Monday, November 12, 2007

Paul Bibeau's "Sundays with Vlad"

Paul Bibeau applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Sundays with Vlad: From Pennsylvania to Transylvania, One Man's Quest to Live in the World of the Undead, and reported the following:
I am a freelance writer whose book, Sundays with Vlad, is about the history and pop culture legacy of Dracula. And also about ruined honeymoons, scary theme parks, and the lethal Romanian road system.

By page 99 I have already visited Philadelphia, where Bram Stoker’s notes are kept, for a historical discussion of how Vlad the Impaler got mixed up with that book Stoker wrote. And I’ve taken a side trip to Wildwood, NJ, for a discussion about arson, the horrors of funnel cake, and the defunct carnival ride that brought the literary and historical Dracula’s together. But when we talk vamp, we really need to hit the movies… So I spend 48 hours dug into my couch, eating bad food and viewing everything that Hollywood can throw at me. And at this point in the book, we come upon the Coppola version of Dracula:

"...Winona's English accent wouldn't pass muster at a high school production of Oliver. And Keanu's known for emotionless acting, but he reaches new depths here. His eyes are just blank. He looks like a golden retriever who's just been hit on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.”

I talk about how “the movie keeps alternating wonderful special effects and lush scenes with truly horrible examples of acting and crappy, high-school-theater accents, and you thrill and wince, thrill and wince, like the worst S&M game ever…”

And then I describe the end, where “Dracula changes to a human and heavenly light bathes everything, and he says, 'Give me peace,' and when Winona stakes him, all is forgiven. Because we no longer have movies where the bad guys are just bad guys. Now every villain has to have a backstory and a childhood trauma and a need for redemption, like some washed out heavy metal rocker talking about His Nightmare Descent into Booze and Pills on a Behind the Music show.”

I stand by everything in the book. Even the part where I say that Winona has a really, really stupid hat.
Read an excerpt from Sundays with Vlad, and learn more about the book and author at the Sundays with Vlad website and Paul Bibeau's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue