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Variations on Dracula

We review titles about that most famous count:

"Brides of Dracula"

"CURSE OF DRACULA" (approx. 55 min.)

$11.99 CD / $9.95 cassette

SoundMind Theater
Written and Directed by Lee Davis
Produced by Lee Davis, Paul Hammock and Paul Tate
Music by Phillip Truett
Recording and Postproduction by Hammock Audio Services
Marketing and Media Services by Stairwell Studios


  • Jennifer Crumbley-Bonder as Mina Murray
  • Ric Reitz as Jonathan Harker
  • Scott Hilley as Dr. van Helsing
  • Barry P. Mills as Quincy P. Morris
  • Jordan Williams as Count Dracula
This is not your father's ``Dracula.'' Lee Davis's adaptation moves Bram Stoker's characters from 1897 to 1998 and most of the action to Savannah, Georgia.

The changes are both a blessing and a curse for a reviewer. The best possible review for a straight adaptation is ``It was just like the book,'' and that's boring.

Freer adaptations -- especially ones that move plots and people from their original setting to the present day -- are harder to judge. On the one hand, changes to the story and shifts in background give a reviewer some meat to bite into. On the other hand, you have to come to some sort of decision as to whether the changes work.

Davis's adaptation shows a light hand through- out. The basic Dracula story is preserved without being slavish, and the inventions are often amusing: Renfield is a real estate agent driven mad by the pressure of work. Lucy runs a bed-and-breakfast. Van Helsing is a psychia- trist. (Freudian or Jungian? You have to wonder...) There are plot twists having to do with holy water and the time of sunrise novel enough that I can't talk about them without being guilty of dispersing ``spoilers.''

All in all, it works well. I don't really have a taste for vampire stories and it's a rare bloodsucker tale that entertains me. This one did.

(The other recent exception to my vampire- aversion is ``Brides of Dracula,'' by Thomas Fuller and ARTC. Where ``Brides...'' has horror and dark sexuality, ``Curse...'' has horror and good humor.)

If you're looking for an audio ``Dracula'' that will save you from having to read Bram Stoker's novel before you write that book report, this isn't it. If you already know the Count and his antagonists, and are ready for a fresh take on their adventures, here's one.

Technical/mechanical stuff: I gather this is SoundMind's first production. You'd never know it. Their production chops are solid. The cast are workmanlike; soundscaping is subtle; music is confined mostly to transitions but is variegated and emphasizes the action without overrriding voices.

Ron Butler


The Brides of Dracula

$12.95 from  Lodestone or
ISBN 0 929483 20 0

by Thomas M. Fuller
The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company

Directed by Doug Kaye

Featuring the voices of:
Karen Barrett
Dena Friedman
Thomas E. Fuller
Keith Hartman
Bill Jackson
Clair W. Kiernan
Fiona Leonard
Trudy Leonard
Daniel Taylor

Original music by: Alton Leonard
Sound design by Henry Howard

Cover painting by Lonnie Harvel
Jacket design by Clair and Daniel Kiernan


  Reviewed by Jerry Stearns

I don't usually like vampire stories. I wasn't impressed - read 'scared' - by them when I was young, and now I just find them unbelievable. Let's say they bore me to undeath. But everyone else seems to like them; which is why their popularity returns periodically, I suppose.

Atlanta Radio Theatre's "Brides of Dracula" full cast audio production, then, was a very nice discovery - if "nice" is the right word in this case to mean creepy. It is mostly the usual plot of the original novel, with Jonathan Harker bringing back Count Vlad from the old country. Certainly The Count is the primary villain in the story, but he has these women who fight over the new necks he brings around to bite. They women he is after are just two more in his harem of the undead.

The Brides in "Brides of Dracula" are certainly submissive to his will. And they are always eager for some new blood. But the way they speak is dripping with sexual overtones and undercurrents enough to roll you over and drag you under. Their voices swirl around your head like little bats. I couldn't even tell just how many of them there were. I kept wanting to swipe them away as I would a wasp; but not wanting to hit them for fear of the sting. They speak in 19th Century poetic language, as though reading from the original Bram Stoker, but the hunger in their overlapping voices gave me the feeling they were crawling over each other to get under my collar. I know good audio theater is supposed to create vivid mental images for the listener - but I'll testify it can also make your skin crawl.

Oh, and one other thing. Some of the audio backgrounds and effects in this piece would be considered good if done in a multitrack studio environment, but these guys do the whole production Live! People who might have been there to watch them perform this work must have left little trails of blood in the aisles on their way out.

{Editors Note: The Brides of Dracula was originally performed live. The tape version was re-recorded in the studio due to fix poor acoustic conditions at the live show.}

by Bram Stoker

NAXOS CD ISBN 9 62634 115 7

My interest was peaked by the "full cast" note in a review in AudioFile Magazine. (It was on the same page as a Review by Yuri.) In addition I had noticed that NAXOS was advertising Full-Cast Dramas on Audio. Now Dracula was not one of the titles in the ad, but anyway....

The 3 CD set is a wonder audio book...dramatically read by a full cast. No doubling of parts here.
NAXOS also has at it's disposal a large collection of classical music, which was used very effectively in the production. Give the format of this particular title, a lite spicing of sound effects could have turned this release into a real drama.

The story has been abridged by Heather Godwin and dramatization credit goes to Nicolos Soamers.




As used on this site, the terms audio drama and radio drama refer to content that contains acting, sound effects and music presented as a dramatic audio performance. Audiobooks or Books on Tape ™ are usually an audio book that is read with or without music and sound effects. For a further explanation see this page.

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It is the intent of these reviews to give the potential listener an idea of the type of presentation and the quality of the listening experience. We do not review audio books.