Everyone knows the scene. On a stormy Transylvanian night lit by a full moon and serenaded by the howling of a wolf, a mysterious coach pulls up to a dilapidated castle. Timidly, the coach’s passenger makes his way to the castle door. As the door slowly creaks open, we finally see the lord of the manor—a formally dressed nobleman with regal bearing—a creepy and ironic image of a proper European aristocrat.
At which point, Count Dracula bids us welcome.
Dracula is not like other traditional monsters. His elegance and sophistication set him apart. Much like a Bond villain, Dracula could almost pass as a head of state or a captain of industry. The horror comes from our knowledge that underneath that polished exterior lurks a creature ripped out of nightmares and campfire stories. And that contrast between the outer and inner character provides the complexity that separates not only Dracula, but most modern vampires from all those more interchangeable creatures that go bump in the night.