The Pinnacle Dracula series is a true time capsule. One of the earlier reviews on the blog (look how much stuff I crammed in those early ones) for #1 Dracula Returns tells the tale of how it came to be and some of the pop culture of the 70's that made it ripe for the bloodsuckers return. It took me quite a while to get back to the series, which I blame on the smooth writing of the "Vigilante" book I just read by Lory and last book I did, The Protector #1 for whetting my appetite for supernatural shenanigans.
There was a resurgence of the Universal Monsters in the 90's when I was a kid. There's always a resurgence of those dudes every generation or so, can't keep the dead buried. I had coloring books, a dancing Frankenstein Halloween decoration and watched them on TCM on October 31st. They weren't scary to me, but they were unnerving, like looking back through time, releasing it wasn't what you thought it was and that the dark held secrets. But most importantly they thrilled me. In the late 90's Burger King of all places put little action figures in with their kid's meal. Boy, howdy. My own little Wolfman to maul Star Wars guys? A Frankenstein to lift up G.I. Joes and toss 'em around? A Creature from the Black Lagoon to lurk in my swimming pool? I was a monster kid.
In middle school I read them in the wonderful library hardback editions of paperbacks. Dracula, Frankenstein, "The Jewel of the Seven Stars," The Phantom of the Opera, even Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." I'm glad I read them, but they weren't exactly what I wanted. I wanted more thrilling stuff. Harder stuff. Afterall R.L. Stine didn't have any Frankenstein's stomping around Fear Street. It's almost quaint the years before the internet took its stranglehold on everyone and information could leap down your throat. I simply didn't ever find what I was looking for back then. Maybe a couple of Ghost Rider comics, back that was a stretch.
If I was a kid in the 70's and found Robert Lory's Dracula series, I would probably keeled over right there. Not to mention that I could have been reading Marvel's "Tomb of Dracula" at the same time. This is what I wanted, stirring adventure, technicolor Hammer Horror, monsters, ghouls, criminologists, and a smooth utterly ruthless Dracula. The first book "Dracula Returns" was a total blast of funky action and horror. Lory put enough of his own spin on Dracula to make him stand out from the fistfuls of interpterion's of the character and his supporting cast was stock characters, sure, but fun stock characters. This is pulp, after all.
"The Hand of Dracula" was released the same year as the first one, probably pretty close together to build an audience. This one shows a lot of Lory's crime fiction writing in it as there's a central mystery about the death of the Criminologist Dr. Harmon's niece that involves spooky funeral homes and C-Grade Manson families. Our cast is there, Drac, Dr. Harmon, Harmon's assistant the Men's Adventure-type hero Cam and then the shapeshifting Ktara who is bound to the Count. There are murders, human sacrificing, night-time Drac attacks, bets with vampires, super-stronger hunchbacks, the mafia and frat pranks that all boils into a nice big finale.
I'm a little cooler on book #2 then #1. There's a little too much wheel-spinnin' and convolution. The Manson-family angle is too drawn out and the crime/mystery part is a little bloated too and there's far too little Dracula. But Lory is a pro who is better than just "good," there's a nice sprinkling of wry humor and gruesome action. I think the book is probably just maybe fifteen-twenty pages too long. The series (as far as the covers tell me) gets a little wilder as goes on with Vikings, lost worlds, and zombies which is probably a good call, people who pick up this series are looking for a monster mash. I got my first book in Lory's Horrorscope series, and I'll have to dive into that one before too long because it's got movie sets and robot minitours. I mean, yeah.