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Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen [Kindle Edition]

David J. Skal
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

The primal image of the black-caped vampire Dracula has become an indelible fixture of the modern imagination. It's recognition factor rivals, in its own perverse way, the familiarity of Santa Claus. Most of us can recite without prompting the salient characteristics of the vampire: sleeping by day in its coffin, rising at dusk to feed on the blood of the living; the ability to shapeshift into a bat, wolf, or mist; a mortal vulnerability to a wooden stake through the heart or a shaft of sunlight. In this critically acclaimed excursion through the life of a cultural icon, David Skal maps out the archetypal vampire's relentless trajectory from Victorian literary oddity to movie idol to cultural commidity, digging through the populist veneer to reveal what the prince of darkness says about us all.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Horror novelist Skal presents various 19th- and 20th-century interpretations of everyone's favorite black-cloaked bloodsucker. Featured here are Bram Stoker's Victorian thriller, Max Shreck in the German expressionist film Nosferatu and Bela Lugosi on stage and screen as Count Dracula. Illustrated. (Oct.)no PW review
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Tracks Transylvania's most popular vampire with dry wit and the skills of a fine detective." --The New York Times Book Review

"Witty, comprehensive . . . For those who take Halloween seriously, this is something to gnaw on long after those trick-or-treaters are gone." --The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Meticulously researched, engagingly written and packed with rare, archival images . . . The history of Dracula reads like a novel itself." --The San Francisco Bay Guardian

Product Details

  • File Size: 6800 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition (October 18, 2004)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JDR5AG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #910,788 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
In "Hollywood Gothic" David Skal tells the story of "Dracula" that came after the classic of gothic horror was published in 1897. It's a fascinating, fact-filled tale of colorful personalities, legal battles, Hollywood politics, and a culture still captivated by the King of Literary Vampires. The book's seven chapters begin with author Bram Stoker, end with the Count's recent incarnations on stage and screen, and include the most insightful analysis of "Dracula"'s origins that I have read in the course of my minor obsession with the novel.

Chapter 1 explores "Dracula"'s literary and theatrical predecessors before moving on to discussion of the intellectual and sexual climate into which the book was published in 1897, the life and elusive character of its author Bram Stoker, and how the novel was received in its own day. David Skal does an impressive job of pulling together the relevant details, from diverse perspectives, of the novel's birth.

Chapter 2 details the legal battle waged by the Bram Stoker's widow, Mrs. Florence Stoker, to suppress the first cinematic adaptation of her husband's novel, 1922's "Nosferatu", the unauthorized German production directed by F.W. Murnau, now recognized as a masterpiece of silent cinema. Chapter 3 sees Mrs, Stoker finally authorize an adaptation to British dramatist Hamilton Deane, whose wordy, plodding "Dracula" play nevertheless achieved great financial success, attracting the attention of American theatrical producer Horace Liveright. Liveright enlisted journalist John Balderston to rewrite the play for Broadway and make it a smash hit on this side of the Atlantic.

Chapter 4 moves to Hollywood for the protracted negotiations over "Dracula"'s film rights.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nifty little book about the granddaddy of vampires October 8, 2004
I read this book years ago. It's good to see it's coming back into print.

Skal charts the history of Stoker's book, beginning with early drafts extant, following the tangled film history, including the legal battles over Murnau's "Nosferatu", Universal Studio's struggle to get the rights for the Lugosi pic, and everything that happened after.

It won't change your life, but its fascinating stuff. Skal's style is quick, clean, and to the point. This book is a lot of fun, giving insights into publishing, film, theater, and the audience reaction to and participation in all of those mediums. A must for all vampire buffs, film students, and those who are curious about the inner workings of popular culture.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nosferatu gets his due! October 31, 2002
This is a good look at the early stage and film versions of Dracula; more impressive is that it's one of the very best works to look at the 1922" Nosferatu". The author details the occult beliefs of the producer of Nosferatu, and how it was really he (Albin Grau,) and not Director Murnau who was responsible for the verminous look of Count Orlok. Fans of the recent film "Shadow of the Vampire" will really enjoy the Nosferatu production details. Some of the Freudian psychosexual analysis is way over the top and should be taken with a grain of salt (or a clove of garlic?). However, the author is on to something when he points out the paralells between the economic paralysis and blood draining of the Great Depression with the similar symptoms of victims in the 1931 Lugosi film. Was the popularity of the film a mass catharsis? You can decide after reading this book. Skal does a great job of drawing eerie analogies between the plight of the real life players behind Dracula and characters in the novel and films.
You'll find yourself consulting and pondering over this book when watching the old films or reading the original Stoker novel. The social context in which Skal places the classical Dracula films will resonate for modern readers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The bang ends with a whimper July 7, 2012
By Jory
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A review from the Los Angeles Times quoted on the back cover of David J. Skal's Hollywood Gothic calls the book "comprehensive." This is technically true, since the book does indeed cover the history of Dracula film and stage adaptations from the earliest days (1897, when Bram Stoker wrote a stage play version of his novel) to the most recent (2004, when the book was last revised), but a little elaboration is needed. The vast majority of the book, the first six chapters out of seven total, covers a limited area: Stoker's 1897 novel, the unauthorized 1922 film adaptation Nosferatu, the early stage plays (focusing mostly on those of the mid to late 1920s), the 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi, and the Spanish-language film produced concurrently with the Lugosi film. It's not until the seventh and final chapter that Skal covers the post-1931 adaptations, blowing through them quickly in about 60 pages, and doing his job not nearly as well as he does in the preceding six chapters (more on that below).

Those first six chapters are where the book shines. This is where Skal's interest (or, more appropriately, obsession) lies, and his enthusiasm for his subject matter makes for engrossing reading. Although he does judge the artistic value of the adaptations, he writes much more about the people behind them, both in their professional and personal lives; but like the writers from the History Channel who can somehow manage to make something like the history of toothpaste sound fascinating, Skal makes the most mundane details of these people sound nearly as interesting as (and sometimes more interesting than) the fictional drama that they put on film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book for the _Dracula_ fan
David Skal has really hit a home run with this book. Excellent writing, very well researched, entertaining, and informative, I strongly recommend this to anyone interested in Bram... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lloyd Worley
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that does it all!
A prime example of research and artistic depiction meeting head on. Every subject should have a work like this. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Bruce e Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars All Dracula fans MUST read this!
I was skeptical about this book because of its odd title, but from the first page I was hooked. There is such an incredible amount of information here and Skal presents it very... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Christilles
2.0 out of 5 stars OK but badly written
VERY exhaustive book on Dracula--the book, stage plays, movies etc etc. This gets into virtually every single incarnation of Dracula. Read more
Published on August 21, 2011 by Wayne M. Malin
5.0 out of 5 stars Dracula: Film and Stage
Hollywood Gothic is strictly an historical account of Dracula and related characters in film and stage. It is well researched and pleasant to read. Read more
Published on October 30, 2010 by J. Mark Fewell, P.G.
5.0 out of 5 stars From book, to stage, to film...
This book truly follows Dracula, from the development of the book, to the many painful births of the stage productions - yes, there was more than one - to the film that finally,... Read more
Published on June 22, 2009 by Michael Valdivielso
5.0 out of 5 stars More than you ever wanted to know about Dracula...
I first heard of David Skal from the Universal Classic Monster series of DVD's. David was on the accompanying documentary and did the audio commentary for Tod Browning's 1931... Read more
Published on September 16, 2005 by Wayne Beckham
5.0 out of 5 stars "I want no souls. Life is all I want."
Down deep, we all agree with the fly-eating Renfield. That's why we can't get his Master out of our system. David J. Read more
Published on August 27, 2005 by Found Highways
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Revision to an Already Great Book
David J. Skal is as readable as ever is this newly revised edition of the definitive Hollywood Gothic as he covers the history of Dracula from his creation by Bram Stoker to the... Read more
Published on January 4, 2005 by Ricky Hunter
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