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The skies darken, thunder rolls and a sheet of lightening strikes across the sky as a man’s ashes are exhumed 100 years after his death.

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It may sound like an episode from a horror story, but this was the scene when a group of vampire fans gathered in Golders Green crematorium to mark the centenary of the death of Dracula creator Bram Stoker.

His great grand-nephew Dacre Stoker, who was visiting the ashes for the first time, said the new wave of vampire television shows had turned the un-dead from a “grotesque creature to a runway model”.

But he insisted the genre remained a homage to Bram Stoker.

He said: “There are certain rules most vampire writers stick to – vampires must drink blood, they are immortal and can only be killed in specific ways like with a stake.

“But there have been changes too. Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the genre – girls stopped just being the cute girl next door and became a powerful woman.

“Then they started making vampires attractive, like in The Vampire Diaries. The genre has done a complete 180 from when Bram was writing – a vampire has gone from being a grotesque creature to a runway model.

“But it is all a homage to Bram who created something memorable.”

Dacre, who penned Dracula the Un-Dead, the official sequel to the 1897 classic, made the pilgrimage to the author’s final resting place as part of a two-day symposium to celebrate the blood curdling success of the godfather of gore.

Held at Keats House in Keats Grove, the centenary celebrations were yards from Hampstead Heath – the setting for Lucy’s vampiric outings in the novel.

Julia Kruk, a retired children’s librarian and chairwoman of the Dracula Society, who were at the celebration, said: “It is a very significant and powerful day because Bram Stoker created Dracula, the figurehead of our society.

“Without him we wouldn’t have the most iconic vampire novel of all time.”

A century after his death, the horror genre has burgeoned into a global industry, but when Bram Stoker was writing, the occult was cutting edge and controversial.

“He didn’t know then the significance and influence his book would have,” said Dacre.

“He would have been the J K Rowling of his day.

“It is too bad and sad that a man died 100 years ago who wasn’t able to enjoy all the success he would later get.”

He added: “There are still some religious fanatics who will have a problem with the vampire genre.

“The notion of immortality will step on the toes of some religious people. But promiscuity and violence are so prevalent in society I don’t see how anybody can take that opposition that seriously.

“People just really want a good, exciting story.”

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