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Renfield Amuses in a Surprisingly Awkward Way

By Lori Perkins

I’ve been a fan of Dracula since I was 12, when it was the first “adult” novel I was allowed to take out of the library, so Renfield has been a part of my life for many decades.

I also sold a book titled Renfield (full title The Book of Renfield: A Gospel of Dracula by Tim Lucas) almost 20 years ago to Simon & Schuster (and just republished this week at,, which tells the story of Dracula’s servant through the eyes of his fictional psychologist, Dr. Seward. So, I was naturally curious to see what this Hollywood version of Renfield would offer, especially since Nicholas Cage was to play Dracula and he plays everything over the top.

We were told this was a comedy, so I imagined Cage would go full throttle, even more so than he did in Vampire’s Kiss, the 1988 horror movie where he plays a literary agent so over the top that the actor confessed that he actually did eat, not one, but two cockroaches (which he later told an interviewer was one of his greatest regrets).

Somehow, even though I had seen a trailer in the theater, I was unaware that Awkwafina was in this, as well as Brandon Scott Jones, who plays the gay Revolutionary soldier in the American version of Ghosts or that Ben Schwartz plays the son of the mafia mom. It has a surprisingly stellar cast and together that work some oddly bizarre magic.

So once I agreed to the ridiculous concept of Dracula in contemporary New Orleans, I gave myself permission to be entertained, and I was. I loved that Renfield goes to a weekly meeting of Co-dependents Anonymous. And that he has super powers after eating bugs, so this is NOT the down-and-out Renfield of the novel. For that you really MUST read the above-mentioned Book of Renfield by Lucas. This movie is much more like Shawn of the Dead, a wildly creative take on a mythos we thought we’d seen done to death.


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