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Culture

A Dracula Spectacular

As the festival of Halloween comes knocking once again, a more lasting shrine to the legend of Count Dracula is preparing to open its doors to thousands of vampire lovers.

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Dracula, Dracula and more Dracula at Germany's new Vampire Museum

Friday night, October 31st or just plain old Halloween marks the opening of a museum dedicated to the life, history and mystery of the vampire. Located in an old castle, which has all the drama of a real vampire experience, the aptly named 'Vampire Museum' pays thrilling testimony to these blood-sucking creatures famed through centuries of story-telling. Blood, bats and Bram Stoker

Right in the center of the main exhibition, a life-size vampire figure complete with flowing cloak and demonic trickle of blood stands aloof in the atmospheric glow of candle-light. But this show-stealer is by no means the only attraction worth a peak for those brave enough to do so. The collection is also home to the first edition of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. The Irish writer immortalized the cult Count back in 1897, spawning decade upon decade of literature, film, theatre and even advertising based on the famous blood-sucker.

Ausgestopfte Fledermaus

The new museum has something of everything, from the original film poster of Roman Polanski's 1967 Dance of the Vampires, to a costume from Francis Ford Coppola's hit film Dracula, and from kitschy plastic figures to tin coffins. And that is not all. A few steps away from the vampires is a whole different world -- a world of bats. The room is dedicated to these mysterious, graceful animals of the night, with information boards and stuffed bats leading visitors through the nocturnal world of the creatures so often associated with the immortal Dracula himself. Vampire passion

The museum is the brainchild of Ulrike Wynche, who is fascinated by the mixture of danger and erotic embodied by vampires. In an interview with dpa news agency, she said she is attracted by their dark and forbidding nature, which offers a contrast to everyday life.

Wynche decided to take her passion for the fanged creatures a step further, and teamed up with the Frankfurt-based mythology researcher, Hans Meurer. The researcher has already wooed Dracula fans across the country with several exhibitions of vampire memorabilia. Together they hope that their unusual new museum will shed a ray of daylight on the mythological, historical and contemporary phenomenon of these night creatures. Modest beginnings

The collection, which is designed to attract children and adults as well as vampire and bat-lovers, will initially be housed in two rooms of the country castle, and Meurer is hoping to welcome some 8,000 visitors in the first year. Thereafter, the vampire aficionados plan to expand their collection to a larger space and aim to have trebled the number of visitors by the year 2006.

The opening, which was precision-timed to coincide with Halloween, will be marked by a night of vampire activity, with a costume ball and special guest actors from the cult musical The Dance of the Vampires. The Vampire Museum in the town of Laubach is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 14.00 to 18.00

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