Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Abraham Van Helsing...Marriage Counselor? Or What Happened After BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA

In late October, I watched the 1992 horror-romance classic Bram Stoker's Dracula for the film podcast Myopia Movies. After having watched the film, done the podcast, and reviewed a lot of discussion on TVTropes, I wondered what happens next? 

The film ends on ambiguous note--Dracula is mortally wounded by Quincy Morris (Billy Campbell) and Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves), but the latter's wife, the rapidly-vampirizing Mina (Winona Ryder), prevents them from finishing him at gunpoint. This is after having gone so far as to attempt to use sorcery (an ability she gained after drinking his blood far more willingly than in the novel) to prevent them from catching Dracula during daylight. She takes the dying vampire to Castle Dracula's long-disused chapel where he seems to repent of his wickedness, the light of God restores him to his human form, and Mina finishes him off. The scene is accompanied by voice-over narration that sounds like Mina's account written in her journal after the fact, so she survives the experience. 

However, there's still the awkward situation that she's married to Jonathan, whom she has all but cuckolded with a monster. TVTropes users point out that at minimum their relationship is on the rocks and less optimistic ones think it might never recover. This rather grim fan-fic depicts Mina coming out of the castle a sadder but wiser woman and then leaving Jonathan. Jonathan is left mourning the wreckage of his life, hoping Mina will return but privately doubting it.

(This could be Poor Communication Kills--Mina apparently left a note that he couldn't bear to read. For all we know, she was just letting him know she needed a week or two to ponder what had happened and she'll be back. She's got a lot to process, after all--her fiancé mysteriously disappears, her best friend Lucy sickens, Dracula in the guise of a handsome foreigner attempts to seduce her and half-convinces her she's his reincarnated wife, she breaks off a budding affair to quickly marry said fiancé when it turns out he's still alive, Lucy is killed by Dracula in a jealous rage and rises again as a monster, and then Dracula partially transforms her into a monster too. She flip-flops on helping her husband and friends kill Dracula to save her from darkness and ultimately it's her who redeems--and then kills--the vampire king after holding her husband and friends at gunpoint. At minimum, things are going to be really, really awkward.)

However, there's a much more cheerful alternative--marriage counseling with Abraham Van Helsing. After all, he's a doctor, he's eyewitness to the whole situation, and he's apparently very knowledgeable about vampirism (and theoretically what responsibility, if any, both parties have for their actions under the vampire's influence). Here's the relevant scene:

Note his extreme insensitivity, both toward Mina for Lucy's death and vampirism and Jonathan for his abuse by Dracula's brides. Jonathan was held captive for weeks and repeatedly fed upon (in an extraordinarily sexual fashion) to keep him from escaping, but he discusses this as though Jonathan had been unfaithful. This is not "infidelity" (Van Helsing's words), this is straight-up rape. Although in my rarely humble opinion Dracula set Mina up--using some kind of psychic ability (the memories of a past life she only remembers when he shows up and plies her with absinthe) on top of the simpler expedient of keeping her fiancé from her and feeding off her best friend to make her sexually frustrated and stressed out and vulnerable to his attentions--she still chooses poorly, whereas Jonathan has no choice at all. If he thinks Jonathan is an adulterer rather than a rape victim, he'd probably view Mina even less sympathetically, especially given how she turns on everybody at the movie's climax.

So...your fanfic plot, should you choose to accept it, is to tell the tale of Van Helsing providing marriage counseling to Jonathan and Mina after the events of the film. And using Van Helsing's extreme insensitivity and manic tendencies (seriously, watch the scene where he discusses Lucy's possible transformation into a vampire with her suitor Quincy Morris and humps Quincy's leg while referring to Lucy as "a bitch of the devil"), it should be as hilariously horrible (or horribly hilarious) as possible.

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