Bargain, The

The Bargain
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 9-Oct-1991

Adapted from the column "Vampires in Print" in The Vampire's Crypt #3 (Spring 1991).

Review by Cathy Krusberg

John Ruddy. The Bargain (New York: Knightsbridge, 1990).

Here, indeed, is proof of the axiom that one cannot tell a book by its cover, or at least by its title. The Bargain is executed as a series of slices of life (or whatever mode of existence) of certain individuals, mostly in eastern Europe, from 1904 to 1945. The eponymous agreement exists between Dracula and the village of Arefu, Romania. As surmised by folklorist-cum-eccentric Dr. Ferdinand Bibescu, the terms were that Dracula would not prey upon those people and they would not expose his presence. The Bargain's main thesis (insofar as it has one) is that, fond as Dracula is of war and bloodshed, he doesn't want it inflicted on his homeland by a bunch of Huns, so he looses a bevy of befanged prostitutes on the officers of the Wehrmacht: first those who protect the Ploiesti oil fields, then those who advance into Russia-- albeit not far, in part thanks to the activities of what one major describes as a "Filth Column."

Although Bibescu himself is too much of a coward to stake a sleeping vampire, he passes word of a strange ailment to a ranking Nazi who, believing him, assigns select individuals to very unusual duties: staking suspicious corpses; poisoning, then staking, personnel showing suspect symptoms; and killing the prostitutes who infected them. The contagion is traced to its source. Dracula's castle is dynamited--but alas, too late: the Master himself survives to direct a toothsome Eva Braun in engineering the Fuehrer's flight to the New World.

The Bargain is not without its moments. Dracula commandeering the coffin of General Paul von Schmundt, for example; the escape of Major Hans Klatt and Leutnant Albert Ley from the military hospital at Ploiesti; the croquet game improvised among the tombstones at Brasov. And although the book is necessarily preoccupied with sex (the vampires' weapon), none of it is gratuitous or overdone--a rare and notable achievement. The Bargain's good points, however, can't quite compensate for Ruddy's excessive lifting of phrases and passages from Dracula, or for the rather predictable actions of Arefu's inhabitants. Read this once, savor the good bits, and go on to something else. (Collectors may be interested to note that two editions of The Bargain have been published: one with a bluish cast to the embossed front cover; the other with cover not embossed and bluish cast on the back cover.)

Fanged Films

UK, 1972
The Public Eye / Detective privato... anche troppo / Ett steg efter / Sentimentalement vôtre / Seuraa minua / Skyg min kone!
USA, 1996
Macabre Pair of Shorts

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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