Curse of the Vampire

Rating: 
2
Curse of the Vampire
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 16-May-1991

The following is adapted from material that originally appeared in the column "Vampires in Print" in The Vampire's Crypt #4 (Fall 1991).

Geoffrey Caine. Curse of the Vampire. (Diamond, 1991). Review by Cathy Krusberg.

Looking for a silly vampire book? You need look no further. This one features Abraham H. Stroud: ex-Marine, ex-cop, trained in anthropology and archeology and sporting a metal plate in his head (souvenir of Vietnam) which enhances his psychic powers but makes him subject to epileptic-like seizures. Stroud has just moved into the Stroud mansion in Andover, Illinois, a great pile of stone complete with basement torture chamber. Andover is troubled from time to time by the Andover Devil, a creature of uncertain shape that has been blamed for numerous deaths of Andover residents. While searching for the Andover Devil's latest victim, a search party finds a veritable slaughterhouse of barely-covered bones. Local "bone specialist" Dr. Oliver Banaker joins the police as they investigate with a backhoe--over Stroud's protests that this might be an archeological site. Protesting alongside Stroud is Medical Examiner Dr. Martin Magaffey, who notes that the bones have been cut at joints where red marrow is found.

Banaker is really more of a blood specialist. The work of his life is the Banaker Institute and the family--the alien race--that shares the same purified blood. Several hundred of Andover's citizens are of his blood: some made vampires; some true pires, born and bred; all surviving on the blood-elixir that Banaker has developed so that attacks like that of the "Andover Devil" will not be necessary for their survival. Necessary, on the other hand, is the destruction of Stroud, whose interest in the discarded bones has led him to pick up where his father and grandfather left off--and they were vampire- killers. Banaker commands beautiful vampire Pamela Carr to enjoy Stroud to the last drop.

One of Stroud's seizures brings an unromantic end to his tryst with Pamela; she's afraid it may be caused by a blood disease, and in panic she vomits up what was barely an aperitif. As Stroud escapes, the Andover Devil swoops down to make a meal of Pamela herself. Meanwhile, a disillusioned member of the Banaker family--a man (or vampire) who lost his son to the Andover Devil--gives Magaffey a vial of the Banaker "lifeblood." Magaffey discovers, among other things, that the stuff explodes when exposed to oxygen. Magaffey takes his discovery to Stroud's mansion and is killed by vampires. Stroud, however, finds the perfect anti-vampire elixir in Magaffey's bag: succinylcholine. When exposed to the stuff, vampires explode.

After this discovery, the book takes on a gory Monty-Pythonish tone, with s-choline (as it's called) hitting everything but the penguin on the TV set. Stroud makes a commando raid on the Banaker Institute and blows up its morgue! Vampires chase Stroud's helicopter, and one explodes! S-choline gas chokes vampires, then causes them to explode! Vampires swallow plasma tainted with s-choline and explode! Stroud exhausts his supply of s-choline and is taken prisoner by vampires! Who will explode next?!!

It's too bad this is such a silly book, as Caine presents some intriguing ideas. His vampires are shape-shifters and, interestingly, blind in their bat form; they use radar to "see" and to communicate. "Parasitic" white worms inhabit the vampires' digestive systems; they produce a sticky white substance the vampires use to "cocoon" their victims. (The worms explode when exposed to light, by the way.) And the self-replicating elixir that Banaker wants to develop isn't such a bad idea, either, especially with the increasing prevalence of AIDS. (Caine's vampires are not immortal or even undead; in fact, they can interbreed with human beings.) Curse of the Vampire could have been an engaging sf/horror novel, but instead it staggers from silly metaphysical to silly soap-operatic to silly violent. And back again. The scariest part is seeing a promising premise wasted this way. Or, to borrow from Caine:

"I've never been so frightened and sickened in my life," said the coroner and paleontologist Dr. Cage.

Amen.

Fanged Films

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  

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