Little-Known Santa No. 22
Upon first meeting Little-Known Santa No. 22, the modern viewer is not particularly surprised or impressed.
Two large and pronounced vampire fangs. Check.
Stern brows overhanging piercing dead-black eyes and their dark underlying bags. Check.
Hair spiked back from a widow’s peak into a high gelled sawtooth ridge. Check.
Vestigial fuzzy batwings sprouting from the lower trapezius muscles. Check.
Highly polished needle-toed (and rather effeminate) evening shoes. Check.
Stiff formal posture and stilted mannerisms straight from a previous century. Check.
Faint smell of female human blood on the breath. Check.
Cheesy organ music welling up in the background. Check.
It all seems so predictably expected and ho-hum. Of course, this is how Draculaus should appear! How else? we ask.
But we make such observations only after having fed on multiple consecutive decades of undead vampire books, movies, plays, television shows, and comedies, as well as countless Halloween costumes past. Sure, by now this whole ‘blood-sucking guy that avoids sunlight, garlic, silver bullets and wood stakes’ thing is going to seem tired and clichéd.
But did you ever consider how hard it must have been for Draculaus to create this cool codified look from scratch? What we see as same-old same-old is, in fact, the product of very inspired creation of a seamless and enduring phenotype!
It sure as heck could not have been easy to get from some short inbred bug-eyed Transylvanian schmoo of a despot, with a penchant for piercing people with sharpened poles, to the smoothly creepy caped serial terrifier with a taste for hemoglobin that we now know so well! That inscrutable Wallachian tongue wisely gave way to regular American cinema English (albeit spoken with a decidedly campy Balkan accent). The castle in the Carpathians — which was, in fact, rather small and ordinary and damp and dumpy, and composed of creamy pale ochre sandstone — was transformed into a veritable Disneyland of despair and death: all dark and multi-spired and cobwebbed and creepy and massive, with bats galore and every gate creaking, unoiled.
And all of the original Vlad Dracul’s accoutrements and accessories had to go. The regal gown of fur-trimmed damask gave way to one of simple serrated supple black silk. Vlad’s hated cinnamon was switched out for the more distinctive and exotic garlic. His four-posted canopied bed with sumptuous bedclothes in the grand master’s chambers was supplanted by a simple oaken coffin with black velvet cushions, poised atop a stone plinth in the cold and dark former wine cellar. Gone was the dictator’s vast collection of crowns, fezzes, busbies, berets, tricorners, beanies, bycockets, snoods, shakos, boaters, toques, chapeaus, helmets, kepis, turbans, tarbooshes, cloches and toppers; hats hide the distinctively intimidating vampiric hairdo, and thus just won’t do on camera.
So the next time you are sitting through another interminable vampire tale, zoned out on the living room couch or the cineplex pleather, refrain from bewailing the benumbing plot. Consider all the creativity required simply to bring the Draculaus character to life, and you’ll realize there wasn’t much left for the storyline.
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