Horror Book Review: Encyclopedia Of Vampire Mythology by Theresa Bane


Now, here’s the interesting thing about vampires:

They’ve been around forever.

Seriously, long before Bram Stoker first put pen to paper, there were legends about vampires.  Of course, they weren’t always called vampires.  In the Middle East, there was talk of the Afrit, which was the soul of a murdered person who would return to the spot of its death and drink the blood of anyone unlucky enough to cross it.  In Macedonia, it was said that certain people who had lived wicked lives and never eaten pork would return to life as a blood-drinking wild boar.  In Iceland, it was the Alfemoe who sucked blood while the ancient Greeks could tell you all about Empusa, who drank blood to maintain a youthful appearance.

Of course, we all know that vampires don’t exist, or at least they don’t exist as supernatural creatures.  Still, it is somewhat amazing that all of these different societies and cultures developed essentially the same myth at roughly the same time, despite not having much contact with each other.  There is just something universal about both the threat and the allure of the vampire.

With all of the different legends out there, it can be difficult to keep your mythological vampires straight.  Fortunately, the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology is here to help!  Written by a vampirologist (albeit one who goes out of her way to make sure that we understand that she personally doesn’t believe in them), this encyclopedia has entries for all of the various mythological vampires and their legends.  With the exception of Dracula, this encyclopedia doesn’t include any of the “fictional” vampires from television or film.  If you’re looking for an entry on Angel or Edward Cullen, this is not the place to look.  But what the book does have is entries on the legendary beings who came before the celebrity vampires of today.  It makes for interesting reading and it also serves as a reminder that there’s more to the vampire legend than what we’ve seen in the movies or read in novels.

For both authors and readers of vampire fiction, the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology is a valuable resource.

 

Music Video of the Day: Vampire by Mai Lin (2017, dir by PANAMÆRA)


With Halloween only three days away, how could I resist a song and video about vampires?

I like this video because it has an enjoyably decadent, Eurohorror feel to it.  This seems like one of those films that would be dismissed when first released, just to then be rediscovered by audiences 20 years later.

On a personal note, if I ever become a vampire, I will use this video as my guide for how to behave.

Enjoy!

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Scream Blacula Scream (dir by Bob Kelljan)


Am I correct in assuming that everyone knows who Blacula was?

Blacula is often described as being the black Dracula but actually, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.  In life, he was an African prince named Mamuwalde who, in 1780, went to Dracula’s castle and asked for the count’s help in suppressing the slave trade.  Dracula turned him into a vampire instead and, after declaring that Mamuwalde would forever be known as Blacula, he proceeded to lock Mamuwalde in a coffin.  That’s where Mamuwalde remained for 290 years, until he managed to escape.  By that point, his coffin had been relocated from Transylvania to Los Angeles.

All of that was revealed in the 1972 film, BlaculaBlacula, which starred a distinguished Shakespearean actor named William Marshall in the lead role, was a surprise hit so, of course, Mamuwalde (played again by Marshall) returned the following year in a sequel.  It didn’t matter that the first Blacula ended with Mamuwalde deliberately ending his existence by walking out into the sunlight.  Blacula would return!

It also didn’t matter if anyone in the audience for Scream, Blacula, Scream had somehow missed seeing the first movie.  Scream, Blacula, Scream features lengthy flashbacks to the first film.  It makes sense, really.  Why waste money on all new footage when you can just pad the sequel with scenes from its predecessor?

I’m disappointed to say that Scream, Blacula, Scream did not feature any disco action.  When I saw that this movie would be airing on TCM Underground, I decided to watch it specifically because I figured there would be at least one scene of Blacula dancing underneath a spinning disco ball.  I mean, it was a movie from the 70s, right?  Honestly, I think that if Scream, Blacula, Scream had been made later in the decade, it would have featured at least one disco dance scene.

What the film did have was a lot of voodoo.  Judging from this movie, Live and Let Die, and the House on Skull Mountain, it would appear that people in the early 70s were really obsessed with voodoo.  When the movie opens, a voodoo priestess named Mama Loa is dying and she’s just named her apprentice, Lisa (Pam Grier), as the new head of the cult.  Mama Loa’s son, Willis (Richard Lawson), isn’t happy about this decision so, for some reason, he decides that it would be a good idea to bring Blacula back to life.

Willis apparently thought that the revived Blacula would be his servant but it doesn’t work out like that.  First off, Blacula was perfectly happy being dead.  Secondly, he is no one’s servant.  Blacula promptly bites Willis on the neck and then proceeds to vampirize nearly everyone that he comes across.  Soon, Blacula has an army of vampires but all he wants is to be human again.

And who can help him reach that goal?

How about the city’s newest voodoo priestess, Lisa?

Now, I will say this about Scream, Blacula, Blacula.  The main character is named Lisa and that automatically makes it an above average movie.  The entire movie features people saying, “Lisa” over and over again and you know I loved listening to that.

Other than that, though, the movie was kind of a mess.  It was obviously written and filmed in a hurry and, as a result, a lot of the action felt like padding.  For a subplot that wasn’t that interesting to begin with, the voodoo cult power struggle got way too much screen time.  On the plus side, William Marshall and Pam Grier were both a hundred times better than the material that they had to work with.  Regardless of how ludicrous the dialogue was, Marshall delivered it with dignity and just the right hint of ennui.

Scream, Blacula, Scream is not a particularly good film but it’s worth seeing for Marshall and Grier.

 

Horror Scenes I Love: Salem’s Lot (Part 3)


This particular scene was my third favorite from Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot.

There’s much to love about this scene. It’s a very claustrophobic sequence with our protagonist Ben Mears (played by David soul) left in the morgue by his friend Bill Norton for just a few minutes. The scene itself gradually builds in tension as Ben realizes that at any second the body on the morgue table could get up. The word vampire rarely gets uttered during the first third of the series, but Ben suspects the worst and he knows that he’s ill-prepared to deal with his fears if they bear fruit.

There’s a definite tv network quality to the way the scene is shot, but Hooper milks the creeping dread and terror with each passing second as Ben creates a makeshift crucifix and begins to chant random Bible passages as a way to bless his home-made icon. When his fears have been confirmed there’s not a sense of relief that he’s not crazy, but one of sheer terror.

This third joins part one and part two of my favorite scenes from Salem’s Lot and when witnessed as a set should give an idea just how terrifying and underrated this mini-series adaptation of the classic Stephen King vampire novel really is.

Horror Scenes I Love: Salem’s Lot (Part 2)


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“Look at me teacher.”

Those were some of the most terrifying words I’ve ever heard growing up. It’s all because of one scene from the tv mini-series which adapted Stephen King’s vampire novel, Salem’s Lot. It was a scene in the novel that terrified me as a young boy reading King for the first time.

I’ve always been gifted (or I sometimes say cursed) with having a very overactive imagination. This is why horror has always been such a fascinating genre for me. Even where the horror is all up in one’s face with it’s gore and messy aftermath my mind’s eye would make things worst or just constantly play it on repeat in my head days after the film has ended. It’s even worst when the horror comes across less through gore and more through atmosphere and built-up dread moving towards a jump-scare or something more insidious.

This particular scene is my second favorite from the Salem’s Lot mini-series. The first one I had posted a couple years back which just barely lags behind this one for third. What made this scene so effective despite it’s tv-style production was Tobe Hooper’s direction. Despite working with the censorship inherent in broadcast tv, Hooper was able to create a palpable sense of dread as the old English teacher Matt Burke senses a presence up in one of his house’s rooms. It was the same room where one of his former students had passed away in his sleep.

As the audience we already have an idea who or what is in that second floor room. Matt Burke has an idea as well, but his morbid curiosity wins out as he decides to investigate. Yet, despite such a lack in judgement he does come armed with a crucifix in hand. The way the scene builds and builds as Burke climbs the stairs and hesitating before opening the door to the room was almost too much to bear.

The reveal of his former student, Mike Ryerson, back in the room sitting in the rocking chair as one of the undead only increases the horror of the scene. His snake-like mannerisms was a new take on the vampire behavior. It’s not the usual silk and lace bloodsucker we grew up watching. This was a vampire that behaved like a predator beguiling it’s next prey. From the way Ryerson (played by Geoffrey Lewis) hissed his words and undulated his body as he stood to face his former teacher was disturbing at the very least.

Just writing about it and seeing the scene for the umpteenth time still gives me the shakes.

GODS OF THE HAMMER FILMS 2: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)


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(second of a series)

Hammer Films Ltd. knew they were on to something with the release of 1957’s THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. The Gothic horror was box office gold on both sides of the Atlantic, and Hammer wasted no time finding a follow up. Reuniting CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN costars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee with director Terence Fisher, the company set its sights on giving the full Eastmancolor treatment to Bram Stoker’s immortal Count Dracula.

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Horror On The Lens: Plan 9 From Outer Space (dir by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)


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We have a few traditions here at the Shattered Lens.  Every Christmas, we feature Treevenge.  Every Halloween, we invite everyone to watch Night of the Living Dead.  And every October, we offer up Ed Wood’s classic plea for world peace, Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Enjoy!