calliopes_pen: (sallymn save me from purple prose)
calliopes_pen ([personal profile] calliopes_pen) wrote2017-01-01 01:28 pm

The Yuletide 2016 Fanfic Commentary Post

-Right at the point where Jonathan is having a tantrum and (I think) saying his master is mighty, somewhere around the point of the stool breaking, so, too, did the code. Everything after that was in italics, with the word that caused it disappearing from the text. When I went in to correct it, Ao3 had it so that every single paragraph started with the italic coding. So I just deleted all the text once I located and edited the one piece of code that broke it elsewhere, and pasted it back in from my Word document. That took care of it. Thankfully, it wasn’t too close to story reveals.

-Just so you know how far I went into the depths of Dracula in the process of writing this story, I tracked down The New Annotated Dracula, by Leslie S. Klinger, and the Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics for Dracula. I re-read the novel with and without that. And then I watched/rewatched (for proper biting appearances): Dracula (1968; since that’s the assignment), Horror of Dracula (1958), Dracula (1931), Dracula (1931; Spanish version), Nosferatu (1922), Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Count Dracula (1977), Count Dracula (1970), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), and a truly massive number of low budget films that I can’t recall all of the names of right now. I also listened to the Big Finish audio play of Dracula, and likely a dozen other audio interpretations of the story.

-There are a handful of deleted scenes in this story; I’ll get to them at the end. This site was especially helpful in regards to obscure folklore for vampires.

-The bat on a string looked sad with their budget, but look what I did to it. Film’s in black and white, so who could really say if the eyes glowed demonically or not?

-Quincey Morris received a cameo as the carriage driver who laments the loss of a good horse due to regular vampire bats in his travels, and returns to drive Van Helsing to the docks. He wasn’t supposed to be in the story at all, and he wasn’t even in my outline. It evolved. The horse comment is also a reference to the novel.

-Essie is a nod to the maid in Dracula: Dead And Loving It. Unlike the other references, that was completely unintentional at first.

-I had to name Mrs. Weston; in the novel, she was only Mrs. Westenra. Helena, so far as I know, isn’t a reference to anything, but it means light just as Lucy’s name does. Google reveals she was named Minerva Westenra in the recent Dracula series on NBC; a play called Dracula: Blood of Nosferatu names her Miriam. Aside from that, I’m not aware of the poor lady ever getting a first name in any adaptation.

-I have always felt that Van Helsing is the veritable embodiment of the trope of Poor Communication Kills, especially in the novel. By bringing in Mina for this alternate universe of Dracula (1968), this is thwarted.

-The comment about not accepting food or drink from Mrs. Weston is a reference to the novel. Lucy discovered the maids passed out around the decanter, as the contents were laced with enough of it to knock them out. Mina knowing how they were both influenced in Dracula (1968) and that Mrs. Weston has the laudanum, she’d be suspicious of something potentially occurring.

-Father Arminius: It’s my way of paying homage to the man who may or may not have inspired Bram Stoker in the creation of Abraham Van Helsing. His name was Ármin Vámbéry, and he was also known as Arminius. He was an acquaintance of Bram Stoker’s and helped him as a consultant when he was writing Dracula.

-For a while, I was going to have Rowse actually bring a puppy to Jonathan, and then take it away when he wouldn’t cooperate with the mesmerism—that seemed cruel, and endangered an animal. It morphed into Seward being baffled by being convinced into agreeing to it, pretending to agree further so that the mesmerism would be accepted. Off camera, it also makes Jonathan a far better solicitor than he has any right to be, unless Dracula was planting suggestions.

All the while, Jonathan had also been instructed to allow them to put him under again, and happily did it. He just wanted to see what they’d do to get him to that point. That could be why Dracula allowed him to behave a teensy bit in that manner, so that it could further his agenda.

-The other Arthur was Arthur Nicolai, who is Dracula’s servant and is a nod to one other thing. Bruno Nicolai, who did the music for Count Dracula (1970), as I said in the author’s notes. I went back and forth on naming him for a good while. I almost named him Bruno Sandor-Nicolai. Sandor was the minion in Dracula’s Daughter (1936). I don’t believe Bruno works for a Victorian name, so that thought was quickly scrapped.

-Does anyone know what that thing is called that Van Helsing always used to mesmerise Jonathan in the film? I never could figure it out.

-For the bit about Jonathan (possessed by Dracula) and Seward being almost nose to nose in the cell, I actually went around and looked up the height for Corin Redgrave and James Maxwell. Corin Redgrave: 6’1’’ ½. James Maxwell: 5’10’’. Denholm Elliott: 5’11’’. Dracula’s sort of having fun looking down his borrowed nose at Seward from inside Jonathan’s body there, I believe. He’s a few inches taller from inside him.

Correction: It's around 6'3'' for James Maxwell. Dracula shall remain ever so slightly shorter than Seward, no matter if he possesses Jonathan's body or not. So close for him. Kudos to [personal profile] lost_spook for the correction.

-The Latin used for the exorcism of Jonathan comes from the Rituale Romanum. I excised a piece of it, and then reworked it to personalize it for Jonathan’s situation, before I tacked on that it was temporary. If I was bad with the grammar, let’s all just handwave it and pretend that Van Helsing is poor at conjugation of verbs in Latin. I’ve never gone near Latin before! (Google Translate and other sites seemed okay with my results.)

-In the original outline, the possessed Jonathan would have simply attacked Mina. That felt too simplistic for him, and I almost nixed the whole scene as a result. Somewhere along the way it transformed into Dracula looking down on them all, and tempting them. Jonathan was originally supposed to snap back into possessed minion mode following the exorcism, but then the real Jonathan peeked through.

-“Your very soul is in danger!” Yeah, if Mina’s doing well in this alternate version, Van Helsing’s still saying it to someone. Subconsciously, while he was out of it from the possession and trance, Jonathan still heard Dracula’s promise, too. He has no memory of anything he said or did while possessed, just the sensation of him being inside him.

-The whole “Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh” Dracula’s doing is a reference to the novel. And then it grew. I realized the best way to turn Jonathan even faster was an exchange of blood…a bit like what Mina went through in the novel, but he’s far happier about it. There was never a mention of exchanging blood (aside from poor Seward’s transfusions for Lucy) in this version of Dracula, so I got creative.

-With Jonathan being turned, I had one major idea in the early stages that involved Dracula basically wedging Jonathan’s head between the bars and snapping his back in half to expedite his death. The blood slowly dripped down his neck, along his arm, and off the tips of his fingers. The steady dripping sound drew Seward to him, and was horrifying for Mina to see…especially when Jonathan reanimated, bones crunching back into realignment as he tried (and failed) to reach her, hissing and growling all the while before he freed himself and attacked Seward. It was decided that was one step too far. Granted, it’s my sort of thing, but it’s not in keeping with the tone of Dracula (1968) or what was asked for. And Dracula wouldn’t do that to his willing servant.

And then it turned into Jonathan reanimating and snarling and falling dead again before being stored in a nice, dark room by Van Helsing until night (so Jonathan could lead them to Dracula). And then it altered from there into something else and became Jonathan attacking Seward, fleeing, finding Dracula courtesy of Newborn Vampire/Dracula GPS, and then collapsing. Adrenaline can work wonders when one is transforming.

-Christopher Penhaligon, the orderly that locks himself in a cell to stay away from the just turned Jonathan, is a reference to two people. The late Sir Christopher Lee for the first name. And Susan Penhaligon for the last name; she played Lucy Westenra in Count Dracula (1977).

-Jonathan falling into a rosebush was originally going to be a hawthorn bush, but that’s just cruel to kill him so soon after he’s turned. It would have been a reference to The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), since Christopher Lee’s Dracula dies by falling in a bush there. Instead, it’s just a mishap of a slightly bad landing that involves thorns.

-When Seward was zapped by the telepathic message of “Tonight” and collapsed—yes, the rest of that knowledge was provided the same way while Seward was out cold. It’s why he took so long to come around.

-The mention of Lethe, in case anyone is interested and didn’t know? It was one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades. All those who drank the water experienced complete forgetfulness. A quick snippet from Wikipedia: “The shades of the dead were required to drink the waters of the Lethe in order to forget their earthly life.” There was also a goddess/personification of the same name. Mina didn’t want him to forget all that made him who he was.

-The “show me where” moment when Mina wants to position the stake correctly is a reference to Crimson Peak, and felt like something she might request. Thomas wanted Alan to show him where to properly stab him in Crimson Peak. It is also a nod to last year’s assignment.

-The interlude to Jonathan/Dracula almost didn’t get included. And then I noticed that I needed something of that angle before everything else went down, and it just fit. It also provided a title drop when I was going back and forth on names.

-Yes, poor Arthur was covered head to toe in mud when he left. Why wasn’t Jonathan? Because in the time remaining, Arthur undressed him, got him dressed in clean clothing that looked similar, opened the coffin, and dumped Jonathan on Dracula before he went back to guarding them. A minion’s work is never done.

-The withering flowers are a reference to the dying flowers whenever Dracula was around in Dracula (1968). I assumed it would be worse on the foliage in fog form, or wherever he was resting.

-The other Latin prayer (“Adjuro te in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti!”) used to keep vampires away was spoken in the film. It means, “I charge thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” I’m not Catholic, so it took a while to transcribe and then Google it to figure out what the first two words were that were being shouted.

-For the curious? They told Lucy that Dracula died from his illness once he reached Transylvania. They were afraid of her becoming pen pals with him if they said otherwise.

-The Czarina Catherine was the ship Dracula escaped on in the novel—this doesn’t happen in Dracula (1968). So when it happened in the story, it felt the best name for the ship enabling Arthur, Jonathan, and Dracula to get away.

-About the bat, despite everything, spellcheck kept automatically correcting Quincey’s line from “It looked mighty peckish” to “It looked mighty puckish.” While amusing, I had to keep going in and fixing it in Word. It almost slipped through the cracks during editing when it switched it back without me noticing yet again. Another day’s worth of checking back over everything caught it.

-Jonathan’s hysterical pacing and snapping at Van Helsing is a bit of the next level of how Dracula behaved when he saw a cross on Lucy in the film, when he was trying to bite her. Lines cut that would have followed “You drove a stake through Marishka!”: “She was my favorite to play with! She had extra teeth, and now she’s dead.

-Originally, the hopping black vampire was dubbed Lupita, as a nod to the recently departed Lupita Tovar in the Spanish version of Dracula (1931). That didn’t feel like it fit. I then almost named her Lemora, as a reference to the film Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural. That didn’t quite fit the region, either. In the end, many hours of research on various sites led me to name her Mehira about a day before stories were revealed. The name means swift and energetic. Amaya’s name is Japanese; it means night rain. Marishka is a reference to Van Helsing (2004), and I think she was the first bride to die in that one, too.

-The “sacrilege” comment from Dracula was an inadvertent reference to Dracula (1979). Once I realized that, I decided it still fit.

-For a while, Jonathan, Mehira, and Amaya were supposed to all be holding each other and writhing on top of each other and biting Jonathan (to stop a constant growl, instead of merely nipping him) when they were on the stairs. Dracula would have then explained to Van Helsing that they are merely like a pack of wolves, and Jonathan’s a still young fledgling and needs guidance from a firm ruler and proper training—and the behavior is merely how Jonathan acclimated after he was put into his proper place by the ladies. Scene changed.

-That “shell corrupted by the evil of Dracula” line is a reference to Horror of Dracula (1958).

-In the castle, when Van Helsing mentions the Jiangshi, I also had a reference to another creature, and then took it out. The Krasue. Basically, Van Helsing just shudders to think that if the Jiangshi is real and the accounts were true, then maybe the Krasue is, too. Dracula comments there are such things, and then it’s dropped. It’s a vampire (sometimes considered a ghost) from Thailand’s folklore. From Wikipedia: “It manifests itself as a woman, usually young and beautiful, with her internal organs hanging down from the neck, trailing below the head.” It also tends to feed on children prior to childbirth via a particularly nasty method, and I really didn’t want to accidentally trigger anyone passing through that happened to look it up due to its obscurity.

It also wasn’t that necessary, so I could remove it without bothering anything.

-Yes, Rowse was Seward’s very confused best man.

-The bit about the groom fainting at the altar wasn’t edited in until the final few hours. I didn’t know if it fit, but thanks to being encouraged I finally placed it there, along with the bouquet catching. I also realized it brought up the fainting total for him.

-The title would have originally been Suffered From The Night as a reference to Jonathan’s diary entry in the novel when he’s trapped in the castle. This is the line in the book: “No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and how dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.” It’s why Jonathan says he doesn’t suffer in the night now that he’s a vampire; it just became a nod to that since it outgrew the potential reference.

-I will say that it should go into greater detail after breaking Jonathan free from Dracula in the other story that I couldn’t finish, and am going to give a go at writing. Jonathan sorrowfully says goodbye to Dracula’s ashes in a rather eloquent way, after being terrified about freedom. Seward takes him back to his cell, and they talk for a short time; he quotes the ‘suffered from the night’ bit. Realizing he’s saner but still broken and confused and scared sort of snaps Mina out of staring at Seward’s throat.

-Other titles considered and rejected for the story that did get written were the following (the first two are references to a Lord Byron poem): She Walks Through Shadows. She Walks Through Sunlight. She Cannot Dwell In A World of Shadows. The Waters of Lethe. Let This Flesh Be Transformed By The Night. Let The Darkness Take Shape Within You. Memento Mori. An Ember In The Ashes. “Let the darkness take shape within you; soar free of your pitiful mortal shackles” was going to be a melodramatic line from either Dracula or post-transformation Jonathan to Seward. I chose (or just forgot) not to use it.

-Only a handful of moments were cut, if you include the aforementioned Krasue, and lines here and there. Another one was more. It was Mina encouraging Seward to eat some chicken broth (from the asylum cook after he heard an amended version of the chase, and just wanted to be nice) after he wakes up from the nightmare, after he says where Jonathan is, but before they get the manacles out of the office. Seward has an attack of vertigo and almost faints as he gets up; she gets him to eat after he finally realizes that he might endanger everyone if he doesn’t. He still doesn’t have much of an appetite, and wonders if it’s from the shock of everything, or the bite, or if it’s due to his knowledge of his cook not being that great. The reason for not sliding it in? It would probably take a bit too much of their remaining time to eat and then look for someone to take away the tray, bowl, and tea cup.

It felt too rude for Seward (or at least, he would feel that way) to drink straight from the bowl as they went.

This other moment was considered, and then just scrapped as the deadline loomed. The moment when Seward smacks Jonathan with a holy water laced garlic clove—Jonathan hisses or snarls. I had planned to have Seward instinctively hiss back in response, angry in spite of himself (or reflecting Jonathan’s anger, he genuinely wouldn’t know) due to that bite messing with him, and then feel horrified. Jonathan seems darkly pleased by that reaction despite his own pain before he runs (before he circles back and goes up that tree unnoticed). The others ignore it, knowing how upset Seward is by it. It would have led to a little bit extra for the comment Jonathan gave regarding looking out of Seward’s eyes. (Basically, in the final section as Mina thinks back, Mina knew there were times it wasn’t entirely him looking back.)

If you want to see it or the soup scene, I can easily put it in a comment for you.

The last moment wasn’t much, and is referenced a bit further down in the section on all I had to research.

-I researched Latin phrasing, Catholic rites, exorcisms, geography around Transylvania, how to reach Bran Castle (the inspiration for Castle Dracula), how to cleanse an object of evil (for the other story), vampire folklore in Romania, vampires in other cultures, proper terms in each culture (such as strigoi and revenant), the proper way a vampire should bite someone and not cause a huge splash, laudanum, chloroform, bats, lamps like Mina carries and a different sort that Seward carried, manacles, treatments in asylums of the time, and, God, even right down to the proper length of a divan.

What phrasings wouldn’t be said back then? Telepathy was one major one, so it became thought transference. I held off from researching Romanian swearing when Van Helsing doesn’t understand the far off muttering of Mehira. It was too close to the deadline (two hours) to go back and edit yet again if I found something entertaining.

And I had already changed the fog and Dracula leaving the lawn, by adding a few extra snippets by that point, and expanded a bit during the start of Jonathan’s possession. I figured that was enough for everyone.

That should be everything. If I left something out that’s an obscure reference, I’ll explain it.
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)

[personal profile] sovay 2017-01-01 09:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Corin Redgrave: 6’1’’ ½. James Maxwell: 5’10’’. Denholm Elliott: 5’11’’.

How on earth did I not know that Denholm Elliott was involved of Dracula—as Dracula, yet? How do you like it as a version of the story?
lost_spook: (edward)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-01-01 08:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I'll have to read all this properly presently, but here's a thing: IMBD is clearly incorrect about James Maxwell's height. I'm not sure, because of that how tall he actually was, but it seems to have been around 6"3. I've watched him in enough things to be sure of that, even though height varies a lot because of the camera. But he's consistently as tall or taller than multiple 6ft plus actors when standing next to them, despite often hunching, or leaning back against things to lessen his height. I don't know what IMBD's on or why it thinks that, but it's very visibly wrong! (He stands pretty much level with Tom Baker throughout Underworld and Tom is 6"3; he seems to probably be not quite as tall as Bernard Horsfall, who is 6"4, but as tall and I think taller than Alfred Burke, who is 6"1, or 6"2. If IMBD can be believed on them!)

You may be obsessive over Dracula, I'm obsessive over James Maxwell, what can I say? He's <>i>tall. :lol:
lost_spook: (history)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-01-01 09:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't know! Could be; there is a second actor James Maxwell or they typed in someone else's height in the wrong place, and it's not as if he's around to correct his details; he's been dead for 20 years. It's hard to be sure with camera angles, of course, because they can be very deceptive, but the only reason I ever glanced at his height in the first place was because he was so noticeably tall in everything that I was curious, and then I was taken aback by the result, so I looked up a bunch of actors he'd seemed to be on a similar level with and they were all over 6 ft, so I'm pretty sure it's IMBD in error. All I can say for sure, because camera angles, is that he was over 6" and my best guess, using other tall actors as rulers, would be 6"3.

Edited 'cos now I re-read yr comment properly. /o\ (I am much too tired! I need to stop making too many comments about ridiculous things .) While I'm here, I should say it's not unusual for IMBD not to know old-time actor's heights; it doesn't have Suzanne Neve's at all. (Which was unhelpful in my Measuring JM quest!)
Edited 2017-01-01 22:02 (UTC)
lost_spook: (divide & rule)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-01-01 10:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I think in most cases it depends whether they were still working when IMBD went live - because then their agent would have entered the info for potential casting use and it should be (reasonably) reliable. Otherwise, it's come from some other contributer. And unless James Maxwell's ghost was being more than usually active, I doubt he still had an agent by that time! (Suzanne Neve is still alive, but she and her husband went off to run a drama school in the early 80s, so she isn't active in that sense.)

And Suzanne Neve is clearly taller than Susan George, but considerably shorter than JM and Corin Redgrave. 5"8, maybe? We'll have to use Denholm Elliott as a ruler... ;-D
lost_spook: (dracula)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-01-02 10:06 am (UTC)(link)
And, seriously, as I said, I would be very happy to see your missing scenes!
lost_spook: (dracula)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-01-02 08:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Aw, thanks for sharing them! They're all really good, but in particular I like the one where Jonathan is watching, because that's both nicely creepy, and also shows them dealing with stuff together. I enjoyed all these extras! :-)
lost_spook: (dw - oswin)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-01-02 09:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I think it could have done, too! But at times like that, you do have to draw a line at some point and stop, if only for your own sanity. But I got to see it anyway. :-)
lost_spook: (dw - oswin)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-01-03 05:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Of course! :-)