It is Sex Week at Kent State University, and throughout this week there are seminars on sexual health and responsibility. The goal is to give students at Kent State a broad spectrum of information. It also happens to be one of the most popular events on campus. But, the University still gets calls from parents claiming that Kent State shouldn't have this week as it compromises values, but Kent State affirms that it is a public health issue.
We have always had a interesting cultural fear of sex, and it goes back to the Puritans really. Western society, though it has advanced on the topic, is still very very comfortable about it, and has used myth, religion, and metaphor to prevent, scare, and shame people not from having it. One of the myths created was that of the vampire. Though the original Bram Stoker novel has been interpreted many ways, and while authors and filmmakers have had their own creative vision of vampires that have added or demeaned the myth (aka Twilight), it all goes back to the source, and a film was definitive in establishing the myth to popular culture in 1931's Dracula.
The film stars Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, and Dwight Frye. The film starts with Reinfield (Frye) soliciting traveling to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania. The people at the local village advise against it, and warn him not to go. His carriage driver sides with the people who refuse to go beyond Borgo Pass. Another carriage driver offers him a ride to the castle, and the driver goes quickly. He asks the driver to slow down, only to see the driver of the carriage is a bat. The carriage manages to get the castle, where he is greeted by Dracula (Lugosi), who is a vampire. Reinfield does not know this, and talks about Dracula leasing Carfax Abbey from him, where he intends to travel the next day. Dracula hypnotizes him into opening a window, and he faints as a bat appears. The Count's three wives close in on him, until Dracula gets them to back off, and then sucks his blood. Dracula, in coffin, travels with Reinfield on the ship Vesta, and Reinfield is now a lunatic slave who turns the other way as Dracula feeds on the ship's crew. When they arrive to London, Reinfield is the only one alive on the ship, and is taken to a sanatorium adjoining Carfax Abbey. In the meantime, Dracula meets Doctor Seward (Herbert Bunson), his daughter Mina (Chandler), and her friend Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Lucy is enarmored with the Count, and the Dracula pays her a blood-sucking visit that night. Lucy is discovered in the morning and is attempted many transfusions. In the meantime, Reinfield's habits are being analyzed by Professor Van Helsing (Van Sloan). If you haven't seen the film already, you need to see how it turns out. No happy Twilight ending, that's for sure.
Dracula has been analyzed and purported as a myth established by people who aren't comfortable with sex and sexuality, and for more than a century, it has achieved its purpose by scaring people away from it. But, as Halloween draws near, the storyo f Dracula is also a lesson in teaching us to confront our fears openly. Regardless of what values we are taught at home, even a vampire hunter knows you need more than a stake for protection.