VAMPIRE CULT MOVIES LORE LEGEND
introspective, reflective, witty
VAMPIRE EDITION INDIEJUDGE.COM
Nr. 02 - October 2014 Our second edition, just in time for Halloween this cold, chilly night to celebrate the nightmares that haunt us and the vampires we adore
An interview with vampire author, Caroline Stikkelbroeck, as she explains our fixation with vampires and the role of the vampire detective. An exclusive interview just for this edition!
See coverage of the Vampire Dairies, the thirst its generated and the story behind it. What makes it so special and how does it compare with Twilight?
22 Twilight cannot be ignored, see what David Blue says about Twilight! Is Twilight just another story or is generic?
36 Exposing the vampire underworld, or is there? What do they drink? Learn more about the vampire culture, those hardcore believers in the beauty of the undead.
52 Buffy was the public face of a pivotal point when it came to the vampire genre, a modernisation. Read the rest of Boylanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s killer article! 2
This halloween will be interesting for everyone, especially for those who linger in the night, awake and ready for the cool, cold chill of the darkness to comfort them. In this edition, we’ll look at vampires films, culture, and the lore behind the vampire world. We’ll cover the long dead and those still living.
EDITORIAL STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Sufi Mohamed SENIOR EDITOR Erin Chapman DESIGNER Sufi Mohamed MARKETING Sufi Mohamed CONTRIBUTORS Andrew Boylan Bertena Varney Caroline Stikkelbroeck Charles E. Butler David MacDowell Blue Efrain Nadal De Choudens Helen Marukh Lachelle Redd Mo Hussain Roger Koch Scarlette D’Noire Seung-woo Baek Stavros Cockrell SPECIAL THANKS Anthony Hogg Erin Chapman Donny Willis OFFICE Sandacker 15 8052, Zurich Switzerland Phone +41 (77) 420-6398
read Caroline Stikkelbroeck’s MA thesis Monstrum: The Vampire in the detective story, a thesis that’s trailed the rise and popularity of the “monster”, what it means in the world, and why we created it. Specifically, she charts the “other” and the way in which culture has constructed women as part of that designation, how the private detective became enraptured in the ideas of isolation and the postmodern condition of their existence. She sought to unravel the Vampire Detective, how he’s both the “monstrum”, the “other”, and yet embodies the hardboiled private detective’s mentality, both the anti-hero, the anti-christ and yet the saviour. For me, the vampire is as immortal to popular culture as its nature and symbolizes lust, adventure, and seduction. The vampire is topical, has always been topical throughout time and perhaps there’s a reason, as Caroline explained. After reading her thesis, it occurred to me that a Vampire Edition is really necessary. My goal was to contextualize the vampire as a creature that we’ve relied on throughout popular culture and explore the various scenarios that he’s been a part of. I want to remind readers that the vampire is indeed immortal and to show the reader how much we’ve celebrated him, by writing about the films that include the vampire, literature, the history and the cult, even the lore behind them. I wanted to celebrate the vampire, maybe not really as “the other”, but as part of ourselves. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, it’s a great honor and pleasure! I hope you join us for our next edition! Sincerely, Sufi Mohamed Editor-in-Chief of IndieJudge.com
MONSTERS ARE SYMBOLS Excerpt from Monstrum, Chapter 2 Caroline Stikkelbroeck Monsters are symbols. They
must always ‘stand for something’ -- they cannot stand for themselves. Monster theorist, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen suggests that “the monstrous body is pure culture… exist[ing] only to be read” (1996, 4). They have no existence on their own; they are only here because we have made them. Our relationships with the monsters we have created are complex: they are simultaneously mirror and reflection. Like a mirror they are constructed to reveal parts of ourselves, but what is reflected is but a projection, an image which is not and cannot be us even if it might appear to be. David Gilmore believes
“the mind needs monsters” (2003, 2) to act as a sort of pictorial metaphor, an imaginative ‘other’ on which to transfer cultural fears and anxieties. I have previously identified the monster’s hybrid body and its revelatory function as stable characteristics, static components of the monster, but also of importance are features that mutate, disappear and reappear. Absence ‘speaks,’ and for a symbol such as the monster, loudly. Changes in construction point to changes in us. Our own history exists in its many varieties. Conspicuously absent from many of our contemporary monsters is their inherent contemporary
Credit: Mutant Enemy
monsters is their inherent evil. As Gilmore has suggested this is not new (51). Pre-Christian monsters also enjoyed ambivalence in their roles as emissaries of the gods. They may have revealed terrible forces or malevolent inference, but their wickedness owards humans was not inherent. Consider the Minotaur or Medusa, for example: each of these mythological monsters is terrifying, but they are also victims, powerless in the use made of their bodies. The many and varied hybrid creatures that circulated via myth were directly connected to the religious beliefs of the time, a system as diverse as the deities it imagined. Monsters seemed to have developed into inherently evil creatures with the spread of monotheistic structures. The widespread acceptance of one God impacted on monstra in ways which ironically seem to have strengthened not only their relationship with a particular religious system, but also their ability to do evil. Aligned with Satan, monsters became a visual trope for God’s opponents, and their power to do evil rose proportionally as they became imagined as a theological ‘other.’ The Christian God’s ‘perfect’ being authorizes errors in creation -- if monsters are here it is by his authority and for his divine purpose. Monsters, then, functioned as admonition by directing attention from the ‘true’ path in largely symbolic or allegorical form. In this
way the monster, Rosi Braidotti suggests, is “simultaneously hellish and holy, sacred and profane…the simultaneity of opposite effects is the trademark of the monstrous body” (1996, 136). Inherent wickedness and unmotivated malevolence towards humans appear to be key components of two Christian millennia of monstrum, but it is a feature that only ‘floats’ alongside of contemporary representations, just another discursive string no longer bound to its originating tangle. “most often resurrected and the most endurable” (3). This may be in part due to the unique relationship vampires share with humans -- they used to be like us. They can ‘fit in’ and move about in the world the way a swamp creature or a werewolf cannot. The vampire has a rich history of use stretching from legend and folklore, across all levels of culture, to contemporary cyberspaces and video games, and Dracula is its core figure. The vampire of folklore is not an attractive creature. Zombie-like and devoid of humanizing characteristics it is merely an obsessive/compulsive automaton on whom, Jan Louis Perkowski (1998) suggests, all the anxieties and fears of the communities that created it were laid (445). Clothed in rags and remnants, folklore’s hapless scapegoat does not clean up until resurrected as a city dweller.
INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE AUTHOR
Caroline Stikkelbroeck Why d o yo u t h i n k va m p i re s t or i e s h ave b e en s uc h a s t apl e i n p op ula r c ult u re a n d s o c i e t y? The vampire, the most resurrected of all of the monsters that we have imagined, is most often ‘read’ as a symbol of cultural ‘otherness’. That is, it is what we are not, what we cannot be. In this sense, the vampire, at any particular time and place is history, can ‘point to’ the culture it is made for and by. The vampire has changed over its rich history of use. This is because the cultures that have used them have changed. So why do we like them? And, at least two millennia of use suggests we do, a lot. We’ve used them to account for inexplicable deaths and disappearances, to explain plagues and other cultural ills. They’ve been held accountable for sudden changes of mood or health in loved ones, domestic animals, and the weather. They’ve served as metaphors for death, sex, religion, miscegenation, illness, race, gender and capitalism. Its movement alongside of culture
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makes the vampire an accommodating sort of creature for use in popular narratives. It is most like us, in fact it once was. They can blend, fit in with the world in a way that a swamp creature or even a werewolf can’t. In the last two centuries of its use, that feature, the vampire’s complex relationship with humanity as both us/not us, its ability to blend has moved to the forefront of the blood suckers’ stories. Currently we can consume the vampire of a multitude of formats – in film, TV, fiction, graphic novels, on the internet and in video games. The creature continues to proliferate. Does this suggest a trivialization of what Gilmore calls its cultural work, to point out something, or does it underscore its continuing and increasing pertinence?
Credit: Mutant Enemy
What i s a vampi re d e t e c t i ve ? David Gilmore has called the monster “a glyph in search of a hierophant” – a symbol that must be interpreted. At this point in culture, the vampire is a symbol open to interpretation. The detective is a figure who is preoccupied with interpretation. Trotter has referred to the character as the ‘ulitmate semiotician.’ Two of the most popular characters to have surfaced in our fiction, the most frequently used and re-used are a monster and an interpreter, Count Dracula and Sherlock Holmes. The vampire detective blends these two icons and offers a hybrid that is both ‘other’ and authoritative. It is more than a ‘glyph that seeks a hierophant’. It is a symbol that is also a sense maker and, in that sense, the quintessential postmodern subject. It is a symbol that is also a sense maker and, in that sense, the quintessential postmodern subject. I think that what’s interesting about Angel as a
a vampire detective is that the trope of detection is not a characteristic of the original series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In this series, Angel chooses to work with Buffy, the chosen vampire slayer. This shift in action, from the fantastic slaying action of the warrior/soldier, moves the repentant vampire into the world of the hard boiled detective. Unlike the classic detective who worked in addition to a competent police force, the hard boiled P.I. operates within a corrupt system. Their version of authority is perceived as better than the institutional forces of justice. As the “faceless champion of the hapless human race” Angel is effective but separated from those he saves. It is a job he performs and one that he can do without caring. The P.I., on the other hand, must live in the world he inhabits and risks his life for the characters within it – he cares.
Q&A How h as t h e vampi re c h a n g e d s i n c e Dra c ula ? Short answer, this monster has evolved from the vampire to vampires. That is, there are contemporarily so many different version of the creature that any particular vampire must be ‘read’ in relation to the signs that surround it. Genre, for example, could be seen as one of those signs. Having said that, and the long version, there are a few differences that strike me as particularly important. For most of its narrative life, this creature’s use as a symbol has primarily been shaped by religion, specifically Christianity. The shift from Count Dracula’s AntChrist status to the contemporary super saviour/lover has been swift. As Stoker’s ‘arrow in the side of Him who died for our sins’ Dracula, the anti-Christ, was bestowed with religious status and metaphysical power. He was as bad as the good he opposed. He could control the weather, lesser beings (such as rodents and insects), change size and form, raise the dead, disappear at will, and he was evil. He didn’t have choice in this. In the culture he was made for and by, his evil nature was inherent in his naming – anti-Christ. Contemporary vampires, on the hand, are largely presented as having a choice. If they are evil it is not the natural result of opposition to Christianity but
an expression of individualism and personality. Whedon’s BtVS and Angel are good examples of vampire individualism -- within one worldview. And it is not as simple as good vampire/bad vampire. Angel is not presented in opposition to any one sort of bad vampire, nor is he the only heroic vampire, or the only vampire with a soul. Even when he is ‘good’, he can do bad things. Another significant difference is that contemporary vampires speak for themselves and can occupy the centre of the narrative. Dracula has no voice in the original narrative. The novel is presented as a collec-
tion of journal entries, newspaper articles and letters. Dracula does his evil Anti-Christ thing, but is largely Van Helsing that tells us how and why. In this sense, contemporary vampires speak for themselves and can manifest a desire and a capacity for change. Or not. Evil vampires still surface in popular culture, but rarely do we see their evil framed in opposition to a religious conception of right. Blood thirst and eternal life continue to mark most vampire stories, but even these features have lost their potency. Many contemporary vampires drink animal blood, from glasses and mugs, some use synthetic blood, others inoculations – all with the intent to suppress or replace the hunger for human blood which has marked earlier versions of the vampire. The vampires’ eternal life has also been somewhat watered down. As BtVS and Angel make clear about vampire mortality, they are only eternal until someone kills them again. What is emphasized as the primary marker of the vampire in popular culture is their eternal appearance of youth and their super strength. It’s not hard to read the importance of these markers in our culture. Our cultural landscape is plastered with images of youthful products, youth as product, and products that promise youth.
Likewise, from cleaning products, pain relievers and the resurgence of super heroes in popular narratives, super-strength also seems to address a need in culture that the regular can no longer satisfy. Global politics and corporatization also offer opportunities to read super-strength as a source of cultural fear and anxiety as we watch superpowers juggle with our existence. If youth and great strength are examples of our differences from our monsters, our cultural others, does the symbol point to our nature as an aging and vulnerable species? This is certainly an image that resonates socially, politically and environmentally. Contemporary re-use of the vampire signals a change in the way we as a culture view otherness, in the ways we imagine the outsider. Dracula hit the trifecta of otherness – not only undead anti-Christ, but also foreigner and aristocrat. The vampires that have emerged since the 70s continue to manifest difference but do so in two primary ways: as examples of deviance or as exemplary characters.
D e r Va m pi r ( 1 74 8) Heinrich August Ossenfelder Mein liebes Mägdchen glaubet Beständig steif und feste, An die gegebnen Lehren Der immer frommen Mutter; Als Völker an der Theyse An tödtliche Vampiere Heyduckisch feste glauben. Nun warte nur Christianchen, Du willst mich gar nicht lieben; Ich will mich an dir rächen, Und heute in Tockayer Zu einem Vampir trinken. Und wenn du sanfte schlummerst, Von deinen schönen Wangen Den frischen Purpur saugen. Alsdenn wirst du erschrecken, Wenn ich dich werde küssen Und als ein Vampir küssen: Wenn du dann recht erzitterst Und matt in meine Arme, Gleich einer Todten sinkest Alsdenn will ich dich fragen, Sind meine Lehren besser, Als deiner guten Mutter?
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BELA LUGOSI’S BEST VAMPIRE FILMS Charles E. Butler
Credit: Universal Pictures
Bela Lugosi was born in the Hungarian town of Lugos in 1882. His role as the undead aristocrat Count Dracula in Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) is considered his greatest performance and he found himself, thanks mainly to Universal’s publicity machine, typecast very quickly. He had been paid off not to star in Dracula’s Daughter and was impersonated by a wax dummy. Similarly, he would be replaced by Lon Chaney Jr for Son of Dracula, and John Carradine for House of Frankenstein (1944) and its sequel, House of Dracula (1945). In this period, however, came some of Lugosi’s best horror movies: The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Bodysnatcher (1945). He had turned down the role of Frankenstein’s creature in James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), but
Credit: Universal Pictures
Credit: Universal Pictures
later stole George Waggner’s The Wolfman (1941) , as the haunted and cursed gypsy, Bela, even though he only occupies a few moments of screen time. Mark of the Vampire and the later Return of the Vampire (1943) are Lugosi’s best vampire movies and should be discussed in more depth. The characters, Count Mora and Armand Tesla, released
Lugosi and the filmmakers from the shackles of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (1897) and the movies fare better because of this. Neither was made at Universal. Mark of the Vampire was fashioned at MGM and was a remake of Browning’s earlier London After Midnight starring Lon Chaney. Browning had given the script writing reins to Guy Endore, author of The Were-
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wolf of Paris (1933), and his revision had invented one of the more interesting reasons that people become vampires after death. Mora sports a bullet wound to his temple throughout the film. The censor had cut the explanation that he had abused his own daughter, Luna (Carroll Borland), forcing him to take her life and his. Both rise impressively from the grave as vampires to reveal shocks that had been bereft of Browning’s Dracula. Unfortunately, this cover is also blown when it is revealed that the mute vampires are actually jobbing actors trying to force a murderer to confess. As Lugosi was already waning in the studio popularity stakes, this final revelation added a life-imitates-art irony to the bizarre façade of eeriness that Browning was never able to match in his masterpiece by proxy, Dracula. As Armand Tesla in Columbia’s Return of the Vampire,
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Lugosi is a black magician who has cursed himself with vampirism. He is destroyed at the beginning of the movie, only to be unearthed by the mortar bombings of World War One. Military Police of the comedy relief variety pull the spike from his heart, believing it to be a length of shrapnel. Tesla revives and is aided by Andreas (Matt Willis), whose cloak of servitude is yak hair, a rubber snout and fangs. Andreas is a werewolf. This film was Columbia’s attempt to cash in on Universal’s own movie; Frankenstein meets the Wolf man (1943), in which Lugosi played the blind Frankenstein monster. Columbia didn’t hold the patent to the name Dracula, but this doesn’t stop director Lew Landers/Lewis Friedlander, from aping many scenes from Bela’s signature movie. Events
take a turn when Andreas is taught to shuck off the hold of Armand Tesla and stand on his own two feet. At the end of the film, he stakes the vampire a second time. Lugosi melts away under the rays of the sun as his skin falls from his face like wax. Arguably, Lugosi was never better as a vampire than in this movie. As in Mark of the Vampire’s Count Mora, Armand Tesla, freed of Dracula’s very demanding constraints – a stage bound script being the worst culprit – becomes a character that holds his own hypnotic fascination. It is certainly the last time that Lugosi was taken seriously as the movie master of the undead. same way as Dracula had seventeen years earlier. In 1948, he was lured back to Universal and burlesqued his famous image in Abbott and Costello meet
“ The role seemed to demand that I keep myself worked up to fever pitch, so I took on the actual attributes of the horrible vampire, Dracula. BELA LUGOSI
Frankenstein, playing Count Dracula for the second and final time. In satin cape and clown white face, he takes on the role of the Mad Scientist trying to supercharge the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange), by adding the brain of Lou Costello. It is hard to believe that the film had once been conceived as a
straight thriller. Following on from the lukewarm, House of Dracula, Bela returns and has obvious fun in his old role and the film was a box office bulls eye that pulled Universal from the brink of bankruptcy in much the It was also the last time that Lugosi would be taken seriously in the cinema. After Abbott
â&#x20AC;&#x153; When other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers, I kind of wanted to be a vampire. ANGELINA JOLIE
and Costello meet Frankenstein, he was forced into films on the poverty row that were general slap stick comedies that ran his image into the ground quicker than a stake through the heart. Old Mother Riley meets the Vampire (1952), billed him opposite fading vaudevillian, Arthur Lucan. He plays a deluded scientist who believes himself to be a vampire. The only point of interest is the fact that the director of this film was John Gilling, who would go on to direct Hammerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile, both made in 1966. Further abominations like Spooks Run Wild and Bela Lugosi meets a Brooklyn Gorilla only accentuate the dire circum-
Credit: Universal Pictures
Credit: Universal Pictures
“ I want a cheeseburger so badly, but I have to be a vampire in a few weeks. KRISTEN STEWART
-stances of the horror genre as a whole in the early 1950s. The world was changing. Man had split the atom and the new craze known as the drivein would take hold. Scientifically bred vampires such as The Thing From Another World (1951), joined the roster with alien bloodsuckers found in Not of This Earth (1956) and IT! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) and relegated a back seat to the dire half-vampires invented by Edward D Wood jr and his contemporaries that Bela was reduced to. The actor himself had been fighting drug and alcohol addiction for twenty years or more and
I think that it is safe to say that his need for easy money to feed his habits and his indifference to fully mastering the English language made it harder for him to secure a safe and well paying contract. He died in 1956 on August 16th, in poverty and practically forgotten. With thanks to the media push of television, video, DVD and now internet surfing, Bela Lugosi is regarded as one of the greatest of horror film stars with many websites and social pages doubling in their numbers almost daily. As the slogan goes, ‘Bela Lugosi’s dead!’ but his legacy, like that of his most famous role, Count Dracula, will live on forever.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Helen Marukh
The Vampire Diaries is a show that is easy to dismiss out of turn. The name alone doesn’t inspire much confidence, which the premise doesn’t hurry to make up. (For true hilarity, check out the Netflix Canada summary of the show, which begins “Trapped in adolescent bodies...”) However, after a shaky pilot and awkward beginning to the first season, the show finds its legs to become, in this reviewers opinion, one of the most compelling and less problematic shows for its demographic on TV today. Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) returns to Mystic Falls High School after a summer of mourning her parents, killed four months prior in a car acci-
dent. The guardianship of Elena and her brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) has been taken over by their aunt Jenna Sommers (Sara Canning). Unfortunately, Jenna is still a young grad student out of her depth and unable to control Jeremy, who has turned to drug use to deal with his grief. Upon returning to school, Elena finds herself captivated by the mysterious Stefan Salvatore, (Paul Wesley) a new student who has recently moved to Mystic Falls along with his older brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder). But it does not take long for Elena to realise that the Salvatore brothers are more than they appear. Even past the cliché-ridden basic premise, there are many things
“ Becoming a vampire means completely changing your identity. PARK CHAN-WOOK
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that make Vampire Diaries a difficult show to get into at first. The dialogue is often quite stilted, and at times so terrible that I’ve found myself having to rewind after a particularly long laughing fit to hear what I missed. The acting in the show is also hit or miss. This is not helped by the horror movie tropes brought in while the show is still finding its legs in the first half of the season. Familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the horror genre, the opening scene of the first episode features a couple driving through fog when they hit someone in the road. Upon stopping to investigate, both are torn to shreds
by an unseen force. These kinds of cliché openers make even the best acting the show can provide seem hackneyed in the face of such lazy writing. Luckily, the horror movie clichés disappear early on into the first season, along with the most hilariously horrible exposition device imaginable – joint diary voiceovers with Stefan and Elena. After these gimmicks are stripped away, the high points of the show are able to shine through: Even in the beginning when the show is more enjoyable for the bad aspects than the good, Vampire Diaries is an incredibly well paced show. The plot moves along quite
Credit: Warner Bros.
Credit: Warner Bros.
“ With ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ it’s not just a tease, especially with the relationships. You’re not sitting there going, ‘God, I wish they’d get it over with and kiss!’ There’s no teasing, they jump right into the action.
quickly, with game-changing plot points coming along at least every couple episodes. Elena learns that Stefan is a vampire within five episodes; a reveal that on another show could have been drawn out an entire season. Despite this, the pacing rarely seems contrived or rushed, and the characters evolve and change to keep abreast with the action. This makes for an exciting and compelling watch, as well as offsetting the occasional absurdity of the plot. Out of context, the types of plot reveals that occur regularly on Vampire Diaries seem to derive directly from the soap opera tradition, (e.g. ‘I am the exact doppelganger of your vampire lover from the 1800s’) but the show is saved from melodrama by the pacing. Dramatic reveals happen but are not drawn out for
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maximum drama. Instead, characters are forced to process, adapt and continue on in very realistic ways, lending a sense of verisimilitude even to the most absurd of plot points. Perhaps this point would be better called ‘Surprising Lack of Sexism’. Though The Vampire Diaries and shows of its ilk are aimed at teenagers in general and teenage girls more specifically, a lot of the times the kinds of behaviours they model for their audiences are incredibly unhealthy. Vampire Diaries seems incredibly aware of its contemporaries in this sense, and seeks to avoid the trappings of properties like Twilight. Two of Elena’s best friends, Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola) and Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham) are shining examples of the ways the show manages to subvert female
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“ The vampire movies I embraced as a kid used vampirism as a metaphor that expressed deep sadness and a lot of human qualities. ALEXANDRA CASSAVETES 21
portrayal in a show aimed at a teenage demographic. Caroline, for example, is a blonde, perky cheerleader who is shown to have a very healthy appreciation for the opposite sex. In Twilight, a character like this would be torn down and dismissed as air-headed or slutty in order to make the main character seem more likeable, but Caroline is instead able to mature, gain depth of character and become a much larger part of the show. Bonnie is Elena’s best friend and a witch on the verge of gaining her powers. This character is one that holds a special place in my heart for doing something I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen happen on a teenage drama before: making healthy decisions for herself. She constantly re-evaluates the situations she finds herself dragged into by Elena. On several occasions she even walks away when her assessment of a situation differs from her best friend’s, all the while with both women respecting each other’s choices. Though this doesn’t sound like a rousing call to arms for the cause of this show, I would say that the depth of character that moments like this add are part of what make Vampire Diaries so compelling. Not to mention, making it unique from its contemporaries which often suffer from a soporific lack of depth. In the end, Vampire Diaries is a supernatural drama aimed at teenagers, and as such is certainly not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. But if the first few episodes don’t scare you off, the show ends up being a compelling and fast-paced fantasy/horror show with a surprising amount of depth to the initially clichéd characters. Give it a try, you might just be surprised.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA David Blue
Among fans of vampire fiction, starting a furious argument has become easy. Unbelievably so. Just say “I enjoyed Twilight.” Similar debates have raged before. Yet when it comes to the four books by Stephenie Meyer and the five films made from them, venom and devotion continues without letup. What inspires the kind of loathing? Given the level of devotion involved as well, one must suspect the two related. Constant harping about the sparkling skin of Meyer’s vampires seems overblown—especially given how so few fans of the series ever mention that detail. Given that, how important can it be? Look instead at the story. Bella, a very bright but shy teenaged girl, goes to live with her father in Washington state. She doesn’t know anyone and correctly sees how some regard her as nothing more than an exotic ‘other.’ But she does begin to make friends, most importantly Edward—a beautiful but sullen young man. Eventually, they fall in love. More, she learns Edward is a vampire, one who refuses to
kill humans but who finds the smell of her intoxicating. He longs to devour her, to drain her dry. But he doesn’t. Not really an original story. Reluctant vampires go back to Dracula’s Daughter (1936), to Barnabas Collins, Nick Knight and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fact, much the same story can be
Credit: Summit Entertainment
found in The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause and The Vampire Diaries by L.J.Smith, both predating Twilight by years and years. Bella has no real powers, not until halfway through the last book. She’s physically no match for the non-vegetarians who make up most undead in the Saga. Bella doesn’t even know how to use a gun and gets nervous when people drive fast. In other words, she seems normal. That stands out as different. No Slayer she. Neither is she a police officer or professional soldier. Likewise, consider her relationship with Edward—who feels an instinctual desire to ravish and destroy her. Critics focus on his physical beauty. But fans rarely talk about that. Rather, they discuss his self control, his devotion, the way he increasingly trusts Bella, ultimately following her lead. Here again we see something new. Not merely the fact Bella drives the story (every major plot point is governed by her choices, her decisions) but that she does so in ways not remotely connected to testosterone. Vampires in the past echoed the fears of past generations, mostly masculine ones. Foreigners out to seduce womenfolk and spread ungodly ideas (Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee for example, the latter amidst the Cold War). Reckless youth carried to extremes (Lost Boys in 1987, in what was still called Reagan’s America). An unstoppable horror that strikes from nowhere (30 Days of Night or The Strain, both in the era of AIDS and 9/11). Or even prejudice (True Blood). For that matter what are the television series The Vampire Diaries and Buffy if not supernatural metaphors on the mounting fears of growing up? If vampires function as avatars of terror, maybe what rankles some is how Twilight recognizes terror not of the other, but of ourselves. Of recognizing how we as a society look upon our females. As meat. Exactly the way most vampires in Meyer’s books view humans. Not so different from other vampire stories, not really. Save for the love story, the one breaking formula. Edward gives up control to Bella. He’s stronger, faster, tougher, more ruthless than she. Yet he listens to her. And obeys. For this his character receives genuine loathing, described as a fairy (tellingly) rather than a vampire. Twilight is a fantasy that challenges vastly popular notions of what it means to be male. In terms
The phenomenon of vampires has always appealed to me. Everyone kind of likes a vampire story because it almost could be true.
Credit: Summit Entertainment
of sheer power, Edward Cullen must surely rank among the most dangerous undead in fiction! Sunlight, wooden stakes, holy objects threaten him not at all. He can read the thoughts of anyone within a mile radius. Contrary to what some t-shirts claim, Buffy would stand zero chance in hand-to-hand combat with him. Van Helsing would be hopelessly out-matched. Yet— and here is what seems to brand him a weakling—Edward takes no pleasure in violence, would rather kiss his girlfriend. Hold her hand. Watch her sleep. He hardly seems male. Our society abounds in fantasies aimed at teenage boys, that wallow in aggression. James Bond escaping wildly dangerous traps while rescuing beautiful women—who give him sex then vanish (sometimes murdered, by him). Wolverine has claws and unbreakable bones and revels in personally wiping out small armies. So Twilight genuinely horrifies (in part) because masculine role models are challenged. Yet it fascinates and wins devotion for precisely the same reason. It doesn’t even bestow traditionally “masculine” virtues upon the heroes, but instead celebrates those associated with femininity. Patience. Quiet. Nurturing. Avoiding conflict. Tolerance. To some, this might seem a different kind of horror story.
Credit: Summit Entertainment
THIRST: A KOREAN EXPRESSION Seung-woo Baek
Credit: CJ Entertainment
“ It’s not like vampires are inherently bad. It’s just people need to make better vampire movies.
Thirst (dir. Park Chanwook) is a movie made
infinitely appealing for its start which presumes failure. Discontent with his powerless position as a caregiver of the terminally ill, father Sanghyun (Kangho Song) enlists himself with the experimental research for the cure to Emmanuel Virus (EV). This “curse of Azira”, a fatal infection that seems to target mainly Caucasian or Asian males, with over 80% of the infected having been missionaries, is voluntarily contracted by father Sanghyun, with death and resurrection soon following suit. He is hailed as the “bandaged saint”, and the sacrilegious return starts a chain of events that confronts Sanghyun with his old friend’s wife, Taeju (Okbin Kim), with whom he sparks an illicit love affair—it is telling how Naver lists Thirst under ‘Melo(drama)/Love/Romance’. Make no mistake, Thirst is about vampires.
But also it is not. Not really. Having forked over a conceit that has lengthy history and literary lineage, the movie does not attempt to naturalize Vampire and create a Korean Vampire stock. Rather, Park, with acute selfawareness, deploys the motifs and thematic ripples in order to tell a love story, the sordid passion whereby fangs are never displayed in bravado and feeding is more of a private and guilty affair that takes place away from the camera with its backs turned. Love is sexy, but it is also awkward, halting, and grimly funny. The movie delights in amped up sound-scape of blatant sexuality and primal thirst—if guilt could have sounds, the suctional slurping of feeding would be its voice. The sounds of lovemaking shares its source with that of sanguine thirst, and the sonic symbolism is nothing less than recursive as pale flesh fumbles and limp limbs flail. Whilst visual grotesqueness of this movie heavily reliant on teal filter resides with the living, their fluorescent expressions and the horror of the
dead and the undead of the film come to us through our ear canals. Sanghyun’s vampiric super-hearing during bouts of splattery lovemaking makes the audience question whether they themselves have not turned into the creature. The audience is made complicit in the affair. We question who has the right to cast the first stone at these couple of exceptionally human transgressions. Park would give us violently intimate and singularly sanguine in the figures of Taeju and Sanghyun’s unordained zeal for each other. The film is highly self-aware of the foreignness of the conceit that it borrows; neither the European sophisticate of grandeur and high manners whose Transylvania charm ensnare the innocent or the gaunt presence that hides in closets and coffins like the proverbial skeleton are age-old narratives familiar to many in Korea. However, as the film visually reminds us the world we are living in is not so entirely homogeneous to us anymore. The colonial Japanese housing doubles as a business where Taeju’s fos-
“ I think the reason vampire movies have been so popular over time is that they share so many parallels with human beings. ALEXANDRA CASSAVETES Credit: CJ Entertainment
Credit: CJ Entertainment
“ There’s no setin-stone way to be a vampire, especially with the evil ones. CAMERON BRIGHT
-ster mother sells Korean Hanbok, and every Sunday the place is converted to where a group gets together to play Chinese Mahjong and to drink Russian vodka. And it is no coincidence that the house itself is revived as the couple’s vampire’s den. These pluralities and palimpsestic over-layering of divergent cultural markers remind us that “the Korean” is already inflected with multitude. Amongst this declaration of eclecticism, the film invites in the Vampire mythos over its garish threshold. Song’s performance bristles with utmost self-control. For two hours, he fights the untamed undercurrent of desire that threatens to overtake his sense of humanistic morality at any moment. It is the “bloody beast” that he reigns in with his understanding of sanctity of human lives. Rather than to portray the Otherness of Vampiric outcome, Song’s Sanghyun displays the sameness of lurid desire undergirding much of humanity. Torn between the
Credit: CJ Entertainment
phantasmal ecstasy of the flesh and his place as an ordained priest, his biggest downfall is perhaps not of his Vampiric turning, but more so the illicit passion, the giving kiss. Even when he breaks his cardinal rule of “never killing a human”, he proclaims to have done so for Taeju, and when he proclaims that “I crumbled because of you”, Sanghyun more so means, “I crumbled for you”. Even in accusation, the words are ambivalent of its fingerpointing potency, for Sanghyun, it was less of a cause, and more of a matter of appeasement. But of course this matter of giving love rapidly backtracks into a matter of redemption. It’s this focus of fanged
fight between a man and the same man who has fallen from his mantle that makes Park’s addition to the vampiric mythos to be in tune with the Korean cinemascape. The struggle between redemption and the blood price paid for sin. There is love, and then there is sin. Those two are not mutually exclusive, but they also do not seem to be each other’s atonement either. The transplantation seems complete, and without much rejection.
NOSFERATU, DRACULA & 30 DAYS OF NIGHT Lachelle Redd
From its early beginnings, the vampire has kept
us all desiring his splendor, eloquence, and fiendish nature. When it comes to this being, nothing has captured our imaginations more than film. The classic movie Nosferatu introduced us to a hideous being that devoured a town’s villagers one by one leaving a trail of death and coffins. This monster, far from the vampire of today, was both hideous and terrifying only to be destroyed in the morning sun. From there the vampire tradition was born and a very talented Hungarian actor named Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó or Bela Lugosi, introduced us to a theatrical and haunting vampire that seduced his female prey into submission to bloodlust. Bela’s dark eyes and cat like motions seemed to leap from the screen and into our very lives and from there the vampire became more sensual and sinister. Many actors since then dawned the historic
black cape and fangs, but it was in 1979 when Frank Langella awakened the genre to a new level. Once again, a tall dark and handsome creature captured audiences and who could forget his claw like movements when curing Ms. Lucy of her sudden head ailment. Trained in theatre, Langella aroused the female masses with his charm, matter-of-fact speaking and lustful presence. Till this day, I still shudder at his appearance in the film. For the more modern crowd, Francis Cord Coppola introduced the love story of Dracula and his beloved Mina. From the beginning, the genre was closely associated with Bram Stoker’s novel; however, there were so many deviations and variations that the original story was lost. Coppola followed the tale closely and from there Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder embarked upon a playful, flirtatious relationship. All the while, her fiancé Jonathan Harker,
“ You must excuse me, but I have already dined. And I never drink wine. GARY OLDMAN, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA
Credit: Columbia Pictures
They had forgotten the first lesson, that we are to be powerful, beautiful, and without regret. GARY OLDMAN, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA
was being fed to a bevy of seductress vamps on a nightly basis. As for Oldman and Ryder, this level of relationship between predator and prey transformed into a struggle to keep a long lost love alive and redeem its cursed male component. With the powerhouse of actors to include Sir Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, and Cary Elwes, Coppola’s Dracula not only fulfilled its promise of horror, it boasted welldesigned sets, costumes and makeup that pleased the eye and set a fresh tone for the genre. Having seen all the lust and sexual undertone of the vampire for the last thirty years, of course someone would come along and remind us that the vampire is nothing to be lusted after. Thirty Days of Night was a reminder that the original bloodlust was nothing beautiful or attractive. These foreign creatures spoke from blood engorged, fang filled mouths that
Credit: Donny Willis 32
Credit: Columbia Pictures
â&#x20AC;&#x153; I love the night. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the only time I feel really alive. HELEN CHANDLER, DRACULA (1931)
ripped and tore at ever muscle, skin layer, and vein of its prey. With nothing but continuous nightfall, these creatures were at an advantage that had never been witnessed. The innocent prey succumbed to gruesome endings slash after mutilating slash and we all realized the monster had returned. In the norm, remakes can be quite lame and just down right bad. However, in Let the Right One In, the relationship between a twelve-year-old boy and a mysterious girl remained intact and in blood. This film was not only about an underdog rising to battle his nemesis, but it reminds you of the awkwardness in life and how brutal children can be. Let Me In or Let The Right One In are both well played 33
and acted. The gore level is appropriate but not overdone. Yes, there are some severed limbs and such, but there is also an element of what you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see alarming the senses. Although there are many, many more vampire tales to review, I have highlighted those that seemed to mark a place in the culture. Each of these films were born during a period where horror seemed to lull. The audience needed to be awakened and the filmmakers delivered. Even now, horror is more mainstreamed than it was thirty years ago. With movies and shows like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, the genre is yet again introduced to a new audience and awakening a new set of ideas.
TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA Mo Hussain
An unscrupulous salesman travelling through Europe accidentally witnesses the evil Count in his final throes of death. After the Lord of the Undead’s destruction is complete, the merchant collects Dracula’s remains and personal artifacts and heads back to England. After some time has passed one of Dracula’s disciples manages to persuade three, well heeled hedonists to purchase Dracula’s remains in order to revive him. But during the resurrection process the three men lose control and end up killing the vampires minion. And when the satanic Count is finally reanimated, he vows to take revenge on the men who murdered his loyal servant. I’m currently going through a phase of re-examining the Hammer Dracula pictures that once sent a shiver through my spine 34
when I was a child growing up in England back in the seventies and early eighties. And although nowadays they tend to evoke shrieks of laughter, rather than screams of terror. I can truthfully say they are still well made and gripping films even to this day. By the time this film was made Sir Christopher Lee had pretty much had it in for Bram Stokers immortal and titular figure. As a result Mr Lee is hardly in it, and when he is, he hardly utters much dialogue. In fact Dracula prefers to let his minions exact revenge. I do like the way he hypnotises the virginal Alice played by Linda Hayden to do his dirty work. The film also stars Geoffrey Keen from the Bond movies as well as Peter Sallis from The last of the summer wine fame. My only complaint regarding this film is the customary death finale, which turns out to be a bit of a damp squib. Nonetheless this is a fine effort by Peter Sasdy.
THE SCARS OF DRACULA A young lothario, on the run from the law decides to evade capture by laying low in newer surroundings. His journey takes him to a remote mountain village. Unfortunately for him the villagers don’t take kindly to strangers and he ends up being booted out of a tavern and into the cold dead of night. Always the opportunist he finds a horse and carriage in the forest and decides to take a nap in it. When he wakes up he finds himself at the gates of a spooky and mighty castle. Whose owner is none other than a certain Count Dracula! Immediately the gracious host decides to offer his famous or should that be infamous hospitality to his newly arrived guest! Having watched The Scars of Dracula many, many years ago all
I remembered about it was that it starred Dennis Waterman, famous for The Sweeney and Minder. Also look out for Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor from the classic scifi series. He plays Klove, a hirsute servant of the Lord of the Undead. Unlike other incarnations of Dracula’s trusted minion, here Klove displays acts of compassion as well as violence. For a Hammer production it’s surprisingly gory, villagers are attacked by rubber bats and loads of ketchup is spilled! Unintentionally funny, just check out Sir Christopher Lee leering viciously over Jenny Hanley! Who can blame him? And as in all Hammer productions the Count suffers a spectacular end! 35
DO VAMPIRES EXIST? Stavros Cockrell
The difference between reality and folklore is a social phenomenon often defined by decades of generational perceptions, gossip, customs, religion, misperceptions, tradition, and history. Folklore takes the form of fairy tales, ballads, proverbs, riddles, and stories. They are passed down from family to family, fathers to sons, mothers to daughters, and in their telling and retelling the true meanings, or real events that sparked their creation in the first place, becomes less prevalent to the act of simply being that family’s, or that culture’s, oral or written identity. Meaning, that the tale becomes the thing, becomes what is most impor-
tant, instead of what it was originally about. Take for instance the nursery rhyme, Ring Around the Rosy: the lines go “ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies. Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down.” This well known and adored child hymn is still taught and song gleefully today. But its horrific origins from the Black Plague and how victims of that terrible disease were marked, identified, and disposed of are not imparted when the song is taught and sung. The song is the thing – its rhyme and rhyme. Reality is defined by the quality or state of being real; the true situation as it exists.
But the understanding, acknowledging of, and belief in any given “reality” is masked through a series of perceptions - perceptions are filtered through one’s own fears, desires, dreams, culture, traditions, and folklore. So, when asked to write about “real” vampires I ultimately had to ask, what is “real”? How is the reality of a vampire defined? And those question right there are a gapping wound over the drama of both the fictional realm of the vampire and those brave souls who self-identify with being a vampire or a vampyre. Simply put to the teeth, do vampires really exist? The answer is yes. They have throughout our history and time, and walk among us today. But simply put to the teeth, do vampires exist like we know and love from movies, books, and folklore? Then the answer is no. And therein lay the “crux of the biscuit,” as Frank Zappa once said, “the apostrophe.” Defining what a vampire truly is, is as wide and varied as all the muses of imagination and each individual who self-identifies. Pulling the threads back on the interpretations of any particular folklore is a new sociological method that began in the early Nineteenth Century. In most regards defining truth from folklore is immeasurable. At best we can take an educated guess – that is it. Without being present during the time period and applying a practical, impartial scientific study there
is no way of truly pulling apart the facts from fiction. In all those History Channel-type explorations that have tried to peer behind the veil of Bram Stoker’s sensational novel, Dracula, they have popularized Vlad Tepes, aka Vlad, the Impaler, as being the source, the epic inspiration, to the most recognized vampire of all time – Count Dracula. But as one who spent over fifteen years studying vampire lore, biology, a history of folklore, and the development of humanity across planet Earth so that he could pen his own interpretations of vampire literature, I know that comparing Vlad Tepes to Bram Stoker’s Dracula is as accurate as comparing a bottle of whiskey to the majesty of a Jackson Pollack painting. There is no comparison. What inspires an author – any author – is too varied and deep and wide to point out and explain, especially when that author is dead and buried for over a hundred
“ I was shaking all over, and it wasn’t from the vampire. Memories have teeth, too. LAURELL K. HAMILTON, BLOODY BONES
years. What these History Channel-type expose’s and theoretical books have done is continue to cloud and misinterpret the potential for real understanding about what a vampire is with more inane blather and folklore. During my fifteen+ years of research and development to craft vampire stories within the One Blood Series my goal was to dig far enough through world history and folklore to extract from that a logical and practical basis in which vampires could be as real and plausible in our world, with our laws of physics and history. On a literary tip, I have succeeded and fans enjoy fictional vampire tales rooted in reality. But it is still fiction. The oral histories and written folklores’ that informed me about the Annunaki and Nephilim’s blood consumption, power strife’s, and interactions with humans are still suspect and open to mass interpretations. They are not counted as “real” history, despite the fact that they could actually be our real history. No one can point and say, with
definitive authority, that the Annunaki and/ or Nephilim, even by another name, walked the Earth. So, on a historical tip, I have failed to define what a vampire truly is and where the idea of one came from. At best, I have an educated guess, and from that education I am crafting my own modern folklore. In this respect, I am no different than any other author out there adding to the pile of miss-information about what vampires really are. Sliver Black, a self-identified vampire, who operates the online resource, The Vampire Source, defines vampires as “an individual with power and charisma; being able to influence other people and ‘drink’ from life in an almost supernatural way.” She further adds that “the mythic vampire is a powerful one, and for good reason; it possesses and embodies the elements of leadership, influence, and beauty. It isn’t a mystery why some would want to adopt that for themselves.” In this way, Silver defines
a vampire as “someone who embraces these characteristics in the real world. Someone who is more empowered than the average person.” From Silver’s definition, there have been vampires in all walks of life, throughout all of our written and oral histories. They have been leaders, humanitarians, celebrities, TV personalities, artisans, and philosophers. You probably know somebody who embodies these characteristics. You may have even voted for them. And you most definitely watch them on cable from time to time. Porphyria is a group of rare, inherited, or acquired, enzyme disorders that affect the nervous system. It causes abdominal pain, vomiting, neuropathy, and mental disturbance in an individual due to the exposure of the sun. The term, porphyria, is derived from the Greek word, Porphyra, meaning “purple pigment”, and was commonly associated to the purple discoloration of one’s feces and urine when exposed to light. This factual medical condition is great fodder and inspiration for any vampire
theorist, novelist, or historian. Iron deficit individuals have been known to boost their blood iron levels by drinking live and warm blood. Blood consumption was a common practice by hunters and/or soldiers in ancient times. Some of these traditions have continued to this day in some parts of the world. Again, these factoids and bits of science are great fodder and inspiration, and for those people living with these types of diseases, they must have appeared frightening and different to people that lived around them and knew of them. Blood has always held a power and mystery that others have sought for themselves. So, it is no wonder why there are people living in the world today who self-identify themselves as Sanguinarians (blood drinkers) within the online and real-world vampire communities. Some of these people require an infusion of blood for medical reasons. Most don’t. Within the modern vampire communities there are individuals who self-identify as psy-
chic vampires/vampyres because they ‘drink’. psychic energy from people. Psi-Vampirism is openly discussed, researched, and accepted in most online and real-world circles as a form of authentic vampirism. There is also a long standing tradition of physic vampires in fictional novels and movies, such as The Hunger, Lifeforce, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, and The Keep. Atlanta Vampire Alliance co-founder, Merticus, who also co-founded the vampire research company, Suscitatio Enterprises, LLC, and founded Vampire Community News (VCN), among other credits and titles, works daily, and is in association with, both sanguinarian and psychic vampires. He says that he “began identifying as a “real” vampire in 1997; after much introspection and study of energy work and manipulation.”
So, it was with a clear focus in a pursuit of truth that Merticus became self aware. “I came to use this term (vampire) to describe that particular aspect of my identity. I consider myself to be vampiric as defined by the methods I use to take energy, but I’ve never cared for the term “vampire/ vampyre” because it conveys a skewed perception of who we are based on its long-standing folkloric and fictional connotations.” Even modern day vampires are painfully aware of the dangers of self-identifying with a term that is so rooted in a veil of fictional literature and backwoods folklore. The identity of the “Vampire” becomes distorted
I am neither good, nor bad, neither angel nor devil, I am a man, I am a vampire. MICHAEL ROMKEY, I, VAMPIRE
They are also rooted in our accepted, and suspect, histories. But we still can not tell you what they are. Not because we don’t want to, but because they are so intricately tied to our sociological and geographical development. They are a part of our core understandings of self – they are integral to acknowledging ourselves as a species on planet Earth – and that, dear readers, is still in debate among the scientific commuity. So, the reality of vampires may not be as fantastical as the fictional realms spun in Bram Stoker’s Dracula or portrayed on TV in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, but one thing is most assured, and that is that whatever, or however, one defines what a vampire is, being one is a hell of a lot more exciting than watching one on the big screen….and definitely better than being the “meal” – whether psychic, sanguinarian, or other!
“ My last dinner cost me my lover. LAURELL K. HAMILTON, BLOODY BONES
by all its perceived interpretations. Though Merticus claims to dress in “black from head-to-toe” you wont find him “sporting a pair of prosthetic fangs” nor wearing an Ankh. He tends to regard his association with real vampirism “as an extension of (his) identity rather than a life style choice,” and adds that “from an epistemological standpoint, the approach to understanding vampiric identity is often pluralistic; allowing for a loose association of the physical with the spiritual while not closing the door on those who seek scientific understanding.” The goals of such groups as The Vampire Source, Vampire Community News, and the Atlanta Vampire Alliance are to “expand the educational boundaries of our local community,” cites Merticus, “while improving the quality of the study of real vampirism among the greater society.” But as Silver Black points out, that “without a common and unifying platform” the potential for defining what a vampire truly is will take awhile. “The most difficult part,” imparts Silver, “is finding common ground with those involved in the vampire culture that have adopted a literal definition.” So it appears that even being a “real” vampire is as hard to explain as the many interpretations of a fictional or historical one. Yet, being a real vampire is likened to being a fictional vampire in this one respect, and that is that the person must selfidentify, becoming empowered, by practicing the rites, rituals, and philosophies of the culture they have adopted, or entered into.
FRIGHT NIGHT 2 Bertena Varney
“ People don’t want you to drink blood. They want you to drink Nescafe, preferable decaf. JACK, BLOOD LUST
So, I decided to watch Fright Night 2: New Blood when I found out that it was not only released to DVD but the fact that it was even made. There were no advertisement or hype at all until the DVD was released on October 1 but I tend to like movies that most people don’t and I am a fan of Fright Night in general so I decided to watch it. And these are my thoughts on this “remake sequel” films. The difference is that it’s just not promoted in the same way. First, this is not a remake to the Fright Night 2 made in 1988 where Regina, Jerry’s sister appears 4 years
Credit: Gaeta / Rosenzweig Films
later seeking revenge for the death of her brother. So, is it a sequel to the Fright Night remake that was released in in 2011 that starred Colin Farrell as the sexy vampire, Jerry Dandridge? And the answer is no. So, what is it? Well, it’s kind of a reimaging of all three of the movies. Basically, instead of being set in the United States, it is in Romania. Charlie, Amy and Evil Ed are studying in Romania. None of the events of any movie previously has happened in this movie. I know I was personally thing “Why were they in Romania, after they had problems with vampires? Were they looking for
“ We enjoy the night, the darkness, where we can do things that aren’t acceptable in the light. Night is when we slake our thirst. WILLIAM HILL, VAMPIRE’S KISS
“ I’m going out to get a bite to drink. GEORGE HAMILTON, LOVE AT FIRST BITE
Credit: Gaeta / Rosenzweig Films
for trouble?” But, as the movie progressed you could devise that this was a new movie with no knowledge of previous movies. So, in saying that let’s look at the characters. Charlie and Amy were still the typical awkward teens except that they had broken up in this movie because Charlie had cheated on her, but there is still a flame there. This Evil Ed was much closer to the original one in the original Fright Night released in 1985. He had the twisted sick of humor and even a closer maniacal laugh like the original Ed. But, the most disappointing character was Peter Vin-
Peter was a reality show host who was as cowardly as the original Peter but without any humor. He was just a dry boring character. But, the story had a great premise, Gerri Dandridge is a female college professor who in reality is the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory who is looking for a virgin born at midnight during a blood moon to the howl of a wolf so that she may lift her curse of not being a vampire but the curse of not being able to walk in the daylight. Gerri, played by Jamie Murray, who is famous as H.G. Wells on Warehouse 13 and Lila on Dexter, is a wonderful actress in general when she has the right tools. She did play a somewhat fierce vampire but her fierceness was stopped many times by her nakedness. She was very convincing a monstrous professor and this is what made me want to watch the movie the most, being a professor and a lover of vampires I wanted to see what they were going to do with this story. Well, they fictionalized the majority of the story of Elizabeth Bathory as “history” has recorded it, and many historians will also argue the historical story of the Blood Countess is fictionalized by those wanting to destroy her name. But, either way do not watch this movie and assume that anything in it is based on anything non-fiction about her life. That is not the only thing that was confusing about the movie. It was never explained as to why the movie began in Paris with an “evil male vampire” attacking a woman. Yes, later we learn that the horrific male looking vampire is Gerri at night. She loses her beautiful looks and must kill a female and bathe in her blood. Yes, pulled from Bathory and again could have lent it-
self to a much better movie than it did. Next, the gang arrives in Romania as study abroad students and begins exploring this creepy castle where Gerri is “caught” by Charlie making out with and drinking from another sexy female and this triggers Charlie’s vampire paranoia.
Charlie tells Evil Ed and they go search for Peter Vincent who is in a strip club and admits that even though reality television is supposed to be real he has yet to see any real monsters. He then goes with him after he gets a check and when he gets on the subway, he notices Gerri’s eyes and he jumps off the train and
“ Bring a vampire around, people start discovering religion. WILLIAM HILL, VAMPIRE’S KISS
leaves the kids there to fend for himself. This is where a lot of the fun vampire fighting begins and the birth of Evil Ed the vampire comes about. The scene is not as good as the original but it is one of the better scenes of this movie. There were parts of the movie that became very slow moving and boring and could have easily been fast forwarded. The quality of the actual movie wasn’t great but I was ok with that, I knew it wasn’t a big budget movie. But, what got me in this movie is that there were lots of scenes where the viewers were supposed to “know” what was going on. For example, when Amy has been turned into a
Credit: Gaeta / Rosenzweig Films
vampire and she is supposed to kill the one she loves because she is the one that was “the virgin born at midnight under a blood moon to the howl of wolves”. Well, we are assuming that if she kills Charlie then the Gerri is going to drink her blood and then be able to walk in the daylight, as she tells Amy. As Charlie walks in to save her he thinks out loud “if someone is turned into a vampire and you kill their sire then they will become human again”. So, we know that he is going to try and kill Gerri, but here’s the confusing part, Charlie fights with Amy and then he is then turned into a vampire and then he stakes himself.. not Gerri. But, why? Amy starts to die and there is no explanation that is “your childe dies then the sire dies” or anything like that and it makes no sense. He then continues to try and kill Gerri, I am assuming so that they both will turn back to human, but Peter Vincent walks in
from nowhere and kills her, just as easy as can be and Amy and Charlie turn back into humans. This is the most confusing and terribly written ending to a movie. First, they are making assumptions that you may know one of many of the possible legends of vampires’ demise but then they try to switch it into Amy dying and that entire scene then made absolutely no sense. They were saying that the sire dies if you kill their childe but then if you kill a few baby vamps then you can kill the older and stronger ones? Ok I call fowl here. But, overall I give this movie a C because it is at least a re-imaging and a fresh look rather than just a remake. This movie is one of those that if you have NEVER seen any previous Fright Night movies you may enjoy but it is still not a great movie. Even with Jamie Murray, this movie really could not have been saved from mediocrity.
â&#x20AC;&#x153; Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make. BELA LAGOSI, DRACULA
STRIGOI: A ROMANIAN MYTH Adam Wing Just what the world needs, another vampire movie. But before you reach for the silver bullets
tough - consider this. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very little chance of bumping into a pale-faced, love-struck teenidol in Strigoi. Romanian folklore dictates that strigoi are the troubled souls of dead rising from the grave. Occasionally they are living people with magical properties, including invisibility and the ability to transform into animals. Others like to drain the vitality of victims through bloodsucking
“ In the 1970s vampires were pretty boring. The scariest vampire was Count Chocula. One bite of Count Chocula and you were cursed with Type 2 diabetes. CRAIG FERGUSON, THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON
that would be your regular household variety then. Strigoi is a vampire movie that defies categorisation, it’s set in Romania for a start. Vlad Cozma (Catalin Paraschiv) is a young man returning to his grandfather’s village from Italy. Inexplicably, frying chicken in a fast food joint wasn’t job satisfaction enough for a guy with a degree in medicine. With barely a foot through the door, Vlad dives head first into investigating a mysterious death that raises questions about land ownership in the community. The trail points to the richest couple in the village, Constantin Tirescu (Constantin Barbulescu) and his wife, but when Vlad confronts them, he discovers they’ve been taking the term ‘bloodsucker’ a little too literally. The fact that we see them being buried in unmarked graves at the start of the film suggests that something is amiss, but not to the
local villagers, who seem more than happy to show off their new designer clobber to Vlad. None of the villagers mention the Tirescu’s though, which doesn’t seem strange to Vlad, because he’s just been chatting to Constantin at his house about the death of his grandfather’s neighbour. Florin has marks around his neck that suggest he’s been strangled, and Vlad immediately suspects that something is wrong. Furthermore, Vlad’s name was put on the death certificate as the attending physician, even though he was out of the country at the time. Strigoi dips its toes in vampire waters, but to call it a vampire movie would be doing the film a certain injustice. Along the way Vlad discovers irregularities in land records: a corrupt mayor, degenerate priest, suspicious village folk, unreliable police officers, disappearing dogs, vanishing cigarettes and the occasional dead man walking. You won’t find
any sour-faced heroines, naff CGI effects or topless furry beefcakes in this one, if you’re looking for the kind of vampire fix Hollywood has been feeding off for the last ten years, you’re sucking on the wrong vein. Strigoi has nothing in common with Twilight, belonging instead to a world that exists just off the beaten track. Not quite next door to Sweden’s Let The Right One In, but definitely on the same street - the focus on village locals is pleasingly reminiscent, even if it fails to find the beauty in its beast. Faye Jackson keeps the horror to a minimum and instead focuses on the quirky character dynamics, helped along by a knowing cast who get the balance just right. Strigoi is a little too long perhaps - running the
risk of stretching a twisty detective storyline past the point of breaking - but it’s also immensely enjoyable, thanks in large to a subtle sense of humour and understated direction. Performances are solid throughout and Strigoi impresses with its refusal to conform, making the most of a tiny budget, irregular characters and offbeat locations. You’ll be hard pushed to find a fresher take on the vampire subgenre this year, probably because it rarely feels like you’re watching another vampire movie. They are there though, you just have to look harder. Strigoi loses its bite as the smell of garlic looms overhead, but Faye Jackson has done enough here to suggest a healthy future in film - just so long as she stays away from tiny villages in Romania.
“ The vampire is an outsider. He’s the perfect metaphor for those things. He’s someone who looks human and sounds human, but is not human, so he’s always on the margins. ANNE RICE, THE DAILY BEAST, NOV. 23, 2011
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BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Andrew Boylan
Credit: Mutant Enemy
“ To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they’re just gonna kill you. Why am I still talking to you? BUFFY
The Nerf Herder opening theme in season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer encapsulates, in its first few seconds, the change that the show would herald in the vampire genre. A wolf howls, an organ plays and then the electric guitar rips up the rule book. Buffy was the public face of a pivotal point when it came to the vampire genre, a modernisation. McClelland (2006, p. 227) argues that Buffy did not transform a genre but was very traditional. That tradition flowed from Bram Stoker, who had defined a genre when he had created Dracula (published in 1897). Versions of the book filmed over the years had cemented the image of Van Helsing, the vampire slayer; be it Edward Sloan (the 1931 Dracula), Peter Cushing (1958’s Horror of Dracula) or Laurence Olivier (1979’s Dracula). Van Helsing, the older, authoritarian gentleman – the traditional role model. Van Helsing who came
armed with knowledge as much as with apotropaic paraphernalia. Stoker had written him Dutch but Hammer Horror, with the excellent performances by Peter Cushing, had morphed him into an Englishman. There were already moves away from this archetype; the Lost Boys (1985) had made a movie where the vampire slayers and holders of vampire lore were young boys, watchers of MTV and readers of comic books. However, whilst American, the Van Helsing archetype reappeared in the (eccentric ) Grandpa (Barnard Hughes) who is the one who ultimately slays the head vampire and was aware of their existence all along. Buffy first appeared as a movie in 1992, with the titular role played by Kristy Swanson. This Buffy was most definitely a cheerleader, a valley girl, a girl who finds her destiny to be the one-in-a-generation vampire slayer. She was sassy, perhaps a little shallow at first, but coming into her own. Importantly she was modern and female. The male Van Helsing character was
there, in the form of Merrick (Donald Sutherland) and the key dialogue of the film is between them. “You do everything wrong.” Suggests Merrick but when Buffy apologises he responds, “No. Do it wrong. Don’t play our game.” The traditional gave its blessing and understanding to the new. The film sank like a box-office stone and creator Josh Whedon reportedly walked off set, frustrated, at the rewrites much of which was to make the screenplay lighter and more comedic. Whedon was trying to invert “the cliché of “the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror film”” (Earl, 2011) but perhaps jumped on a wave cresting through the genre. After all a year after the movie Laurell K Hamilton created Anita Blake – zombie raiser and young, female vampire slayer. Certainly in the UK, however, the Anita Blake series went mostly unnoticed for several volumes. In 1997/98, however, Buffy exploded onto TV screens across the globe. Sarah Michelle Geller took on the role of Buffy and whilst she never had the athletic physique of Swanson, she had sass, femininity and a vulnerability that was not the mark of a damsel in distress but a pathway through which
“ It may be that we are all that stands between the Earth and utter destruction. GILES
Credit: Mutant Enemy
Credit: Mutant Enemy
she would garner her strength. Of course Buffy still had her Watcher, in the TV series Giles (Anthony Head). He was very English, a librarian and was meant to shape and develop the slayer. However as Williamson (2005, p. 80) points out he is forced to enter into a relationship with her, she questions him and he must converse with her. It becomes, as the series progresses, a partnership of equals until, eventually, Buffy doesn’t need the Van Helsing figure anymore. The modern slayer has shaken her cheerleader pom-poms, as it were, and left the traditional older male antiquarian vampire slayer and expert behind. Williamson argued that the popularity of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had much to do with the demographic it tapped into, the melodrama (both Gothic and Soap Opera) appealing to “affluent, educated, female and mostly white consumers” (Williamson, 2005, p. 77). However this, I feel, ignores the breadth of Buffy fandom and the change in genre we are discussing. The spin-off show, Angel (1999 - 2004), followed a formula (vampire
detective, good-guy who is looking for a cure/redemption) that the Canadian series Forever Knight had well and truly established as a TV trope in 1992. Buffy and Angel would feed off each other’s parallel storylines but what was interesting was what happened to the Van Helsing character in Angel. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) had been introduced in Buffy as a member of the Watcher’s Council; somewhat bumbling he could be best described as a “stuffed shirt”. In Angel said shirt had been replaced with a leather jacket and he was remodelled as a rogue demon hunter, rugged and much younger than a standard Van Helsing character. At first he was drawn as still somewhat bumbling but that was slowly exchanged for a haunted determination. The man of books was now a man of action. Younger still was African American character Charles Gunn (J. August Richards) who had grown up on the streets fighting vampires. By the final series he had traded the sword for the pen and was fighting using knowledge of the law more often than a blade or fists.
Credit: Mutant Enemy
Van Helsing had changed. The vampire slayer was a person of action, male or female, but so was Van Helsing. He had become younger and part of the team rather than the authority above it. Perhaps this cumulated in the often lamented 2004 film Van Helsing where a much younger Van Helsing – played by Hugh Jackman – became the action hero, whilst in series like the Vampire Diaries (2009 – ongoing) all the cast tend towards being beautiful young things; vampire, werewolves, witches and hunters – indeed even the college professors seem a tad on the young side. Likewise in the 2011 remake of Fright Night the vampire expert was Pete Vincent. Played by Roddy McDowell in a traditional homage to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price in the 1985 original, he had transformed into the boozy, arrogant, leather trouser wearing David Tennant in the remake. That leaves us with the question, will we see the traditional Van Helsing character in mainstream genre productions again or have Buffy and her subsequent generations discarded him for good?
Credit: Mutant Enemy
THE FACES OF DRACULA Dax Stokes
“ They always mistake me for the character I play. They never see the real me! ANGELUS
Credit: Miramax Films
It’s been 13 years since Gerard Butler brought his interpretation of Bram Stoker’s immortal character Count Dracula to the big screen in Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000. Four years later, Prison Break star Dominic Purcell portrayed Drake, the modern-day Dracula awakened by the vampire community to defeat the day-walker Blade in Blade: Trinity. In October 2013, Jonathan Rhys Myers will bring the Count to NBC in a new one-hour drama. The Millennial generation has lived in a world with no major Dracula presence on the screen. The last sizable box-office presence was Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Gary Oldman’s performance as the Count is virtually unknown to young people today, who only know him as Sirius Black or Commissioner Gordon. Prior
“ You told me I wasn’t a man. You told me I was nothing. And I believed you. You said I’d never amount to anything. You were wrong. You see, Father. I have made something of myself after all. ANGELUS Credit: Columbia Pictures
Credit: Geffen Pictures
to this generation, Dracula was a regular character on the large and small screen. The list of actors to bring him to life (pun intended), is quite long. . The Guinness Book of World Records, as of 2012, had Dracula listed as the most portrayed non-human character in film and television, with 272 (and counting) appearances (Guinness). The most filmed human character is Sherlock Holmes, who often meets the Count in non-canonical Holmes novels and stories.
Credit: Dimension Films
The mainstream-film Draculas can be divided into 4 major categories: the traditional movie Dracula; the comedic Dracula; the monster Dracula; and the seductive Dracula. Without a doubt, the epitome of the traditional Dracula is Bela Lugosi. The cape; the accent; the glare; the on-screen presence. Lugosi became the image of Dracula in the 20th century. Following the 1931 film, the character of Dracula appeared as a replica of Lugosi’s portrayal. John Carradine; Lon Cheney; Jack Palance; and even Christopher Lee channeled Lugosi in their portrayals of the Count. It is this last portrayal, that of British actor Sir Christopher Lee, that has become the standard in the traditional Dracula model. Lee played the character in at least 8
films for Hammer from 1958 to 1972. Lee’s Dracula, while similar in appearance and demeanor to Lugosi, began to show more of the signs of the pure evil that has been associated with vampires. In fact, Dracula becomes more of a demonic figure in the later Hammer films, especially those of the 1970s. Lee was the face of horror for many years, playing other characters in between Dracula roles. Even today, with modern roles such as Sarumon in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels, Lee has solidified his place as one of the greatest movie villains of all time. Lugosi’s 1931 portrayal of Dracula was a great departure from the Count Orlock of Max Schreck in the 1922 silent film
“ Her blood coursed through my veins, sweeter than life itself, and as it did, Lestat’s words made sense to me: I knew peace only when I killed, and when I heard her heart, and that terrible rhythm, I knew again what peace could be. ANGELUS
Credit: Mutant Enemy
Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens. The names and locations in Nosferatu were changed due to the refusal of Bram Stoker’s widow to approve the film. Orlock, falls into the monster Dracula genre, with his almost non-human appearance and demeanor. Schreck, a master character actor, played the character so well, that a fictional biopic starring Willem Dafoe as Schreck, was released in 2000. In Shadow of the Vampire, it was suggested that Schreck, who was never out of character during filming, was so convincing as Count Orlock that he really was a vampire. In Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, Klaus Kinski recreates Schreck’s performance, with the added bonus of using the name of Count Dracula. Dracula has also been featured in the realm of comedy. First, in what in an effort of comedic casting, the always tan George Hamilton portrayed the Count in the 1979 film, Love at First Bite.
Mel Brooks took his shot at the Dracula story in 1995’s Dracula: Dead and Loving It, with Leslie Nielsen in the title role. Brooks not only pokes funs at the Dracula story, but also other Dracula films. The final sub-genre of Dracula depictions is that of the romantic, seductive Count. While many of the actors that have brought Dracula to the screen have portrayed some bit of seduction, the most successful would have to be Frank Langella and Gary Oldman. Langella’s 1979 rendering of the Count is based on the Broadway play, a role originated by Bela Lugosi. Langella, knowing his effect in the role, has been quoted as saying: “Almost every man I’ve ever met says to me, ‘Boy, did my wife make love to me that night, when she saw Dracula’” (“Biography”). Gary Oldman’s performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is by far the result of a large budget
and imagination. Oldman, another great character actor, was brilliantly turned into the many faces of Dracula as portrayed in Stoker’s book. While Coppola’s story combines Stoker’s novel with the story of Vlad the Impaler, it does keep the overall arc of Stoker’s story. Oldman appears as the old Count, the young prince, and even in the form of a werewolf-type creature. These transformations won the crew three Academy Awards in costumes, make-up, and special effects. Oldman’s seduction of Mina, played by Winona Ryder, consumes the majority of the movie. It is now up to Jonathan Rhys Myers of The Tudors fame to take on the role of the Count in NBC’s new series this fall. If the promos are any indicator, he seems poised to carry on the seductive role of Count Dracula set by his predecessors. Will he be the new Dracula for a new generation? Only time will tell…
As a child, I was drawn to vampires because of their mysterious nature. I felt secure in the fact that Dracula couldn’t come into my home and attack me unless I invited him into my abode. I had to be a willing participant, as opposed to the Wolfman, who could smash through
my window and attack me at any time. Dracula was sophisticated, ruthless, sexy, alluring, and oh-so-deadly. He was a man of few words who made women swoon and willingly fall under his spell. Men wanted to be him and women wanted him. What’s not to love? How could women all
over the world not fall hopelessly in love with this sophisticated villain? Dark Shadows is a great example of a portrayal of the sophisticated vampiric villain. Barnabas Collins had class; he had morals and he had sex appeal. I remember I used to run home from school to watch what Barnabas would do next. He scared the crap out of me, but I had to have more of him every day. Yes, he could be ruthless, but the new twist was that he could be caring. Dan Curtis and his writers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; mainly Sam Hall â&#x20AC;&#x201C; revamped Dracula, if you will, so that he actually had feelings. He
had emotions, longings, and a desire to connect with humanity once again. An icon was born. Dark Shadows exploded solely because of the portrayal of Barnabas by Jonathan Frid, which stands the test of time as one of the best vampiric portrayals in history. While Dark Shadows created the villain with some virtues, Anne Rice ran with it. Louis de Pointe du Lac, the torture vamp Anne created in Interview with the Vampire, captivated my attention. I was enthralled with Louis his everdamned soul. He pondered God and so many other deeply philosophical questions leading 61
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Suppose someone came to you and said you can be attractive, brilliant, wealthy, fascinating, and you can live forever. Would you turn it down?
MEG REED THOMPSON
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me to believe that the undead had more problems than we mere mortals did. He turned a small child into a vampire, stealing her life away. Yet, Louis, in all his monstrous complexity, called to me to feel for him and the horrors he endured in his undead existence, regardless of his unconscionable acts. Rice knew how to create balance by immortalizing the effervescent Lestat de Lioncourt; Louis’ maker and tormentor. His ego was as big as his thirst for blood. He lived his undead life to the fullest, never bothering the reader with limited human emotions such as regret or suffering. He evolved above them and made no apologies for his needs. He was the ultimate bad boy. His story, The Vampire Lestat, flew off bookshelves and Lestat settled deep in my heart. We could live vicariously through him, taking what we wanted and never looking back, although I must admit I often found myself
his needs. He was the ultimate bad boy. His story, The Vampire Lestat, flew off bookshelves and Lestat settled deep in my heart. We could live vicariously through him, taking what we wanted and never looking back, although I must admit I often found myself missing Louis and his angst. Fast forward to vampires that sparkle, go to high school, and choose to live lives that most of the living cannot wait to shed. One of these new creations stands out for me: Damon from Vampire Diaries. While most of the other modern vampires are virgins in every sense of the word, Damon reminds me of Lestat. His cocky attitude and his penchant for leaving dead bodies in his path are are refreshing. He drinks too much, flirts too much, and kills too much. While Damon is a true bad boy, he lacks sophistication and refinement. I find myself missing the vampires of old.
Thank the darkness for Elijah. Elijah first appeared on the Vampire Diaries and became one the stars of the new hit series The Originals. Elijah is Louis, Barnabas, and Dracula all wrapped up in one. He is young and sexy like Louis, with the sophisticated flair of Dracula. He is refined and cares deeply about family values, and honor, like Barnabas. Yet, he is deadly and ruthless if you cross his path. Most women I know love Elijah and they missed his character sorely when he left Vampire Diaries. I am truly happy they decided to have him star on The Originals. I look forward to seeing how they will expand his character. All of the vampires I have mentioned – Dracula, Barnabas, Louis, Lestat, Damon, and Elijah – have had a great influence on the creation of one of my main characters, Delano Durant, from my upcoming series of books in the Vampire Historia collection. Delano is sophisticated; he
A vampire lives in a constant state of desire and disgust. His nature often revolts him, but he doesn’t have the will to deny his indulgences. There’s the killing, but there’s also the pleasure, the sensuality, the lust. The sheer ecstasy of it all.
dresses meticulously and cringes at American slang. He is refined, caring more for his rare cognac than any human life. He is well traveled and cultured, highly sexual, and an all-out predator. He leaves many bloodless bodies in his path. He is funny and cruel. His ego rages out of control at the thought of his own greatness. Yet he does have the ability to love, albeit a distorted version of love. He is jealous and vindictive, but most of all, he is mine. I have had great fun writing about Delano and, secretly, I must admit I envy him and all of his exploits. Strangely enough, I feel like I have a powerful friend in Delano and wonder how many of my counterparts have felt the same way about the creation of their main characters. Whether I sell a million
FOREVER KNIGHT 64
books or none, and even if people don’t love him as I do, Delano embodies everything I believe a modern vampire should symbolize. I hope you will embrace him in all of his beautiful savagery the way vampire lovers around the world have embraced the other immortal icons of time.
Credit: Photodune 65
DEL DEMONIO Efrain Nadal De Choudens Just the mention of Mario Bava is synonymous of horror and vampires. Bava’s filmography is extensive and successful. Some of his credits include “I Vampiri” a work he did in collaboration with the director Roberto Rossellini. Other prominent titles of Bava are “Black Sabbath (that include a story about vampires)”, “Planet of the Vampires”, “Baron Blood,”
and “Kill, baby, Kill” as an examples of his work. But let us focus on his first solo directorial endeavor, “La Maschera del Demonio.” This film not only launched Bava’s career as an acclaimed international director, but also the career of the beautiful, unique and bewitching Barbara Steele. From the beginning, La Maschera del Demonio grabs the audience’s attention. The
movie was developed in Moldavia with an opening scene set in 1630. It had a strong opening in 1960 and still is, by today’s standards, resulted in being banned in the UK until 1968—the uncut version was not released until 1992, in America. The distributor was forced to edit some of the violence scenes for the audience because it was considered an unusually gruesome movie for its time. The events of the movie occur two hundred years later when two doctors (Kruvajan and Gorobec) are on their way to a medical conference in Moscow and through the Moldavia’s forest. Bava’s fantastic blend of light, music, violence, sexual innuendos and character expressions gave the film a unique and enchanting atmosphere. Attracting international interest toward the horror movies of Italy, Bava launched a distinctive and fascinating 1960s Italian Goth cinema (superior in many
to UK and US horror films of the time). In an incident triggered by unnatural circumstances, a coach loses a wheel near the ruins of the Vaida crypt. Kruvajan and Gorobec explore the ruins when the coachman asks for his help, Gorobec proceeds to go with him. Alone in the crypt, Kruvajan is attacked by a giant bat. The scene is unimpressive, largely due to poor special effects and the action sequences driving the plot. Kruvajan is able to kill the bat using his cane, but not before he broke the concrete cross and the glass on Asa’s coffin. When Gorobec heard the commotion, he returns to the crypt. There, Kruvajan removes Asa’s mask cutting his hand with the broken glass. The cut is small and Kruvajan didn’t notice it because he was still excited about the bat attack and Asa’s body. The coachman calls his passengers and both doctors walk away from the crypt. On
their way out, they meet Katia, the daughter of the current Prince Vajda. Gorobec is immediately enchanted by Katia’s beauty and an uninteresting and underdeveloped romantic subplot between both characters occurs. The romantic interest only serves to keep Gorobec helping Katia and add some sexual innuendos to the film. In the crypt, few drops of blood left by Kruvajan fall on Asa’s face, bringing her back to life. Asa awakes Javutich and sends him to kill the Prince; meanwhile, Vaida remains petrified. Katia and her brother Constantine send a servant to fetch Dr. Kruvajan, but Javutich intercepts him and kills him. The servant’s blood looks very fake, but the scene lasts just a few seconds to avoid distracting the audience with their lack of realism. Javutich arrives to the inn looking for Kruvajan but instead takes him to the Prince’s
castle, directly to Asa’s crypt. There, Asa offers him pleasure (more sexual innuendos) and eternal life in exchange for the murder of prince Vaida. Gorobec arrived to the castle in search of Kruvajan but he was already gone. Gorobec and the priest located the doomed doctor resting in Javutich’s grave. The priest marks Kruvajan with a cross and puts a piece of wood in one of his eyes, killing the vampire. In the meantime, Javutich delivers Katia to Asa. The vampire-witch tries to drink Katia’s blood but her crucifix protects her. In his way to save Katia, Gorobec is intercepted by Javutich. Their confrontation is boring and, again, the film suffers from poor realism, the fight is too superficial for a confrontation between a mortal and an undead. These confrontations look better in films with Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi. Bava, or maybe the film’s editor (Mario Serandrei), probably the film’s weaknesses (poor realism, crappy fighting sequences, equally horrible special effects). The fight doesn’t last long and Gorobec arrives in time to save Katia, Asa is finally burned at the stake. La Maschera del Demonio is one of the best representations of gothic horror cinema, not just from Italy, but also in general of the 60’s and 70’s. The story is a cliché of the old horror vampire lore, but the atmospheric setting, the dark plot, tension, dramatic performance of the characters, and the perverse emotional situations that Bava masterfully added to the film made it one of the jewels of the cult B movies of its time. Bava’s lasting legacy is clearly notable in horror films! 69
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