Dracula vs. Frankenstein
A treatment by Danél Griffin, © 2005.
History of the Dracula/Frankenstein Wars (inspired heavily from the books In Search of Dracula and In Search of Frankenstein)
Circa 200 C.E.
It begins with the true story that inspired the St. George and the Dragon myth. St. George was a Frankenstein, and the Dragon was not really a mythological creature, but a powerful warlord bearing the Dragon crest—also known as the Dracula Crest. This warlord was going to conquer George’s kingdom, and he was seemingly unstoppable. Only George was a knight who is powerful enough to stop him. George began, as most of the great villains did, as a righteous and chivalric Christian who rules an isolated outpost in the Germanic territories for Rome.
George Frankenstein and the Warlord Dracula meet on the battlefield with their warriors, and after a decisive battle, Dracula overcomes Frankenstein, but the Warlord is much impressed with George’s skills in battle. George retreats, angry at God and feeling betrayed. Why would God allow George to fail, if his cause was just? At this moment, George gives into temptation and makes a solemn vow with Satan himself that he will devote himself as a servant of Hell if Dracula and his minions will be delivered into his hands.
The next day, a messenger for Dracula approaches George’s village with a message. The Warlord will meet George alone on the battlefield, their armies looking on; if George wins, Dracula’s army will retreat. If Dracula wins, George’s kingdom will be his.
George accepts the terms, and Frankenstein and Dracula meet on the battlefield (still covered with the bloodied bodies of the previous day) alone. Before they battle, Dracula senses George’s change of religious heart, and only sneers, “A house cannot be divided!” Dracula, we learn, has sold his soul to Satan long ago. Satan therefore has double-crossed them both—he is on neither of their sides. How can either one be handed the advantage in this battle if both sold their souls to win? George accepts that he has been tricked and agrees that while he can now never enter into heaven, now he and Dracula must fight for dominion over Hell. The winner will sit at the right hand of Satan and help him command.
Dracula agrees to this vow, and takes it a step farther: The battle will not end on this battlefield, but in a fight that will stretch between generations to come of both Draculas and Frankensteins, and the last family member of one to strike down the last family member of the other will be the champion of hell—with all the generations of his family going right back to this battlefield.
The vow made between them, George and Dracula fight, and George is the victor. He cuts out Dracula’s heart and holds it up for the warlord’s army to see. Dracula’s armies retreat and George gains fame throughout the land—but his dark vow remains with him, always haunting him. He is damned, and he has damned his whole family for centuries to come.
Decades past, the Frankensteins joined a knighthood that built walls and fortresses on the Romanian borders, in an attempt to hold the residents in and convert them to Catholicism. Among these castles are the Castle Bram, the home of the family of the Dragon crest.
Vlad Tepes the Impaler, who needs no introduction, continues to hold the crest of the Dragon. He battles Turks from his home in Wallachia, in an effort to unite all of Romania under his rule. He also fights in battle various Germans who have sided with the Turks, many of whom hold the name of Frankenstein. They fight on the side of the Turks not for the sake of religion or politics, but because they have not forgotten their private war with the Draculas, nor their bid for the right hand of Satan. Vlad hasn’t forgotten either, though it is more like an old superstition that is secondary to his own quest to unite Romania. Nevertheless, many Frankensteins end up impaled on the borders of Vlad’s country.
When the Germans start their anti-Dracula crusade in an effort to remove Vlad from the throne of Wallachia, it is the Frankensteins who campaign for it. They are the ones who enlist tales and ballads to be sung—all exaggerated—of Vlad’s reign. This leads to Vlad’s removal from his position and being imprisoned by Prince Matthias. As he sits in prison, Vlad is able to ponder what the Frankensteins have done to him, and he decides to take this family feud very, very seriously from now on.
During the course of Vlad’s life, mainly as a result of the shifting allegiances he had to form after the anti-Dracula propaganda in order to stay in power, he is declared a heretic both by the Holy Roman church and the Orthodox church, and is fate is sealed—he can never enter into heaven or hell, and must stalk the earth as a specter (he is not, however, a vampire in this story…simply an immortal phantasm in physical form). Even after he is killed, he wanders the Earth as a phantom, never to find any rest.
The battle between the Frankensteisn and the Draculas continue, completely under the radar and unseen, mixed into other larger battles throughout the next decades. Still no matter the slaughters and victors on both sides, the Draculas continue to have the edge, as the presence of Vlad’s ghost means that there will always be one Dracula left on earth, unable to be destroyed by physical means. Thus, since Vlad is immortal, there will always be one Dracula left, and will therefore win the bid for Hell.
This advantage shifts in the 1600s, in a little castle near Darmstadt , Germany….
Johann Conrad Dippel, a devious, evil alchemist and innkeeper for the Castle Frankenstein, is obsessed with two things in his life: 1) Discovering immortality, and 2) gaining the title of Frankenstein. He earns both in the course of his life, and thus becomes, as Vlad will call him in modern day, “The bastard son of the Frankensteins.” Dippel is also a theologian, but his theology is designed to turn people away from faith, not towards it. He gains infamy throughout the land for his diabolical experiments, deceitful theology, and his obsession with the dark arts.
As an alchemist, Dippel believes that the soul can be transferred from body to body, and thus a person can achieve immortality. Unlike other alchemists, he perfects the process in which this is done. As he travels around the world, he learns of the battle between the Draculas and the Frankensteins, and decides the he wants a spot at sitting at the right hand of Satan in Hell. He thus successfully “adopts” himself into the Frankenstein family and figures out the secret to transferring his soul from one body to the next. He is presumed dead when his corpse is found, but he has simply left his own body and has transferred to another, in a process that only he knows.
By embracing these dark arts, Dippel has achieved immortality as Vlad did, and he establishes himself as the leader of the Frankensteins in their war with the Dracula crest. Now, both sides have their immortal figureheads, and the balance between the two families is restored.
The battle rages between the families. Vlad, a very quiet immortal gentleman only known by a few close family members, is more of a myth in the Dracula family than anything else. He wants to win the battle against the Frankenstein family, but he also simply wants to restore Romania as the most powerful state in the world. He is willing to do anything to achieve the latter goal, and kill anyone in the process. He is almost like a ruthless mafia lord, to be seen only in shadows and allowing the Draculas to corrupt the earth in secret crime rackets designed to shift powers to Romanians and to wipe out the Frankenstein family once and for all.
Dippel, on the other hand, prefers a large profile, and his main goal is the total destruction of the Dracula family and his dominion over the earth. Dippel is responsible for all of the major atrocities on the earth in the last hundred years—he was Rasputin, and he was Hitler. When Hitler died, he was Stalin, which explains why the Russian leader’s allegiances shifted after the war. He was Jim Jones, he was the leader of the Al Qaeda, and now, he is a very prominent leader in the world stage (we don’t know who he is at this point).
The two families continue to fight one another, and to destroy one another. In the twentieth century, the war remains a quiet one, but it continues to be fought, family members killing one another a little bit at a time, sometimes in wars, sometimes in the streets. Now, the family is finally narrowing down. Only hundreds remain of the original bloodlines of both families, and both families predict that the war will be over soon. They want to battle as George and the Warlord first did—in one, decisive battle in which they all will meet, once and for all, and one family will finally wipe one or the other and totally end the bloodline. Preparations are being made for such a fight. Dippel is ready and waiting, though Vlad, still longing to restore Romania, is seemingly against it and at odds with other Draculas about such a decisive battle. This War be damned, he wants Romania restored before he rules Hell.
In the meantime, something curious has happened over the course of the centuries: The battle between the families has manifested itself into fiction. Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker both got wind of the historical Frankensteins and Draculas, and wrote now classic fiction on the matter. Ever since their completion, the vampire Count Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster have been at odds with one another, always competing in fiction, films, the box office. More often than not, the two beasts are pitted against one another, and are in competition over the title of the King of Fiction’s Evil in a way that closely parallels the family’s true battle with one another. The families, of course, see the fictions as a sign of their destinies. Dippel finds it hilarious and appropriate; Vlad is, at best, bemused.
Present Day Storyline/Protagonist:
William Bension is a second-rate horror-movie writer who has been hired to write a screenplay for what his producers hope will be the definitive Dracula vs. Frankenstein film. The only guidelines given by the studio is that Dracula and Frankenstein eventually have a colossal clash, and one of them must fall. Otherwise, he has free reign over the subject matter. Bension’s films are always a hit at the box office but are critical failures, and Bension really wants this project to succeed. As a result, he doesn’t want to write just another schlock-film, but a movie that takes the Dracula and Frankenstein legends very seriously, and actually treats the two gothic demons as they were originally written, not in their popular B-movie forms.
Using the Shelley and Stoker books as his inspiration, Bension has devised a treatment that he thinks will become the first screenplay that he has every really been happy with—one that both will give horror fans what they want and also takes the two antagonists more seriously than they have ever been taken before. The only problem is, he can’t think of an effective ending. He has got it down to Victor Frankenstein and Abraham Van Helsing tracking Dracula and the Monster to the North Pole, but he doesn’t know why they are going there and what will happen when they get there. Just as he spirals to this essential confrontation, writers block overcomes him so terribly that he simply can’t move forward with the final few scenes.
In dire need of inspiration, Bension decides to take a trip (on the studio’s tab) to the original castles of Frankenstein and Dracula, hoping that the ending will be revealed to him there. Using the travel books In Search of Frankenstein and In Search of Dracula as his guides, he indeed visits the castles, his laptop with him hoping that the inspiration will come. He decides to really get into the mood and check himself into the hotel near Castle Frankenstein as “William Frankenstein,” and the hotel near Castle Dracula as “William Dracula.” He meets the typical, superstitious villagers who don’t take kindly to strangers, and who warn him that when someone dabbles in the things of the Devil, the Devil will always dabble back.
All of this is interesting, even educational, but Bension still can’t think of an ending. What he does do, however, is inadvertently stumble upon the real-life Dracula/Frankenstein family war and gets tangled up in it in a way that he could never imagine. The final “showdown” between both families is now at hand. The location for the battle still pending agreement between them, and spies for both families assume that Bension, checking into historic locations as both a Frankenstein and a Dracula, is a double-agent. The Frankensteins believe he is really a spy for the Draculas, and the Draculas believe he is really a spy for the Frankensteins.
Bension is first kidnapped in Transylvania by the Draculas and held for questioning, only to be kidnapped by Frankensteins later. Bension escapes and begins to put the pieces together (the above family history will slowly be revealed) and actually pretends to be members of both families in order to infiltrate their ranks and learn the truth. This takes him into the darkest corners of the world, in which he meets the immortal Vlad and the body-hopping Dippel (who turns out to be a major world leader—I haven’t decided who yet).
Bension in particular spends a great deal of time with Vlad, who is as ruthless as he ever was, though his rage has mellowed out over the years. Dippel, it seems, has adopted most of Vlad’s cruel hobbies these days (including all sorts of terrible types of torture), though Vlad will still terminate anyone as callously as necessary to advance his goals. Vlad figures out very quickly that Bension is not in the bloodlines of either family, but he agrees to keep him around, so that someone will be there to record the battle that began so long ago.
Finally, it is decided that the families will meet on the same field that George and the Warlord first encountered one another. It is now a swamp between two quaint villages in territory somewhere in between Germany and Romania. Both families use a combination of witchcraft and guerilla tactics to battle. Hundreds of family members meet and fight, with Bension looking on, and it is a total bloodbath. Every family member is destroyed on both sides—and as the smoke clears, only Vlad and Dippel remain—just like George and the Warlord.
There is a monumental battle between them, after which both realize that they can’t kill one another. Legends had existed that they had the capacity, as supernatural beings, to defeat one another, but these prove to be unfounded. There will be no winner here, and as the last of the Draculas and Frankensteins, they could spend all eternity battling one another, to no avail.
For a long time, Vlad and Dippel stare at each other rather sadly, finally feeling the weight of this savage war. They don’t hate one another. They actually deeply respect one another. Satan has fooled both their families, from the beginning, to fight this utterly pointless war. Satan doesn’t make deals, they conclude; he manipulates them. Now, Dippel and Vlad are two immortals who will walk the Earth forever, and they agree, on this battlefield, to stay out of each others’ way in their goals to restore Romania and control the Earth, respectively.
Bension watches the whole battle and its final outcome between the two immortals in revulsion and terror. But as he watches it, he has a revelation—the ending to his screenplay. He flees the scene, and the savage war is recorded in history as the death throes of a terrible cult, a la Jonestown. No references to the bloodlines are given. But Bension knows, and he now has the ending for his screenplay, which goes on to be a box-office failure but a critical success that gets nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. You can’t have everything.
William Bension’s screenplay treatment (synopsis):
This story will be told, a little bit at a time, as a screenplay treatment that will be scattered throughout the above intersecting storylines, developing as the rest of the story develops.
It will take place in Victorian London, the same time that Bram Stoker’s Dracula took place. But this time, among the “fearless vampire hunters” Abraham Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, etc. of Stoker’s novel are the Swiss medical students Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval, who join the others in their hunt for Dracula. They attended the University of Ingolstadt, and are now here on sabbatical.
Of course, while Jonathan Harker is trapped in Castle Dracula, Victor Frankenstein creates his Creature out of bits and pieces of dead bodies. The two stories play out almost individually at first, except that in addition to Victor’s dealings with the Creature—a dark secret he dares not share with anyone else in the group—he is also among those who are dedicated to destroying Dracula.
As the Creature kills Victor’s brother and the maid Justine Moritz dies for it, Van Helsing assumes that the young boy’s death was at the hands of Lucy, a poor girl who Dracula turned into a vampire. Eventually, the Creature and Victor Frankenstein meet as they do in the book; the Creature demands a mate, and Victor complies under the condition that the Creature will secretly help the other vampire hunters in their quest to find and destroy Dracula. The Creature agrees and begins his search for the Vampire Lord. Dracula, sensing the presence of an evil being that rivals his own, and fearful that a being now tracks him with the supernatural capability of defeating him, quickly catches wind of Victor and the Creature and chooses to get involved in these happenings.
Dracula’s first order of business is confronting the Creature (or rather, the Creature—super smart, super fast, and articulate, as he is in Shelley’s novel—uses his superior intellect to track down Dracula’s liar and corner him) and planting seeds of doubt that Victor will ever create a mate for him. But Dracula offers to create a bride for the Creature. The Creature hesitates, ponders the offer, and that is all the time that Dracula needs to make his escape. Dracula then comes to Victor as the scientist secretly works on the mate and convinces him not to finish the female, for all of the reasons that Victor rationalizes in the Shelley novel. As in the book, Victor destroys the body, the Creature is betrayed and murders both Henry Clerval and Victor’s sweetheart Elizabeth (childhood friends with Mina here, which is the connection between Frankenstein and the vampire hunters). Both deaths are accredited to Dracula by the vampire hunters, but Van Helsing begins to suspect that there is some other force moving about besides Dracula, whose methods are certainly different but just as deadly.
The Creature then joins forces with Dracula, who promises to create a suitable bride for the Creature is he will help the Vampire Lord escape to his castle in Transylvania. The Creature complies. Dracula also makes an offer to Victor, who vows revenge against his creation: He will help Victor track down and destroy the Creature if Victor will stop the other vampire hunters from their quest to destroy him (somewhere in this conversation, Dracula must say the line, “For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you're a wise man, Frankenstein.”). Victor refuses an alliance with Dracula, until the final showdown at the steps of Castle Dracula where the Count was staked in the Stoker novel. It doesn’t quite happen that way in this screenplay.
Once the vampire hunters get to the castle, Mina and Elizabeth both arrive to meet Van Helsing and the others as the brides of the respected demons—Mina the vampire and Elizabeth the creation (done by Dracula, using Victor’s notes). Victor goes mad at the sight and kills Jonathan Harker and the other vampire hunters on the spot, and demands that Dracula destroys the Creature and his Bride. As the sun sets, Dracula rises from his coffin and only laughs at Victor—he has played into Dracula’s hands and has enabled the Count to survive against his human adversaries.
Victor and the Creature battle, and Victor ultimately kills the Elizabeth Creature. The Creature, enraged, demands that Dracula resurrect her. Dracula refuses—the Creature had been his pawn too, and now there is no reason to continue the relationship. The Creature responds by staking Mina and grabbing a handful of Dracula’s native soil from his coffin. As long as the Creature has that, Dracula can never rest anywhere, and remains in the Creature’s power (Dracula can only rest where the soil from his land has been collected; since the Creature now has some, Dracula cannot rest). The Creature then flees to the North Pole, Dracula and Victor both in pursuit. We also learn that Van Helsing survived Victor’s bullets and is tracking Dracula as well, following the whole group to the North Pole.
Here is where Bension gets writer’s block. What happens once they all go North?
To make a long story short: Van Helsing and Victor Frankenstein join forces to track their demons, but it is an uneasy truce under the circumstances. Once they get to the North Pole, they conclude that the only way to destroy both demons is if they can get them to battle each other. They therefore lure both Dracula and the Creature to an icy plain, where they duke it out in a colossal clash that rivals the one that Bension encountered in the swamps between Vlad and Dippel.
In the process, neither one can defeat the other. They fight to a standstill, and realize that they are two perfectly matched to defeat one another. Instead, they realize that this fight has been set up by Victor and Van Helsing. They join forces once again and destroy the two humans once and for all. The Creature is bittersweet about the death of his father, but the death is out of justified revenge.
The Creature and Dracula then decide that they are the ying and yang to one another—one a hideous mockery of death, the other a hideous mockery of life. Evil’s balance is somehow created in the existence of both, and they will agree to live apart, neither one to destroy the other. The Creature returns Dracula’s soil, and Dracula departs. There is no winner, but there are no losers either - the way it should be, and th way the two demons want it.
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