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Dracula bites back! Gothic legacy in danger from touchy-feely, fictional vampires

Give us a villainous vampire we can get our teeth into, not one of these winsome wimps

The dark, gothic legacy of Dracula is in danger of being swamped by new, touchy-feely, fictional vampires, according to Dacre Stoker, great grand-nephew of author Bram Stoker.

He expressed concern this weekend that films such as the Twilight series and TV shows like True Blood and Being Human are overshadowing the original stories while promoting tame and romantic vampires to a new, younger audience.

At a London event on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker's death, he said: "It's about what's happening with the whole vampire thing and how the gothic is transformed. With True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, what are the differences and who stays true to what set of rules?"

Dr Sam George, who organised the Open Graves, Open Minds conference with the University of Hertfordshire, said: "We wanted to celebrate the king of vampires in Dracula, holding out against the new "sweetie vamps" of Twilight and the Americanisation of the genre, to put British and Irish vampire fiction back on the map."

Canadian-born Mr Stoker, 56, who published his great uncle's journal this month, said it contains the ideas that eventually turned into characters in the novel.

Additional reporting by Emily Short

The original

Count Dracula is the anti-hero of Bram Stoker's horror novel. Dracula is literature's best-known vampire, though he was far from the first. A sorcerer, Transylvanian nobleman and master of the black arts, he is a fearsome bloodsucker with the strength of 20 men. He shows no human empathy and transforms Lucy Westenra, a beautiful 19-year-old, into a fellow member of the undead by draining her blood.

The lovesick

Edward Cullen, played by teen heart-throb Robert Pattinson, features in the immensely popular Twilight series. Polite and charming, he falls in love with Bella Swan but refuses to bite her until she agrees to marry him.

The guardian

Mick St John, an LA private investigator, is turned vampire on his wedding night by his wife. He refuses to hunt women, children and the innocent, using his supernatural powers to help them.

The empath

Bill Compton, star of the hit TV series True Blood, quickly falls in love with Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress. Although Compton can kill wolves bare-handed, he is a big, empathic softie.

The champion

Angel, a 242-year-old vampire, starts hard and chilling, but goes all mushy and becomes involved with Buffy Summers, a teenager normally dedicated to killing his kind in her small town.

The tortured spirit

John Mitchell, in the BBC's Being Human, was so desperate to throw off his bloodlust he shared house with a ghost and a werewolf, much to the embarrassment of his fellow bloodsuckers.

The vulnerable

Stefan Salvatore was previously a blood-sucking killer until his female best friend taught him to control his barbaric emotions. In The Vampire Diaries, he drinks animal blood instead, even though it makes him weak.