By IAicien Agniel Real Dracula was no tourist attraction Vampire?Maybe not. But Count, Dracula— Vlad the Impaler—was a blood-lusting sadist whose ghost hires Americans to Romania America's passionate and long-standing love affair with Dracula is a phenomenon worthy of psychiatric study. Ever since the Irish-born novelist Bram Stoker wrote it in 1897, the story of the vampire count of Transylvania has fascinated readers. In those days, when America's innocence was unchallenged, Stoker's Dracula was the wickedest form of escapism. Who can forget the little shiver of apprehension when the gaunt, aging count appears with his greeting: "Wel¬ come to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!" "The instant I had stepped over the threshold," re¬ lated Stoker's hero, Jonathan Harker, "he moved im¬ pulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect . . . not lessened by the fact that it seemed as cold as ice—more the hand of a dead than a living man." The fascination has been fueled by seemingly end¬ less Dracula, or vampire-oriented, films, most promi¬ nent of which was the first vampire talkie, in 1931, starring Bela Lugosi as the bloody count. It fused Lugosi's career with Dracula—remember him, canine teeth bared, approaching the nubile, helpless maiden? —and added a new dimension to the legend. Today, cynical laughter greets late-show replays of Dracula films and vast changes have occurred in the Dracula legend itself—and the uses to which it has been put by its Communist proprietors in Romania. Diligent scholarship has unearthed in recent years some long dormant facts about the original Dracula, a 15th-century prince whose sadism and murders rank Bela Lugosi was the most unforgettable of all the film Draculas who chilled audiences. him among the most cruel tyrants of history. In 1972, Raymond T McNally and Radu Florescu published In Search of Dracula, which Publishers Weekly called "doubtless the best of the spate of Dracula books that have been a minor publishing phenomenon in the past year." It differentiates between the real Dracula of the 15th century and the 19th-century creation oi Bram Stoker's imagination. Also, it explores the twist¬ ing trail of circumstances which took Stoker into a never-never land between fact and fiction. As the scholars silted and sorted the vampire leg¬ ends, Romania's president and national party head, Nicolae Ceausescu, was making a lew adjustments ol his own. Stoker's Dracula trembled at the sign of the cross, shrank from garlic: and most feared a sharp stake aimed at his heart. The bright and resourceful Ceausescu faces equally fearsome hazards, for he strives to maintain friendly alliances with both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Dracula had only to avoid the daylight—and certain specific well-defined dangers. Ceausescu, the helms¬ man for Romania's independent course, encourages Romanian nationalism and, at the same time, opens his country enthusiastically to tourists from Western Europe and the United States. Photographs by Lee Battaglia i **t*~K- WsM Iflk MM Dracula dolls await the tourist trade- part of the package on visit to Draculaland. 1 lunedoara Castle is where Dracula may have spent part of his youth. It is one of several mysterious fastnesses whose towers rise amid the mountains of Transylvania and Moldavia. Since he succeeded Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej upon the latter's death in 1965, Ceausescu has steadily solid¬ ified his power base. And it is Ceausescu's appreciation of the potency of nationalism that has rekindled Romanian interest in the history surrounding the real Dracula—and has promoted the development of a tour¬ ist program which promises to bring Western visitors to Draculaland. "The real Dracula fought for the cause of the Ro¬ manian people," an official of the government tourist agency declared recently. This was so at variance with my earlier reading on the life and times of Vlad Tepes, "Vlad the Impaler," that I visited Andrei Raiescu, di¬ rector of the Romanian National Tourist Office in New York. Mr. Raiescu, a prematurely graying young man, was candid in discussing Dracula as a tourist attrac¬ tion. "In 1974, we expect to draw four million tourists. About 800,000 of these will come from Western coun¬ tries—but only 30,000 from the United States." The implication was clear: Relatively few Americans visit The author is in the Foreign Service. Mr. Battaglia photographed patent models in April, 1973. Romania; Americans are in love with Dracula, there¬ fore Dracula deserves promotion. The real Dracula was born in the old German for¬ tress city of Schassburg in Transylvania. Authorities are uncertain of the birth date, but 1431 is a good guess. A plaque marks the house in which Dracula was born; it's dedicated to his father, Dracul. Young Dracula's father was a strong man who be¬ came a prince of the southern Romanian principality of Wallachia. He was also the duke of two districts- Almas and Fagaras. Dracula's sense of his own im¬ portance was early enhanced when the entire family was baptized and made members for life of the Order of the Dragon—avowed foes of the hated Turks. Dracul consolidated his already powerful position through trickery. Sensing that the balance of power was shifting to the wily Turkish sultan, Murad II, Dracul signed an alliance with the Turks—violating his sacred oath. Many Transylvanians surrendered to Dracul, pleading for mercy; the alternative was to be carried away by the Turks. Dracul's "mercy" to his own kind in turn aroused the sultan's suspicions. He invited Dracul and his sons across the Danube for a meeting" in the summer of 1444, there to accuse Dracul of treachery. Dracul pros¬ trated himself before the sultan, promised eternal loyalty—and left Dracula and his brother, Radu, in Turkey as hostages, where they saw at firsthand mur¬ der, rape and looting. It was an egg-treading existence for the teen-aged Dracula, who lived at Turkish sufferance. But he seemed to thrive on adversity, learned the language and gained insight into the "tortuous workings of the impressionable Turkish mind." Upon his escape in 1448, he had a reputation for treachery, pugnacious- ness and brutality. Dracula had perhaps been goaded to escape when he learned of the murder of his father a year earlier. It seems likely that the Turks looked the other way when their strapping prisoner made his way to free¬ dom, for they put him on the Wallacliian throne that year—a move that lasted only a couple of months. It failed because Dracula fled his throne for very good reasons. He trusted nobody, was surrounded by This icon of Dracula may be only existing authentic portrait of the 15th-century figure. his father's murderers and didn't want to go back to the Turks. So he chose Moldavia, the northern Ro¬ manian principality, and exile. Later, he surfaced again in Transylvania, where he threw himself upon the mercy of the powerful prince who had been re¬ sponsible for the murder of his father. Murder and pillage had become a way of life for Dracula, and he indiscriminately fought friend and foe. In German, Russian, Hungarian and Italian, the deeds of this deranged and cruel prince are copiously recorded. Nothing in the record ties him to vampirism, but Dracula—"Vlad the Impaler"—was bloodthirsty to the point of extreme sadism. It is hard to find in the record of his career anything to justify a heroic image. A few reported examples: In order to terrify his Turkish neighbors, whose plans to invade were widely rumored, Dracula speared Turks with his own hands and impaled parts of their bodies on stakes in a gory skirmish line at the border. Once, offended by the presence of beggars, Dracula summoned them to a lavish banquet. After they had eaten their fill, he inquired if they might like to be freed forever from the cares and worries of fending for themselves. When the beggars chorused a grateful "yes," Dracula had the entire dining area boarded up and set afire. When a group of Turkish envoys declined to remove their turbans in his presence, Dracula inquired why they so affronted him. Told that they only followed Turkish custom, Dracula replied: "I too wish to strengthen your law." With that he called in his guards and had the turbans nailed to the Turks' skulls. The delights of impalement Impalement was hardly a new method of torture, but it was Dracula's favorite means of imposing a death sentence. A horse was usually harnessed to each leg of the victim, while a stake was carefully intro¬ duced to hold the body firmly in place. Sometimes the torturers got specific instructions from Dracula to re¬ frain from making the stake too sharp, lest a quick, gaping wound kill instantly. Dracula often dined out¬ doors amid the screams of his impaled victims, hung up on stakes around the dinner table. On one occasion, a guest complained of the stench of the dead and noise of the dying. At once, Dracula had the poor fellow im¬ paled on a stake much taller than the others, in order to let him die out of range of the odors! There was another side to Dracula's personality. It's not enough to dismiss him as a torturing, demented scoundrel, whose very name means "son of the Devil" in Romanian. True, he was all of that, but he was also dealing with other murderers and intriguers—"for¬ eigners" who were either trying to overrun his country The real Dracula or perpetuate their monopoly of trade in the Ro¬ manian principalities. Life was both cheap and short. In 1476, Dracula fought his last battle outside Bucharest. It is not certain how he met his death. It is both grisly and appropriate that this mass murderer's head was severed, sent to the sultan in Constantinople and displayed—on a stake—for all to see. What then of Stoker's Dracula, the legendary vam¬ pire brought to life on the screen by Bela Lugosi? Stoker himself wrote of his own painstaking efforts to consult established authorities and to study the avail¬ able literature of the embattled lands fought over by Christians and Turks, His geography was never far off the mark: The town of Bistrita is precisely described and located; so are other villages in the tale; the Borgo Pass leading from Transylvania to Moldavia really exists and is beautifully described in Stoker\s novel. Stoker departed from the truth in embellishing Dracula's character—especially by making him a vam¬ pire. He also fictionalized Castle Dracula, a strange mausoleum somewhere in the Transylvanian moun¬ tains. Yet there exist, eerily, high up in those moun¬ tains, the twisted spires and battlements of Dracula's real castle. It's now under the protective custody of the Romanian government and is being renovated. Other Dracula castles are emerging from the limbo of the Middle Ages to be spruced up in support of both legend and truth. Dracula's palace at Tirgoviste is an impressive structure; his tomb at Snagov (the body was missing when the tomb was excavated in 1931) is already famous. So is Bran Castle—and Brasov, said to be the site of one of his famous massacres. Stoker himself, through the medium of his hero, Jonathan Harker, was of two minds about Dracula. Harker's first impression—an extension of Stoker's view of the monster he was creating on paper—was this: "His face was a strong—a very strong—aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it un¬ der the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel- looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth... ." Later, when Harker comes upon Dracula in his cof¬ fin, the reaction is different: "There lay the Count, but looking as if his youth had been half renewed, for the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron- grey; the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. . . . The whole awftd creature [was] simply gorged with blood. He lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion." Authentic, villain or legendary vampire. Count Dracula is alive and well. Woodcut shows Dracula dining amid impaled victims while others are hacked up for his delectation. At eerie Snagov Castle, Dracula was buried— minus his head. By 1931 his body had vanished.