We are the Children of the Night

Halloween is associated with strange creatures, but none more so than the vampire. To most, the vampire is a myth, an image popularized in movies, television and books. Yet the vampire is no mere Hollywood creation. It is a universal legend.

Not the friendliest face in the woods...Stories about this blood-sucking fiend have been told throughout the world for centuries, perhaps as long as tales have been told. The villagers of Uganda, Haiti, Indonesia and the Upper Amazon all have their local variety of vampire. Native American tribes, Arctic Eskimos and many Arabian tribes know the vampire well. Many of the stories are obviously myth, but some no doubt have their roots in reality.

Incidents involving "actual" vampires have been chronicled by monks, ministers and virtually every form of writer. In fact, the highly respected 18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote: "If there ever was in the world a warranted and proven history, it is that of vampires; nothing is lacking, official reports, testimonials of persons of standing, of surgeons, of clergymen, of judges; the judicial evidence is all-embracing."

When we begin to examine the elements of truth behind the vampire legend, we soon discover that it disguises a morbid reality. "Today," writes author Brad Steiger, "medical science recognizes a vampire psychosis wherein troubled individuals may become convinced that their life depends upon drawing fresh blood from human victims. The persons suffering from such a psychosis may, in extreme cases, actually believe themselves to be dead."

Whether the vampire is a product of fact or fiction, its legend has been trumpeted both in literature and film. However, it is the movies that have by way of folklore, religion, sex and gore woven an irresistible symbol of the underdog vampire who fights and fights again but can never win against the forces of God and men. And now the vampire is so tightly interwoven into our cultural matrix that it seems at times as if the vampire’s torn and ripped spirit is one with modern culture. Today he is both predator and victim in an atmosphere of New Ageism, recovery programs and cloudy morality.

The following are some of my favorite vampire flicks.

Nosferatu (1922). F. W. Murnau’s film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" remains one of the creepiest and most atmospheric versions. Remade by Werner Herzog in 1979.

Dracula (1931). The mother of all American vampire films, this classic starring Bela Lugosi, despite its vintage, is still fine viewing. What would Halloween be without this movie?

The Last Man on Earth (1964). The always watchable Vincent Price is the sole survivor of a plague that has turned the rest of the world into vampires who constantly seek to destroy him. This film is the precursor to Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Rabid (1977). After undergoing plastic surgery, a young girl develops a strange lesion in her armpit and finds that she now has a craving for human blood. Very violent.

Fright Night (1985). A teen discovers that his new next-door neighbor is really a vampire and, with help from friends, seeks to destroy the bloodsucker. But the vampire learns of their plans and fights back.

The Lost Boys (1987). A divorced mom and her two boys move to a California town. But soon the boys are drawn into a group of rebel-rousing teens who are really a gang of vampires. One of the more hip vampire flicks that has the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman) working together for the first time. Violent.

Near Dark (1987). Caleb is a farm boy who is a vampire in transition. And in order to become a full-blooded bloodsucker, he has to kill and feed. He hooks up with a small band of close-knit, vicious vampires whose main interest is feeding on humans. But Caleb is a reluctant bloodsucker. Violent.

Vampire's Kiss (1988). A pretentious yuppie (Nicolas Cage) becomes an ambivalent vampire. An adept psychological look at vampirism.

Chronos (1994). The vampire is a small, egg-shaped device that possesses an appetite for blood. Finding its way into an antiques store, it sinks its hooks into the owner and passes on its passion for the red stuff. Violent.

The Addiction (1995). A Ph.D. candidate, when bitten by a vampire, develops a ferocious appetite for human blood. Vampirism here is paralleled with drug addiction. Violent.

Blade (1998). Blade is a half-human/half-vampire who seeks out and eliminates his vampire kindred. Soon Blade is battling to prevent a vampire apocalypse. Very violent.

There have been more vampire films made than any other genre. For whatever reason, vampires are considered special. Maybe it’s because there is something in their character that is reflective of us. After all, the image of the vampire is forever shifting and changing, reflecting not itself but our own fears and secret longings. The vampire casts no reflection in the mirror. He doesn’t have to -- after all, it’s our own faces we see when we gaze into the vampire’s eyes.


Source: written by John W. Whitehead / The Rutherford Institute

Fanged Films

Mexico, 1962
The Curse of Nostradamus 2 / The Monsters Demolisher / Nostradamus y el Destructor de Monstruos
Italy, 1994
Dracula XXX / Das Böse

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?

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