Vampires In History And Popular Culture

Copyright 2008-2021 by Richard J. Ballard -- All Rights Reserved.

I consider myself candid, opinionated and well-meaning. My goal is not to offend; instead this survey webpage's goal is to promote informed understanding: informed understanding IMO is good. Yet recent events circuitously have taught me that some people find this survey webpage's very existence to be personally threatening. I understand if a person reading this webpage periodically wrinkles their nose in distaste, but (alluding to the film A Clockwork Orange) nobody is forced to read this material.

Please do NOT read this topic if you offend easily.

Many cultures have equated vampirism to the antichrist. Vampires are weirdly attractive and communion with a vampire offers near-immortality, but victims forfeit their souls to the vampire (e.g., Eden's serpent) in an unearthly ritual of personal ruination.

Popular culture often depicts vampires as cultured. (Contrast actor Bela Lugosi's noble Count Dracula with actor Lon Chaney Jr.'s remorseful working class Wolfman.) Recent vampire depictions feature disaffected youthful vampires both fighting among themselves and also stalking authority figures and the affluent.

I include immortals with vampires because vampires are near-immortal, revitalized by human blood. Immortals are not deities; immortals usually are revitalized by some elixir, and who sacrifices to provide that elixir often is the immortality novel's plot.


Fictional Book Listing

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker's 1897 vampire classic treatment.

Moon of the Wolf / Progeny of the Adder by Leslie H. Whitten

Blood drained, starved blonde women's corpses are pulled from Washington DC's Potomac River in 1965's Progeny of the Adder. Gory murders plague a 1938 Mississippi rural town in 1967's Moon of the Wolf.

The Midnight People edited by Peter Haining

This 1968 collection includes John Polidori's The Vampyre, Fritz Leiber's The Girl With The Hungry Eyes and 16 other vampire classics.

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Vampires suck the life out of a 20th Century quiet New England town in Stephen King's 1975 second novel.

Hotel Transylvania
The Palace
The Saint-Germain Chronicles by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

A foreigner in Paris during Louis XV's reign, Le Comte de Saint-Germain is accepted throughout French aristocratic society. To the aristocrats he is a handsome gentleman known for his comparatively austere yet fashionable international style. The ladies all admire Saint-Germain, particularly since his name is not tarnished with rumor and scandal like so many others. Saint-Germain is gallant, personable, empathic, an accomplished musical composer, and he is known to help the poor: on several occasions he has employed unfortunates within his household. Saint-Germain knows many countries' languages and cultures. Nobody knows Saint-Germain's origin or lineage, but his lifestyle and the jewels he routinely wears show that Saint-Germain is fabulously wealthy.

Outside of Parisian aristocratic society there are a few people who know that Saint-Germain is an accomplished ancient sorcerer having knowledge of alchemy and of The Philosopher's Stone (i.e., metals transformation and the immortality elixir). And while aristocrats wonder that Saint-Germain never dines in public, nobody guesses that Saint-Germain is a vampire.

In 1978's Hotel Transylvania author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro created a vampire unique character whose exploits span twenty-five books; each book chronicles near-immortal Saint-Germain's exploits in a different historical place and era, and Yarbro accurately details each historic place and era. Each Saint-Germain novel reflects an ancient near-immortal character who is weary of evil and foolishness, and who reacts to each historic place and era's culture. Yarbro has been well-recognized for her contributions to horror literature: in 1997 she was named to the Knightly Order of the Brasov Citadel by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula; in 2003 she received the Grand Master award from the World Horror Association; in 2006 the International Horror Guild enrolled her among their Living Legends; in 2009 the Horror Writers' Association presented Yarbro with the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award; and in 2014 she was honored with the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.

Despite all these honors, Le Comte de Saint-Germain's vampirism IMO remains a subplot. Saint-Germain's longevity has made him worldly wise: he cleverly uses samples of his native soil to invigorate his movements in sunlight and over running water; and whenever possible Saint-Germain hides his vampire nature because he has learned that the human masses will not tolerate vampires. Thus Saint-Germain IMO better resembles an ancient sorcerer using his power and knowledge to coexist with envious humans and to fight societal evil. In Hotel Transylvania Saint-Germain joins the battle after his friends are threatened by a clandestine cabal of Parisian aristocratic satan worshipers; his vampiric nature gives him remarkable physical strength, but the novel less resembles vampire literature than it resembles the 1976 non-vampire film To the Devil...A Daughter starring Nastassja Kinski, Christopher Lee and Richard Widmark. And while Yarbro's detailed attention to French aristocratic opulence authentically depicts Louis XV's era, this attention also imparts a hint of soap opera to Hotel Transylvania. Yarbro's novel is an extremely good read that IMO does not rely heavily upon the vampire mythos.

The Palace is Yarbro's 1979 Saint-Germain second novel. Here Count Francesco Ragoczy da San Germano is a foreigner living in the Florence Italy city-state during the fifteenth century. The novel discusses the building of San Germano's vampire-friendly (native earth mixed within the foundation) alchemist-friendly (hidden rooms where alchemy can be conducted in secret) palazzo. The novel chronicles San Germano's friendship with Laurenzo di Piero de' Medici (called Il Magnifico), the head of the Florence Italy city-state. And after Il Magnifico dies young of leukemia (unable to be saved by conversion into a vampire) the novel depicts foreigner San Germano's struggles during an era of religious hysteria that has Florence Italy embracing monkish simplicity by burning its cultural treasures and its artists.

The Palace reinforces my reservations about the Saint-Germain character. I am aware of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's international awards and I understand her character psychology, but IMO Saint-Germain behaves as an alchemist and a near-immortal aesthetic who just happens to be a vampire. Saint-Germain tries to live comfortably in various historic foreign settings: only when his friends inevitably become endangered (a hint of soap opera) does Saint-Germain become a crusading knight whose vampire incredible physical strength becomes evident. Yarbro's novels are well-written but I don't fully accept them as an integral part of vampire lore.

1983's The Saint-Germain Chronicles is a short story collection and the sixth volume in the Saint-Germain series. The stories are well-written but do not stand alone; IMO they are better understandable if you first read Hotel Transylvania. These short stories better depict Saint-Germain's vampire nature: a vampire living comfortably, discreetly, and discouraging human scrutiny that might reveal his vampire nature. This volume reveals the nature of Saint-Germain's loyal assistants, and in an afterward author Yarbro discusses why she based her fictional Le Comte de Saint-Germain on a historical real person (who appears in Webster's New Biographical Dictionary).

The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas

Multiple perspective views of a cunning yet aesthetic vampire functioning within 1980 modern United States society. IMO the near-immortal swordplay film Highlander starring Christopher Lambert offers a valid yet interesting plot contrast.

The Dracula Tape by Fred Saberhagen

Bram Stoker's novel Dracula uses Jonathon Harker's diary and third-party observations to depict Count Dracula as a ruthless scheming abomination; the vampire hunters are depicted as noble crusaders. But Count Dracula was Vlad Tepes, a Wallachian prince famed for military prowness. What goals motivated the Wallachian prince's actions?

Originally published in 1980, The Dracula Tape is the first of author Fred Sagerhagen's ten Dracula novels; the publisher says the ten novels need not be read in any particular order. Years after Count Dracula's demise, Mr. Arthur Harker and his wife Janet are admitted into a hospital suffering from exposure and exhaustion. A small tape recorder found in the rear seat of their abandoned automobile includes a tape containing an accented retelling of the Dracula legend, along with terse responses by Mr. Harker and his wife; Mr. Harker offers no explanation. Who is retelling the Dracula legend? And what unfinished business motivated this automotive gathering fully decades after Count Dracula's death?

The accented voice on the tape tells a different Dracula legend: Was Lucy Westerna clinically depressed due to the obsessive advances of three unwanted suitors? Did bumbling Professor Van Helsing cause Lucy Westerna's death through multiple infusions of not compatible blood? Why did Professor Van Helsing motivate Jonathon Harker to then mutilate Lucy Westerna's corpse? And exactly what crimes justified the vampire hunters' persecution of Count Dracula? The tape's retelling adds vampire and hunter personal information to the Dracula legend. The reader must choose which legend version to believe.

The Light At The End by John Skipp and Craig Spector

A hideous murder is committed on the New York City subway and the perpetrator signs his work in blood: SUBWAY PSYCHO. Some street people chuckle that the murder has vampirism aspects, but their laughter fades as subsequent murders grow socially closer.

The Light At The End is the first of six splatterpunk novels written by John Skipp and Craig Spector; the novels feature street action and gory depictions of violence. I found the characterizations remarkably believable; vain Rudy is well-suited to be a vampire, troubled Joseph is well-suited as a grim crusader, and other street friends are depicted with sufficient empathic detail that they live for the reader. Although set in pre-9/11 New York City, this 1986 novel's characterization quality repeatedly reminds me of Roman Polanski's film The Fearless Vampire Killers. And IMO the authors write well together without the tag-team obvious hand-offs that characterize other writing collaborations.

The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories edited by Alan Ryan

Formerly titled Vampires: Two Centuries of Great Vampire Stories, editor Alan Ryan's 1987 compilation contains many elegant vampire stories (including one written by Ryan) not visible elsewhere. Good commentary and good bibliography. Worthwhile despite some overlap with author Leonard Wolf's 1997 Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction.

Blood Is Not Enough edited by Ellen Datlow

The first of Ellen Datlow's Best Of The Undead anthologies was published in 1989. Her 1991 sequel anthology A Whisper Of Blood dwells upon emotional / psychic vampirism and upon immortality. I include author Robert Bloch's horror anthology Fear and Trembling with these vampire anthologies because of its vampiric lead story The Yugoslaves.

Afterage by Yvonne Navarro

A plague of vampires decimates humans. Vampires starve and weaken; wealthy vampires become stock holders. Free humans fight back in this 1993 novel.

The Golden by Lucius Shepard

Vampire detective 1993 novel providing insight into vampire chauvinism. Lucius Shepard's excellent first novel Green Eyes depicts scientific reanimation of human corpses (i.e., zombification).

The Blood Countess by Andrei Codrescu

Exquisitely but brutally written 1995 fictional tale of a modern descendant retracing Countess Elizabeth Bathory's path.

Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice

After a deliberate hiatus from Anne Rice's novels I read 2002's Blackwood Farm, a worthwhile novel but also IMO an attempt to revitalize The Vampire Chronicles. Blackwood Farm links new strong characters to The Vampire Lestat.

Eighteen year old Tarquin Blackwood is a newly made vampire. Tarquin shuns his maker Petronia and returns to his Louisiana family estate but Tarquin encounters a problem. Tarquin always was a seer of spirits and throughout his adolescence Tarquin was accompanied almost everywhere by his sympathetic spirit familiar Goblin. But Goblin becomes destructive instead of sympathetic now that Tarquin is a vampire. Tarquin seeks his idol The Vampire Lestat for assistance in exorcizing Goblin.

Blackwood Farm revolves around Tarquin's pre-vampire maturation, the Blackwood family's members and history, and the Blackwood family's relationship to Louisiana's Mayfair family. In late adolescence Tarquin becomes enthralled with Mona Mayfair, heiress to the Mayfair fortune, but there are complications. And Petronia then forces unwilling Tarquin into vampirism.

This novel's characters are well developed and the novel is well written, but I found Blackwood Farm difficult reading because Tarquin Blackwood is truly pansexual. And the novel leaves a question unanswered: Is vampirism a mixed blessing; that is, a boon to some and a curse to others?

Fat White Vampire Blues (2003)
Bride of the Fat White Vampire: A Novel (2004) by Andrew Fox

Many people consider the Pulitzer prize winning 1987 novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole to be the classic description of pre-Hurricane-Katrina New Orleans. That novel's protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly, is a thirtyish chaotic anarchist living with his widowed mother. Ignatius J. Reilly is frustrated because New Orleans society does not value the societal vision derived from his master's degree in medieval history. Ignatius J. Reilly's widowed mother is frustrated about the money she wasted financing her son's masters degree in medieval history; she just wants Ignatius to find a job and bring home a steady paycheck. Throughout the novel, Ignatius struggles to find his place in New Orleans society while dodging the mundane responsibility hurdles that continually block his path. The only downside to A Confederacy Of Dunces is that Ignatius J. Reilly is a chaotic fussbudget, not a likable guy.

In Fat White Vampire Blues, author Andrew Fox introduces us to Jules Duchon, a New Orleans poorboy who has been a vampire since just after World War I. Jules loves New Orleans culture; he lives in the Ninth Ward rundown house he inherited from his birth mother, where he collects acetate and vinyl New Orleans jazz platters and classic comic books. Jules works as a night cabby (although some of his fares never reach their intended destination) and Jules knows every New Orleans dive. Jules always has led a comfortable life. For years (until a new coroner was elected) Jules worked in the coroner's office; his coroner friend was fascinated with vampire medical issues and allowed Jules to slake his thirst while on the job. Jules relishes New Orleans' cholesterol-laden cuisine: eighty years as a New Orleans vampire has driven Jules' weight up to 450 pounds, and the only car Jules can drive comfortably is his top-of-the-line old Cadillac. Jules' vampire-mother is his on-again-off-again girlfriend (dominance issues), and Jules has many human friends among the cabbies and in the Ninth Ward.

Then a new kid in town rocks Jules' world. A nest of African-American vampires appears in New Orleans; they're young and strong, they've got lots of money and they are politically-connected. In the guise of a black panther the African-American vampire leader urinates all over Jules' vampire coffin; he then tells Jules that he's finished: no more preying on New Orleans' African-American residents, and get outta town! Jules is puzzled how to respond; most of his human friends don't know that he is a vampire, and the vampire local nobility (The High Crewe of Vlad Tepes) wants no part of Jules' domestic trouble. Jules and his few vampire friends struggle to find an enduring solution. Jules finds that solution (and postulates a wealth of novel physics explaining vampire metamorphosis) with the help of his vampire former partner Doodlebug, but many close friends are hurt during the struggle. In the end Jules goes on a long comfortable vacation.

Just when all of the problems seem resolved, everything goes sour. In Bride of the Fat White Vampire somebody begins kidnapping and mutilating younger members of The High Crewe of Vlad Tepes; their compound later gets anonymous phone calls indicating where (before sunrise) they can find the comatose bodies minus several body parts. The High Crewe of Vlad Tepes wants revenge but has no idea who to hit. The High Crewe wants Jules to find the perpetrator but Jules is nowhere to be found. Jules' vampire former partner Doodlebug, however, owes the Crewe a big debt. Doodlebug awkwardly retrieves Jules from his months-long comfortable vacation and helps convince Jules to investigate the disappearances and mutilations. Jules reluctantly agrees; he has misgivings and unresolved problems of his own, including grudges among the New Orleans African-American vampire nest.

Bride of the Fat White Vampire reads like a continuation of Fat White Vampire Blues, with characters you know and like continuing within the same knowledgably-described New Orleans setting. The result is well-written and hilarious, a worthy sequel to Andrew Fox's excellent first novel.

The Nymphos Of Rocky Flats (2006)
X-Rated Bloodsuckers (2007)
The Undead Kama Sutra (2008)
Jailbait Zombie (2009)
Werewolf Smackdown (2010)
Rescue From Planet Pleasure (2016) by Mario Acevedo

In his first novel The Nymphos Of Rocky Flats Mario Acevedo introduces Iraqi War veteran vampire detective Felix Gomez who fights government red tape, eastern European vampire hunters and his own inhibitions while investigating a nymphomania contagious epidemic at a government laboratory. Mario Acevedo creates an interesting universe that details vampire culture and the existence of the Araneum, a vampire underground dedicated to perpetuating coexistence with humans by perpetuating the vampire myth: i.e., What they won't believe doesn't threaten them.

The sensuous career of Felix Gomez continues in X-Rated Bloodsuckers. Felix is hired to investigate the unsolved murder of a childhood acquaintance who became involved in the Los Angeles porn industry. The investigation grows in scope and in complexity as Felix learns that both humans and vampires are entangled in the LA porn industry, and the Araneum is worrying about their cooperation. Mario Acevedo provides lavish setting good descriptions, and provides good characterizations: Felix Gomez now has lost some of his Iraqi War inhibitions, while the Coyote characterization is delightfully sleazy.

The Undead Kama Sutra opens with Felix Gomez on a road trip vacation in Sarasota Florida when the alien who assumed his former friend Gilbert Odin's identity calls on Felix's cellphone: Help me! Felix finds him at a cheap hotel, shot with an alien blaster and dying. Alien Gilbert says Take me here giving geographic coordinates to Felix, then as he dies alien Gilbert gives Felix twenty thousand dollars and gasps two instructions: Find Goodman and Save the Earth women. At alien Gilbert's coordinates a flying saucer retrieves alien Gilbert's body and the alien blaster.

What next? Felix continues his road trip vacation, only to be passed by two lady vampires riding chopped motorcycles; one is Carmen Arellano, head of the Denver nidus (vampire nest). Later Carmen is happy to see Felix; she needs a private investigator because at their Key West island resort one chalice (human groupee for vampires) has disappeared. At Carmen's Key West island resort Felix has an arachnid encounter that temporarily rocks his world, and Felix learns that Carmen is reconstructing The Undead Kama Sutra, a legendary sex manual that can realign chakras to perfect a vampire's earthly existence. The island fun ends when the local sheriff's deputy appears, seeking somebody to identify a beached corpse. Carmen and Felix view but disavow the chalice corpse which was shot with an alien blaster; no sense inviting legal scrutiny to the vampire island resort. But why would aliens murder a vampire chalice?

At this point The Undead Kama Sutra gets complicated and that's a problem. Earlier novels had private investigator Felix Gomez using his vampire abilities to solve mysteries while he questioned his own vampire existence. This novel takes a different approach: Private investigator Felix Gomez (who happens to be a vampire) tangles with organized paramilitary troops working for aliens colluding with the US government; there's little vampire character or culture development. And the novel ends badly: Carmen leaves Felix an unsolved otherworldly problem that probably will recur, while The Undead Kama Sutra remains an unrealized unfinished manuscript.

Felix Gomez returns to the supernatural in Jailbait Zombie. The novel starts with Felix hunting down a zombie. The Araneum (vampire underground) has a standing rule, Kill all zombies, because zombies lack subtlety and will alert murderous humans that the supernatural world (including vampires) exists. The Araneum instructs Felix to find and kill the zombie creator and all of the zombies, but Felix has troubles of his own: he begins experiencing vivid dreams of a ghostly girl haunting him, and the dreams petrify Felix both at night and during the day.

Felix traces the zombie's original identity to Morada Colorado. Upon hearing this, the Araneum tells Felix that they are investigating psychic disturbances on the astral plane (Felix, don't ask) and they have triangulated those disturbances to Morada. One additional Morada chore for Felix: identify the disturbance source. Felix travels to Morada, a small town dominated by mobsters who got run out of Denver. The mobsters have problems of their own: Morada people are disappearing, the mobsters expect a turf war, and nobody wants Felix snooping around. With some difficulty Felix convinces the mobsters that he is part of the solution; then Felix meets Phaedra, the mobster boss's niece. Phaedra is the sixteen-year-old girl in Felix's petrifying dreams, and she expects to die of Huntington's chorea by age thirty unless Felix will turn her into a vampire. Phaedra creates the psychic disturbances, and she observes zombies when she mentally wanders the astral plane.

Against a backdrop of organized crime and psychic disturbances Felix hunts down the zombie lair, but Felix finds more than he expected: that zombie army wandering the astral plane communicates, and they have leadership and tactics. The zombie creator captures Felix, and the creator continues playing Morada (e.g., Phaedra will become his jailbait zombie) while Felix struggles to escape and to rescue Phaedra. Felix's struggles escaping this predicament are described well, yet in the end Felix is left with an unexpected bigger problem.

Jailbait Zombie is an enjoyably written novel, but IMO Mario Acevedo short-changed the zombie creator characterization. Acevedo depicts the zombie creator as a glib but frustrated academic: Society would not recognize my genius, now let them deal with my zombies. But I have read W. Somerset Maugham's 1908 novel The Magician (supposedly a caricature of Aleister Crowley); there is great potential for discussing both the zombification process and the creator's ego, dimensions wholly lacking within Jailbait Zombie.

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Cultural Book Listing

A Dream Of Dracula: In Search of the Living Dead by Leonard Wolf

Leonard Wolf's 1972 A Dream Of Dracula is a lyrical discussion: vampires offer communion, near-eternal life and personal ruination. IMO Wolf is an exceptional author whose writing contains extensive references, good commentary and good bibliography. Wolf's 1997 Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction is an impressive compilation of vampire tales, many written by authors not associated with vampire literature, and is worthwhile despite some overlap with Alan Ryan's The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories.

Lust For Blood: The Consuming Story of Vampires by Olga Gruhzit Hoyt

1984 concise biographies of Vlad Tepes and Countess Elizabeth Bathory; Asian and European folklore; vampire crimes. Good bibliography.

Vampires Among Us by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

1991 retelling of vampire lore and related experiences. Worthwhile chapter on so-called psychic vampires that feed on others' life energy instead of blood. Good bibliography. [Discusses Aleister Crowley, who was W. Somerset Maugham's acquaintance and inspiration for antagonist Oliver Haddo in Maugham's 1908 novel The Magician, a novel partially about homunculi (artificial human lifeform) creation.]

The Vampire by Montague Summers

Early 20th Century wordy text (this edition published 1991) compares the vampire legend with excommunication from the Church. Author Dudley Wright condenses this material in The Book Of Vampires (1987 edition).

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead by J. Gordon Melton

Comprehensive and organized but awkward to read 1994 vampiric reference text.

In Search Of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires by Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu

1994 readable discussion of vampires in history, literature and cinema. Extensive bibliography. Editor Raymond T. McNally's 1974 companion volume A Clutch Of Vampires: These Being Among The Best from History and Literature includes Carmilla, a classic tale by Le Fanu; plus 24 other vampiric excerpts and short stories.

Hex Files: the goth bible by Mick Mercer

1996 yearbook of Goth culture -- an incomplete testament.

Something In The Blood: The Underground World of Today's Vampires by Jeff Guinn with Andy Grieser

1996 warm (not macabre) narrative discussing blood-drinkers, self-proclaimed vampires and their donors / victims.

Liquid Dreams Of Vampires by Martin V. Riccardo

1996 narrative recounting of peoples' vampiric dreams and fantasies; psychological commentary.

Piercing The Darkness: Undercover With Vampires In America Today by Katherine Ramsland

1998 macabre eyewitness account of the vampiric lifestyle.

Psychic Vampires: Protection from Energy Predators & Parasites by Joe H. Slate, Ph.D.

This 2002 book is not about traditional vampires. Joe Slate argues that individual humans possess personal energy fields that manifest as Kirlian auras. Pushing beyond tiresome social games, psychic vampires (either individually or acting in a group) seek to reinforce their own energy fields by draining lesser humans' personal energy fields. IMO some of the author's interpersonal psychology comments are worthwhile, but I view this book skeptically because following the author's suggested exercises I was not able to visualize anybody's Kirlian aura.

Vampires in Their Own Words: An Anthology of Vampire Voices by Michelle Belanger

Author Joe Slate externally investigated psychic vampires and depicted them as energy parasites. In this 2011 work, author Michelle Belanger illuminates the vampire modern community by presenting an anthology of opinion written by self-professed vampires. The anthology first relates sanguine (i.e., traditional blood-drinking) vampires with pranic (i.e., psychic) vampires, explaining that vampires have a flawed metabolism that consumes more life energy (e.g., Hindu prana or Taoist chi) than the vampire's body generates, causing lassitude and weakness if untreated. Pranic vampires feed by remotely draining life energy from other people. Sanguine vampires are less powerful, requiring physical contact during blood-drawing in order to feed, but during blood-drawing physical contact the sanguine vampires also drain pranic life energy from their kitra (i.e., donors).

The anthology then discusses modern vampires' social structure within vampire houses, groupings analogous to witches' covens and Pagan families where members socialize and pursue specific agendas using ethical rules designed to facilitate vampire coexistence with human (i.e., non-vampire) society. Vampire house rules emphasize that a vampire's relationship with a kitra is based upon mutual respect, consensus and safety. The rules also discourage vampire chauvinism, and dictate formalized etiquette and conflict resolution procedures during vampire gatherings. Specific vampire houses and their agendas are discussed. Nobody claims superhuman powers; but not surprisingly, many vampire house agendas (similar to satanism) promote personal empowerment for their members. The anthology references vampire house websites and references television documentaries available on YouTube.

The anthology does not identify vampires' energy transference mechanism (usually explained as something my flawed metabolism empirically taught me that other vampires later helped me to refine.) But the anthology attempts to place vampirism in historical and occult perspective, identifying analogies within Biblical, Gnostic and Hindu writings; within the anthropology of ancient cultures; and within the writings of notables such as Aleister Crowley.

While some of the occult sections are burdened with flowery vague prose, Michelle Belanger's anthology is a better read than Joe Slate's Kirlian aura-based investigation because the anthology explains and somewhat illuminates vampire modern culture. But at anthology's end I was left with a nagging doubt: The vampire draws energy from the kitra much like an acquaintance who repeatedly bums money, or like an acquaintance whose only purpose in visiting is annoying whining and complaining. I don't understand the vampire / kitra relationship: What relational benefit does the kitra receive?

A video interview discussing vampire modern culture featuring Father Sebastiaan, vampire author and NYC fangsmith (manufactures custom fangs for vampires and role players), is available here.

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Immortals Book Listing

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

The 1954 novel plus ten macabre short stories. A plague survivor scavenges for food and supplies while battling mental erosion due to disappointment and due to vampiric unceasing mockery and threats. The films The Omega Man starring Charleston Heston and Anthony Zerbe, and I Am Legend starring Will Smith both are based on this novel.

The Immortals by James E. Gunn

This 1962 novel is set within a failing society's medical fiefdom. While the cities become toxically polluted, medical science becomes both increasingly capable and increasingly not affordable: people who default on their medical contracts often are dissected for the tissue-replacement banks. Then doctors treating a dying billionaire discover an individual whose blood confers temporary immortality. The billionaire recovers but feels his newfound youthfulness slipping away, and the billionaire desperately devotes his fortune to acquiring immortality at the expense of the immortal individual Ben Richards.

When I first read this novel in the 1960s I carried away two lessons: Reinventing yourself and That gets old fast. The novel tells a genuinely good story and is historically remarkable: while this 1962 novel questioned the cost of advanced medicine, government discussions starting in 1961 resulted in Medicare's establishment (and a blossoming of geriatric medicine) in 1965.

The Immortal by James E. Gunn

ABC Television created a short-lived television series starring actor Christopher George based upon James Gunn's (earlier) novel The Immortals. After the series aired, James Gunn published this 1970 novel reflecting the TV series pilot episode. The novel dramatizes the earlier novel's beginning; it ignores the medical cost issue while tracing the billionaire's recovery and his efforts to monopolize the immortal individual's revitalizing blood. The earlier novel is a better read; this novel's principal charm are the philosophical soliliquies beginning each chapter (in a style similar to Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones).

The Immortal by John Tigges

In this 1986 novel, part-time journalist Riley Laron stumbles upon a Halloween night satanic rite being conducted in an abandoned church's ruins. After writing a descriptive article for the local newspaper Riley is contacted by a beautiful member of the satanic group; she invites Riley and his friend Melanie to attend the next satanic rite and later invites Riley and Melanie to join the group. Riley and Melanie don't fully accept the group's beliefs but they agree to join the satanic group; shortly thereafter they both receive unexpected financial windfalls. Riley and Melanie learn the cost of wealth and immortality only after attending additional satanic rites.

The Immortals by Andrew Neiderman

This 1991 novel examines the eternal search for The Fountain Of Youth. What would you trade for youthfulness?

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Film Listing

Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror starring Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim and Greta Schroeder-Matray

In 1921 director F. W. Murnau teamed with screenwriter Henrik Galeen to adapt Bram Stoker's novel Dracula to the screen; they changed the plot, setting and characters sufficiently that they needn't pay royalties to Bram Stoker's estate. The title Nosferatu has linguisitic roots in a Greek word denoting plague bearer, and the film depicts the plague's 1838 arrival in the fortified city of Wisborg (Visborg) Sweden. [Later film versions place the setting in Bremen Germany, but Bremen is an inland city that has no beach.]

Knock (no surname) the realtor receives a letter from Count Orlov (Max Schreck) asking about deserted houses in Wisborg. Knock tells his clerk Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) that the deserted house across the street from Hutter's house would be perfect for Count Orlov; and Knock dispatches Hutter on a long overland journey to Transylvania, the land of ghosts and thieves. The evening prior to reaching Count Orlov's castle, Hutter mentions Count Orlov's name to the innkeeper and is cautioned to flee. Hutter laughs, and laughs again when in his room he finds a book about Nosferatu, the unholy vampire. But Hutter keeps the book.

The next morning the coach will take Hutter no further than the mountain pass; Hutter must walk to Count Orlov's castle. Count Orlov's coach appears partway to the castle; the driver is hooded and silent. Hutter arrives at the castle, walks in and meets Count Orlov (Max Schreck), a strong, gaunt somewhat inhuman figure with bald head, large pointed ears and front teeth like a rat. They talk while Hutter dines, then continue wine and conversation by the fire; the Count mentions he is a day sleeper. The next morning Hutter awakens still sitting by the fireplace; he has several mosquito large bites on his neck.

There are no servants and Hutter has the daylight to himself. He writes a letter to his wife Ellen (Greta Schroeder-Matray), asks a passing horseman to post the letter, and then explores the castle. In the basement Hutter finds Count Orlov sleeping in a coffin and the vampire lore becomes believable. That evening's dinner meeting with the Count is awkward; the Count signs the house purchase papers and admires a photo of Hutter's wife Ellen, but Hutter pleads fatigue and adjourns to his room. Hutter falls into a troubled sleep; when he awakens Hutter is physically weak and is locked in his room. Out the window Hutter sees Count Orlov loading coffins onto a wagon. The Count climbs into the last coffin, then drivers arrive and take away the wagon. The coffins are loaded onto a ship bound for Wisborg.

Hutter escapes out the window by sliding down a bedsheet rope, but he is incoherent and physically weak; farmers find Hutter and take him to the local hospital. Hutter realizes during his convalescence that he must return to Wisborg because Count Orlov is a danger to Ellen. During Hutter's long overland journey the ship arrives in Wisborg. Count Orlov and his coffin are gone when the villagers arrive; the ship's crew all are dead; and the ship's log alludes to the plague and to a stranger seen below-decks. Hutter arrives in Wisborg to find Ellen well but troubled; Hutter's Transylvanian visit description doesn't help the situation. In the mean time, Wisborg is locked down against the plague and Hutter's employer Knock is confined in an asylum muttering about the Master. Ellen foresees doom as the villagers search in vain for the plague's source. Ellen finds Hutter's vampire book and learns the only way to stop the plague is a sinless woman sacrificing herself to lay voluntarily with the vampire, distracting the vampire past sunrise.

Dracula starring Bela Lugosi

Universal Pictures wanted the screen rights to Bram Stoker's Dracula but the asking price was too high. Actor Bela Lugosi had starred in the 1927 New York stage play; Universal Pictures hired Lugosi to negotiate with Florence Stoker. Tod Browning was hired to direct the film; Lugosi was not Browning's first choice for the Dracula role, but he got the role a few weeks before filming began. In 1931 the film opened quietly in Los Angeles, it caught the public's imagination, and Universal Pictures made a profit for the first time since the Depression had started.

The film follows Stoker's novel closely, emphasizing English settings over Transylvania and nautical settings. The resulting film depicts greater prosperity and evidences better photography than 1921's Nosferatu. The listed Blu-ray disc is a high-definition good digital restoration of the original film. The package also contains a standard-definition digital restoration of the 1931 (filmed simultaneously) Spanish-language Dracula film version which uses the same settings and which shares stock footage (e.g., mountain panoramas and nautical views) but which employs a different cast.

Vampyr directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

While Tod Browning based Dracula upon Bram Stoker's novel, director Carl Theodor Dreyer (with assistance from Christen Jul) based his 1931 film Vampyr upon the title character in Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 novelette Carmilla. Vampyr is a talkie film with very little dialogue because Dreyer expected the actors to voice their dialogue in German, then later in French, and then later in English; very few professional actors were employed, amateurs filled the supporting roles, and everybody was chosen for their fluency in three languages.

Allen Gray, a student of the occult, is summoned to the European village of Courtempierre; he arrives having a reserved room at the local inn. That night Allen is awakened by an older man who pleads She must not die! and who leaves a wrapped package marked To be opened in case of my death; the older man flees. Unable to sleep, Allen walks around the village, finds the older man's estate, and witnesses his murder by a rifle-bearing shadow. The man's servants and his two daughters are numb with terror.

Where Carmilla depicts a vampire beckoning attractively outside the windows during obscuring snowstorms, Vampyr conveys the vague impression of terror. The village of Courtempierre is obscured by mist and plagued by shadows. Furthermore, the wrapped package is a vampire book (a cinematic device used to educate and to lead the audience) that discloses Courtempierre's history of vampires. Allen and the servants must battle ethereal shadows to save the dead man's daughters from an unholy fate.

Mark of the Vampire starring Bela Lugosi

In 1935 director Tod Browning reshot his 1927 silent film London After Dark renamed Mark Of The Vampire. London After Dark depicts an inspector tracking vampirish murders and features Lon Cheney (with different makeup) as both the inspector and the vampire, but Lon Cheney died in 1930 due to a throat hemorrhage caused by infection. Mark Of The Vampire features Bela Lugosi as the vampire.

Bela Lugosi led a troubled life, especially later in his career. Interested parties might enjoy director Tim Burton's 1994 comedy-drama film Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp in the title role. Martin Landau won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his Bela Lugosi depiction in Ed Wood that alluded to Lugosi's lifelong feud with British actor Boris Karloff over the comparative quality of Karloff's Frankenstein role.

Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection

This affordable collection includes 1931's Dracula (including the simultaneously filmed Spanish-language film version), 1936's Dracula's Daughter, 1943's Son of Dracula, 1944's House of Frankenstein, 1945's House of Dracula, and 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. (The Frankenstein films also include Dracula.) The collection also includes Universal Horror, a documentary discussing how Universal Studios invented Hollywood Gothic during the 1930's.

Dracula's Daughter begins in London's dark alleys. Constables find a dead body with a snapped neck. Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) appears, explains that in a rage Count Dracula killed Renfield, and Dracula's body is in the basement. The constables find Dracula's body with a wooden stake driven through his heart. The constables arrest Professor Van Helsing and the bodies are stored at the local station awaiting examination by Scotland Yard. But the station is visited by a cloaked woman (Gloria Holden) wearing a jeweled hypnotic ring; Dracula's body is gone when Scotland Yard arrives. In the countryside the cloaked woman burns Dracula's body, wondering if she now is free of the family curse. Professor Van Helsing contacts his former student, psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Garth (Otto Krueger), to help manage his legal defense. Dr. Garth is sympathetic, but how do you convince an English jury that you cannot murder one of the undead? While Dr. Garth ponders legal defense options his hospital receives a series of dazed patients seemingly drained of blood. And at a dinner party Dr. Garth meets the exotic Countess Marya Zaleska. Countess Zaleska is fascinated by Dr. Garth's psychiatric theories and, with her chauffeur looking on jealously, asks Dr. Garth if he can help her with a family problem.

Kay Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) has a morbid fascination with the occult. In Budapest she meets Count Alucard (Lon Cheney Jr., Son of Dracula) and hears him bemoan the depleted soil of his Transylvanian homeland. Kay invites Count Alucard to visit her stateside at the Caldwell's Dark Oaks plantation. Kay plans a big gathering to celebrate Count Alucard's arrival, but while Count Alucard arrives late, the local voodoo woman and Kay's father both die of heart attacks. A recently changed will makes Kay the sole owner of Dark Oaks. Kay is fascinated by Alucard; they sneak off and get married. Kay's presumed fiance Frank Stanley (Robert Paige) worries about Kay's strange behavior. When Frank learns that Kay is married, Frank confronts Alucard and they fight. Frank draws a pistol and shoots Alucard; Alucard is unharmed, but Kay who is standing behind Alucard is mortally wounded. Frank surrenders to the sheriff, yet the next evening Kay is alive and well. Kay informs everybody that her new husband will be occupied with his scientific research and they both are withdrawing from local society.

In House of Frankenstein, Dr. Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff) and his hunchbacked assistant Daniel (J. Carrol Naish) have been imprisoned for 15 years after continuing the research of Dr. Frankenstein. They escape from prison, and obsessed with revenge they hijack Professor Lampini's traveling horror show that features Count Dracula's authentic skeleton. Dr. Niemann reanimates Count Dracula (John Carradine) and promises to shelter Dracula's coffin in exchange for Dracula's services. Dracula kills Niemann's former prosecutor, then seduces and kidnaps the prosecutor's granddaughter. Niemann and Daniel elude the townspeople during the ensuing chase by discarding Dracula's coffin. Dracula crashes his coach alongside his broken coffin and perishes in the sunlight. Niemann and Daniel continue on to Castle Frankenstein's flooded ruins where they find Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange) and the Wolfman Lawrence Talbot (Lon Cheney Jr.) frozen in blocks of ice. Niemann and Daniel thaw the frozen monsters, and in exchange for Niemann's promise to cure Talbot's lycanthropy, Talbot helps Niemann locate Dr. Frankenstein's original notebooks.

Dr. Franz Edelman (Onslow Stevens) and his two nurses busily study the clavaria formosa, a plant whose spores might nonsurgically reshape bone. Baron Latos (John Carradine) visits Dr. Edelman seeking a cure for vampirism. Dr. Edelman thinks blood transfusions might cure vampirism. Baron Latos accepts the suggestion, and then leads Dr. Edelman downstairs to the cellar. Dr. Edelman finds a coffin bearing the Dracula crest; Dr. Edelman now lives within the House of Dracula. Dr. Edelman transfuses Dracula with his own blood; during the first treatment Wolfman Lawrence Talbot (Lon Cheney Jr.) arrives and insists upon seeing Dr. Edelman. The doctor is not available, and under the full moon Talbot goes on a Wolfman rampage. Dr. Edelman later agrees to treat Talbot with the spore serum, but after frustrating delays Talbot attempts suicide. During the rescue Talbot and Dr. Edelman find the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange) weak but alive in a seaside cave.

Monsters are the macabre foil for tomfoolery when Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) work as clerks in a Florida railway station; they receive a London call from Wolfman Lawrence Talbot (Lon Cheney Jr.): Don't deliver those two crates to McDougal's House Of Horrors until I arrive! Chick and Wilbur deliver the crates that night. One crate contains a coffin; Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) escapes from the coffin while the guys open the crate containing the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange). Dracula uses his ring to electrify the monster while the guys quibble about the crates' contents; the monster is alive but weak. Dracula wants the monster as a docile henchman. Dracula decides that recharging the monster after implanting Wilbur's brain in the monster's skull should solve all problems. This film was named both by Reader's Digest and by the American Film Institute to their lists of 100 All-Time Funniest Films.

Horror of Dracula starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee

Hammer Films was the most successful British film company after World War Two, with director Terence Fisher, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, and actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing making several horror films. This 1958 film originally titled Dracula interprets Bram Stoker's classic story: Jonathon Harker, working with Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), takes a position at Castle Dracula intending to destroy Count Dracula. Instead he destroys Count Dracula's female companion, motivating Count Dracula to convert the Harker women into vampires.

This is one of the best Hammer films. The film is a costly production with lavish costumes and settings (Castle Dracula is not a rundown dump); the film was restored in 2007. Christopher Lee's Count Dracula has little dialogue, relying instead on his tall menacing countenance. Female submission is showcased remarkably in this 1958 film, and the film made Christopher Lee an international star.

Devils of Darkness starring William Sylvester, Hubert Noel and Carole Gray

This 1964 British film features an ageless fashionable vampire leading a satanic cult, but its entertainment value lies principally in its depiction of French gypsies and British swingers.

The Fearless Vampire Killers starring Jack MacGowran, Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate and Alfie Bass

Actor/director Roman Polanski's 1966 artfully comedic rendition of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Polanski later married featured actress Sharon Tate.

Blood of Dracula's Castle starring John Carradine, Paula Raymond, Alex D'Arcy and Robert Dix

Director Al Adamson's 1969 film is a vampires in the desert, campy version of the song Hotel California (... you can check out any time you want, but you never can leave ...). IMO actor John Carradine is unappreciated; with the exception of Christopher Lee, John Carradine played more vampire roles than any other actor (including Bela Lugosi).

Countess Dracula starring Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green, Sandor Eles and Lesley-Anne Down

Bathed in the blood of virgins: director Peter Sasdy's well (a-hem) maid 1970 film adaptation of the life of Countess Elisabeth Bathory. Compare to 21st Century depictions of hideous demons projecting attractive guises.

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy by director Michio Yamamoto

Intrigued by US and European vampire films, director Michio Yamamoto brought vampire films to Japan. The listed package contains three films: The Vampire Doll (1970); Lake of Dracula (1971); and Evil of Dracula (1974). I have not viewed The Vampire Doll.

Lake of Dracula is a neat film about a 23 year old schoolteacher and her sister summering at Lake Fujimi. When she was 5 years old she had a horrible dream: her dog ran away and led her to a Gothic house; inside the house a dead woman sat at a piano; and she met a gaunt man with blazing yellow eyes. The dream has haunted her throughout her life; her physician boyfriend is understanding and supportive, while her sister constantly teases that the obsession is driving her crazy. Then somebody ships a coffin to the Lake Fujimi boathouse and the schoolteacher begins reliving parts of her dream.

Evil Of Dracula has a new professor arriving at a girl's remote boarding school. Upon arrival the professor learns that the principal's wife recently was killed in an automobile accident; in compliance with local custom her body lies in the cellar for seven days before burial. The professor has a terrible nightmare in which he is accosted by two women both bleeding from wounds above their breasts. From paintings and photographs the professor later realizes that the two women in his nightmare were the principal's dead wife and a student who recently disappeared; every year several students disappear from the school. The professor then learns the history of the locale, the school, and his predecessors.

Dracula A.D. 1972 starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing

Vampire traditional films bring to mind grainy black-and-white photography shot in Eastern European locales. The familiar plot: on the 100th anniversary of his destruction Dracula is reincarnated by a vampire disciple; Dracula then seeks vengeance upon the house of Van Helsing. Yet for two reasons this Hammer Films production is a real gem. First, the film's color photography is exceptionally clear. Second, the film goes to great pains depicting London's mod (i.e., young modern) 1972 culture, and in some ways the cultural depiction is more entertaining than the film's vampire plot.

The Night Stalker starring Darren McGavin and Barry Atwater

This 1972 film was a different flavor of vampire film, but it was the most viewed made-for-TV film of its time. The screenplay was written by Richard Matheson (author of the novel I Am Legend) based upon a novel by Jeff Rice.

Carl Kolchak is a luckless aging reporter for a Las Vegas newspaper. He's always getting involved in sensational embarrassing stories, and he's been fired from a score of East Coast large newspapers. Kolchak gets assigned to cover a woman's murder; the murder is remarkable because the victim was drained of blood. As three similar murders and several blood bank robberies occur, Kolchak begins to believe that the perpetrator thinks he is a vampire. But the authorities impose a news blackout because stories about a vampire loose in Las Vegas would be bad for business. Kolchak finally makes a deal with the authorities for exclusive rights to the story if they use his solution: catch the vampire (Barry Atwater) sleeping during the daylight hours and drive a wooden stake through the vampire's heart. The authorities are reluctant but Kolchak persists, using his reporter's sources to locate the vampire's lair. [In a scene where Kolchak finds the vampire's refrigerator containing bottles of blood bank stolen blood, one bottle label lists Benjamin Richards as the donor. Ben Richards is the protagonist in the novel The Immortals.]

Blacula starring William Marshall

Blacula has an awkward history. This 1972 film was released about the same time as Shaft (1971) and it was panned as a blaxploitation (black exploitation) film. But it's a vampire good story and Blacula gained acceptance, receiving The Count Dracula Society's Ann Radcliffe Award.

In 1780 African Prince Mamuwalde and his wife Luva visit Count Dracula on a diplomatic mission. They want Count Dracula's help in gaining European nation recognition for their country, and they want help stopping the European trade in African slaves. Count Dracula reacts violently: he curses Prince Mamuwalde, turns him into a vampire, locks him in a coffin to starve, and entombs the coffin and Luva beneath Castle Dracula. Then in 1965, interior decorators purchase the contents of Castle Dracula and ship everything to Los Angeles for resale. Blacula emerges when the decorators open the locked coffin, and Blacula terrorizes the neighborhood. But Blacula still has the bearing and manners of an African noble prince, and his cold heart melts when he meets a women who resembles his dead wife Luva.

Blacula is a vampire good story depicting the conflict between vampire love and vampire rage. Its depiction of early 1970's California culture, fashion and decorating style also is entertaining.

Love At First Bite starring George Hamilton, Arte Johnson and Susan Saint James

In director Stan Dragoti's 1979 irreverent spoof, Count Dracula relocates to NYC and chases his lost love's reincarnation. Heavily suntanned actor George Hamilton credibly plays confused Count Dracula to a good comedic cast (featuring Arte Johnson as helpful bumbling Renfield).

Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella and Sir Laurence Olivier

Director John Badham's 1979 film is a lavish depiction of Bram Stoker's Victorian England with enhanced female roles. Sir Laurence Olivier plays a distinguished Professor Van Helsing against Frank Langella's sensual Count Dracula.

the Hunger starring Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and David Bowie

All vampires are not created equal. Director Tony Scott's 1983 film casts Catherine Deneuve as a wealthy vampiress sophisticate whose vampiric companions lack her own longevity.

Near Dark starring Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Hendrikson and Bill Paxton

A vampire clan ravages the United States southwestern countryside while a new convert struggles to adapt in director Kathryn Bigelow's 1987 film. Incendiary action and good character development.

Lost Boys Triple Feature: (The Lost Boys / Lost Boys: The Tribe / Lost Boys: The Thirst)

Director Joel Schumacher's 1987 R-rated film The Lost Boys combines vampires with southern California charm: a family moves to a California coastal town for a new start living with their eccentric grandfather, only to learn that an underground gang of youthful vampires preys upon the town. The script features character development with Keifer Sutherland as the vampire gang leader opposing Jason Patric as the family's hunky older brother.

The Lost Boys motivated two sequels having different writers, directors and casts, the only continuity with the original film being Corey Feldman campily playing the anti-vampire mercenary vigilante Edgar Frog. 2008's Not-Rated film Lost Boys: The Tribe depicts a brother and sister moving to a different California coastal town for a fresh start following family tragedy, only to become entangled with a tribe of vampire youthful surfers. And 2010's R-rated film Lost Boys: The Thirst mixes rave culture with vampires: a vampire conspiracy globally conducts raves where participants ingest vampire blood presented as drugs and become members of a vampire army. The two sequels are visually stimulating while lacking the original film's charm and character development, but the Blu-ray triple feature combines all three films in a high-resolution affordable package.

Innocent Blood starring Anne Parillaud, Robert Loggia and Don Rickles

Director John Landis' 1992 film casts Anne Parillaud (la femme Nikita) as an ethical vampiress feeding on Pittsburgh's crime underworld.

Bram Stoker's Dracula starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins

Director Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film (3 Academy Awards) emphasizes Christianity among lavish medieval sets. Gary Oldman sensitively portrays Count Dracula, Winona Ryder strongly portrays Mina Harker and Anthony Hopkins' rustic Dr. Van Helsing dominates.

Interview With The Vampire starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Christian Slater

I have read the first four volumes of author Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles (Interview With The Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned and The Tale of the Body Thief), but director Neil Jordan's well (a-hem) maid 1995 film so beautifully depicts vampire culture that I recommend the film as an introduction.

Embrace of the Vampire starring Alyssa Milano, Jennifer Tilly and Charlotte Lewis

Director Anne Goursaud's 1995 unrated awkward film depicts late teen female sexual confusion interwoven around dreamed visits by a carnal vampire.

Vampire In Brooklyn starring Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett

I approached director Wes Craven's 1995 film with low expectations, expecting a smart-aleck interpretation of the vampire legend. The Renfield-like ghoul and the neighborhood characters do provide street sass, but Eddie Murphy credibly depicts vampire Maximilian as Caribbean nobility. And depicting shape-shifting, Eddie Murphy plays several other characters within the film; it's interesting IMO to see what can be accomplished with theatrical makeup and acting instead of computerized special effects.

From Dusk Till Dawn starring George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis

A pair of psychopathic killer brothers and their hostages descend upon a border stripjoint cantina showcasing gory bloody marys. Director Robert Rodriguez and screenwriter / actor Quentin Tarantino's R-rated 1996 film brings their distinctive cinematic bravado to vampire cinema; the film is noteworthy for strong character development, its cantina lavish setting, and features a stellar cast including Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin and Fred Williamson.

More recently, the Miramax From Dusk Till Dawn Collection 2011 DVD supplements From Dusk Till Dawn with three related films: Full-Tilt Boogie depicts the personalities and behind-the-scenes production problems underpinning the film From Dusk Till Dawn. In From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, Robert Patrick assembles a criminal specialist team to pull off the bank robbery of a lifetime, but one specialist visits the wrong cantina on his way to the heist. From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter IMO borrows concepts from the films The Good, The Bad And The Ugly starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach, and from Underworld starring Kate Beckinsale: Civil War journalist Ambrose Bierce (Michael Parks) crosses paths with a charismatic outlaw Johnny Madrid who cheats the hangman and absconds with the hangman's daughter Esmeralda, but their flight leads them and their pursuers to the wrong cantina.

Collection: Blade; Blade 2; Blade Trinity; Blade - House of Chthon

This action / adventure film collection depicts warring vampires but totally lacks the vampire mythos' cultural charm. The first three films (1998 / 2002 / 2004) feature Wesley Snipes as Blade, who in the womb was converted to vampire and who obsessively battles the vampire menace while serum daily injections dull his blood thirst; Kris Kristofferson plays a mentoring role in the first two films. The fourth film Blade - House Of Chthon is the feature-length 2006 premiere of Spike TV's miniseries Blade - The Series starring Kirk Jones.

These films depict vampires as predators who consider themselves the top of the food chain, using biological technology (e.g., genetic optimization experiments and living blood banks) to achieve their ascendancy. The films introduce the term human familiars (behaving as satanic disciples instead of occult familiars): humans who anticipate the vampire ascendancy and who chaotically collaborate hoping to be converted to vampires after the ascendancy. Yet despite the films' Gothic fashions featuring hidden opulence amid urban and industrial ruined settings, the films highlight weapons-laden action / adventure instead of (omitted) vampire cultural history.

John Carpenter's Vampires starring James Wood and Thomas Ian Griffith

Director John Carpenter's 1998 film depicts a team of mercenary vampire slayers pursuing a master vampire through the United States southwestern countryside. The plot revolves around medieval exorcism rituals. Incendiary action and good character development.

Modern Vampires starring Casper Van Dien, Natasha Gregson Wagner and Rod Steiger

Director Richard Elfman's attractive 1999 film depicts Buffy The Vampire Slayer from the vampires' perspective and raises the question: (Unlike Rod Steiger's Dr. Van Helsing) Why do near-immortal vampires ever get old?

Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe and Udo Kier

This 2000 film is a metafilm, a film about making the 1921 silent film Nosferatu, but with a twist: what if Max Schreck had been an actual vampire? John Malkovich depicts director F. W. Murnau as an egotistical genius who makes a Faustian bargain (for the leading lady's life) to advance cinematic art: Murnau finds and casts an actual vampire Count Orlok (Willem Dafoe) for his film. Count Orlok plays to perfection his role as an actor obsessively immersed in character. But producer Albin Grau (Udo Kier) frets ignorantly as disease and accidental death plague the film's crew.

I recommend viewing the film Nosferatu immediately before viewing this film to appreciate the 1921 period settings and film equipment depicted within Shadow Of The Vampire. The film's supporting actors are excellent; and the film was nominated for two Academy awards: Best Makeup, and Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor.

Dracula's Curse starring Patrick Bergin and Giancarlo Giannini

Director Roger Young's artful 2003 depiction of Bram Stoker's Dracula set in modern Europe. Stunningly beautiful women vampires; Dracula espouses satanic philosophy.

Underworld starring Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman

Wealthy organized vampires (Death Dealers, similar to Anne Rice's Talamasca) battle impoverished organized werewolves for supernatural supremacy. Director Len Wiseman's 2003 film centers around vampire Selene's (Kate Beckinsale) quest to understand why the werewolves doggedly pursue human Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman). A good cinematic vehicle for Kate Beckinsale, impressive special effects, repeated stylized depiction of falling angels who usually land on their feet. Tied with An American Werewolf in Paris for my favorite werewolf film.

Underworld is remarkable IMO for the depth and quality of its vampire / werewolf clan depiction. In his 2006 film sequel Underworld Evolution director Len Wiseman provides details of the Alexander Corvinus (Sir Derek Jacobi) bloodline and the vampire / werewolf clan evolution. Underworld Evolution's plot is two-sided: locally both the vampire clan and the werewolf clan hunt vampire Selene and human Michael Corvin, while globally the vampires wonder why elder vampire Marcus (Tony Curran) apparently destroyed his own clan.

Director Patrick Tatapoulos' 2009 prequel film Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans further details the vampire and werewolf clans' early histories, explaining the emergence of elder vampire Viktor (Bill Nighy) and werewolf leader Lucian (Michael Sheen). The prequel remarkably IMO depicts the werewolf clan as rational freedom fighters.

In their 2012 film Underworld Awakening, directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein depict a totally changed environment. Supernatural evolving biology has changed the goals, while human governments have learned about vampires and werewolves; the Military Industrial Complex fights to control and to eradicate the supernatural clans. Vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fights for survival against both werewolves and organized humans while she tries to understand a technologically changed, increasingly hostile world.

Director Anna Foerster enlarges the Underworld universe in her 2016 film Underworld: Blood Wars through the introduction of the vampire Northern Coven, a refuge with its own distinctive rituals. And the film depicts the rise of Marius, a Lycan ambitious leader with a genius for weapons and tactics. It's a great action film, but its no surprise that at film's end the Vampire / Lycan blood feud continues; the key to ending the blood feud remains unresolved.

Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale and Richard Roxburgh

Director Stephen Sommers combines other films' characterizations plus computerized special effects into an effective 2004 action film. Hugh Jackman plays slayer (not Professor) Van Helsing, Kate Beckinsale plays breathtaking Princess Anna Valerina, and Richard Roxburgh portrays Dracula as a resource-controlling aristocrat (with a demonic dark side) who exercises remarkably sensuous taste when selecting vampiress candidates.

Vampires: The Turning starring Stephanie Chao and Colin Egglesfield

A martial arts enthusiast Connor (Colin Egglesfield) and his girlfriend Amanda (Meredith Moore) are touring Thailand. Amanda is kidnapped by the vampire warlord Niran (Dom Ketrakul); the police laugh off Connor's concern. In desperation Connor seeks help from a nest of moralistic (animal blood drinking) vampires led by the original vampire Sang (Stephanie Chao). Connor soon finds himself entangled in a vampire war. This worthwhile 2005 film whirls principally around Oriental culture and martial arts instead of vampire culture. [Anomaly: These vampires apparently can be imaged by video cameras.]

Dracula - Masterpiece Theatre starring Marc Warren, Dan Stevens and David Suchet

This 2006 film, remarkable for its elaborate settings and Victorian dress, interprets Bram Stoker's novel. Young Lord Arthur Holmwood (Dan Stevens) has the same uncurable venereal disease that killed his father; he gets entangled with The Society of the Undead, a London occult group that promises to cure his disease with a blood transfusion. Holmwood and the society finance the London visit of a Transylvanian magician; they hire a solicitor, Jonathon Harker (Rafe Spall), to finalize the details. For lack of feeding Count Dracula (Marc Warren) initially resembles a ghoul; after feeding on (and killing) Harker, Count Dracula now resembles a young, beefy and brutish Malcolm McDowell. Count Dracula takes Harker's papers and clothing, assumes Harker's identity, and begins his sea voyage to London. [Anomaly: Direct sunlight is not lethal to this vampire.]

Back in London young Lord Holmwood has married Lucy Westernra (Sophie Miles) but he has not consummated the marriage. Lucy's friend Mina Murray (Stephanie Leonidas) visits the Holmwoods while she awaits her fiance Jonathon Harker's return. Lucy and Mina encounter Count Dracula; all are intrigued. With time passing in an unconsummated marriage, Lucy swaps her married virtue for attraction towards young Count Dracula; the attraction is fatal. Lucy's friend Dr. John Seward (Tom Burke) is puzzled about the manner of Lucy's death; he follows Count Dracula to The Society of the Undead headquarters and in the basement he finds imprisoned Abraham van Helsing (David Suchet), an ethnologist hired by the society to investigate eastern European legends. The society imprisoned van Helsing after he returned to London and made his final report.

Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green and Helena Bonham Carter

Director Tim Burton's 2012 film showcases Gothic opulence as it pits the witch Angelique (Eva Green) against the magickal Collins family. Vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) defends his family while pursuing his reincarnated lost love (Helena Bonham Carter). IMO the Alice Cooper stage performances are an added treat.

Dracula Untold starring Luke Evans

Director Gary Shore's 2014 film emphasizes Vlad Tepes' historic military prowness (CGI-enhanced) instead of Dracula's vampirism: seeking to save Wallachia's boys (and his own son) from conscription by the marauding Turks, noble Prince Vlad (Luke Evans) flirts with Faustian empowerment.

Therapy for a Vampire starring Tobias Moretti and Jeanette Hain

This 2014 Austrian film (German language with English subtitles) balances vampire lore with interpersonal frustration and is nicely acted with very dry humor. In 1932 Vienna everybody that Dr. Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer) encounters is frustrated. Freud's artist assistant paints stylish idealized portraits of his feminist girlfriend Lucy (Cornelia Ivancan) while Lucy dresses sensibly and wants men to accept her for herself. Count Geza von Kozsnom (Tobias Moretti) is tired of his 500 year marriage and mourns his lost love Nadilla; Geza omits explaining that he is a vampire. Countess Elsa von Kozsnom (Jeanette Hain) wants to admire her vampire eternal beauty, but Elsa cannot remember her looks and she cannot use mirrors. Radul (David Bennent), the Count's human driver, tires of restocking the Count's blood bank; Radul wants a life and a love of his own.

Dr. Freud tries to resolve everybody's frustration. He suggests that Count von Kozsnom hire Viktor to paint Countess Elsa's portrait; Viktor's idealized style will appeal to Elsa's vanity. During the counseling session Count Geza views Viktor's idealized portrait of Lucy, recognizes the likeness of his lost love Nadilla, and pursues Lucy; ambitious Lucy envies Count Geza's vampire abilities. And during this pursuit Count Geza's driver Radul also falls in love with Lucy. Countess Elsa hires Viktor to paint her portrait but their sessions are awkward; Viktor wants to understand his subject before painting her but Elsa won't cooperate. Elsa becomes angry when Viktor learns that he is physically unable to recreate Elsa's facial image on canvas. Then Elsa becomes enraged when she learns that Count Geza is smitten with Viktor's girlfriend Lucy. Throughout the struggles Dr. Freud seeks calm rational understanding.

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Music Listing

Music from Castle Dracula (2001)
Music From The Land Of The Vampires (2001) by the Gypsies Maladron

Ensemble performs formal period pieces interspersed with Gothic readings related to Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.

Vampire Music Volume 1 (2001)
Vampire Music Volume 2 (2005) by Maria Bethania and the Gypsies Maladron

Enjoyable gypsy (embellished) background music for your next vampiric house party.

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