Vampire Apotropaics Part 4: Die Vampire Die

We all want vampires dead, but what to do when it’s the middle of night and there are no stakes nearby? Why, reach for a sock, of course.

By far the most common method to off a vampire is with a stake. Van Helsing uses it, why shouldn’t you? However, you don’t always have to chop up grandma’s antique chair. A needle also works. Romanians believe (present tense, mind you) that a needle inserted into the navel will kill a vampire. Why the navel? That’s where the second heart lies. It has to have a second one, because the first one went kaput when the person died. The second heart is what keeps the vampire alive after death.

Vampire blood was so evil that any person who came in contact with it would become insane. Therefore during staking, an animal hide was placed over the body. Vampires were seen as squishy blood balloons, so this form of protection helped minimize splatter.

Click on the picture to bring up the YouTube clip.

Steven Weber (playing Jonathan Harker) could have used a bib in Mel Brooks’s “Dracula Dead and Loving It.” Click on the picture to bring up the YouTube clip.

A consecrated bullet would kill a vampire, but not in the way you think. Shoot it through the coffin. One reason for this might be that it spoiled the coffin and gave the vampire no place to rest. A version of this can be seen in Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula where they ruin the vampire’s coffin but placing holy wafers in the dirt. The idea that sunlight can kill vampires is an invention of film. In Poland and Prussia, the creatures can hunt the living from noon till midnight. Even Bram Stoker’s Dracula could function in daylight.

1943 Son of Dracula played by Lon Chaney Jr. just before sunlight strikes him.

1943 Son of Dracula played by Lon Chaney Jr. just before sunlight strikes him.

The first film to have a vampire to die by sunlight is Son of Dracula with Lon Chaney Jr. as the vampire. The rays of dawn strike his body and he fades from sight. A few months later, Return of the Vampire showed Bela Lugosi (playing a vampire called Armand Tesla) succumb to sunlight. Though this isn’t really fair, as he was simultaneously being staked by his werewolf servant. The film did depict the first image of a vampire melting in the sun.

The first face melting of a vampire in sunlight (or from staking, who's to say).

The first face melting of a vampire in sunlight (or from staking, who’s to say).

If you suspected that your kin were a vampire the solution was simple. Dig up the body, dismember, burn to a crisp and drink the ashes. A pretty hefty cure if you ask me. Boiling oil was another method to destroy the undead.

Vampires were considered terribly OCD (counting knots or grains of rice). The final method of demise plays off this weakness. Steal the vampire’s left sock (I’m assuming this is the evil one with the Latin name for left being sinister). Then fill it with rocks and toss it into a river or other running water. The creature will go after it (possibly crying, “Who took my sock.”) and the moving water will be its downfall. Moving water was long believe to destroy vampires.

That’s it. Now you know all there is about how keep vampires out. If, however you’re yearning for a midnight nibbling, you know not to take the guy’s sock. He needs that.

Tim Kane

Creating a Book Trailer (Sort of)

I am toiling away on a book trailer for a friend of min. Honest. But it’s slow going and, being the impatient chap that I am, I wanted results. Ergo, I created a mini-trailer for myself.

I wrote a non-fiction book (more on the scholarly side) about how the vampire evolved through film and television. It’s done fairly well. My publisher, McFarland, is terrific about advertising and keeping the word out. However, I love the subject so much, I threw together a video montage of some key scenes. Specifically how vampires reacted to crosses over the years.

The process was beyond simple, I can now see how people post YouTube videos all the time. Admittedly, having iMovie makes it much easier. I located clips on YouTube and used Zamzar (a free service) to convert them into mov format. My book is a review piece, therefore some use of film footage is allowable. I shot some quick footage of my vampire relics at home for the opening and ending sequences of the video.

Finally I needed music. I stumbled on the site for Kevin MacLeod, who creates creative commons and royalty-free music. It was free with the added caveat of citing him as the creator. I have no bones about spreading the word on a talented musician. Check him out. The music is great.

Uploading was easy. Too easy. I was so excited that I put the video up with typos (I think I have them all covered now). There doesn’t seem to be a way to “replace” a video on YouTube. So I uploaded a new one and deleted the old. I’m pleased with the results. I plan a series of these videos, each focusing on an aspect of vampire lore.

Expenses:

  • Filmed images (did with iPhone camera): Free
  • Movie clips from YouTube: Free
  • Video conversion with Zamzar: Free
  • Editing with iMovie: $14.99
  • Music from Kevin MacLeod: Free
  • Total Cost: $14.99 or Free (since I already had iMovie)

Try it yourself. It’s not rocket science.

Tim Kane