Bram Stoker's Dracula
A few weeks ago a teacher at a Christian school in Maryland told her students to choose a book for an October book report. An 11-year-old named Trevor made an unusual choice: He asked to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not surprising, I suppose, in view of the current interest over vampires.
But Trevor’s teacher was horrified. She was thinking, no doubt, of the many bloody film versions of this classic story.
Well, she needn’t have worried. This 100-year-old gothic novel is frightening—but in a weird sort of way, it’s actually an apologetic for the Gospel.
In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote his gothic novel about a vampire he named Dracula. The book was loosely modeled on the life of a Transylvanian prince who literally drank the blood of his enemies. Stoker’s novel condemns Dracula for seeking to prolong his life outside the power of Christ—and horrifically illustrates the evil that results when people try to do so. And Stoker makes it clear that even the most malignant evil is subject to the power of Christ: The vampires must retreat before the Cross.
VAMPIRES MUST RETREAT BEFORE THE CROSS.
Most of the film interpretations of Stoker’s classic accept this premise. For example, in the 1931 film version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, the vampire leaps back in fear whenever a Cross is displayed. And even the more recent 1992 film treatment called Bram Stoker’s Dracula stars a Scripture-quoting, cross-waving Anthony Hopkins as the doctor who tries to save a young woman from Dracula’s supernatural clutches.
But the latest crop of vampire stories pack a completely different spiritual message. In the current craze, the undead are rising up out of the pages of books and onto the silver screen to mock the power of Christ.
For example, in the film version of Anne Rice’s book, Interview with a Vampire, a vampire jokes that he’s actually "quite fond of looking at crucifixes." And in R. L. Stein’s book for children, My Vampire Handbook, Stein completely ignores the Christian aspect of vampire lore: He says that vampires can be vanquished by garlic—or by a stake driven through the heart—but he doesn’t even mention the Cross.
The message is clear: The power of Christ is inferior to the power of Satan—or doesn’t exist at all. Vampires have been turned from fiendish bloodsuckers into humorous ghouls who are portrayed as more powerful than Christ Himself.
This perversion of biblical truth expresses our culture’s obsession with finding meaning in life outside of Christianity. That’s why we’re seeing writers and filmmakers promoting the view that Christ can be dismissed from the promise of immortality—that we can reject Him without suffering terrible consequences.
You and I have to drive a stake right through the heart of cultural influences that denigrate the power of Christ. If your own kids have a penchant for horror fiction, like young Trevor, encourage them to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula instead of Anne Rice or R. L. Stein. And then discuss the book’s Christian themes.
For unlike today’s vampire fiction, Stoker’s creepy classic is a reminder that immortality comes through the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone.
Now that’s an enduring truth we can really sink our teeth into.