Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

Ok, so before we even get started, I already know what your first question is, because I had the exact same question. What the hell is a voivode? Well, I happen to know what a voivode is now because I looked it up, and I’m happy to be able to share that information with you. Basically a voivode is a ruler or warlord. The word had it’s origins in the 1500’s and was generally used up to and perhaps through part of the 1700’s in Eastern Europe around Transylvania, Moldavia, Russia, Croatia, etc…. Vlad Tepesh, or Vlad the Impaler as he’s more widely known, is the voivode talked about in this documentary, and the guy that it’s widely believed was the basis for the character of Dracula, though the documentary goes a long way to dispel any connections or similarities between the character of Dracula and the voivode, Vlad Tepesh.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this documentary. I knew it was a documentary about Bram Stoker and his incredibly famous book Dracula, as well as the real life person the character of Dracula was supposedly based on, but that’s all I knew. I requested it for review because the subject matter sounded interesting, even though I didn’t know how well made or informative it would be. Once I watched it, I was incredibly impressed. The depth of the information here on the backgrounds of both Bram Stoker and Vlad Tepesh is very impressive indeed. For instance, they go all the way back to Bram’s childhood. He was a sickly child, and couldn’t even walk until he was seven, and yet when he began to attend Trinity College when he was 16, he was highly athletic and very into a variety of sports.

He had a doting mother that loved him, and when he was a boy, she would read him stories often. Bram actually coined the term "undead" because of the stories his mother told him about the great cholera outbreak. People were so afraid of the disease that they’d dig huge graves, push the sufferers in with poles and then bury them alive. This gave him the idea for a creature that wasn’t quite alive and wasn’t quite dead, looking for revenge against the living who had treated them so cruelly. He also worked as a civil servant for ten years, during which time he was promoted and sent all around the country with the court, allowing him to view all the the peasant country, which he then used as a foundation for various settings in his books. After that, he worked in the theater, which was a job he actually loved. He hated being a civil servant.

Vlad Tepesh was famed for his cruelty, and his penchant for impaling those he conquered or punished on spikes, led to him being called Vlad the Impaler, though what solidified his place in history, and the name that was attributed to him, was when the Turkish army was coming to attack. He had his men impale 20,000 dead Turkish soldiers on spikes in a big semi-circle, in what many would call a masterful stroke of psychological warfare. The plan worked. When the leader of the Turkish army saw the display, he lost his taste for battle, and the Turkish army turned around and went home.

I could go on and on with various facts about Bram Stoker and Vlad Tepesh, but that would defeat the purpose now wouldn’t it. You need to see the documentary for all the facts about the story, the men, and the huge impact this one single book has had not only on various cultures, but also the impact it’s had on literary history.

Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode is a brilliant documentary, with footage and interviews shot in several different countries. It’s an absolute gem of information and the interviews, facts, photos and the various people, groups and locations involved, will keep you glued to your screen from start to finish. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and I am delighted to be able to recommend it highly.

If you’d like to find out more about this incredible documentary, you can check out its website here, and if you’d like to order yourself a copy, you can buy the PAL version through the website, or the NTSC version through Amazon.