Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dracula: Vampires Raising the Coffin Lid vs Slipping Out Between the Cracks

One of the creepiest traditions of vampires in old movies is when they rise from their coffin after the sun goes down. There's an atmosphere of mystery and fearful anticipation as the creaky coffin lid slowly rises when the awakened vampire pushes it up from the inside. This scene was something I never tired of when watching Dark Shadows when Barnabus Collins would rise for the night.

However, in Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, the basis for most vampire tales, Lucy does not lift the lid of her coffin or push open the squeaky iron gate of her family tomb to enter and exit her coffin. She somehow passes through the sliver-like areas between doorways and coffin covers:

We all looked on in horrified amazement as we saw, when he stood back, the woman (Lucy), with a corporeal body as real at that moment as our own, pass in through the interstice, where scarce a knife-blade could have gone. (Stoker)

I kind of like the creaky coffin bit, but Stoker's method does provide more safety and mystery for the vampire. Van Helsing had to cut through the lead liner after removing the coffin lid to show the others that Lucy was indeed a vampire. Would it have better if he could have simply hid nearby with the men and waited for her to slowly raise that lid on her own?

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