Title: Diary of a Vampire, the Legacy of Bram Stoker
Genre: Biography, Horror, Supernatural, History
Production Company: Reality Films

Philip Gardiner’s Diary of a Vampire enters into the intriguing world of Bram Stoker, the renowned Irish author of Dracula (1897).

As possible influences on Stoker’s work, the film looks at European history, Freemasonry, Asian mysticism, mythology, the esoterica of Madame Blavatsky, along with her well documented disagreement with the German scholar of religion, Max Müller.

A great deal of visual and narrative emphasis is given to the idea that, in contrast to the scathing account given in the biblical Book of Genesis, the serpent represents sexual energy that may be transmuted into spiritual power—i.e. the kundalini and seven chakras.

Whether or not this kind of subtle, inner power is healthy, hypnotic or perhaps manipulative is left open to debate. Along these lines, we’ve all heard about charismatic individuals who use their personal power to manipulate instead of honorably manage situations and other people.

The film’s treatment of the serpent is further developed by mentioning the Christian belief that, as a symbol of evil, the snake’s power is to be overcome through intercessory prayer and, in centuries past, abject violence.

Dracula, then, is taken as a symbol for the English fear of esoteric cults during a time that saw a resurgence of the ongoing conflict between the ‘Christian West’ and ‘Pagan East.’

To its credit, this thoughtful and well-researched film asks which side Stoker is on—Christian or Pagan. It also asks whether Stoker is merely observing and inadvertently encouraging a nascent consciousness shift that will culminate in a full-fledged Gothic revival in the Victorian era.

Diary of a Vampire is highly recommended for those interested in the ongoing tensions and ambiguities found among Christian and non-Christian beliefs. And this DVD is particularly strong when tracing esoteric, occult and underground influences in the Victorian era.

—MC (revised from 2010/01/11)