AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The next installment of the "Twilight" series opens in movie theaters later this week. While many female fans are ready to fawn over the latest from Edward and his coven of vampires, Meghan Collins Sullivan headed to the heart of vampire culture, Transylvania.
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MEGHAN COLLINS SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Really? There's nothing creepy about this countryside in the foothills of the Southern Carpathians. Snowcapped mountains tower over a rolling landscape dotted with fox or sheep. Besides the natural beauty, there's another draw for tourists.
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SULLIVAN: The crashing, creaking sounds of a haunted house greet pilgrims on their way to the main attraction, Dracula's Castle. Actually, this is Bran Castle, perched high overlooking the town of Bran. And the connection with Dracula is tenuous, at best. The inspiration for the fictional count of Bram Stoker's novel was a bloodthirsty, 15th century ruler named Vlad Tepes. He's better known as Vlad the Impaler, and it seems he did pass through this valley.
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SULLIVAN: The castle's current owners - heirs to Romania's deposed royals - are milking that association. Besides some ornate furniture and artwork of the late Queen Marie, visitors can view props from Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula" movie - costumes, necklaces, candlesticks. The effect is a bit unsettling for tourists like Carmen Pavel, who came from Bucharest sporting a T-shirt with the words All Romanians are Vampires. She noticed some parts of Dracula's castle were inexplicably closed off. And in one of the open rooms:
CARMEN PAVEL: There was one bat, a real bat, just hanging from the ceiling.
SULLIVAN: A coincidence?
PAVEL: You play tricks on yourself. You say, yeah, this must be the one vampire, and that must explain why the rooms are locked, and stuff like that.
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SULLIVAN: A few miles from the castle, innkeeper Katharina Kurmes prepares lunch for tourists in her busy kitchen. She dismisses the notion of anything supernatural in the air.
KATHARINA KURMES: There are bats. We have quite a good number of bats but I mean, they are not dangerous. No blood-sucking animals. Of course, we have wolves, bears. This may be strange to other people, not to us.
SULLIVAN: And if a vampire turned up at the inn and wanted a room? No problem.
KURMES: As long as he doesn't disturb us, I mean, or what's going on in the house. Maybe he gets a coffin in the cellar.
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KURMES: But there's nothing prepared.
SULLIVAN: Good news for Edward and Bella as they consider honeymoon spots. For NPR News, I'm Meghan Collins Sullivan in Bucharest.
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CORNISH: This is NPR News.
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