeenth century noble, a dabbler in alchemy reputed to have made the black pilgrimage to Chorazin where it’s said the Anti-Christ will be born. It is also the recommended haunt of those wishing to “obtain a long life, acquire a faithful messenger and see the blood of his enemies”.

E & H. Heron – The Story Of Baelbrow: The Swaffama family mansion has been haunted for centuries, but the present day family are rather fond of their spook – until it turns malefic and frightens a maid to death. Trusty Flaxman Low investigates.

E. Everett Evans – The Undead Die: Robert Warram wakes during a storm to discover that the splintered limb of a great tree has smashed through the lid of his beloved wife’s coffin, impaling her through the heart. He reminisces on their several decades together, pre- and post- their being vampirised. Now Lisa has gone, he has nothing to unlive for.

Manly Wade Wellman – The Horror Undying: Seeking shelter from a snowstorm in a deserted cabin, he discovers papers detailing the careers of Captain Stanslas – a cannibal sentenced to death by firing squad for his grisly exploits – and Maxim, hung for drinking the blood of a labourer he murdered in 1879. The narrator arrives at the dreadful conclusion that these two are one and the same man – “a werewolf, killed and left to rise from death to be a blood drinking vampire.” And Then …

Robert Bloch – The Bat Is My Brother: Recently resuscitated Graham Keene is the plaything of an unnamed Prussian undead who regards the human race as “cattle” and will stop at nothing to achieve global domination. Keene seems to be going along with him, but sentiments like “let him suffer until the maggots at last reach his corrupt brain and eat away his evil consciousness” suggest there are still some bridges to be built in their relationship.

Charles Beaumont – Blood Brother: Modern day vampire on the psychiatrists couch, moaning about his lot. Mention of name ‘Dorcas’ drives shrink to desperate measures.

David Drake – Something Had To Be Done: Absolutely horrible. Captain Richmond visits the Lunkowski family to relate the details of their son’s death in ‘nam. He’s accompanied by Morzec, who witnessed the lad’s final moments. Morzec is a truly hideous figure, a victim of malignant melanoma (“in another two weeks I’ll be warted to death”). It comes in handy that he’s nothing to live for.

Stephen Utley – Night Life: The Vampire as Charles Bronson in Death Wish. Erich arrives in NY. On his first night, he dines on a Central Park mugger and a hooker. He flies off over the city, satisfied that he’ll thrive here.

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