Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dressing the Part

How popular are vampires at the moment?

According to an entry in Google's official blog, "vampire costumes" were "one of the top 10 searches this year".

A sizable amount of these (unsurprisingly) relate to Twilight.

Thankfully, MTV's Movies Blog provides some suggestions for non-Twilight vampire costumes.

Time for a Bite

Well, we've sent out the invitations, got some music and had a stab at a costume.

Now, it's time for some grub. I know! How about Vampire Cupcakes?!

Or maybe some truffles?

Worried about those suckers putting the bite on you? Well, as long as you don't mind scaring fellow partygoers off with your breath, here's some Anti-Vampire Popcorn.

There's something you can suck on, yourself: a lollipop!

After you're done scoffing down those, you can wash it down with a nice
Blood Shake. No? How about some punch?

Oh, you want something a bit stronger. Then here's a Vampire's Elixir. Down the hatch! And here's a Vampire Blood chaser.

Enjoy the party!

Suspicious Invitation

Here's something cute and crafty from Zazzle:

Sheesh. Vampires must be getting lazy this time of year. Normally you're supposed to invite them over the threshold.

President Bites

In early 2008, Barack Obama was the subject of a short called Barackula: The Musical.

The musical's website describes the plot thusly:
Barackula is a short political horror rock musical about young Barack Obama having to stave off a secret society of vampires at Harvard when he was inducted into presidency at the Harvard Law Review in 1990. Obama (Justin Sherman) finds that he must convince the vampire society that opposing political philosophies can coexist or else the society may transform Obama to the dark side. Reminiscent to Michael Jackson's Thriller and a slight infusion of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Now that he's actually President, it seems he has gone over to the darkside.

Well, at least going by this mask doing the rounds for Hallowe'en:

Looks like it's more than foreign policy sucking the country dry.

Hallowe'en Mixtape

Ok, so it's not totally vampire-related, but here's my mixtape for today:
  1. Michael Jackson - "Thriller"
  2. Maniac Spider Trash - "Graveyard Bash"
  3. Reverend Horton Heat - "The Halloween Dance"
  4. Rob Zombie featuring the Ghastly Ones - "Halloween (She Get So Mean)"
  5. Demented are Go - "Stake in the Heart"
  6. The Creepniks - "Zombie Stomp"
  7. The Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13 - "Oogie Boogie Baby Baby"
  8. Blitzkid - "Pretty in a Casket"
  9. Misfits - "Monster Mash (Studio Version)"
  10. Ghoultown - "Fistful of Demons"
  11. Nekromantix - "Trick or Treat"
  12. Thee Invaders - "I Wanna Eat Your Brain"
  13. Zombina and the Skeletones - "Nobody Likes You (When You're Dead)"
  14. Kim's Teddy Bears - "Voodoo Doll"
  15. Bat Attakk - "Zombie Disco"
  16. Send More Paramedics - "Zombie Crew"
  17. The 69 Eyes - "Lost Boys"
  18. Calabrese - "Backseat of My Hearse"
  19. Gein and the Graverobbers - "The Phantom of Route 44"
  20. Horror of 59 - "Frankenstein Returns"
  21. North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative - "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?"
  22. Wednesday 13 - "Till Death Do Us Party"
  23. The Horrors - "Jack the Ripper"
  24. Serpenteens - "It's Halloween!"

Vampire Picture Mystery

While I was having a look for the image in the previous post, I came across one I had saved from the 'net, six years ago.

Its one of the best vampire illustrations I've ever seen.

Unfortunately, I didn't make a note of the website I downloaded it from, except I do remember that it was Satanist-related. The image's filename was "DRACS".

If any reader out there could tell me who the artist is, or other places the picture appears, that'd be much appreciated.

Hallowe'en Treats

Happy Hallowe'en folks!

I'll run off a few blog posts today to mark the occasion.

If you haven't had a chance to read my "Vampires Converge on Halloween" article for Reading with a Bite, then check that one out to get you in the spirit of things. My commentary on said post can be found here.

Wondering how I became an amateur vampirologist? Look no further than my contribution to VampChix. I wrote up some comments on that posting, too.

Now it's time for another glimpse into the past.

When I was nine, I was really into fantasy, myths and legends and the "unknown". The following image was taken from an orange 96 page exercise book I used to sketch in. To my knowledge, it's my earliest attempt at depicting a vampire:

Incidentally, the little bottle on the right side of the pic is labeled, "BLOOD".

Other than that, all the classic vampire "traits" are there. The widow's peak. The high collar. The cloak over the face. Bat hovering nearby.

They're also largely derived from Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the Count, except, I hadn't seen the film at that time.

I'm not hinting at anything mysterious. After all, I'm sure most kids would probably render vampires in a similar way. That's a testament to the durability of Lugosi's Count in popular consciousness.

Follow-Up on Romancing

In "More Wishes", I indicated that I wasn't quite sure what kind of book David J. Skal's upcoming Romancing the Vampire: From Past to Present (November 2009) was meant to be.

Well, thanks to his website, I can now inform you that it'll be an
unprecedented treasure trove of undead history, iconography, and memorabilia, and a must-have book for your favorite vampire fan.
And, from having a look at some of the spreads featured on the homepage, as well as keeping the page length in consideration (144 pages, according to Amazon), we're basically dealing with a glossy coffee table book.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

If anything, it might be a bonus. Skal's works are filled with incredibly rare vampire (and vampire-related) images, as Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen (1990), V Is for Vampire: An A-Z Guide to Everything Undead (1996) and Vampires: Encounters with the Undead (2001) all attest.

Here's hoping!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Giving a Little Credit

I was just having a word to Andrew about an anthologist who doesn't get nearly enough credit in the fictional vampire realm.

I'm talking about Martin H. Greenberg.

His entry on Fantastic Fiction shows just how proliferate he is. But, scattered amidst the entries are a swag of vampire anthologies marked by their diverse niches.

Sure, he's edited relatively generic collections like Vampires: The Greatest Stories (1991), A Taste for Blood (1991) with Robert E. Weinberg and Stefan R. Dziemianowicz and 100 Vicious Little Vampire Stories (1995), with the same editors and Vampires: A Collection of Original Stories (1991) and Jane Yolen.

But then, we move onto collections for the female persuasion like Vamps: An Anthology of Female Vampire Stories (1987) with Charles G. Waugh and Girl's Night Out: 29 Female Vampire Stories (1997) with Robert E Weinberg and Stefan R Dziemianowicz.

Probably the same crowd that would dig the erotic and romantic subgenres covered in Love in Vein: Twenty Original Tales of Vampiric Erotica (1994) with Poppy Z. Brite and Single White Vampire Seeks Same (2001) with Brittiany A. Koren, respectively.

Kids get coverage in Children of the Night (1999).

For something a bit more blokey, there's the pulp fiction reprints featured in Weird Vampire Tales (1992) with Robert E. Weinberg and Stefan R. Dziemianowicz.

One could argue that the vampire detective genre (Nick Knight, Mick St. John, Vicki Nelson, etc.) spun-off from the pulps. They're also represented in Vampire Detectives (1995).

Their (generally) sympathetic portrayals have come from the romanticisation of the vampire, spearheaded by writers like Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and most recently, Stephenie Meyer. People who dig those types might be interested in Virtuous Vampires (1996) with Robert E Weinberg and Stefan R Dziemianowicz.

That's not to say there isn't a little room for a bit more traditionalism. That's why the vampire hunters get represented in Vampire Slayers: Stories of Those Who Dare to Take Back the Night (1999) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Although, going by the date and the title, it was probably an attempt to cash in on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003).

Success and fame can be a bit of a drain, so take heart with Celebrity Vampires (1995).

The what-ifs presented in that book are given much greater historical scope in the alternate history collection, Time of the Vampires (1996) with P. N. Elrod.

For something much more geographically-focued, Greenberg and Lawrence Schimel's "American Vampire" series incorporated Blood Lines: Vampire Stories from New England (1997), Southern Blood: Vampire Stories from the American South (1997), Fields of Blood: Vampire Stories of the Heartland (1998) and Streets of Blood: Vampire Stories from New York City (1998).

Greenberg and Esther M. Friesner mingled vampires with culture in Blood Muse (1995), stories "all set in the world of the arts - in painting, sculpture, music, the cinema, the theater and the dance, among others."

Count Dracula gets a lil' competition in Rivals of Dracula (1996) with Robert E Weinberg and Stefan R Dziemianowicz.

And lastly, if you prefer to listen to stories, then there's always the Midnight Mass & Other Great Vampire Stories (2002) audiobook.

Martin Harry Greenberg, I salute you!

Some Brief Notes on Real Vampires

Received my copy of Brad Steiger's Real Vampires, Night Stalkers, and Creatures from the Darkside today.

I ordered it from a seller on eBay and it was one of the items on my Amazon Wishlist.

And, I gotta say, I was a tad...disappointed.

Not by the content of the book itself. Haven't had a chance to read it yet. No, I'm talking
page length. You see, the book's Amazon listing credits it with 400 pages. The book's publisher, Visible Ink Press (VIP), says it contains 300 pages.

How many does it actually have?

A measly 287.

Also, somewhat bizarrely (at least, to me), the copyright date of the book is 2010. Both its Amazon and VIP listing note its publication date as September 2009. Whether this means you can plagiarise huge chunks of it willy-nilly till next year, remains to be seen.

I've e-mailed VIP about this page length and copyright date anomaly and eagerly await their reply.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lost in Translation?

I gave brieff coverage to Claude Lecouteux's upcoming book, The Secret History of Vampires: Their Multiple Forms and Hidden Purposes (2010) in "More Wishes".

I also mentioned that it was most likely an English translation of his 1999 book, Histoire des vampires : Autopsie d'un mythe.

However, Niels' "The Return of the Dead" has given me cause for concern regarding the veracity of the translation itself.

The English translation is going to be published by Inner Traditions. Here's how the publisher describes itself on its homepage:
Founded in 1975, Inner Traditions is a leading publisher of books on indigenous cultures, perennial philosophy, visionary art, spiritual traditions of the East and West, sexuality, holistic health and healing, self-development, as well as recordings of ethnic music and accompaniments for meditation.
You can download a pdf file of their "forthcoming titles" (Secret History is on the fifth page) here.

Now, onto the criticism.

Niels notes the differences in the translation between a German edition of Lecouteux's Fantômes et revenans au Moyen Age and the Inner Traditions English translation, The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind, noting that
the English translation is slightly abbreviated and less academical. It does contain the notes, but the quotes in original languages (including my native language, Danish) are omitted. Chapter three in the German edition, Totenbräuche, appears to be missing from the English edition, whereas the afterword by Régis Boyer from the original French edition is retained in the English translation.
Now, I should note that Niels states he doesn't own a copy of the original French version. So, it might be possible that the German edition, itself, was augmented.

I should also note that I actually own a copy of Lecouteux's
Histoire, so it'll be very interesting comparing it to the English translation.

After it's published on March 15, next year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bounty on a Vampire Killer

Edwina Scott's "Reward Posted for Info on Vampire Murder" relates to a $1 million dollar offer for information on the person responsible for killing Shane Chartes-Abbott, who was shot dead in Reservoir on June 4, 2003.

It should be said that Chartres-Abbott didn't exactly keep his nose clean. In fact, at the time he was shot, he was
part-way through a trial in the Victorian County Court facing charges he raped and assaulted a client by biting off part of her tongue after allegedly telling her he was a vampire, older than the city of Melbourne, who drank blood to survive.

Free Plug!

Alison McNeill, Account Associate II of FutureWorks has informed me of an Independent Film Channel (IFC) presentation called Dead & Lonely.

It's produced, written and directed by Ti West. The guy's credits caught my attention, because he also made The Roost (2005). I haven't seen that flick yet, but it does hold interest. Here's it's synopsis from
A group of young people are en route to a friend's wedding in the remote countryside of Pennsylvania when they hit something unseen, lose control of their car and become stranded. The foursome reluctantly wanders down the deserted road and into the eerie darkness. They come upon a farmhouse where they hope they can use the phone to call for help -- but no one seems to be at home. It isn't long before they learn that the farm has been taken over by vampire bats that have already claimed the lives of the older couple who lived there. But, once bitten, the victims come back to life zombie-style and those still living have to not only dodge the bats, but the undead as well.
So, in essence, what we have here is a survivalist vampire film. Sort've like From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), but cheaper. Much cheaper.

But, back to Dead & Lonely.

It's a five episode web series which will commence screening on Monday, October 26 at Noon ET/PT.

The storyline revolves around a dating site called Date or Die. In the interests of promoting the series, the IFC has actually turned it into a real website. But don't expect to score dates from it.

The storyline follows that two single Los Angeleans are brought together by the site, but, as it happens, one of them is a vampire.

If that tickles your fancy, check out the series' website.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yep, Another Contribution Elsewhere

Ah, I've been waiting for this one to get published.

What, I didn't mention I had written another contribution elsewhere?

Surprise! Heh heh.

If you mosey on down to VampChix (VC), you'll notice my contribution, which was as requested by Michele Hauf.

In "Just a Quick One", I said I'd explain my "amateur vampirologist" tag at some future point. The blog entry I submitted does just that.

However, just as with my previous contribution elsewhere, some formatting errors seemed to have crept in. Except, in this case, it's also had a few other things snuck in, too.

Time to dissect.

Firstly, I am referred to in the intro as a "self-proclaimed Vampirologist." Ok, fair label. After all, I do refer to myself as one. But I thought the studying vampires bit was self-evident. Vampirology, after all, isn't exactly an established science. There's no real formal qualification to make you one. As Jay Stevenson notes in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vampires (Indianapolis, IN: Alpha, 2002):
Unlike demonology, which once enjoyed a certain degree of official support from the Church, vampirology has no major institutional underpinnings outside of fan clubs and research societies (28).
Next up, the following portion of my blog entry for VC...
Soon after, I began devouring all I could on the subject. A few books that I particularly enjoyed at this time were Lynn Myring's Vampires, Werewolves & Demons (1979), Colin and Jacqui Hawkins' Shriek! A Compendium of Witches, Vampires and Spooks (1985) and I even attempted to wade my way through Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (1988), even if a lot of it went over my head.
...was interspersed with Amazon links I didn't originally supply.

Nor did I originally include an Amazon link in, "When I got to high school, I found a copy of John Skipp and Craig Spektor's Fright Night novelisation (1985)". Didn't put one in this - "I later read Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) [...]" - either.

More Amazon links magically turn up in the following paragraph:
At this time, I was also buying and borrowing non-fiction vampire works. I got Manuela Dunn-Mascetti's Vampire: The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead (1994) for my thirteenth birthday. Later, it'd be accompanied by works like Matthew Bunson's Vampire: The Encyclopædia (1993) and J. Gordon Melton's The Vampire Book: Encyclopedia of the Undead (1994).
The link for Tales from the Cryptkeeper, should have led you here, instead of a dead link.

Something went haywire on VC, in which this...
Now, I should state, that I didn't necessarily join it because I actually believed in Manchester's claims (or in vampires, in general), but it served its purpose. However, when it came to discussing certain matters on the Highgate Vampire case, I found my voice being somewhat restricted, so I founded my own forum to discuss it. This would later lead to a blog of the same name.
...was rendered as this:
Now, I should state, that I didn't necessarily join it because I actually believed in Manchester's claims (or in vampires, in general), but it served its purpose. However, when it came to discussing certain matters on the Highgate Vampire case , I found my voice being somewhat restricted, so I founded my own forum to discuss it. This would later lead to a blog of the same name .
Something similar happened with another paragraph that went from this...
This, in turn, led me to a blog by Danish vampirologist, Niel K. Petersen. We both shared similar interests in vampire folklore and classic vampire studies. His blog was part of the reason I started my own, Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist. this:
This, in turn, led me to a blog by Danish vampirologist, Niel K. Petersen. We both shared similar interests in vampire folklore and classic vampire studies. His blog was part of the reason I started my own, Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist .
And lastly, I didn't originally include an Amazon link in Martin V. Riccardo's name.

All said and done, it's one of my favourite blog entries. Hope you like it too!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Interesting Results

Lindsay's blog entry, "Friday Giveaway Take 3", asks a prurient question:

There were 18 responses to her request and this is where it gets interesting.

Even though Lindsay's blog primarily concentrates on vampire fiction, 14 of the respondents said they'd like more coverage given to vampire myth!

One of the commentators, joder, even suggested the following:
I like the inclusion of myths, maybe you could get a professor to blog about the topic on a regular basis (we can have our own Dr. Sanguinary).
With all the coverage currently given to Twilight, True Blood and, to a lesser extent, The Vampire Diaries, I was starting to think that the Vampire Fad's been driven by characterisations, not vampires themselves.

That is, it's not that we've become enamoured of bloodsuckers, but of characters (like Edward Cullen) who just happen to be vampires. Vampire Celebrities, if you will. Flavours of the Month.

Thus, the results from Lindsay's blog entry do give me some inspiration. After all, there's much more to the rich fabric of the Vampire Universe than what Stephenie Meyer, Anne Rice or even Bram Stoker have contributed to it.

Of course, I should admit to a personal bias here.

I'm much more interested in vampire folklore; the "myths" most likely referred to by Lindsay and her respondents. However, the late Alan Dundes criticised using the term "myth" in reference to vampires. Here's what he wrote in The Vampire: A Casebook (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998):
The use of the word myth to refer to stories of the vampire is anathema to the professional folklorist. For the folklorist, myth is a technical term referring to sacred narratives explaining how the world or humankind came to be in their present form. Because encounters with vampires, real or imagined, having nothing whatever to do with the creation of the world or humankind, they do not qualify as bona fide myths. Nor are such stories "folktales," which are fictional, as indicated by an opening formula (e.g., "Once upon a time"), signalling that what follows is not to be taken as literal, historical truth. Vampire accounts are what folklorists call legends, that is, stories told as true and set in the postcreation world (159).
In terms of fictional literary tastes, you'll have to scour through "Hi Angela!" to see the type that appeals to me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ev'rybody Knows You're Losht

If you can overlook the lead singer's goofy voice, then this makes for a pretty rockin' vampire-themed tune in time for Halloween:

It's "Lost Boys" by The 69 Eyes, from their 2004 album, Devils.

If you're unsure of the song's inspiration (and, quite frankly, I'd be surprised if you are), then click here.

The clip also has the distinction of being directed by Bam Margera, who first came to fame through MTV's Jackass.

More Wishes

"Let's Hope These Wishes Come True" dealt with some books on Amazon that I've got my eye on.

Last night, a few more captured my attention.

It looks like Paul Barber's coming out with a new edition of one of the best ever books on vampires, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (1988). At least, I hope it's a new edition. The item's description only alludes to a "New Introduction".

Next up, we have Claude Lecouteux's The Secret History of Vampires: Their Multiple Forms and Hidden Purposes (2010), which I'll guess is a translation of Histoire des vampires : Autopsie d'un mythe (1999). Finally!

Erik Butler's Metamorphoses of the Vampire in Literature and Film: Cultural Transformations in Europe, 1732-1933 (2010) sounds like it could cover some interesting ground, but at 218 pages, will it be spreading itself a bit thin?

I'm not quite sure what David J. Skal's Romancing the Vampire: From Past to Present (aka Romancing the Vampire: Collector's Vault) (2009) is. The book cover on display looks more like an ad. But, it's from the same guy who wrote Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen (1990; 2004) and V Is for Vampire: The A-Z Guide to Everything Undead (1996), so I'm sure it'll be of some interest.

Real-Life Freaks

This one isn't about vampires per se, but there's still a tenuous connection.

"Teen 'Met Killers on Vampire Website'" recounts a current murder trial centred around the mysterious death of Carly Ryan, 15, whose body "was found by an early morning swimmer at Horseshoe Bay in South Australia in February 2007."

She met her alleged murderers through popular social networking site,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Vampire Apocalypse!

In the previous entry, I recounted a discussion on which supernatural entity poses a greater risk to the human race: vampires or zombies.

It touches on both the contagious nature of vampires and zombies in film, and a common zombie movie/literature trope: the zombie apocalypse.

Wikipedia defines "zombie apocalypse" thusly:
a particular scenario of apocalyptic fiction that customarily has a science fiction/horror rationale. In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization. Victims of zombies may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis: the spreading "zombie plague" swamps normal military and law enforcement organizations, leading to the panicked collapse of civilian society until only isolated pockets of survivors remain, scavenging for food and supplies in a world reduced to a pre-industrial hostile wilderness.
You might be wondering that if the vampire and zombie are both capable of infecting others in their kind, why haven't there been more works on vampire apocalypses? After all, Wikipedia doesn't have a corresponding article for vampires.

That's a good question, and one I might attempt to answer in another entry (cop-out, I know).

In the meantime, I'll give some coverage to a little-explored subgenre of vampire fiction/film - the Vampire Apocalypse. But first, a definition of this term. Let's go with this: 1) fictional scenarios by which vampires have either orchestrated the end of the world or subjugated humanity. An offshoot of these scenarios, are 2) apocalyptic works in which vampires prominently feature, but aren't responsible for civilisation's demise.

We begin with this premise on a microcosmic level.

The prototype - and close parallel - of the Vampire Apocalypse is the vampire-infested village, town or city. Usually, this trope involves depicting the progression of a gradual vampire epidemic, which the protagonists slowly become aware of, and fight against. The best example of this is Stephen King's
seminal 'Salem's Lot (1975), set in the fictional town of Jerusalem's Lot, Cumberland County, Maine.

Tony Randel's 1991 comedy-horror movie, Children of the Night, focuses on a vampire plague that sweeps through the nondescript town of Allburg. Steve Niles' 30 Days of Night (2002 - ), began life as a story about a vampiric invasion of Barrow, Alaska, where the sun stays down for 67 days during winter. It was later made into a movie.

The 700-year-old Hungarian vampire prince of
Robert R. McCammon's They Thirst (1981) is far more ambitious: the novel chronicles the takeover of Los Angeles.

Ideal contributions to the Vampire Apocalypse genre, however, deal with global infestations of vampirism. Interestingly, when this avenue is pursued, it tends to align itself with the science fiction realm. Thus, Alan Hyder's Vampires Overhead (1935) details the invasion of a horde of giant, bloodsucking vampire bats from outer space, while Richard Matheson's highly-influential
I Am Legend (1954) has most of the world's population turned into vampires byway of biological warfare and Colin Wilson's The Space Vampires (1976) has astronauts inadvertently transporting energy-sucking extraterrestrials back to Earth.

On a different, more traditionalist tack, F. Paul Wilson's novella, "Midnight Mass" (1990) heavily relied on Christian symbology and re-introduced the supernatural back into the Vampire Apocalypse world. The story was expanded and published as a novel of a the same name, in 2004.

Derek Gunn's "Vampire Apocalypse" series (A World Torn Asunder, 2006; Descent into Chaos, 2008; Fallout, 2009) posists that vampires have emerged from the shadows of human greed and corruption, to take over the world. But, are also in a supernatural mould in that they, too, fear crosses and holy water and can shapeshift into bats.

Robert R. McCammon edited a 1991 anthology titled Under the Fang, which is composed of a batch of Vampire Apocalypse stories by members of Horror Writers of America.

The last strain in the Vampire Apocalypse genre are works in alternate history; fictional history or real. Or both. Kim Newman's "Anno Dracula" series (Anno Dracula, 1992; The Bloody Red Baron, 1995; Dracula Cha Cha Cha, 1998), presents a situation in which Van Helsing and his band of vampire hunters were unable to stop Dracula's invasion of Britain, incorporating a volume of references and characterisations from fiction and real life. Brian Stableford's The Empire of Fear (1988) preceded Newman's work, but had Richard the Lionheart as supreme vampire overlord, rather than the Count.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vampires or Zombies: Which Takes over First?

Yes, it's a question as old as mankind: zombies or vampires - which one poses a greater threat to civilisation?

Fortunately, the folk at Geek Blips have compiled a pool of experts (read: bloggers) to discuss this contentious issue.

To be honest, the issue seems somewhat redundant, as the vampires and zombies mentioned are primarily of the cinematic variety. I mean, the vampire of, say, the Twilight (ugh) universe has little in common with the meandering, bloodthirsty Slavic corpses of days gone by. Or, as Paul Barber puts it in Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988):
If a typical vampire of folklore, not fiction, were to come to your house this Halloween, you might open the door to encounter a plump Slavic fellow with long fingernails and a stubbly beard, his mouth and left eye open, his face ruddy and swollen. He wears informal attire - in fact, a linen shroud - and he looks for all the world like a disheveled peasant (2).
Not quite Edward Cullen, there.

That's not to say that the modern-day movie zombies fares much better.

Contrast the vicious, flesh-hungry, mindless drones that infect their prey with a single bite, to this:
A zombie is a creature that appears in folklore and popular culture typically as a reanimated corpse or a mindless human being. Stories of zombies originated in the Afro-Caribbean spiritual belief system of Vodou, which told of the people being controlled as laborers by a powerful sorcerer.
That's right. Cheap labour for witchdoctors.

In fact, fictional representations of vampires are largely responsible for the modern conception of zombies on the screen.

George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) was the prototype of the modern zombie move. Yet, strangely, the "z" word is not even mentioned in the entire movie.

So, what inspired him?

Here's a snippet from an interview with Fears Magazine, in which he discusses its genus:
GEORGE ROMERO: Well, I ripped off the first idea of dead coming back to life from "I Am Legend" when I did "Night Of The Living Dead."

FEARS: We'll call Richard Matheson up and tell him [laughs].

GEORGE ROMERO: Oh, I've told him. He knows! [laughs] He also knows that I never made any money from it—otherwise, he said "I'd be after your ass!" [laughing]
For those not-in-the-know, Richard Matheson was the author of I Am Legend (1954); a sci-fi/horror novel that sees its protagonist, Robert Neville, as the only known human not to have succumbed to a bacteria that has decimated mankind.

The infected come out at night, react to garlic and are killed with stakes to the heart...I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Contributing Elsewhere

My first contribution to another blog was published yesterday.

It's called "Vampires Converge on Halloween". I wrote it as part of Reading with a Bite's "31 Days of Halloween" series, which features contributions by other bloggers somehow involved in the vampire genre. I was invited to participate by Lindsay, herself.

Why didn't I mention it on this blog? Surprise!

Heh heh.

However, I do notice that a few formatting errors crept it. Minor ones, mind you. Also, I guess the intro Linsay provided should have been italicised to distinguish it from the main text, which begins with "Truth be told..."

Anyway, now I'll discuss the formatting errors (you'll see how pedantic I can be).

"Agnes Murgoci's 'The Vampire in Romania'" should have read "Agnes Murgoci's 'The Vampire in Roumania'", as I provided by e-mail. "Roumania" is the spelling variant given in the original article, even if it's antiquated.

Spot the problem in this one:
Rosemary Ellen Guiley mentions two separate, modern-day events baring the name "Vampire Day" in The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters (New York: Checkmark, 2005), p. 293.
The italicisation of the title (The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters) seems to have gone askew. Same thing happened with this:
You can get some helpful suggestions on throwing your own "Vampires Ball" from Halloween Costume Party.
Should read Halloween Costume Party, as it's the title of the website.

And lastly, the link in this:
For instance, the National Retail Federation in Washington, D.C. predicts that the second most popular costume on Halloween, among adults, will be the vampire.
Should have only been placed on "predicts", as per original article.

Other than that, all good.

I'm certainly flattered that I was asked to contribute. Glad that Lindsay dug the blog entry, too! Had to rush for the deadline, there.

I'll also mention that Rebeca Ramirez-Haskell invited me (Sept. 24) to attend a viewing of her husband's Haunted House in New York City, and to write about it.

As to the House itself, we're not talking about a few fake cobwebs and dusty sheets scattered about, with spooky noises playing in the background. We're talking something akin to a full-blown stage production. Check out its website, for more. You'll see what I mean.

The reason I was invited this year becomes more apparent, when I reveal its theme:
Now in its sixth year and at a new location, NIGHTMARE’S fully immersive haunted house takes haunting to a whole new level. Get ready to play your part in NIGHTMARE: VAMPIRES, a unique haunted attraction that unfolds as an original horror story! Set in the Museum of Vampyric Artifacts (MoVa), the world's first vampire museum features antiquities related to vampires from the headlines, in the media and from around the world. However, when MoVa and everyone in it are attacked by blood-lusting maniacs, you won’t just be viewing the exhibits on display…you’ll be running from them! Witness the birth of a new vampire legend!
I wrote back, explaining that I would love to have made a visit to the Haunted House, but there was just the niggle about me being on a completely different continent, getting in the way. I wished her the best with it.

Fortunately, the attraction has been viewed and written about, elsewhere. Brian Solomon gives his opinion on it in "Vampires Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple".

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Catalogue Arrives

My copy of Dracula. Woiwode und Vampir ("Dracula: Voivode and Vampire," 2008) arrived in the mail today.

It's a 240 page catalogue, in German, printed in association with an exhibition held at Ambras Castle in Innsbruck, Austria, from June 18, 2008 - October 31, 2008.

I don't normally go for stuff on Vlad Dracula (c. 1431-1476). In fact, I'd prefer if people would stop bloody writing about him in works on the vampire genre. No, I primarily bought it due to Niels' glowing appraisal of it in "'Let's Save Dracula!'", as well as the wonderful illustrations that accompany it; especially since it includes photographic reproductions of vampire reports from the 18th century. I'd love to share some of examples from the book, but I don't own a scanner or a digital camera. So, you'll have to make do with the images featured in Neils' blog entry.

The illustrations are brilliant, and pretty much all in colour. An absolutely gorgeously illustrated book.

But, I do warn you, it's not cheap.

The catalogue costs 29.90 EUR (c. 48.70 AUD) and the postage cost me 22.00 EUR (c. 35.85 AUD), totaling 51.90 EUR (c. 84.55 AUD). If you want to get an idea of how much that would tally in your region, click here.

If you're happy with the price, you can order the catalogue here.

But was it worth it?

For me, yes. As a bit of a curio, the incredibly rare illustrations, certainly make it a valued addition to my collection. But to truly appreciate it, it's best if you actually know German.

I, unfortunately, do not.
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