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Horror film researcher gives talk in Dracula's lair

A horror film expert studying an unmade Dracula masterpiece has delivered a lecture on his work in the cradle of vampire lore: Transylvania.

Kieran Foster, studying a PhD at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), was invited to the legendary blood sucker’s spiritual home, where he gave his talk among the medieval architecture and atmospheric surrounds of Sighisoara, an ancient city in the Romanian region.

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Transylvania was made famous after being used by author Bram Stoker as the home to Count Dracula, his most famous character, who became the template for the modern interpretation of the vampire, etched into the public consciousness through films made by the legendary British studio, Hammer.

In 2012, Hammer deposited hundreds of scripts and other materials with DMU’s Cinema and Television History (CATH) Research Centre to archive and open up to public study.

And straight among the collection was Kieran, who applied for and won the chance to carry out a PhD sifting through those unproduced screenplays and crafting a full picture of the archive. He is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)'s Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership for UK and EU arts and humanities research students.

Having worked primarily on one script for an unmade film called Vlad the Impaler, Kieran was invited to talk on the subject at this year’s International Vampire Film and Arts Festival.

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He said: “Sighisoara is exactly like I’d seen in my mind when I’d heard it was in Transylvania. We’d landed at this tiny airport, just one plane going there, and then driven through this amazing greenery and suddenly we’d gone back in time to this medieval place, all stone walls and colourful old houses on hillsides.

“Over four days this vampire festival had all sorts of aspects: a vampire ball, performances by a rock band, street theatre performing parts of Dracula: amazing.”

Kieran said he gave his talk in a conference room with a large sun terrace overlooking the ancient city, while outside a spectacular thunderstorm exploded across the sky.

He said: “It was perfect, so atmospheric. There were talks from so many disciplines, people talking about those across Romania who still believe in vampires.”

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He said he was helped in his research by a new delivery of scripts from Hammer to the CATH archive in April.

He said: “I’d been working on a few early drafts of the Vlad script and suddenly we had a call from Hammer and four big boxes of material arrived, including loads more versions, which gave me a much better idea of the chronology and unsuccessful efforts Hammer went to, to try and get this film made.”

The Midlands 3 Cities consortium is a collaboration between DMU, the University of Leicester, the University of Nottingham, the University of Birmingham, Nottingham Trent University, and Birmingham City University and will enable students to draw on expertise across these institutions during their doctoral research.

Posted on Monday 13th June 2016

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