Vampire: the Complete Guide to the World of the Undead

Rating: 
1
Vampire: the Complete Guide to the World of the Undead
Review by Ogcocephalus, submitted on 14-Oct-1992

Vampire: the Complete Guide to the World of the Undead
by Manuela Dunn Mascetti
Viking Penguin NY 1992
ISBN 0-670-84664-3
GR 830.V3 M29

An earlier version of the book was published in Great Britain as Chronicles of the Vampire , Bloomsbury Publ Ltd.

AT first glance this book appears to be a well designed and complete guide to the world of the undead, however after spending a little time reading it many flaws and weaknesses become apparent.

The book is divided into 8 chapters:

Chapter 1 - The Anatomy of the Undead
Chapter 2 - Birth of the Undead
Chapter 3 - The Ways of the Vampire
Chapter 4 - In Search of Count Dracula
Chapter 5 - Family of Vampires
Chapter 6 - The Vampire Library
Chapter 7 - Awesome Beginnings
Chapter 8 - How to Kill and Vampire.

The first three chapters are basically a condensation of Barber's Vampires, Burial and Death with extensive parts "borrowed" verbatim and without acknowledgment. Likewise, Chapter 4 is derived from the works of McNally and Florescu, again without citation or even a mention of these author's names or research. Chapter 5 "The Family of Vampires" will perhaps hold the greatest interest for list members. It provides concise, but sometimes superficial "bios" of several famous vampyres from literature including Lord Ruthven, Varney, Carmilla, Julia Stone and, of course, the Count himself, as well as several less famous ones such as the Knight Azzo (based on a folktale) and Fritz Leiber's 'Girl with the Hungry Eyes'. Chapter 6 includes a history of vampyres in literature (mostly XIX century), but hardly lives up to its title. Chapter 7 is based largely on information from Montague Summers' The Vampire: His Kith and Kin.At least, this time, the earlier author is noted, however verbatim passages are again included without citation or quotation marks.Chapter 8 comes again from Barber's work and (fortunately for many list members) provides a very incomplete account of "How to Kill a Vampire."

Throughout the book suffers from being poorly written.The extensive verbatim passages from others author's works are loosely stitched together making me wonder if it is not in fact a (poorly executed) translation from another language. More importantly, for vampyre aficionados, despite its over-reliance on the work of other authors there are many errors. In Chapter 4 the names Vlad Dracula and Vlad Dracul are used interchangeably (as in references to Vlad Dracul the Impaler) despite the fact that Dracul was the name of Dracula's father. Vlad (which one is irrelevant) is also said to be a remote *ancestor* of Attila the Hun,despite the lack of any real genealogical evidence connecting the XV Century Prince Dracula of Wallachia with the barbarian leader who died nearly 1000 years before Vlad's birth (Stoker's Dracula did claim descent from the Szelsky people who were descended from the Huns). A photograph of Bela Lugosi and Carol Borland taken from Mark of the Vampire is misattributed to the 1931 Dracula. The author also states that Stoker had not published anything prior to Dracula except a pamphlet on "Duties of the Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland", when in fact, he had an impressive series of published articles, stories and novels dating back over 20 years prior to Dracula's publication.

The book also includes some theories about vampyres and vampyrism that must belong to the author. However, these are presented as if they were established and widely held beliefs. For example, she differentiates between vampires (her spelling) "Who undergo a ritual of initiation into vampirism" (ala Anne Rice ?) and reve- nants, "undead creatures which are not vampires." Vampires may create revenants by attacking humans and draining their blood, but not transforming them into vampires. After death the reve- nant, or its spirit, appears to friends and family of the de- ceased as a decomposing corpse. Vampires, on the other hand, do not decompose and are able to maintain their "fresh" appearance by drinking the blood of their victims. Revenants also drink the blood of their victims, but it just makes them appear blotted. Additionally the victims of revenants become revenants, not vampires. Revenants and vampires also have different lifestyles and manners of dressing which allow mortals to easily identify which variety of undead may be chewing down on their jugulars. If it wears a tuxedo or an elegant gown its a vampire, if dressed in homespun its a revenant!

Probably the best thing about this book, perhaps its only redeeming feature, is the photography by Simon Marsden, who is described as "An Englishman who specializes in works of the undead." His photos of old castles and graveyards with Victorian funerary statuary and tombstones adds an true Gothic dimension to an otherwise unimpressive book. There is no bibliography and no index, so using the book as a true reference to the world of the undead is impossible.

Fanged Films

USA, 1968
Shadows on the Wall
UK, 1972
Le Cirque des Vampires / El Circo de los Vampiros

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?

Vol. 1 No. 17
You Can't Go Home Again, Part One
Vol. 6 No. 3
Invitation from a Vampire