Vampires, Vampires, Vampires!

Everybody loves vampires! And what’s not to love? Great clothes, up all night, sleep all day, never die, loads of super powers, plus, the chicks totally dig you. On the down side, there’s constant hunger, nude beaches are mostly empty at night and if a vampire hunter gets lucky, you totally go to hell. In short, being a vampire kicks ass except for the ways it totally blows. (Note to self: try to be more erudite in the unlikely event of a second draft.)

So, sit back, relax, have yourself a nice warm cup of BLOOD and lets take a look see at the pros and cons of some well known vampires in a format sure to be even more amusing than that blood drinking joke.


VLAD THE IMPALER

Do NOT go to one of this guys dinner parties

OVERVIEW: The inspiration for Brahm Stoker’s Count, Dracula isn’t his last name in the way we think of it. His father was called Dracul, or ‘Dragon’, as he was a member of the ‘Order of the Dragon’ a society created by the emperor Sigismund to protect his lands and keep people from making fun of his name. ‘Dracula’ means ‘Son of the Dragon’ or ‘Li’l Dragon’, if you like getting impaled. He Became Prince of Wallachia (Now part of Romania) When his father was brutally assassinated and his older brother being unavailable on account of having been blinded with heated iron spikes and buried alive some years previously.

PROS: Cool nickname, awesome hair, royalty, actually existed.

CONS: Reason for cool nickname fairly disgusting, not actually a vampire.

FUN FACT: Once punished insulting foreign diplomats by having their hats nailed to their heads.

ADDITIONAL FUNNER FACT: Vlad was born in Transylvania. Know what else was born their? The Unitarian Church. I’m not making that up.

COUNT DRACULA AS PORTRAYED IN THE BOOK BY BRAHM STOKER

First edition cover every bit as exciting as text inside.

OVERVIEW: While hardly the first portrayal of a Vampire in fiction, Stoker’s Dracula becomes THE template for all fictional Vampires that follow. Oddly, they don’t follow it all that well. The count as he appears in the novel is bearded and while not as strong during daylight hours, he’s perfectly able to walk around and do stuff. He is eventually dispatched not with a wooden stake through the heart, but simple knives.

PROS: Street cred for being the Dracula everybody cribs from.

CONS: Dracula is an ‘epistolary novel’, meaning it is mostly comprised of letters and documents making it less familiar to modern readers and also an awkward format in which to include even marginally arousing sex scenes.

FUN FACT: Also wrote “The Lair of the White Worm”, and so he must be blamed for both the unspeakably bad 1988 Ken Russle film and the album of the same name by Dutch death metal band “God Dethroned”. It should be noted here that Dutch death metal is a genre of music particularly enjoyed by Dutch idiots.

VARNEY THE VAMPYRE

Beats the cra-zap out of the Stoker cover, don’t you think?

OVERVIEW: Varney made his appearance in mid-Victorian Penny Dreadfuls, so called because the popular pamphlet sized magazines sold for a penny and were very badly written.

PROS: Actually pre-dates Stokers Dracula by several years.

CONS: Teeth described as ‘Tusk-Like’, kind of dorky when compared to Dracula’s ‘Fangs like those of a Pit-Viper’.

FUN FACT: In a serious F-U to vampire hunters, Varney commits suicide by throwing himself into Mount Vesuvius.

NOSFERATU

Count Orlok comes to London in search of fabulous new ‘nail clipper’ technology

OVERVIEW: This 1922 German Expressionist silent film stars Max Schrek as Count Orlok. The story is basically a total rip-off of Stoker’s book, but DAMN, the intense look of this picture keeps you from caring much about the story line.

PROS: Creepy, creepy, creepy, creepy, can you say CREEPY?!

CONS: You kind of have to suspend your disbelief just a teensy little bit to accept that people don’t get this dude is a monster the INSTANT THEY SET EYES ON HIM! HELLO?! HELLO?!

FUN FACT: Orlok is the first Vamp to die from exposure to the sun, an addition to Vampire lore that becomes canon from this point on. Orlok’s bite doesn’t make Vampires, but does cause infectious bubonic plague, which covers your tracks way better.

BELA LUGOSI

Hello, ladies!

OVERVIEW: King of the Draculas. It’s the eyes, baby, those burning eyes. The Hungarian born actor emigrated to the United States in 1921 already having appeared in films in Hungary and Germany. He played Dracula in the original Broadway production for several years but still had to campaign vigorously to get the lead in Todd Brownings classic film, a role that gained him international acclaim. Fate was doubly cruel though, in that he was forever typecast and he developed a serious taste for Morphine, neither of which turned out to be good for his career.

PROS: This is a sophisticated dude. Ask your wife.

CONS: Lugosi’s actual decade long junkie death makes getting a stake through the heart look like a romp through the daisies with your Sunday School class.

FUN FACT: Lugosi’s last appearance was in Ed Wood’s unintelligible epic, “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. Wood incorporated some silent footage of Lugosi capering around in one of his authentic Dracula capes outside his decaying Hollywood Bungalow. To ‘Flesh’ out the role after Lugosi’s death, Wood hired his wife’s Chiropractor, a significantly taller, thinner man, who had to keep the bottom half of his face covered by the cape in all his shots, as he looked nothing at all like the late Lugosi. If you are looking for a ‘joke’ here, there isn’t one. Unless you mean the sort of meaninglessly cruel joke life plays on us all, in which case have at it.

CHRISTOPHER LEE

Is that a stake, or are you just glad to see me?

OVERVIEW: Played the count in at least a half dozen Hammer Films. Suave, urbane, intelligent, highly physical in his violence and above all tortured and lonely, Lee showed the world the kind of layers immortality might build up on your psyche. With better script writers, he might have been a serious contender to take Lugosi’s crown. He sure tried.

PROS: The voice that must be obeyed.

CONS: I’m a huge fan of the Hammer Horror films, but the dialogue reads like it was written by a semi-talented twelve year old.

FUN FACT: Went on to be the only good thing in the notably awful Star Wars prequels, a pretty low bar for the dude that played Saruman.

FRANK LANGELLA

This movie was either about a Vampire, or boobs. I can’t recall.

OVERVIEW: Like Lugosi, Langella played Count Dracula on Broadway before staring in a movie version in 1979. Unlike Lugosi, Langella had distractingly huge, poofy, Blow dried Vinny Barbarino hair.

PROS: I’ve been told by several women who saw the movie in their prime that despite, or perhaps because of, Langellas somewhat simian features, he is sexy. I will have to take their word for it.

CONS: So busy being sexy he kind of forgets to be scary even once.

FUN FACT: Langella has won three Tony Awards, but he also had a major role in “Cutthroat Island”, which I believe puts to rest the superstition that a Tony Award provides magical protection against acts of gross stupidity.

GARY OLDMAN

This may have been a good movie, but the Princess Leia up-do makes it impossible to recall anything else.

OVERVIEW: It takes a hell of a lot of nerve to call your movie “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and then make a film that deviates more from the novel than any previous movie version, but I suppose that’s not Oldman’s fault any more than the incredibly weird buttocks like wig he sports at one point. Remember how I made a joke about Frank Langella’s hair? Before this section is over, I will have made three jokes about the hair piece pictured above. Oldman can also not be blamed for casting Keanu Reeves, and was certainly not responsible for whatever dialogue coach told Reeves to hone his British accent by watching junior high production of “A Christmas Carol”. One assumes, though, that he did not donate his salary to charity, so he shares moral culpability.

PROS: I’m told this movie made an inexplicably large amount of money.

CONS: Maybe it’s me, but WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THAT WIG?! DID LOUIX IV’S POWDERED MOP ROMANCE WILLIAM SHATNER’S NOGGIN AND NINE MONTHS LATER EXPOSE THE RESULTING BABY WIG TO RADIATION SO THAT IT BECAME A MUTANT SUPERVILLIAN X-WIG?!?

FUN FACT: Oldman once played Sid Vicious. What if the smack addicted, girl friend murdering bass player for the ‘Sex Pistols’ had also been a vampire? THAT would have been AWESOME!

ADDITIONAL FUNNER FACT: OH MY CHRIST THAT WIG!

GEORGE HAMILTON

This is either George Hamilton or the George Hamilton wax figure from Madame Tussauds, something you can say any time you see a picture of George Hamilton, or George Hamilton himself.

OVERVIEW: George Hamilton plays Count Dracula looking for love in New York. The story is no less believable than any of the other Dracula tales.

PROS: It’s George Hamilton.

CONS: It’s George Hamilton.

FUN FACT: Dracula, a creature of the night, has never had such a great tan.

FOREVER KNIGHT

Surprisingly, this is a great soundtrack album. No, I’m kidding, not even one copy of this album was ever purchased by anyone. Nice picture, though.

OVERVIEW: Okay, truthfully? I never saw this syndicated TV show even once, but the basic deal is, see, there’s this 800 year old Vampire, and now, see, he’s a detective in Toronto (Yes, that’s right, Toronto,because all succsesful action TV is set in Toronto) and his name is Nick Knight. Get it? He’s immortal, right, so that would be the ‘forever’ part, and then ‘Knight’, that’s, like, his last name, and also it means a do-gooder champion, right? But wait! It’s also a homonym for NIGHT! Which is when VAMPIRES come out! That, in a nutshell, is pretty much why I avoided the show like a bad case Locker Room Crotch.

PROS: I’m fairly certain there are no Pros here.

CONS: Seriously?

FUN FACT: The pilot for the show was a CBS made for TV movie, where the role of Nick Knight was played by Rick Springfield. When offered the role on the show, he is reported to have said “Even I don’t need a check this bad.” The part went to actor Geraint Wyn Davies, which I think we can all agree is a very unfortunate name.

EVIL WILLOW

Without this picture, my article would have been a total sausage fest

OVERVIEW: Every Television series worth it’s salt has an evil alternate universe, and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was no exception. Thankfully, Joss Whedon was wise enough to stop short of having his Vampire Willow sport that tell tale evil universe facial hair, but, in a tip of the hat, he did make Vampire Willow gay. If you got that joke you have no right to criticize me. If you didn’t, there was no joke there, certainly not the sort of marginally offensive gag a writer of my stature would make just for a cheap laugh. Stop thinking about it. You are only demeaning yourself. And don’t ask. I wouldn’t make that joke in the first place.

PROS: Very Hot for lonely fan boys and at very least ten percent of fan girls.

CONS: Did not get own show.

FUN FACT: Costs skyrocketed on the seasons of Buffy when Whedon threw a diva fit and insisted on several scenes being shot on location in an actual evil alternate universe.

THE COUNT ON SESAME STREET

I couldn’t actually give a fuck what the number of the day is.

OVERVIEW: Who’s idea was this?

PROS: Might someday rip out Baby Bear’s throat and drink his blood in front of a bunch of little kids.

CONS: Crippling OCD.

FUN FACT: I Could not decide on a classic ‘hand up the ass’ joke or some sort of ‘sleeps in a felt coffin’ ‘vulnerable to puppet cross’ type joke.

COUNT CHOCULA

Sued by William Marshall. IMDB the name to get the joke.

OVERVIEW: The first openly gay African-American undead kids cereal mascot.

PROS: Slightly less swishy than Frankenberry.

CONS: Is it that good of an idea to have an undead, blood sucking monster pushing sugary cereal on kids?

FUN FACT: At the time of his initiation into vampirism, he was having a secret affair with Rock Hudson.

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A Brief History of Halloween

Ah, Halloween! The Spooky Costume Holiday, the Candy Christmas, the Freeloaders Favorite Celebration! But just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? Is it, as some claim, a kind of demon worship? Or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual? Despite the fears of a small minority of religious extremists and deeply superstitious small town characters in Stephen King novels, scientists, folklorists and historians all agree; Halloween is indeed Demon Worship. The Fun Kind!

The word itself, “Halloween,” like many terrifying words and practices, has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of “All Hallows Eve”. November 1, “All Hollows Day” (or “All Saints Day”), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints, all of whom died in ways that make hideous car accidents look like a Sunday school Picnic. Unless there was a hideous car accident at or on the way to your Sunday school picnic, in which case, Sorry.



In the 5th century BCE, (‘Before The Common Era’ as opposed to BC, or ‘Before Christ’ because it’s less offensive to believe it’s ‘common’ to believe in ‘Jesus’) in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), a Celtic word meaning “New Year” or “Last Day Before the Season in Which You’ll Probably Die of Starvation if you Don’t Freeze to Death First.”

Reenactments are a very sad thing’

One story says that on Samhain (Sam-Raimi), the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this period, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living, so it was a shoe-in for a celebration. 



Some stubborn 5th Century Celts clung to the idea that their miserable, diseased, frigid, filthy, short lives were preferable to possession. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. (I’m referring to the homes themselves, not the Celts. 5th century Celts were already cold and undesirable, despite the fanciful depictions of fire haired, feisty maidens, strapping warriors and mysterious Druids often found in your finer Dungeons and Dragons related publications.) They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess. Today, archeologists believe there is strong evidence suggesting that this professed belief in spirit possession during Samhain (Skowhegan) was merely an excuse to get rip roaring drunk and vandalize the property of irritating neighbors.

Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic tribes could renew a sense of community by relighting their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach (Samhain). Unfortunately, the science of orienteering was poorly developed at best in the 5’th Century, and so there was a great deal of argument amongst Druid Priests as to where the exact middle of Ireland was. Many fire-seeking Celts succumbed to hypothermia and died still searching for the Druidic fire, ironically increasing the population of disembodied spirits that would plague the souls of the living on the next Samhain (ham-salad).


‘These lucky Celts found the centrally located Druid Fire’ in what is now modern day Portugal’

By some accounts, Celts would burn people at the stake who were thought to be possessed, as sort of a lesson to the spirits. Other accounts regard these stories as myth. Still other accounts hold that while people were indeed burned at the stake, it was more to relieve the constant boredom of 5th century Celthood, and that the ancient precursors of S’mores were made around the pyre. 



The Romans, who new a good boredom-relieving human sacrifice when they saw one, adopted the Celtic practices as their own, minus the part about freezing to death while wandering around Ireland looking for the Druid Fire. Try wearing a Roamn steel chest plate in Ireland at the end of October and see if you walk even three feet from a fire, let alone put voluntarily putting a perfectly good fire out to go traipsing off looking for some central fire. So with some tailoring in the first century AD, Samhain (Shania-twain) was assimilated into the Roman festival day honoring Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit, trees, and Pagan Torchin’ Tuesdays.


‘Pomona, in addition to her other duties was also Goddess of staring at soap dishes.’

The thrust of many other Celtic practices also changed over time to become more ritualized. As belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role, and roasting someone alive was replaced by the more ritualistic practice of maiming with hot pokers.

 Various versions of Halloween were practiced throughout Europe and Russia for the next several years, but never really took off, perhaps owing to the scarcity of affordable spooky costumes and because the only “treats” on offer were liquor and wheat spoiled by hallucinogenic molds and fungi. 


The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses, unhinging fence gates and terrifying children by dressing up as huge, starving potatoes hungry for child flesh.
 The custom of trick-or-treating for candy is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants and the minced brains (believed to be the seat of the “soul”) of debtors, convicted criminals and Huguenots.

‘This ceramic is titled ‘begging for soul cakes’, although it could just as well be called ‘cheap ass hummel knock-off from grandma’s estate sale that turns out to be worthless’.

The more soul cakes the beggars collected, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the brain donors. At the time, it was believed that torment of hell for debrained undesirables (particularly Huguenots) could be increased through prayer. In 1892, Pope Cletus the Fifth would declare debraining a heresy and replace “soul cakes” with the more acceptable but less fun “Soul and Broken Glass Bags You May Strike Huguenots With at Will.”


The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, a notorious drunkard, trickster, and part-time Huguenot, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down.

According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because he was a Huguenot, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer. Then, while Jack was entranced by the glowing Turnip, Satan bashed his head in, which is where the custom of smashing Jack-O-Lanterns comes from. 

The Irish used turnips as their “Jack’s lanterns” originally. But when the immigrants came to America, they were ridiculed by other immigrants for their “tiny, red pumpkins”. Soon the Irish caught on that if they were ever to get by in the new world, they would have to make their Jack-o-lanterns out of pumpkins. And stop drinking so much. And brawl less. And dye their hair and bleach their skin of the hideous freckles rightly feared as “carrier’s smallpox”, and swear up and down they wereNorwegian, yah, Norwegian, you betcha. 


Halloween really took off in America in the late thirties when the Garment industry discovered that synthetic Polymers could be easily molded into cheap costumes and masks. Historians of Halloween note that the garment industry was, at this time, “Jew run”.

The Golden Age of Halloween took place in the early 1970’s when affordable masks and plastic tunics bearing the name of popular icons could be purchased at the now extinct “Five and Dime” (fie-ven-diame). Sadly, the Golden Age ended abruptly in 1976 with the invention of the “fun size” candy bar.

‘A great costume, if you are dressing up as Planet of the Apes’. If, however, your intention was to be a character from the Planet of the Apes movie franchise, like every other child of the seventies, you were shit out of luck.’

Today, Halloween is once more endangered on multiple fronts. Fundamentalist Christian groups seek to portray Halloween as a recruiting tool for the Satanist Lobby. In fact, apart from royalties paid on Devil costumes and accessories (plastic pitchforks, horns, army surplus flamethrowers) Satanists see little commercial return on their investment.

Suburban soccer moms seek to drain the fun out of Halloween by suggesting “costume parties”, “school parades without weapons or gore” and worst of all, “daylight trick-or-treating.” Some social theorists believe that once this demographic has drained a significant number of “fun units” from the holiday, they will us them to power their hyper-drives and death rays directly prior to the enslavement of the human race.
Perhaps most insidiously, modern day Pagans, or “Wiccans” (wih-cahns) insist Halloween is still Samhain (Soduku) and that all non-religious Halloween festivities constitute religious harassment. While this approach offers certain scholarly and legal interest, it completely ignores that modern Wiccans have as much as much actual historical connection with 5th century Celts ( Pro-to-hue-gen-awts) as I do with the Negro Baseball League.

So we see that despite the adoption of Halloween as the favorite “holiday,” of certain fringe groups and despite it’s vilification by others, the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. Unless you call burning people to death “evil”. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, the Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans, and the thriving synthetic garment trade pioneered by the Jews. Today, many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids, which may well be listed in the community activities section of your local paper. Why not check them out and if you like, burn them down. After all, any so called “church” celebrating Halloween is probably Huguenot, and if not, have no one but themselves to blame for a case of mistaken arson. I’m sorry, identity.