Vampires and Halloween?
Good eeeevening, readers! To celebrate the occasion, I thought I’d share a few treats with you. Let’s start with a guest post I wrote for Lindsay’s Reading with a Bite blog back in 2009. Is there a connection between vampires and Halloween? Sort of. Read on!
A New Blog Appears…
There’s a new vampire blog on the scene. One that’ll be right up your alley. Dax Stokes, librarian and fellow vampirologist, created a new blog yesterday called Killing the Dead—a title dreamt up by yours, truly. He’ll also be giving a lecture at North Central Texas College’s Corinth Campus Library today at 12:30pm: “Keeping the Dead…Dead: Burial Practices in Eastern Europe from the 1500s to Today.” Here’s its flyer:
Stokes and I share a strong interest in vampire folklore. He’s also a member of my website. Join us and be sure to add his blog to your reading list!
Melton in the News
Speaking of vampirologists, Merticus of Vampire Community News, shared two interesting articles about J. Gordon Melton on my spin-off Facebook group’s wall. Melton’s a prominent vampire scholar, best-known for writing The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (1994; 1999; 2011).
The first article—and my favourite of the two—is Shelby Leonard’s profile piece, “An Unquenchable Thirst” (Baylor Lariat, October 25, 2013) goes into some detail about Melton’s inspirations and involvement with vampire scholarship. But I was surprised to see Robert Eighteen-Bisang singled out. After all, it seems another vampire scholar had a much greater impact on his work:
Without Martin V. Riccardo, an old friend and head of the Vampire Studies network, this encyclopedia would not and could not have been completed. We first worked together on a vampire bibliography in the early 1980s and have shared our interest in vampires for nearly a quarter of a century. While I was content to quietly read vampire books and watch vampire movies, Marty become one of the creators of the contemporary vampire subculture. Far beyond giving me free reign in his own vampire collection, he read and commented on the entire text of this volume. He also pointed me to source material I had missed and contributed to the foreword (Melton 1994, xxvi).
Other people singled out for praise are Jeanne Youngson, Bernard Davies, Margaret Shanahan, Susan Kagan, Isotta Poggi, Marcy Robin, Jim Pierson, Jeff Thompson, Bradley J. Morgan, Diane M. Sawinski, Margaret Carter, Candy Cosner, Mike Homer, Massimo Introvigne, Lee Scott, Vlad and Melton’s wife, Suzie (xxvii)—Eighteen-Bisang isn’t even mentioned! Weird.
Anyway, the second article Merticus posted doesn’t mention Riccardo, either. J. B. Smith’s “Interview with a Vampire Scholar: Baylor Prof Is ‘Real-life Van Helsing’ ” (WacoTrib.com, October 31, 2013) instead gives an overview of Melton’s vampire scholarship, noting:
His works explore how the vampire myth permeates cultures from the Caribbean to India and Southeast Asia. The familiar archetype of the male bloodsucker took hold strongly in Eastern European countries such as Romania and Serbia, where belief in vampires still persists in rural regions.
But Melton’s real focus is on the literary manifestations of vampires, beginning with the English Romantic poets and novelists. The image of a sensitive, aristocratic bloodsucker begins in 1819 with “The Vampyre,” by John Polidori, who based the character on his patient, Lord Byron.
Melton’s encyclopedia is one of the most important works in the field. Be sure to score a copy for your vampire library!
Speaking of Riccardo…
The vampire bibliography Melton referred in the Baylor Lariat piece was Martin V. Riccardo’s Vampires Unearthed: The Complete Multi-Media Vampire and Dracula Bibliography (1983). He founded the Vampire Studies Society in 1977—dropping the “Society” bit in 1990. He edited the society’s publication, Journal of Vampirism (1977–1979) and has penned numerous articles on vampires—some were collected in his 1983 book, Lure of the Vampire. He also wrote another book called Liquid Dreams of Vampires (1996), an intriguing work delving into the ways vampires manifest in our subconscious.
Halloween in My Country
To get a general idea of how Halloween is perceived in Australia, I’ll share this Facebook pic doing the rounds today:
Yes, funny that in a largely secular country that also celebrates Easter and Christmas—and American holidays like Mother and Father’s Day—that Halloween gets singled out. However, it’s certainly gaining mainstream traction and acceptance. That pic highlights it, if anything.
Here’s an article by Abigail Denham-McQuillen and Candace Sutton called “Halloween: Love It or Hate It, Should We Celebrate It?” (Herald Sun, October 31, 2013) which summarises the for-and-against issues.
Personally speaking it, I’ve been celebrating it in one form or another since I was 12. I still remember that night. I dressed up in some raggy costume, trick or treated one house on my street (they didn’t have any lollies) and came back home. My dad got lollies and me and the family watched Disney’s Halloween Treat on VHS. It was great.
One Halloween, as noted in a blog post elsewhere, I even dressed as a vampire hunter and roamed the streets of Melbourne. I dressed as a priest for another, wearing the costume to a pub in Clifton Hill. Halloween is awesome.
Last but not least, a little night music. I was tossing up between two Halloween tunes to share, but then I thought bugger it, I’ll share both! The first track’s Serpteneens’ “It’s Halloween”, which was released as a free download-only song in 2009—so don’t expect it on any of their albums.
The second was released in 2005 as a charity single with proceeds going to UNICEF. The North American Hallowe’en Prevention Initiative’s “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?” was recorded by an assembly of folk famous in the indie/alternative rock scene, as the song’s Wikipedia page relates. Enjoy!
And with that, I hope I’ve given you enough tasty morsels to feast on. Now, go forth and enjoy the night. To all, I wish you a safe and Happy Hallowe’en!
Melton, J, Gordon. 1994. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Visible Ink Press.