Friday, October 19, 2007
Story of the Day-Vampire Folklore
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings that are renowned for subsisting on human blood or lifeforce, but in some cases may prey on animals. Although vampires have different characteristics depending on which lore one reads, in most cases, they are described as reanimated corpses who feed by draining and consuming the blood of living beings.
The term was popularised in the early 18th century and arose from the folklore of southeastern Europe, particularly the Balkans and Greece. Folkloric vampires were depicted as undead beings who visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited while living. They wore shrouds, did not bear fangs and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or darkened countenance.
The 1897 novel Dracula brought folklore into the realm of published fiction. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century. Books and films of the genre have portrayed vampires with attributes markedly distinct from those of original folkloric vampires. With Count Dracula, the gaunt, fanged noble undead, vulnerable to sunlight was born. However, traits such as aversion to garlic and vulnerability to staking were simply incorporated from the folklore.
Numerous cultures the world over have similar entities that suck blood or energy and prey on the living; indeed, some also have stories of non-human vampires, including real animals such as bats, dogs, spiders and mythical creatures such as the chupacabra. All vampire lore stems from ancient demonology, which had vampiric beings, but are not classified as vampires as such.
VAMPIRES IN MYTH AND HISTORY
The Top Ten Vampire Myths
How Vampires Work
Vampire of Sacramento
BBC - Cult Vampires
Vampires Thru The Ages
1047 - First appearence in written form of the word "upir" (an early form of the word later to become "Vampire") in a document referring to a Russian Prince as "Upir Lichy" or Wicked Vampire.
1190 - Walter Map's De Nagis Curialium includes accounts of vampire-like beings in England.
1196 - William of Newburgh's Chronicles records several stories of vampire-like revenants in England.
1431 - Vlad Dracula, son of Vlad Dracul is born.
1436 - Vlad Dracula becomes Prince of Wallachia and moves to Tirgoviste.
1442 - Vlad Dracula is imprisoned with his father by the Turks.
1443 - Vlad Dracula becomes a hostage of the Turks.
1447 - Vlad Dracul is beheaded.
1448 - Vlad briefly attains the Wallachian throne. Dethroned, he goes to Moldavia and he friends Prince Stefan.
1451 - Vlad and Stefan flee to Transylvania
1455 - Constantinople falls.
1456 - John Hunyadi assists Vlad Dracula to attain the Wallachian throne. Vladislav Dan is executed.
1458 - Matthias Corvinus secceeds John Hunyadi as King of Hungary.
1459 - Easter massacre of the boyers and rebuilding of Dracula's castle. Bucharest is established as the second governmental centre.
1460 - Attack upon Brasov, Romania
1461 - Successful campaign against Turkish settlements along the Danube. Summer retreat to Tirgoviste.
1462 - Following the battle at Dracula's castle, Vlad flees to Transylvania. Vlad begins 13 year imprisonment.
1475 - Summer wars in Servia against Turks take place. November, Vlad resumes the throne of Wallachia.
1476/77 - Vlad is assassinated.
1560 - Elizabeth Bathory is born.
1610 - Bathory is arrested for killing several hundred people and bathing in their blood. She is sentenced to life imprisonment.
1614 - Elizabeth Bathory dies.
1645 - Leo Allatius finishes writing the first modern treatment of vampires, De Graecorum hodie quirumdam opinationabus.
1657 - Fr. Francoise Richard links vampirism and witchcraft.
1672 - Wave of vampire hysteria sweeps thru Istra.
1679 - A German vampire text, De Masticatione Mortuorum, by Phillip Rohr is written.
1710 - Vampire hysteria sweeps thru East Prussia.
1725 - Vampire hysteria returns to East Prussia.
1725-30 - Vampire hysteria lingers in Hungary
1725-32 - The wave of vampire hysteria in Austrain Serbia produces the famous cases of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paul (Paole).
1734 - The word "Vampyre" enters the English language in translations of German accounts of the European waves of vampire hysteria.
1744 - Cardinal Giuseppe Davanzati publishes his treatise, Dissertazione sopre I Vampiri.
1746 - Dom Augustin Calmet publishes his treatise on vampires.
1748 - The first modern vampire poem, Der Vampir, is published by Heinrich August Ossenfelder.
1750 - Another wave of vampire hysteria occurs in East Prussia.
1756 - Vampire hysteria peaks in Wallachia.
1772 - Vampire hysteria occurs in Russia.
1797 - Goethe's "Bride of Corinth" a poem concerning a vampire, is published.
1798 - 1800 - Samiel Taylor Coleridge writes "Christabel" no conceded to be the first vampire poem in English.
1800 - I Vampiri, an opera by Silvestro de Palma, opens in Milan Italy.
1801 - "Thalaba" by Robert Southey is the first poem to mention the vampire in English.
1810 - Reports of sheep being killed by having their jugular veins cut and their blood dreained circulate thru northern England. "The Vampyre" by John Stagg, an early vampire poem is published.
1813 - Lord Byron's poem "The Giaour" includes the hero's encounter with a vampire.
1819 - John Polidori's The Vampyre, the first vampire story in English, is published in the April issue of New Monthly Magazine. John Keats composes "The Lamia," a poem built on ancient Greek legends.
1820 - Lord Ruthwen ou Les Vampires by Cyprien Berard is published anonymously in Paris. June 13th Le Vampire, the play by Charles Nodier, opens at the Theatre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris. August The Vampire or The Bride of the Isles, a traslation of Nodier's play by James R Planche opens in London.
1829 - March, Heinrich Marschner's opera, Der Vampyr, based on Nodier's story, opens in Liepzig.
1841 - Alexey Tolstoy publishes his short story, Upyr, while living in Paris. It is the first modern vampire story by a Russian.
1847 - Bram Stoker is born. Varney the Vampyre begins lengthy serialization.
1851 - Alexandre Dumas's last dramatic work, Le Vampire, opens in Paris.
1854 - The case of vampirism in the Ray family of Jewett, Connecticut, is published in local newspapers.
1872 - "Carmilla" is written by Sheridan Le Fanu. In Italy, Vincenzo Verzeni is convicted of murdering two people and drinking their blood.
1874 - Reports from Ceven, Ireland, tell of sheep having their throats cut and their blood drained.
1888 - Emily Gerard's Land Beyond The Forest is published. It will become a major source of information about Transylvania for Bram Stoker's Dracula.
1894 - H.G. Wells's short story, The Flowering Of The Strange Orchid, is a precursor to science fiction vampire stories.
1897 - Dracula by Bram Stoker is published in England. The Vampire by Rudyard Kipling becomes the inspiration for the creation of the vamp as a stereotypical character on stage and screen.
1912 - The Secrets Of House No.5 possibly the first vampire movie, is produced in Great Britian.
1913 - Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker is published.
1920 - Dracula, the first film based on the novel, is made in Russia. No copy has survived.
1921 - Hungarian filmmakers produce a version of Dracula.
1922 - Nosferatu, a German made silent film produced by Prana Films, is the third attempt to film Dracula.
1924 - Hamilton Deane's stage version of Dracula opens in Derby. Fritz Harmaann of Hanover, Germany, is arrested, tried and convicted of killing more than 20 people in a vampiric crime spree. Sherlock Holmes has his only encounter with a vampire in The Case Of The Sussex Vampire.
1927 - Feb 14, Stage version of Dracula debuts at the Little Theatre in London. Oct, American version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi opens at Fulton Theatre in New York City. Tod Browning directs Lon Chaney in London After Midnight, the first full length vampire film.
1928 - The first edition of Montague Summers's influential work The Vampire : His Kith and Kin, appears in England.
1929 - Montague Summers's second vampire book, The Vampire in Europe, is published.
1931 - January, Spanish film version of Dracula is previewed. Feb, American film version of Dracula with Bela Lugosi premieres at the Roxy Theatre in New York City. Peter Kurten of Dusseldorf, Germany is executed after being found guilty of murdering a number of people in a vampiric killing spree.
Some Vampiric History
Dracula: The History of Myth and the Myth of History
Vlad III the Impaler
Vlad III the Impaler (Vlad Ţepeş IPA: ['tsepeʃ] in common Romanian reference; also known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad Drăculea and Kazıklı Voyvoda in Turkish; November or December, 1431 – December 1476) was Prince (voivode) of Wallachia, a former polity that is now part of Romania. His three reigns were in 1448, 1456–62, and 1476. In the English-speaking world, Vlad is best known for the exceedingly cruel punishments he imposed during his reign and for serving as the primary inspiration for the vampire main character in Bram Stoker's popular Dracula novel.
As king, he maintained an independent policy in relation to the Ottoman Empire, and in Romania he is viewed by many as a prince with a deep sense of justice and a defender of Wallachia against Ottoman expansionism.
Most Evil Men In History - Vlad The Impaler
On the Trail of Dracula
Elizabeth Vargas Traces the Historical Roots of Bram Stoker's Legendary Character
The Romanian farming district of Transylvania has been shrouded in so much mythic lore many Americans don't even think it exists. Generations have learned of the rural Eastern European district only through the tale of Count Dracula, one of the most shadowy and famous figures in all of literature.
And the tale of a toothy Transylvanian vampire continues to transfix readers and moviegoers around the world.
"Every generation will re-create its own Dracula," said Dracula scholar and author Elizabeth Miller.
From Macabre Monster to Caped Seducer
Dracula's first generation began in London in 1897. Theater manager and writer Bram Stoker published a novel that brought a vampire out of the wild Transylvanian mountains and onto London's streets.
But Stoker's macabre myth took on a life of its own. Since it first appeared 108 years ago, Stoker's "Dracula" has never been out of print. It's been translated into 29 languages and adapted in every artistic medium.
Michael Barsanti, of the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia -- which holds a rare collection of Stoker's papers -- said Stoker would be surprised by his character's longevity. "I think Stoker would be of course pleased, but also really kind of mystified at the amount of attention this story still has," he said.
"Stoker has an interest in the macabre, in those moments where a really civilized, sometimes aristocratic, world comes up against really scary and violent chaos," Barsanti said.
David Skal, Dracula scholar and co-editor of the new Norton Critical Edition of "Bram Stoker's Dracula," thinks German director F. W. Murnau came closest to capturing the essence of Stoker's creature in his 1922 silent film "Nosferatu."
"He's a totally frightening creature, half-rat, kind of insectoid … and closer to the spirit of Stoker than anything else has done," Skal said. "Stoker's Dracula was a cadaverous old man with hair on his palms, with bad breath. He seduced no one. His idea of a social call was smashing through your bedroom window in the form of a wolf."
Dracula's second generation dawned in Hollywood in 1931 with Bela Lugosi's classic portrayal of the caped Count Dracula. Lugosi's character would become the classic image of the vampire count -- smooth, elegant and seductive.
But the Hungarian-born Lugosi almost didn't get the part that made him world famous. He arrived in America with little command of English and had to learn many of his lines phonetically, according to Skal.
"The result was that unforgettable accent that will ever be associated with Count Dracula," Skal said.
And with this summer's best-selling novel, "The Historian," author Elizabeth Kostova has re-created Dracula yet again for a new generation that seems as fascinated as ever by Stoker's legendary character.
Kostova got a reported $2 million advance for her book, a seven-figure movie deal, and readers have kept it on the best-seller list all summer.
Kostova spent 10 years researching her subject. She traced the Dracula legend back through the centuries and found the count actually has a family tree. The search for the truth about Dracula's Eastern European lineage gives Kostova's tale its new and modern twist. It wraps the old story in new scholarship.
" 'The Historian' is about a superstition that there are vampires. It is about a fictional creation, Bram Stoker's Dracula. It also is about history and about real places. So some of it is fact and some of it is fiction," Kostova explained.
Tracing Dracula's Nobility -- and Brutality
Central to Kostova's story is a name that actually exists in the pages of history -- Dracula.
A national folk hero in Romania known as Vlad Tepes, the 15th-century ruler who successfully staved off invasion by the Turkish Empire, called himself Vlad Dracula.
According to scholar Elizabeth Miller, Dracula was a nickname derived from his father, who went by Dracul, the Romanian word for dragon.
"Dracula was sort of like the son, the little dragon or the son of the dragon," said Miller.
Vlad Dracula, who led his army in a famous stand at the Poenari Fortress against the invading Turks, was known as both a great warrior and a brutal tyrant, Miller said.
He called himself Vlad Dracula, but he is known by Romanians and Medieval historians as Vlad Tepes -- Vlad the Impaler in English for his preferred method of execution.
Vlad Dracula was known to have impaled Turkish prisoners as a tool of psychological warfare against the threatening Turk forces. "Vlad had to impale Turkish prisoners in what was labeled a forest of the impaled. The response was, 'We don't want anything to do with this guy. Let's turn around and go home,' " said Miller.
Historical opinion on Vlad also was influenced by a rare German pamphlet. One of the few remaining copies in the world is at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Barsanti said the pamphlet lists atrocities committed by Vlad, including accounts of Vlad impaling visiting monks and other visitors.
Vlad's legend got even darker and more mysterious after he died. It is said he was martyred at the hands of Turkish enemies who beheaded him.
"After he was killed, the story goes, his head was taken back to Constantinople as a trophy for the Sultan and Vlad's headless body was buried at a monastery in Snagov, which is about 25 miles from Bucharest," Miller said.
But four centuries later when the monastery site on Snagov Island was excavated, the grave was empty and a historical mystery began. Where was Vlad Dracula's body?
Kostova's novel follows a contemporary woman on a trail through history. In that plot the grave at the monastery is empty because Vlad Dracula is still alive.
"There are really two Draculas," Kostova said. "One of them of course is Vlad the Third of Wallachia, this historical figure who had been named Dracula. And the other is the creation of an author, Bram Stoker's Dracula. In my book I've made a jump to fuse the two."
The connection between the two has been made before in a work of nonfiction. In their groundbreaking 1972 work "In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires," Radu Florescu and Raymond T. McNally, Boston College historians, traced the history of Vlad the Impaler and suggested that he was the prototype for Stoker's Dracula.
"The merit of that book is that it did bring into Dracula's scholarship a whole new group of people," said Miller.
Stoker's personal notes held at the Rosenbach Library suggest that the author read about the 15th-century ruler Vlad Dracula in a book published in 1820 by William Wilkinson called "Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia." In Wilkinson's book it stated that the name Dracula also meant devil.
Stoker seemed to like this name. His notes show that he crossed out another name he'd been using, "Count Wampyr," and wrote in Dracula.
"It's interesting though, that he actually didn't change the title of the book until the very last minute. The book, the working title of the book was 'The Undead,' " said Barsanti.
But Michael Barsanti and other scholars say the nickname "Dracula" was essentially all Stoker took from the accounts of Vlad the Impaler. There's little evidence Stoker knew much else about Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Dracula).
According to Barsanti, "The notes show that Stoker imagined … the vampire count, even before he learned about Dracula. … It's sort of an irony that prior to Stoker, Vlad Dracula was a prince of Wallachia. And ever since then, now everyone thinks he's a vampire," Barsanti said.
Vampire Movies and More
Seven decades after Stoker's character laid out basic rules for vampire stories -- garlic and crosses keep the creatures at bay and they can be killed only with a stake to their heart -- director Roman Polanski was spoofing them in the 1967 film "The Fearless Vampire Killers."
Dracula became trivialized by these cartoonish vampire characters in movies, comic books, even in the cereal character Count Chocula, Miller said.
Anne Rice's novel, "Interview With The Vampire," stripped the comic book quality from vampires.
"Just when you think that the vampire cannot come back from the grave one more time, someone comes along with a movie or a novel and reinvents the whole thing. … Her vampires are sensuous sexual renegades. They're brooding and introspective," Skal said.
It's not just the enticing idea of eternal life that gives vampires their enduring appeal, it's their seductive qualities, says professor and author Katherine Ramsland. "You could get a zombie to live forever but who wants to be a zombie? Nobody. Who wants to be Frankenstein's monster? Nobody. You want to be vampires because vampires get all the girls or all the guys," she said.
But Kostova's new book peels away the pop culture characterizations of vampires and Dracula and places the legend in a historical context.
"The vampire legend is part of an answer to the question what would happen to us if we were allowed to live forever? And the answer, the consensus seems to be that it wouldn't be very good for us, that somehow we would have to give up part of our humanity to do that, that we would become monsters," Kostova said.
"The word vampire itself seems to have cropped up in Slavic countries as a term for a blood sucking corpse. This whole idea of blood, the mystical, magical, almost religious symbolic power of blood I think is a very strong part of it," said Miller.
Vampire legend and the symbolic weight of blood run together through recorded history. In virtually all religions blood has some significance -- none more obvious than the symbolic drinking of blood at Christian communion, and its promise of a spiritual afterlife.
Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 movie brought the vampire legend full circle. Called "Bram Stoker's Dracula," the film united the themes of death, sex and blood.
And Kostova in her novel attempts to weave these threads together into a new 21st-century version of the legend. Scholars are at the center of her story, and that adds yet another big theme to the vampire legend -- the quest for knowledge.
In Kostova's book, Dracula has become a scholar -- leaving clues about his real identity in libraries -- tempting researchers to put it all together.
The Threat of a Mysterious Foreign Menace
When Stoker's Dracula arrived in 1897, Londoners were already scared. Earlier in the decade Jack the Ripper had killed numerous prostitutes and left their dismembered bodies on the streets. There were fears of tuberculosis and concern about a growing number of Eastern European immigrants.
Stoker chose perhaps the most mysterious spot in all of Europe for his readership to think about a creature who could come out of this complete otherness and yet make it to England," said Kostova.
Barsanti agrees that this "otherness" is integral to Stoker's character.
"That is a really important part of the atmosphere of Dracula and this sense of a threat, a violent threat not just from without but from within … a kind of fear about different kinds of nationalities and cultures immigrating into Western Europe, and into London specifically," he said.
It may be that Stoker was playing on public fears that Eastern Europeans carried the scourge of disease.
"I think there's a lot to that. It's significant that Dracula doesn't come from Paris," Barsanti said. Rather Stoker placed his Dracula in Transylvania, a place in far Eastern Europe that Londoners would be intimidated by.
An Emblem of Undying Evil
In "The Historian," Dracula has evolved yet again. He is now an emblem of past horrors.
To be sure, Vlad has his defenders and historians point out that many rulers acted with extreme brutality toward their enemies. "I don't think you'll find too many benevolent tyrants in the 15th century. The kings of England were known for atrocities. Then you have people like Ivan the Terrible of course who were even worse than Vlad," said Miller.
Kostova says she sees the Dracula legend as a metaphor for all the undead evils in history. Whether or not you believe in vampires, there is evil at the core of the story.
Kostova, like authors before her, finds Dracula to be a figure so rich with meaning and metaphor she said he's likely to come back yet again. "Probably in the 22nd century we'll see a new Dracula, a Dracula we can't even imagine or recognize today."
Mercy Brown vampire incident
The Mercy Brown Vampire Incident, which occurred in 1892, is one of the best documented cases of the exhumation of a corpse in order to perform rituals to banish an undead manifestation.
In Exeter, Rhode Island, the Brown family suffered a sequence of tuberculosis infections in the final two decades of the 19th century. Tuberculosis was called "consumption" at the time, and was a devastating and much-feared disease.
The mother, Mary, was the first to die of the disease, followed in 1888 by her eldest daughter, Mary Olive. Two years later, Mary's son Edwin also became sick.
In 1891, another daughter, Mercy, contracted the disease and died in January of 1892.
Friends and neighbors of the family believed that one of the dead family members was a vampire (although they did not use that name) and causing Edwin's illness. This was in accordance with threads of contemporary folklore linking multiple deaths in one family to undead activity. Consumption was a poorly understood condition at the time, and the subject of much urban mythology.
George Brown was persuaded to exhume the bodies, which he did with the help of several villagers on March 17, 1892. While the bodies of both Mary and Mary Olive had undergone significant decomposition over the intervening years, the more recently buried body of Mercy was still relatively unchanged and had blood in the heart. This was taken as a sign that the teenager was undead, and the agent of young Edwin's condition. The cold New England weather made the soil virtually impenetrable, essentially guaranteeing that Mercy's body was kept in freezer-like conditions during the 2 months following her death. Therefore, the lack of decomposition is not surprising.
Mercy's heart was removed from her body, burnt, and the remnants mixed with water and given to the sick Edwin to drink. Unfortunately, despite all his efforts, George was unsuccessful in protecting his son, who died two months later.
Mercy Brown, the Rhode Island Vampire
"There are such beings as vampires, some of us have evidence that they exist. Even had we not the proof of our own unhappy experience, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane peoples," said Dr. Seward's diary in Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was Bram Stoker who took the vampire of folklore and made him beautiful, powerful, and sexy. There were cases of vampires all over the world before, during, and even after Dracula both seduced and frightened us -- one of these cases was Mercy Brown, the Rhode Island vampire.
Mercy Brown has the distinction of being the last of the North American vampires -- at least in the traditional sense. Mercy Lena Brown was a farmer's daughter and an upstanding member of rural Exeter, Rhode Island. She was only 19 years old when she died of consumption on January 17, 1892. On March 17, 1892, Mercy's body would be exhumed from the cemetery because members of the community suspected the vampire Mercy Brown was attacking her dying brother, Edwin.
For help with Mercy Brown and vampirism, I spoke with Dr. Michael Bell, a folklorist and author of Food for the Dead, a book that explores the folklore and history behind Mercy Brown as well as several other cases of New England vampires. Many people's understanding of what a vampire is comes mostly from Bram Stoker's work and Anne Rice novels, but the traditional vampire is actually quite different.
So what is a traditional vampire? "Paul Barber wrote a book called Vampires, Burial, and Death," Dr. Bell said. "He gives a forensic interpretation of vampire incidents. They're a natural phenomenon that wasn't understood by the people at the time because they didn't really know what happens to the bodies under different conditions. His definition is that a vampire is your classic scapegoat. I think his definition, if I can paraphrase it, is something like a vampire is a corpse that comes to the attention of a community during a time of crisis, and is taken for the cause of that crisis." Vampires of folklore were not the romantic characters of modern cinema -- they were the walking dead who literally drained the life out of their victims. Attacking vampires was a way for a community to physically embody and fight an evil that is plaguing them. In the case of Mercy Brown, that evil was consumption.
During the 1800s, consumption, or pulmonary tuberculosis, was credited with one out of four deaths. Consumption could kill you slowly over many years, or the disease could come quickly and end your life in a matter of weeks. The effects were devastating on families and communities. Dr. Bell explained that some of the symptoms of consumption are the gradual loss of strength and skin tone. The victim becomes pale, stops eating, and literally wastes away. At night, the condition worsens because the patient is lying on their back, and fluid and blood may collect in the lungs. During later stages, one might wake up to find blood on one's face, neck, and nightclothes, breathing is laborious, and the body is starved for oxygen.
Dr. Bell feels there is a direct connection between vampire cases and consumption. He said, "The way you look personally is the way vampires have always been portrayed in folklore -- like walking corpses, which is what you are, at least in the later stages of consumption. Skin and bones, fingernails are long and curved, you look like the vampire from Nosferatu."
Consumption took its first victim within the Brown family in December of 1883 when Mercy's mother, Mary Brown, died of the disease. Seven months later, the Browns' eldest daughter, Mary Olive, also died of consumption. The Browns' only son, Edwin, came down with consumption a few years after Mary Olive's death and was sent to live in the arid climate of Colorado to try and stop the disease. Late in 1891, Edwin returned home to Exeter because the disease was progressing -- he essentially came home to die. Mercy's battle with consumption was considerably shorter than her brother's. Mercy had the "galloping" variety of consumption -- her battle with the disease lasted only a few months. Mercy was laid to rest in Chestnut Hill Cemetery behind the Baptist church on Victory Highway.
After Mercy's funeral, her brother Edwin's condition worsened rapidly, and their father, George Brown, grew more frantic. Mr. Brown had lost his wife and two of his daughters, and now he was about to lose his only son. Science and medicine had no answers for George Brown, but folklore did. For centuries prior to Mercy Brown there have been vampires. The practice of slaying these "walking dead" began in Europe -- some of the ways people dealt with vampires was to exhume the body of the suspect, drive a stake through the heart, rearrange the skeletal remains, remove vital organs, or cremate the entire corpse. All of these rituals involve desecrating the mortal remains. The practice happened with enough regularity that the general population felt it could cure, or at the very least help, whatever evil was overwhelming them.
So much death had plagued the Brown family that poor George Brown probably felt he was cursed in some way. It wouldn't take too many chats with those empathizing with George's plight to come up with a radical idea to stop the death. Maybe the Brown family was under vampire attacks from beyond the grave. Was Mercy Brown the vampire, or was it Mercy's mother or sister? George Brown was willing to dig up the body of his recently deceased daughter, remove her heart, burn it, and feed the ashes to his son because he felt he had no other choice.
In Dr. Bell's book, Food for the Dead, he recounts an extensive interview he conducted with Everett Peck, a descendent of Mercy Brown and life-long resident of Exeter, Rhode Island. "Everett heard the story from people who had been there [at the exhumation of Mercy Brown] -- who were alive at the time," Dr. Bell said. "The newspaper [Providence Journal] says they exhumed all three bodies, that is, Mercy's mother, her sister who had died before her, and Mercy. Everett said they only dug up Mercy. He implied that there was some sign that Mercy was the one -- that's the supernatural creeping into his story. Everett said that after they had dug her up, [they saw that] she had turned over in the grave -- but there's no mention of that in the newspaper or the eyewitness accounts."
Mercy Brown died before embalming became a common practice. During decomposition, it is possible for bodies to sit up, jerk -- even sounds can emit from them because bloating can occur, and if wind escapes by passing over the vocal chords, there could be groans.
We don't know exactly what position her body was in on that day in March when George Brown, and some of his friends and family, came to examine Mercy's body. We do know that she looked "too well preserved."
"There's a suggestion in the newspaper that she wasn't actually interred in the ground," Dr. Bell said. "She was actually put in an above-ground crypt, because bodies were stored in the wintertime when the ground was frozen and they couldn't really dig. When the thaw came, they would bury them. So it's possible that she wasn't even really interred."
Her visual condition prompted the group to cut open her chest cavity and examine her innards. Dr. Bell said, "They examined her organs. The newspaper said her heart and liver had blood in it. It was liquid blood, which they interpreted as fresh blood." Bell explained how forensics can clarify how blood can coagulate and become liquid again, but at the time, the liquid was taken as evidence that Mercy was indeed a vampire and the one draining the life from Edwin and possibly other consumption victims in the community.
Dr. Bell said, "They cut her heart out, and as Everett said, they burned it on a nearby rock. Then according to the newspaper, they fed them [the ashes of the heart] to Edwin." The folklore said that destroying the heart of a vampire would kill it, and by consuming the remains of the vampire's heart -- the spell would be broken and the victim would get well.
The community's vampire slaying had failed to save Edwin -- he died two months later, but maybe it helped others in the community? Dr. Bell's view on Mercy Brown is that she was the scapegoat author Paul Barber discussed. Dr. Bell said, "She basically absorbs the ignorance, the fears, and in some cases the guilt that people have because their neighbors, friends, and family are dying, and they don't understand why and they can't stop it."
Mercy Brown is arguably North America's most famous vampire because she is also the most recent. The event caused such a stir in 1892 because newspapers like the Providence Journal editorialized that the idea of exhuming a body to burn the heart is completely barbaric in those modern times.
As Dr. Bell said, "Folklore always has an answer -- it may not be the scientifically valid answer, but sometimes it's better to have any answer than none at all."
Mercy Brown: New England's Last Vampire
It was during the late 1700's, that New Englander's belief in the superstitious was beginning to take its highest toll. Among the most popular beliefs that explained the mystery of death was vampirism. The vampire was one that wasn't like the Hollywood description of today but one that took one's life force not blood. The vampire was one who came in the night usually foretold in a dream and would suck out one's breath. Heavy feelings on the chest were a sign that one was cursed to be taken by a vampire.
The very first known case occurred in 1793, in Manchester, Vermont. The daughter of Capt. Isaac Burton died of mysterious circumstances after a bout of illness. Rachel, the daughter's lungs, heart and liver were burned for the other family members to consume the ashes to protect from being the next victim. Because it was by consuming the vampire's life force that one could protected. Of course many victims were being taken by what was to become known as Consumption.
Over the years many cases were reported throughout New England. Cumberland RI, West Greenwich and 4 noted ones in Exeter RI. The daughter of a Catholic Priest, William Rose was one that caused considerable fear at the time. The priest believed in vampires and that his 15 year old daughter, Ruth Ellen, was the cause of their relatives to waste away. He ordered her to be exhumed and that her heart be burned. These reports made Rhode Island the "Vampire Capital of the America." The most haunting and infamous of theses cases was Mercy Brown.
Mercy Lena Brown, known as Lena to her friends, was born in 1873. She was the daughter of the horsetrader/farmer, George T Brown and wife Mary. The family consisted of one boy and five girls. They lived on a farm outside of Exeter RI.
The times were plagued with death as many families were taken. Over time children became the easest victims. Some families lost up to 14 children. In the town of Exeter, the first in the Brown family fell sick and died. It was the mother, Mary in December 1883. The oldest daughter, Mary Olive was the next to die about 2 years later. The only son Edwin was sent to Colorado Springs to find a cure in the mineral waters there. After spending almost a year and a half there, he returned feeling much better only to find that his sister Mercy had gotten sick and passed on. She was only 19 years of age at the time of her death on January 17, 1892. She was buried with the rest of her family in the Chestnut Hill cemetery that was situated next to the Baptist Church.
Edwin being home for a short time began to have lung trouble and get sick again. One night, late, he awoke from a nightmare and told his father that Mercy had appeared to him. She pressed upon his chest until he couldn't breathe. At this time, Edwin was beginning to cough blood and the family knew his time was limited. After the town found out about Edwin's dream, had a community meeting and claimed that Mercy had to be the one claiming the Brown family and maybe even others of the town. The townspeople, even though many were unbelievers, organized the Brown family bodies to be dug up for proof. The only way they knew to save Edwin Brown was to have him consume the ashes of the culprit.
Dr. Metcalfe of Wickford led the exhumation without George Brown in attendance. He refused to believe any such nonsense about his daughter and wanted to grievbe ion peace. The first to be opened was the Mother, Mary. She being dead the longest was only bones. The next was the sister Mary Olive and she too being dead quite some time was also just bones. When Mercy's coffin was opened, many were shocked to see she was almost life like. The doctor said she was still with blood in her veins as he cut out her heart. When he squeezed, blood poured from its arteries. This was proof that Mercy was a vampire and her heart was burned at a nearby rock. Edwin drank the ashes and returned home only to die a few days later. It was after his death that remarkably no more mysterious deaths happened in Exeter. The vampire Mercy Brown was gone.
The new Englander's belief in vampires was proven once again in 1993 at a cemetery in Greenwood Connecticut. The cemetery was in the gravel pit run by a construction company. While relocating the cemetery, the state archaeologist found a coffin with a 55-year-old man. His bones were rearranged. The upper leg bones had been crossed on the lower chest and the skull was placed on the upper chest in the classic skull and crossbones pattern. Lesions on the bones proved that the man died of consumption. No stakes in the heart were needed in the 18th and 19th century, just the disruption of one's body was enough to kill a vampire and it's urges.
Rhode Island was a hot bed of for rumor between 1870 and 1900. This inspired many to storytelling including one now famous novelist. It was found that Bram Stoker might have used the myth of Mercy Brown to base his character description of his famous Dracula published in 1897. Newspaper clippings of The Brown family ordeal were found in his files after his death,
The legend of vampires still exist today mostly fueled by fiction and Hollywood. Rhode Island still proves to be the place to go for some good old storytelling. In Rhode Island's Historical Cemetery #2 is the gravestone of Nelly L. Vaughn another alleged vampire of West Greenwich. She died in 1889 at the age of 19. The grave is supposed to be cursed. Despite many attempts to plant, no vegetation of any sort will grow on her grave. Her inscriptions still can chill one to the bone for along the bottom it reads "I am waiting and watching you!"
What caused the belief of the undead to disappear? It was clear to them that what couldn't be explained had to be supernatural. Illness was scary, to say the least ,especially as you watched many members of you own family perish. Consumption, or Tuberculosis as it is known today, was in epidemic proportions and people were in a panic. To research back to 1882, it was clear to see that the medical field was just beginning to get townspeople everywhere to know that tuberculosis was a bacterial disease. As people began to believe, the rituals of vampirism faded away. Embalming also began to take place in rural areas and that of course wouldn't allow anyone to be mistaken for a vampire or other mystical being. It would be explained now that the body of Mercy Brown was probably preserved since she was buried during the coldest time of the year in New England. It was too that she was exhumed only 2 months after her death not leaving much time to decompose.
Mercy's story is still being told at Halloween around the campfire. Her grave is said to attract many onlookers. Some even say, she shows herself in the middle of night just sitting and looking out from her grave. This has lead to one of Mercy's very own descendant, Lewis E Peck JR, to stand watch to keep away vandals on the haunted night of October 31. Her gravestone was taken once during the summer of 1996, only to be returned without incident. In death, she was able to leave an incredible mark in history. No matter how medicine can explain the panic in New England, Mercy Brown will always be known as the last vampire in America.
Vampires - Facts and fiction behind vampire stories
The word "vampire," aside from its current slang significance, suggests superstition, ghosts, werewolves, hobgoblins, purely fabulous monsters, fiction tales of so-called "mystery and horror" based on highly wrought literary imagination rather than any shred of fact.
In these weird tales the vampire is sometimes a huge bat, sometimes a beautiful woman, sometimes, as in the case of Count Dracula, a man with a mania for sucking human life-blood. Dracula is the classic type of fictional human vampire. He was created by Bram Stoker, a British writer of horror stories, and instantly became the literary rage all over the world. The Count's popularity has lasted twenty years; he is now the hero of a play based on Stoker's book, adapted by the American journalist, John Balderstori, and enjoying runs in York City and London. Women frequently faint at the matinee performances.
It seems now proved beyond any possibility of scientific doubt that such sinister and dangerous creatures, both bat and human, actually exist. Only a few weeks ago from mysterious Haiti, but from the quite modernized town Of Aux Cayes in that tropical West Indian island, where American Marine officers in motor cars pass every day, came the authenticated confession of a coppery-haired, handsome mulatto woman, by name Anastasie Dieudonne, that she had for several months been draining the blood from her nine-year old niece.
The child, once healthy and robust, had begun to fade away. Neighbors and relatives thought she had some wasting disease. Physicians, including those of the American clinic at Trouin, could find nothing wrong with her. Then an old black native doctor was called into conference. "She is the victim," he said, "of a vampire, or a loup garon. The life-blood is being secretly sucked from her body. If the monster is not discovered, she will die." "Bosh!" said many of the natives, who are not very superstitious in a modernized town like Aux Cayes. It looked like, bosh, indeed, when the old man carefully went over the girl's entire body and found not even a pinch-prick. But he was not satisfied and made a second examination. This time he discovered, a small, clean, unhealed incision hidden on the middle of her great toe. Anastasie Dieudonne subsequently confessed that she had been giving the girl a stupefying vegetable drug and then sucking her blood. She was, of course, an unbalanced creature, driven to this dreadful practice by an uncontrollable urge. She was literally, in actual fact, a human vampire.
That there are and have been other human vampires, in both high and low walks of life, and in circumstances much more terrible and dramatic than the case in Haiti, will presently be shown.
With reference to bat vampires, Dr. August Kronheit of the German Academy of Science, and member of a number of leading American societies, has made an elaborate study of them in South America.
He discovered that the true vampire is a montrous blackish-brown bat, with a wing-spread of about two feet, with razor-sharp teeth and a hideous snout like a pig. It flies chiefly in the late hours of the night, attacking sleeping horses, other animals and human beings. It lives almost entirely by sucking blood.
Dr Kronheit cites the specific case of a young girl in Bolivia, who was sleeping during the Summer on the unscreened porch of her father's house. By merest accident the father, who was planning a hunting trip next day, went out on the porch, just as dawn was lighting the sky, to observe the weather.
He saw the huge bat crouching against his daughter's bare shoulder, and with horror recognized it for what it was. He seized it and crushed it to death with his hands. It was then discovered that the vampire had sucked almost a pint of blood from the girl.
These true accounts of the vampire need frighten no reader in the continent of North America. The true vampire bat is confined exclusively to tropical countries, and never comes even so far north as Florida. The bats of the United States are harmless and, in many cases, useful. The useful ones live on insects; others by sucking the juice from fruit on trees. In the United States there is a large bat with a wingspread of more than fourteen inches, which is sometimes called "vampire," but which is known to science under the name of "false vampire," because it sucks only the juices of fruits.
But the existence of the real blood-sucking bats in tropical countries has been conclusively proved by science. One reason why people m general have hesitated to believe in them and regarded them as fictitious is that it has been difficult to understand, in common sense, why victims do not awaken when the vampire fastens upon them. Those who did believe in them invented the fantastic explanation that some insidious, sleep-producing poison was first injected from the bat's fangs into the victim's body. The true explanation is simpler. The upper front teeth of the vampire are flat, thin, unpointed and razorsharp. The vampire, properly speaking, neither bites nor sinks fangs like a needle into its victim. Instead, it delicately shaves off a thin portion of the skin, not deep, and the wound is practically painless. Then it applies its lips only to the spot, which is little more than an abrasion, and by suction alone keeps up a constant flow of blood.
Human vampires, on the other hand, are demented or semi-insane people who have a mania for drinking human blood. Recent investigations both current and historical, have shown that it is not so rare an occurrence as one might suppose.
The most completely authenticated case in history, since it is a part of actual old court record, is that of the beautiful Countess Bathori, who lived in Hungary about three hundred years ago. The complete minutes of the trial, her final confession, the testimony of her servants, the record of the conviction and the amazing punishment inflicted on her by the law-all still exist.
She was rich and owned a castle on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains, which had a mysterious and evil reputation in the neighborhood. For many years the peasants believed that she practiced magic, and was, in league, like Faust, with the devil. They did not dream, however, of the even more dreadful secret that the castle actually hid, for what occurred there, over and over again, was more terrifying than anything in the Bluebeard stories or the horror tales of Poe.
Over a period of several years a number of young and pretty peasant girls and boys had disappeared from the neighborhood and had never been heard from again. For a long time it was supposed that they had been carried off by bandits from the mountains. But finally suspicion was directed toward the already mysterious castle of the Countess Bathori, and after an investigation a company of the King's Guard appeared suddenly one night with search warrants from the Emperor, placed the Countess under arrest and thoroughly searched the castle.
In an underground dungeon they found six of the missing children, emaciated, but still alive, chained so that they could not kill themselves, which they would all too willingly have done to escape the slower death they were suffering. The bones of several others who had finally died were found in an oubliette. The Countess herself, under subsequent threats of legal torture, confessed that each night she went to the dungeon, opened a vein in the arm of one of the prisoners, drank quantities of blood, and also bathed her face and shoulders in it. She believed, in her mad, magical superstition, that this would keep her always young and beautiful. As a matter of fact, the records say, she had a marvelously smooth and lovely skin, a complexion like "snow and roses." It was a cruel period, and Hungary in those days was a cruel country. Instead of executing the Countess Bathori, the judges sentenced her, making the punishment fit the crime, to have the skin flayed from her face and neck. So her face became an object frightful to look upon instead of beautiful, as it had once been.
The most famous case of a modern human vampire attested by the courts and legal record is that of Fritz Haarman, in Hanover, Germany, who was executed after the World War. He was a true vampire, scientifically speaking. He lured no less than twenty-seven youths into his home and drank their blood.
The existence of such living human monsters as Anastasie Dieudonne in Haiti, Fritz Haarman in Germany and the Countess Bathori in Hungary is believed to be the basis for the legends concerning a third type of vampire which exists only in superstition and folklore. That is the vampire ghost, the dead man or woman, who periodically emerges from the grave to feed upon the blood of a living person. A whole literature has been built up around these folklore legends, and there are thousands of hair-raising stories. The best of them all, perhaps, is the "Succubus" by Balzac, which was illustrated by Gustave Dore. The most famous of them is probably "Dracula," with Robert Louis Stevenson's "Ollalla," a blood-curdling story, as runner-up.
These stories, common to the peasantry of all European countries, tell how, when the vampire's grave is opened, the body, no matter how long dead, is found to be still fresh and rosy. To put a stop to the ravages of the supposed vampire, the people go solemnly to the cemetery, open the grave and drive a stake through the heart. Then the grave is closed again and boiling oil and vinegar are poured upon it.
This story appeared in The Zanesville Signal on November 20, 1927 under the title "New Facts about Vampires: Winged and Human."
Common Myths: Fact or Fiction
There are so many myths and legends about vampires.These
stories help, along with modern fiction, to make up the
general populations's ideas of what vampires are like,
(and if they exist at all). The scope of these stories range
from vampires being monsters to heroes;demons to angels.
Many of these myths were made up by the Church
to help it feel more protected and secure.
Vampire do not exist - Oh, vampires do exist. It's just
that they are not what most people would expect. Therefore
they seem not to.
Vampires are "undead" - Though there may be this type
of vampires in the world somewhere, I've never met one
and certainly not all vampires are "undead".
Vampires drink blood - There are a lot of vampires who
do drink blood, though not all do. However, blood is not
taken in the methods which fictional vampires do. Rarely,
(I've never met a vampire who has), does a vampire find
a "victim". Usually, vampires will find a willing "donor";
and most only drink a small quantity of blood.
Vampires are repelled by holy symbols - This is not
true. I have even met a few religious, (of Christian
denomination), vampires. Many even find religious symbols
to be quite beautiful.
Vampires are Satanic or demons - First of all, Satanism
is a religion; vampirism is a state of being. Therefore,
there may or may not be Satanic vampires. On the other
hand, about the demons, I suppose it would depend on
what definition you are using. If it is implying the
vampire is evil, than this one too is false.
Vampires are immortal - This is a debatable subject.
Some believe the immortality comes from the soul
being immortal. Others believe the immortality is
physical. Most, however,believe that vampires do live
longer than "mortals".
Vampires can not go outside during the day - Yes,
most can. Although some vampires do have problems
with the sun; such as burning easily, bright light
hurting there eyes, or an allergy to the sun.
Vampires have supernatural powers - This depends on
what supernatural means to you. (What might seem
supernatural to one might be completely natural
to another.) Vampires do tend to have better
psychic abilities than normal people. Many times
they also have heightened senses too.
Vampires sleep in coffins - the only vampires I've
ever heard of sleeping in coffins did so for
effect, not out of necessity.
Vampires can not cross running water - Fiction. This
myth come from the Church trying to feel protected.
It was believed that nothing evil could cross running
Vampires can only be killed (destroyed)by a stake,
decapitation and fire (separately or combined) - This
is basically true; but than again, who can't be killed
by these things. The reason I say basically is because
these are not the only way a vampire could killed (or die).
Vampires have no reflections on mirrors/ can not
be seen on film-Nope. This one's made up. (I wish this
one was true some days!)
Vampires can turn into vampire bats - The only way
a vampire could do this one is if s/he is a (very) good
magickian and is practiced at shape-shifting.
Garlic repels vampires - Fiction. I know a lot of vampires
that love garlic. Though when I smell there
breath I feel repelled!
Animals dislike vampires - I have found the opposite to be
true. Animals seem to love vampires, and vampires
seem to be good with animals.
Vampires need to sleep on native soil -The only place
I've ever heard of this was in Dracula by Bram
Stoker. I guess it could be true for a vampire who
gets home sick easily, (just kidding).
Vampires are "high society" - Some are, but
there are just as many, if not more, that are middle and lower class.
Vampires do not have bills/ problems -Oh, don't we
wish! Unfortunately, vampires have just as many as everyone
else. Sometimes even more.
These are some of the most common of the misconceptions
That are bounding in society today. They reach forward
from the past to confuse and disillusion people. One day
we may be able to help people see the truth, but it's
difficult to fight a monster, (the lies) that began at
the beginning of time.
Awakened by the screams of his children, Farmer Panfilo Castro scrambled out of bed and groped for the kerosene lamp. In the flickering light, he saw a winged shadow dart toward his youngest child, then flit out through the door of the hut.
While Castro and his wife were soothing the terrified children and wiping blood from tiny gashes in necks, faces and arms, they heard screams and shouts from the nearby hut of the Zavala family. Castro went to the door and looked out. Against the paling sky, he saw the thing returning—a bat with a twelve-inch wingspread. Castro grabbed the bat, squeezed it, flung it to the floor, stomped it to death. When he looked at his hand, he saw blood spurting from a finger.
A few weeks later, three of the Castro children, one of the Zavala children and then Panfilo Castro himself died in convulsions. The village of Platanito, in the state of Sinaloa, was thunderstruck.
A local doctor diagnosed the cause of death as derriengue, a form of rabies transmitted by the vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus.* Derriengue is a scourge of Latin American cattle, killing half a million head a year in Mexico alone. A rabies-infected bat shows no symptoms for three months or so; then it suddenly goes mad, even attacks other vampires. In this way, the disease is transmitted from one bat to another. Within three to 15 days, the rabid vampire dies; anything it has bitten during that period is likely to contract derriengue.
When the local doctor's report on the Platanito episode arrived in Mexico City last month, public-health officials dispatched two rabies experts to the area. They killed vampires with torches in abandoned buildings and hollow trees, asphyxiated them with smoke in caves, destroyed them by setting fire to the dry leaves of palm trees. Last week Mexican newspapers, with sighs of editorial relief, announced that vampires had been wiped out in the Platanito region.
* Found only in the warmer parts of the Americas, Desmodus rotundus feeds exclusively on blood. The bite of a non-rabid vampire ordinarily does a human victim no serious harm, but rabid vampires are deadly. Derriengue, like other forms of rabies, can be prevented by vaccination.
Italian Cops Bust Alleged "Vampire" Mob
Nigerian-Run Mafia Ran Scams And Had Blood-Drinking Initiation Rites, Police Say
Police have broken up an alleged Nigerian-run mafia -- complete with blood-drinking initiation rites -- accused of running prostitution, extortion and fake credit card scams in northern Italy, officials said Thursday.
Five Nigerians were detained in Brescia and in the southern town of Aversa, near Naples, police said. A sixth Nigerian already jailed in Turin for other crimes was served an additional arrest warrant, police said.
The six suspects comprise the "cupola," or the top decision-makers, of the "eiye" mob group, said Carmine Grassi, the Brescia police official in charge of the operation.
Like their Sicilian counterparts, the mobsters protected their territory by striking back violently at other Nigerian-run criminal organizations, police said.
Police displayed an ax and knife they said were used against rivals, sometimes to amputate body parts.
Initiation rites included drinking blood as part of a "blood pact," Grassi said. Members also had to wear blue hats and blue shoes, and used slang and hand gestures that distinguished them from other gangs, police said.
Grassi said the alleged leaders met while attending university in Nigeria.
New film "30 Days" gives vampires more bite
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - When director David Slade was young, he used to have nightmares about vampires. But over time, the bad dreams faded -- not because he grew older but because the vampire myth, redone over and over again in movies, lost much of its, um, bite.
"They just weren't scaring people anymore," he said
Slade will have his chance to re-instill fear starting Friday with Columbia Pictures' "30 Days of Night." The horror film is based on the comic book miniseries created by writer Steve Niles and artist Ben Templesmith. Columbia picked up the rights for "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures to produce back in 2002 when the first issue was published.
The story is set in an Alaskan town attacked by hungry vampires as it settles down for its annual winter month of sunlessness. Combined with its stark, painted art, "30 Days" took the comic community by storm.
The movie rejiggers the vampire story in a way that "28 Days Later," the 2002 horror movie directed by Danny Boyle, reinvented the zombie story. Until then, zombies were slow-moving, brain-eating creatures. Boyle turned them into fast-moving, fury-filled monsters. That movie's success shook up the cobwebbed genre, with remakes, sequels and imitators flooding the market. "30 Days" could do the same for vampire movies.
Niles, who shares screenwriter credit on the film with Brian Nelson and Stuart Beattie, didn't set out to reinvent vampires, but he knew which conventions he wanted to avoid.
"As time has gone on, we kept deconstructing, deconstructing -- and then you get to Anne Rice, and she makes them lead characters, sympathetic characters," Niles said. "And now, we have vampire detectives on TV and high school girls are dating them. It's gotten ridiculous. We completely disarmed everything that was scary about them."
So with Niles making vampires fearful on paper again, the filmmakers set out to make them terrifying onscreen. One thing they did was to make the new vampires old vampires. Pre-biblical is how Slade describes them. And he gave them a new look that owes more to Count Orlok in the German Expressionist film "Nosferatu" than Count Dracula as played by Bela Lugosi.
"They don't have little canines -- that is a little romantic -- they have sharks' teeth, rows of them. Black soulless eyes, sometimes not quite in the right place," said Slade, who enlisted Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop to help with the creatures' design.
The filmmaker gave the vampires their own language, too, making sure it was based on very simplistic urges like eating and killing. The creatures utter only one line of English in the entire movie, and it is featured in the trailer: Danny Huston, the lead vampire says, "No God."
"30 Days" also gives its vampires a simple but signature way of killing, which is to leap on the victim and cut at their throat with their teeth and claws.
"This is not the Anne Rice vampire that says a little bit of Rimbaud before making love," Slade said. "If the Anne Rice vampire is a metaphor for erotica, this one is metaphor for assault. Not for sexual assault but assault on human values."
While the comic book had a unique look, Slade and the producers decided early on not to keep that "graphic novel" look for the movie the way adaptations of "300" or "Sin City" have done.
"If it was more of a graphic novel look, or more of a fantasy, it would move the viewer from the fear center of the brain toward somewhere else," Slade said. "The (comic) frames-come-to-life give you a degree of safety -- a safety net we decided to destroy by making it as realistic as we could within the confines we had."
Raimi said he never felt that vampires were past their prime until he read the "30 Days" and set out to make the adaptation.
"I think it is only by the light of comparison, when someone shows you a new way, that you realize you were on the old path," Raimi said. "And I, like everyone else, never knew I was on the old path until I saw their vision of what a vampire could be."
Vampire drama "Moonlight" has cult appeal
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - You can describe this series in three words: vampire private detective. As such, it adds a few twists to an old genre. With a vampire on the case, bad guys are easier to overpower.
On the other hand, women are more difficult to romance without undesirable consequences. And, without a doubt, cases that can be solved at night take priority.
"Moonlight," with its updated vampire mythology, charismatic hero and vague resemblance to the Linda Hamilton-Ron Perlman starrer "Beauty and the Beast," has the potential to be a Friday night cult favorite. Whether it can succeed opposite two other new series (ABC's "Women's Murder Club and Fox's "Nashville") and NBC's highly praised "Friday Night Lights" is one of the fall season's bigger unknowns.
Aussie actor Alex O'Loughlin stars as Mick St. John, a member of Los Angeles' relatively small vampire community. He was inducted into the tribe by his bride, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), who didn't want to see him get older while she stayed the same. That was in the 1950s, and Mick has looked 30 years old ever since.
Once they become vampires, most feel only disdain for humans. Mick, on the other hand, decided to use his strength and athletic prowess to help them. His first act was to rescue a little girl kidnapped by nutty Coraline. That little girl grew up to become Internet investigative reporter Beth Turner (Britain's Sophia Myles). In the premiere, he saves her life (again) and then they touch each other's hearts, but in a good way.
Writers Ron Koslow and Trevor Munson don't waste any time explaining the ground rules of modern vampires. In the opening scene, Mick dreams of being interviewed about his bloodthirsty life.
In barely a minute or two, Mick lets us know he sleeps in a freezer, gets his blood from a medical supply house and isn't bothered at all by garlic, holy water, crucifixes or wooden stakes. However, decapitation and flame-throwers are definitely to be avoided. And, chivalrous vamp that he is, he would never harm a woman or a child. His best friend, Josef Konstantin (Jason Dohring) works as a hedge-fund trader, is extremely wealthy and doesn't get why Mick is so interested in helping humans.
Sold to CBS as a 26-minute presentation and then completely recast (except for O'Loughlin) before it went to series, "Moonlight" gives short shrift to crime solving. In the two episodes provided for review, criminals are barely more than one-dimensional comic book villains. Instead, the focus is on the dangerous and forbidden relationship between Mick and Beth and his efforts to keep his past a secret. Whether there's enough material there to knit together a series remains to be seen.
Are Vampires Real? Physics Professor Drives Scientific Stake Into The Heart Of Supernatural Myths
As the weather cools and Halloween approaches, creaks in the stairs and scary stories become more believable -- but not to physics professor Costas Efthimiou.
The laws of physics and math debunk popular myths about ghosts and vampires, according to a paper published by Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi last year.
Using Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion, Efthimiou demonstrates that ghosts would not be able to walk and pass through walls. Basic math disproves the legend of humans turning into vampires after they are bitten, Efthimiou explains, because the entire human population in 1600 would have been wiped out in less than three years.
These popular myths make for a lot of Halloween fun and great movies with special effects, but they just don't hold up to the strict tests of science," Efthimiou said.
In movies such as "Ghost," starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, ghosts often walk like humans, pass through walls and pick up objects. But that portrayal cannot be accurate, Efthimiou says. For ghosts to have the ability to walk like humans, they would need to put a force upon the floor, which would exert an equal and opposite force in return. But ghosts' ability to pass through walls and have humans walk right through them demonstrates that they cannot apply any force.
Movies such as "Blade," featuring Wesley Snipes, suggest that vampires feed on human blood and that once a human has been bitten, he or she turns into a vampire and begins feeding on other humans. To disprove the existence of vampires, Efthimiou relied on a basic math principle known as geometric progression.
Efthimiou supposed that the first vampire arrived Jan. 1, 1600, when the human population was 536,870,911. Assuming that the vampire fed once a month and the victim turned into a vampire, there would be two vampires and 536,870,910 humans on Feb. 1. There would be four vampires on March 1 and eight on April 1. If this trend continued, all of the original humans would become vampires within two and a half years and the vampires' food source would disappear.
Efthimiou did not take into consideration mortality rates, which would have increased the speed at which the human population would have been vanquished. And even factoring in a birth rate would not change the outcome.
"In the long run, humans cannot survive under these conditions, even if our population were doubling each month," Efthimiou said. "And doubling is clearly way beyond the human capacity of reproduction."
Efthimiou also provides a practical explanation for "voodoo zombiefication," which suggests that zombies "come about by a voodoo hex being placed by a sorcerer on one of his enemies." He reviewed the case of a Haitian adolescent who was pronounced dead by a local doctor after a week of dramatic convulsions.
After the boy was buried, he returned in an incoherent state, and Haitians pronounced that a sorcerer had raised him from the dead in the state of a zombie.
Science, however, has a less-supernatural explanation. A highly-toxic substance called tetrodotoxin is found in a breed of puffer fish native to Haitian waters. Contact with this substance generally results in a rapid death. However, in some cases, the right dose of the toxin will result in a state that mimics death and slows vital signs to a level that is unable to be measured. Eventually, the victim snaps out of the death-like coma and returns to his or her regular condition.
Scientific analysis has shown that oxygen deprivation is consistent with the boy's brain damage and his incoherent state.
"It would seem that zombiefication is nothing more than a skillful act of poisoning," Efthimiou said.