Freeland, Cynthia A. The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000.
In Chapter 4 of The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror, Freeland offers a feminist interpretation of Stoker’s novel, Dracula, and three of its film incarnations, including Browning’s Dracula (1931). She focuses on the sexual transformation of Dracula and the changing nature of his evil through his incarnations in these works.
This section of the book is ordered chronologically and charters the evolution of Dracula through Stoker’s original novel Dracula (1897), Browning’s Dracula (1931), Badham’s Dracula (1979), and Coppola’s Dracula (1992). In the novel, as in Nosferatu, Dracula is unremittingly evil, symbolized by his ugly, disgusting appearance, hairy palms and nostrils, and bad breath. He is an abomination of nature, a thing that causes revulsion and disgust. Freeland asserts that, for this Dracula, “the threat of gender transgression lurks amid scenes of erotic abnormality and rape.” She compares this Dracula to Browning’s, noting Dracula’s transformation into a “sex icon with continental flair.” Perhaps this sort of Dracula was more appealing to contemporary audiences. The nature of this Dracula’s evil was primarily that of a sexual threat and male predator, not that of the intrinsically foul. Freeland goes on to analyze more recent films, in which Dracula is increasingly portrayed in a sympathetic light and with a greater depth of character.