When Universal began cranking out their horror classics in the 1930s, the unauthorized silent film was a major template in the minds of those who had seen it or stills from it. And while debonair Drac remained the cultural icon of the un-dead for the 1930s and 40s, the influence of this film lurked just beneath the surface, cropping up on radio and in comics with increasing frequency.
Pretty remarkable when you consider every print of the movie had been ordered destroyed.…
You see, in a very real sense Dracula stopped being Bram Stoker’s property the moment he released it into the wild. The moment he turned it loose, the moment other people began reading it, the cultural matrix of what we meant by “vampire” was forever altered.
This is not to say previous or non-Stoker vampyric creations were abolished, but that Stoker in the very act of creation had been forced to use collaborators, and those collaborators — however minusculely at first — used Stoker’s input to change the cultural gestalt that made Dracula possible.