Friday, 3 January 2020

Gamebook Friday: Dracula - Curse of the Vampire

I'm loving Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat's take on Dracula and am looking forward to the final part of BBC 1 this evening, and it's got me thinking about adaptations of classic stories.

The BBC has broadcast adaptations of four such stories recently, three true classics - H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and Bram Stoker's Dracula - and one modern classic, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

The whole family was gripped by His Dark Materials, which even had the kids looking up from their phones, and I loved Lorne Balfe's score. The score was the best bit about The War of the Worlds, and I religiously fell asleep every Sunday night whilst watching it. The jury's still out on A Christmas Carol - how much can you take away from a classic story before it is no longer recognisably the same story - but at least it held my attention.

I have spent the last five years producing my own gamebook adaptations of a number of classic stories, some of which are more like re-imaginings than straight adaptations - NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! being a case in point - while others are much closer to the original source material, like Beowulf Beastslayer. But no matter what I have done with the stories, I have always tried to ensure that I hit all the beats people would expect.

Both Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland and The Wicked Wizard of Oz are populated with a host of characters from the original source texts, while 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas is filled with every Christmas cliché you could think of.

It just so happens that the sixth ACE Gamebook will be Dracula - Curse of the Vampire, and may be my closest adaptation yet. By the way, the Kickstarter campaign launches on Sunday 1st March 2020, with special rewards on offer for those people who back within the first 24 hours.

It was with no small amount of relief that on watching the BBC's Dracula I realised that it goes in a very different direction from my version, which allows you to play as the eponymous Count himself, and has diverged from the original novel massively. However, this has not been to its detriment; if anything it has reinvigorated the story and made it horrifying again*. All the important characters are still in place, but Gatiss and Moffat continue to surprise and intrigue the viewer throughout.

"You have something in your eye."

Where the BBC's adaptation of The War of the Worlds went wrong, I believe, is that some of the changes that were made were utterly illogical - for example, the levitating heat-ray thing - but worse than that, it was boring. And it's quite a challenge to make H. G. Wells' classic about an alien invasion of Earth that dull. While I'm still undecided about taking so much of Dickens out of A Christmas Carol, at least it wasn't boring**.

And I think it's safe to say that Dracula - Curse of the Vampire won't be boring either. To be kept up to date with developments, subscribe to my Newsletter here, and join the ACE Gamebooks Facebook group here.

* The opening scene where Sister Agatha says to Jonathan Harker, "You have something in your eye" springs to mind.

** And I'm a big Guy Pearce fan.

No comments: