The Dracula Society
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Past Society Events in 2022
The Society Christmas Social
Thursday 15th December 2022
Once again at the historic George Inn in Southwark.
Our traditional pre-Christmas gathering included a keenly fought caption competition, and 'Santa's Sack' gift exchange lucky dip!
The 47th Annual Bram Stoker Birthday Dinner
Saturday 5th November 2022
Once again at London's Civil Service Club, an amazing fifty members and guests gathered to celebrate Bram's birthday.
This was the highest number present for quite a few years.
Both of our award winners, Children of the Night award winner Helen Grant, and our first three-time Hamilton Deane Award winner Mark Gatiss, were with us to accept their awards.
Our guest of honour for the evening was actress Marianne Morris, one of the stars of José Ramón Larraz's cult 1974 film Vampyres. She co-starred with Murray Brown, our very first award winner, who received his award in 1974 for the Dan Curtis directed Dracula, in which he played Jonathan Harker!
Gothic Readings Evening
Tuesday 25th October 2022
An evening of members' readings for the Hallowe'en season!
We were very pleased to have again found a suitable venue to revive our 'Library Evenings', which had been on hiatus for six years. A change of name for the event though as the new room is not actually fitted out as a library!
Fifteen members and guests assembled, and were entertained by readings from novels, short stories, and original poems and songs.
Saturday 1st October 2022
An illustrated talk by writer and academic Roger Luckhurst, who spoke to us about the first incarnation of The Ghost Club, which existed in London between 1882 and 1910.
This was a private dining club whose members met to discuss matters supernatural and occult.
All members and their guests were required to tell a 'true' ghost story once a year. These tales were preserved in minute books and deposited in the British Library in 1936.
Castles of Slovakia
Tuesday 30th August to Saturday 3rd September 2022
A five day trip to Slovakia, to mark the centenary of 1922's Nosferatu, which includes scenes filmed at Orava Castle.
Thirteen members and guests attended, and with glorious weather throughout, a great time was had by everybody.
We visited eight castles in all, and despite the long strenuous climbs to some of them, none of them disappointed!
The group at Orava Castle, in front of the steps featured in Nosferatu
The highlight was of course Orava, our third visit to what is a huge and impressive structure on many levels from different periods, but for us its main significance is that it was used for several iconic exterior scenes as Count Orlok's castle in the silent classic Nosferatu, released 100 years previously in 1922.
The areas used have little changed, and are immediately recognisable.
The steps as they appear in the film
We also took the opportunity to visit again the ruined castle of Čachtice, where the so-called 'blood countess' Elizabeth Báthory spent her last days, reputedly walled up in her room, but more likely actually just under house arrest!
She was immortalised by Hammer Films as Countess Dracula, rather unfairly as it's now considered almost certain that the worst excesses that she was accused of were simply untrue 'smears' by her many enemies!
Saturday 30th July 2022
A day trip visit to Highgate Cemetery. The Society had previously visited here several times, but the last time was way back in 1987, now 35 years ago!
The weather was kind on the day, and the seventeen members and guests who attended had a great time.
The Society group at the entrance to Highgate Cemetery
Although great doubt has been cast on the theory in recent years, the cemetery was long considered by some to have been intended by Bram Stoker to be the site of Lucy's tomb in Dracula.
This included Society co-founder Bernard Davies, who identified one particular tomb as a likely candidate, and took us to it on our early visits.
The Gothic entrance of Highgate West Cemetery
Other locations, such as Hendon churchyard, have tombs of the correct type which more fit the location of the tomb in the book, which was stated to be "in a churchyard", not "in a cemetery", but Highgate Cemetery is still a splendidly Gothic location!
Part of the 'Circle of Lebanon' in Highgate West Cemetery
Saturday 18th June 2022
'Little Shops of Horrors'?
Writer and film historian Darrell Buxton gave us a fascinating illustrated talk about the history of the 'portmanteau' film, with particular reference of course to the horror anthologies produced by Amicus Productions during the 1960s and 1970s, a genre arguably starting in the UK with the Ealing Studios' 1945 classic Dead of Night. The genre goes back much further than that though, and includes early German silent productions.
After two consecutive meetings where we had lost our intended programmes, it was good to get back to normal service!
Spring Meeting and AGM
Saturday 30th April 2022
Again our scheduled speaker Jess Kidd was sadly unable to be with us on the night. Again we hope to welcome her on a future occasion.
We decided on this occasion to just have an informal 'Committee chat' meeting after the business of the Annual General Meeting was concluded. After the Membership Secretary's and Treasurer's reports, and the approval of the Society Committee's membership going forward, the members of the Committee took questions from the floor about the general direction of the Society, and also suggestions of trips that we might do in the future.
It was good that without the pressure of having to fit things around a formal talk, we could all chat and socialise together for longer than at a normal meeting.
Saturday 5th March 2022
Sadly our scheduled speaker Dr. Janette Leaf was unable to be with us on the night at very short notice due to COVID-19.
We hope to be able to welcome Janette on a future occasion.
Instead we held an impromptu meeting themed on FW Murnau's silent film classic Nosferatu, whose première had taken place 100 years ago on the previous day, March 4th 1922.
We screened footage from our 2011 Society visit to Orava Castle in Slovakia, which was one of the main exterior locations for the film, followed by a Nosferatu themed quiz, which was keenly fought by hastily assembled teams drawn from those present.
After the results were given we watched a piece produced as a DVD extra featuring our Honorary Life Member Christopher Fraying, which gave a comprehensive analysis of the film.
New Year Meeting
Saturday 22nd January 2022
To mark the centenary year of the original 1922 silent classic film version of Nosferatu, which we screened in 2019 to tie in with our Germany trip to visit some of its locations, we screened for the very first time at a Society event the 1979 remake Nosferatu the Vampyre, directed by Werner Herzog and starring Klaus Kinski in the title role.
A few early Society members remembered the first time we saw this film, at a preview screening in the West End of London at the time of its release, arranged by our then member the late film critic Marge Bilbow!
Striking cinematography, dramatic music, and an intense and almost tragic performance by Klaus Kinski, make this a haunting and beautiful addition to the screen versions of Dracula.
Opinions are divided on the ending, which deviates markedly from the original text, and indeed from the original version of the film, but there is no denying this film's visual power.
A good turnout of members present boded well for the rest of the year, which we hope will be when we finally get back to "business as usual" after the COVID-19 pandemic disruption to our normal programme of events.
1973 - 2023