Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bite-Size Halloween Bits

Happy Halloween, everyone! What perfect timing for a neglected round-up edition! What've I bought? What've I joined? What's coming up on the blog? Read on.

Ok, first up: a few eBay purchases came in the mail recently. Rosemary Ellen Guiley's Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained Phenomena: Vampires (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2008) arrived on the 8th. I scored it for US $5.45 (not including shipping, of course).

It's tailored for a Young Adult readership, but still fairly informative. And better still, it's got sweet, sweet endnotes (115) and a bibliography (116-117). What's the big deal about that? Read this and you'll see. It's not often you see 'em in books for that audience, so bonus points for that. In my view, kids should be encouraged to develop this academic habit so they'll appreciate the importance of paper trails for themselves and for others.

Also, as you might know, I'm big into first editions. So, if you relish 'em as much as I do, avoid the the Checkmark Books 2009 copy. That is a paperback reprint. Or paperback edition, if you will. Stick with the Chelsea House Publishers version.

On the 13th, Charlotte Montague's From Dracula to Twilight: Vampires: The Complete Guide to Vampire Mythology (New York: Chartwell Books, Inc., 2010) arrived. Apart from its cumbersome title, it served as a marked contrast to Guiley's book on several counts. Firstly, it wasn't a first edition, as I found out the hard way. However, it wasn't falsely listed as a first edition, at least, so I really should have double-checked before I placed my bid. That said, I won it for the princely sum of US $1.77, so let's say my vision was somewhat obscured in this regard.

For the record, the original was published by Omnipress, a London-based publishing company. Or, so you'd think going on the book's copyright info. So, I'm wondering what's the go with this Sphere version. Might look into that.

Apart from a few rare photographs, there's nothing overly remarkable about the book. Its simplistic text and voluminous illustrations indicate it's for the young'uns, too. However, it not only lacks endnotes but has no bibliography, either. That's especially troubling when we're fed practically unverifiable info. See Andrew's review for Montague's coverage of the vampire's reaction to sunlight. I expected a lot more from an author with an MA degree in history.

The last eBay book to arrive was Timothy d'Arch Smith's Montague Summers: A Bibliography (Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1983). Bought it for a fairly reasonable GBP 11.66. It's actually a 2nd rev. ed. of Smith's A Bibliography of the Works of Montague Summers (Nicholas Vane, 1964).

Incidentally, I like collecting further editions, too (as opposed to reprints), but I saw little in the way of revision from my recollections of the 1964 edition. Hell, Sewell's foreward and Smith's introduction from the first edition have been retained. Of course, at that time, Summers' autobiography, The Gallanty Show (1980), had yet to see published, so I can see why the book was revised (ever so slightly). But, come on! Give us a little more material, please. Something a bit more substantial than a coupla pages here and there.

That's not to say the book isn't handy, of course. Summers was a wildly prolific writer and Smith thoroughly and meticulously documents his writings wherever they've appeared. It must've been a nightmarish task. That said, in light of Summers contributions to modern vampire studies, it's a shame to find out that his writings on the subject were seemingly confined to two books and a letter to Time and Tide (January 18, 1929), pp. 60-61, correcting a reviewer's comments on his book, The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (1928). That's not Smith's fault, of course, but still...


Speaking of Guiley and further editions, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters (2004) has a second edition on the way. It's scheduled publication date is June 30, 2011.

It's title's been shortened to The Encyclopedia of Vampires & Werewolves, which is probably for the best, as the "other monsters" bit was largely drowned out by the vampire and werewolf entries in the first edition. It's also got a beaut new cover.


On Tuesday (26th), I received an important letter from Elizabeth Miller, along with the Spring and Summer issues of The Borgo Post. What was so important about this letter, praytell? It confirmed my registration with the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. Yep, I'm now a member of the TSD!

It's the first time I've ever been part of a vampire "fan club", if you will. Concurrent to signing with them, I was thinking of joining The Vampire Empire, only to find out that it "now serves as a Research facility only." D'oh!


I get a kick out of seeing what brings you guys to my blog. And what tops the list? Of all things, looks like you can't get enough of my posts on "antique" vampire killing kits (see here, here and here). They've scored mentions on the Daily Kos and The BS Historian. The latter was even inspired to continue their coverage of the kits, emphasising the silver bullet angle. Be sure to check it out.

Oh, and I can't help but be amused by those "Twilight porn" searches. Hahaha! Naughty, naughty! I'll say this, though: the infamous Rule 34 works in your favour.

Incidentally, I do see a few research ones, like "what kind of degree does a vampirologist need" from Albuquerque, New Mexico. So, if any of you have any queries, I'm happy to help. My e-mail's on my profile.


Dr. Peter Mario Kreuter's kindly agreed to participate in an instalment of the "Q & A" sessions. So, in the next few days, I've gotta drum up some q's. I've previously interviewed Niels K. Petersen, Martin V. Riccardo and Bruce A. McClelland. Check 'em out here.


It's taken a while for Halloween to catch on here in Australia, but it's getting there. Seamus O'Tooles Irish Pub in Wantirna South is even transforming into "Club Fangtastica" tonight.

It invites punters to "Take a trip into the depths of Louisiana’s historic vampire culture", which, in this case, also serves as a testament True Blood's popularity, even on this far-flung corner of the globe.
This is sure to be the hottest spot in town for both mortals and vamps this Halloween. If you’re the the baddest vamp around, come down and order an ice cold bottle of Tru Blood to quench your thirst; but watch out for werewolves or there could be trouble!

Sip on some tantalising Tru Blood cocktails served by “Fangtasia” waitresses, and dance until the sun comes up to the sounds of our DJ and band. The Tru Blood cocktail list includes such classics as the Tequila Moonrise, The Blood Maker-ita, The Fangbanger, and Death on the Beach.
Even though V.I.P tix went for $36.00 and General Admission $26.00, they're now sold out. And on that chilling note, I wish everyone of you a safe and happy Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Dragon of Tamaranis

I previously mentioned that I wasn't "big" on the vampire subculture. I've come across a forum post that articulates one of my reasons for this.

Sure, some people in "The Scene" can hide behind archaic spelling variations, or even paradoxically refer to themselves as "real vampires". They can even rally against Twilight for "tarnishing" their image. But, oh, how easily the rationale behind their own "existence" crumbles when it's given the most cursory examination.

So, now we turn to the forum post in question. Tamaranis' post appeared on The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency boards discussing a certain vampire religious group. You'll see how his, let's call it, dragon logic, applies to "The Scene" on a broader scale:
Let's pretend for a moment the some of you out there are very interested in legends of dragons. Where do these stories come from, do they have an actual supernatural basis?

Now let's pretend that I've decided that a "real" dragon is actually just a person who siphons off excess psychic energy from the people around them, even though that has nothing whatsoever to do with any stories about dragons. (Kinda like it has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves, the lock ness monster, bigfoot, etc.) Let's also say I've "explained" that being a dragon has nothing to do with spewing deadly flames from my maw, flying, kidnapping damzels, or being a giant reptillian monster.

Let's further pretend I've got a few thousand like-minded dumbasses who agree with all my crazy dragon talk. There are enough of us, in fact, that we actually manage to change the definition of the word "dragon" (through our excessive new use for the word. Y'know, language changes)

...still wouldn't make me no [ahem -ed.] dragon.
And that's my beef, too. Essentially, we take a pre-conceived concept (the bloodsucking corpse of Slavic folklore), edit its unsavoury characteristics (the undead angle), mould it into something more applicable (being alive) to one's own fantasy-tinged superiority complex, then hijack the original term, revise its original use, discard its historical application, add a pinch of blood and voila! The modern vampire subculture.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rare Vampire Book Cover

I've been engaged in trying to solve "The Fischer Mystery" (to be covered in an upcoming entry). One of my discarded leads caused me to stumble upon a rare image.

That's the cover of Wilhem Fischer's Dämonische Mittelwesen, Vampir und Werwolf (Stuttgart: Strecker and Schröder, 1906).

Early 20th century non-fiction vampire books are quite sparse. Off the top of my head, I can only add Stefan Hock's Die Vampyrsagen und ihre Verwertung in der deutschen Litteratur (1900) and A. Osborne Eaves' Modern Vampirism: Its Dangers, and How to Avoid Them (1904) to the list. Dudley Wright helped get the ball rolling in 1914, and even then, it was still slim pickings till Montague Summers hit the scene.

Croglin Vampire Picture Source Revealed!

You've probably seen the following picture floating about the 'net and maybe in a few books. You might've wondered who illustrated it and why. I'm here to tell you.

I was googlin' info on the Croglin Vampire today, when I came across Darren Turpin's blog entry (click on the picture). I'd seen the image several times before, not giving much thought to its source. It actually appears on the front cover of Manuela Dunn-Mascetti's Chronicles of the Vampire (London: Bloomsbury, 1991).

Thanks to Turpin's lead, I can tell you that it was illustrated by Les Edwards in 1984. It's titled (and depicts) "The Croglin Vampire". You've probably heard of that case before, as it's a frequently-reproduced "true" vampire tale. If you're unfamiliar with it, this article gives a pretty good summation. As to the why of this superb illustration, here's the scoop from Edwards' website:
Originally commissioned by Wiedenfeld & Nicholson but not used. Later used as a bookcover for Best New Horror 1990, edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell and published by Robinson, and on Super-Monsters by Daniel Cohen, published by Archway. Also used on the CD cover Alive & Screaming by Krokus and a German Magazine.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kreuter Goss

I've been in contact with Dr. Peter Mario Kreuter of the Südost-Institut, concerning his writings on vampires. He relayed some very interesting information to me, which I'll be sharing with you, today.

He's best known for his University of Bonn dissertation, Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa. Studien zur Genese, Bedeutung und Funktion. Rumänien und der Balkanraum (2001). If you'd like to know more about his writings, check out Niels' coverage. Suffice it to say, Kreuter's focus is on folkloric and 18th century representations of the vampire. My favourite field!

However, if you're hampered by an inability to speak or read German (like myself), then you might be wondering whether there'll be an English translation of this work. So, I e-mailed him to find out.¹ Unfortunately, I was somewhat disheartened by his reply: "No – there is no translation. And there will be none."² However, my dismay was countered by something I wasn't expecting: "I’m writing a new book about the popular vampire belief. It will be in English, and the publishing house shall be Palgrave Macmillan."³

So, you heard it first here, kids! He's got a new book on the way, and it's gonna be in English! Hell yes! But, as to its title or when it'll be ready, well, I can't say. Not because I've been "shushed", but that's all the info I could get. It's obviously too early to call if it's still in "writing" stage. Nonetheless, keep your eyes peeled for it. I'm sure it'll be great!

At some point, you also probably wondered, "Hang on...if Anthony says he can't read or write German, then how can he vouch for Kreuter's work?" That's a fair point. But, what I've neglected to mention, is that I have read a couple of his essays—both in English.

Namely, "The Name of the Vampire: Some Reflections on Current Linguistic Theories on the Etymology of the Word Vampire" in Vampires: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006), pp. 57-63 and "The Role of Women in Southeast European Vampire Belief" in Women in the Ottoman Balkans: Gender, Culture and History (London: I. B. Taurus, 2007), pp. 231-241.

Then, check out his daunting list of publications. What can I say? The guy clearly knows his stuff. His English writings provide an insight into what we're sorely deprived of in English-language books on the genre: authors consulting non-English sources. There are a few notable exceptions, of course (hats off to Barber, McClelland and Perkowski), but they're far and few between. I'm telling ya, there's a goldmine out there. I've rambled on about it before.

Hopefully, Kreuter's book isn't gonna be too overshadowed by the commercial "taint" that affect other works in the genre. You know, the same-old Vlad Dracula/Bathory/Bram Stoker blah-di-blah-blah stuff. His expertise and access to outside sources would be terribly wasted, otherwise. No pressure, Peter!

¹ "Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa", Thursday, 7 October 2010 2:47:08 AM.
² "AW: Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa", ‏Tuesday, 12 October 2010 3:36:55 AM.
³ Ibid.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vampires & Werewolves vs. The Vampire Library

Forgot to include another item in the previous post. Looks like Mason Crest's got a little competition. Another publisher has their own series of vampire books for the Young Adult (YA) market. Time for a comparison.

In my coverage of Mason Crest's (MC) "The Making of a Monster: Vampires & Werewolves" series, I raised several issues with the books featured. Again, ones I haven't read yet, so I was only going on what their website had to offer. The same applies in my "examination" of ReferencePoint Press' (RPP) "The Vampire Library".

RPP bills itself as "an independent, nonfiction series publisher committed to bringing you relevant, convenient, and accessible research and learning tools for sixth to twelfth grade students." So, we're already dealing with a similar demographic. But the differences in promoting their series are marked.

Firstly, there are five books in the series, against MC's nine. All also published this year. They are David Robson's Encounters with Vampires, Gail B. Stewart's Vampires: Do They Exist?, Stuart A. Kallen's Vampire History and Lore, Kris Hirschmann's Vampires in Literature and Vampires in the Movies. Incidentally, I was only able to find those authors' names through Amazon, as RPP's page for the series omits this info.

The relative paucity of books in the series is offset by a higher page count: RPP's books have 80 each versus MC's 64. That gives us a total of 400 pages in the series, against MC's 576. RPP's topics appear to be much more generic. But then again, MC's series focuses on vampires and werewolves, so I'll give RPP leeway for that.

Each title in RPP's series costs US $26.95, which is slightly more expensive that the US $22.95 asking price for MC's titles. Then again, MC's titles are also 16 pages shorter. You can also buy RPP's "Vampire Library" in one hit, setting you back US $134.75, which is a lot cheaper than US $206.55 for MC's "The Making of a Monster: Vampires & Werewolves".

RPP has other plus points in its favour, going by their webpage. For starters, their titles actually come with little blurbs.

There's also a series description and series specifications, both more detailed than MC's version. The sidebar also gives a general view of the series' layout. There's even a "preview" of Kris Hirschmann's Vampires in the Movies (pdf), in which I noticed that scholar's beloved staple: footnotes! Hell yes! Whether they lead to anything substantial's hard to say at this point. All I know is, they're there.

So, going by the general content of the page, the previews, descriptions and whatnot, I'd say RPP's in the lead over MC. With due consideration of its intended audience, it looks like a pretty good "starter" for the YA crowd.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Round-Up Time

Just a few items concerning vampire-related things in my life at the moment. We start off with my pursuit of Montague Summers, an eBay purchase, a rambling (brief) film review and giving props to Amazon.

I've gotten onto a bit of a Montague Summers (1880-1948) kick. A very prolific writer, best known in vampire studies for writing The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (1928) and its companion tome, The Vampire in Europe (1929). Even though he only wrote these two books in the genre, their impact was massive. Indeed, you'll still find them in print today. He's even spawned a blatant imitator.

Anyhoo, I've been looking for biographical info on the guy, so I ordered two books about him through interlibrary loan. Borrowed both of 'em, yesterday. They are Timothy D'Arch Smith's The Books of the Beast: Essays on Aleister Crowley, Montague Summers, Francis Barrett and Others (Crucible, 1987) and Frederick S. Frank's Montague Summers: A Bibliographic Portrait (Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, 1988).

I was, quite frankly, disappointed with both. Not with their content, though. You see, I was expecting primarily original material from both, but, alas, they're essentially anthologies of previously published material. D'Arch Smith's book has two essays on Summers: "Montague Summers" (51-57) and "R. A. Caton, Montague Summers, and The Fortune Press" (58-74).

The first essay (presumably published with the second), is reproduced from his 1984 booklet, Montague Summers: A Talk (Edinburgh: Trargara Press). The preface mispells this as "Trargars".

One section of the book did startle me, though: the confirmation that Summers participated in a Black Mass on 26 December, 1918 (56-57). As to one of the other rumours swirling about Summers, the pederasty coverage is relatively hazy, but plausible enough to feel quite disconcerting.

Frank's book is indeed a "bibliographic portrait", consisting of a stack of content mainly reproduced from Summers' own works. The essays that comprise the first part of the book (3-34) have all been published elsewhere. However, the bibliographic chronology and annotated bibliography (156-246) seem to be unique to the book. So, props for that.

I know these might sound like harsh assessements, but just to clarify, these books certainly possess high value for those digging up info on Summers. The harshness is merely one of personal taste. I am keen on original material, you see. First editions. Items as close to a primary source as possible. The books are valuable in that they collate some pretty rare stuff into a solid whole. So, yes, I still recommend them. Personally, though, it means I gotta track down the original sources. At least I've got leads to work with!


Speaking of original prints, Christopher Frayling's Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (London: Faber and Faber, 1991) arrived in the mail today. I purchased the item from eBay on the 26th of September for GBP 4.99 (after requesting a markdown from 7.99). Quite a bargain.

I already own the paperback edition, which was published the following year. But, I just had to add this '91 hardback to my collection. Incidentally, it's a revised edition of Frayling's The Vampyre: Lord Ruthven to Count Dracula (1978). That one's on my of to-gets, too.


Watched Suck (2009) on DVD today. Although the title's probably ironic, it's not far from the truth. It features a swathe of cameos, namely Henry Rollins, Alice Cooper, Moby, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, hell, even Alex Lifeson from Rush. As you might've gathered, it's a vampire rock 'n' roll flick. But the music was pretty average and none of those aforementioned musos actually sing in the movie.

It's a bit of an odd flick, incorporating stop motion and dramatic lighting during various scenes. And, I gotta admit, Dimitri Coats made a pretty damn effective vampire...despite his dodgy clothes. I just felt that the flick ran out of steam once the band (The Winners) hit the US border. Just kind've ambled along at that point. It certainly has some clever moments, like the flashback scenes for Malcolm McDowell's vampire hunter. Rather than make him look young or hire a younger actor to play him, the director deftly integrated footage from an actual young McDowell. Nice touch.

I'm also savvy enough to know that the director reproduced a few classic album covers in his shots, namely The Beatles' Abbey Road, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., The Who's The Kids are Alright and T. Rex's Electric Warrior. While quietly amusing at first, it got a bit repetitive, real quick. Didn't really fit the narrative, either. And speaking of "quietly amusing", I don't think I even laughed once during the film. It's a horror comedy. Seemed too limp for that. That said, it was vaguely entertaining. Probably needed a faster pace.


The problems I had with Day's book (mentioned here), were fixed up shortly after I wrote that blog entry. I requested a partial refund (half of the total price), as I was still gonna keep the book, which they granted. Kudos, Amazon, for swiftly stitching that up.
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