It’s the middle of the night and a bloodsucking undead is traipsing through your house. You reach for your trusty stake… Wait! This is the 21st century. Nobody has a stake lying around. So what are some other ways to kill a vampire?
1 Kill a Vampire with a Needle
Vampires have two hearts. The human heart they had in life and a second heart, located at their navel. The Romanians believe (present tense, mind you) that a needle jammed into the navel will pierce the second heart. This is the one that keeps the vampire alive after death.
Beware the Splatter
Even if you use a tiny needle, you need to watch out for vampire blood. Vampires were seen as squishy blood balloons. Their blood was so corrupt, that anyone who touched the stuff would go insane. In olden days, vampire hunters would drape an animal hide over the body when staking. These days, a plastic tarp will do.
2 Shoot the Coffin
Vampires need to sleep off their blood-drinking binge in a nasty and foul coffin. A consecrated bullet, shot through the wood of the coffin, would “bless” the resting place and the vampire would no longer be able to enter. It wasn’t sunlight that killed the vampire (this was invention of Hollywood) but rather exhaustion from lack of sleep.
3 Steal His Sock
Yes, you heard that right. Vampires are rather possessive of their footwear. Steal bloodsucker’s left sock (considered the “evil” one because the Latin word for left is sinister). Fill the sock with rocks and toss it in a nearby stream or ocean (but not a lake). The nosferatu will go searching for their sock and will have to dive into the water to retrieve it. Moving water has long been the death knell for the undead.
There you have it. Three modern solutions to your own vampire infestation.
The Dark Watchers are shadow people who materialize in the mountains of Santa Lucia California. Many people have witnessed these strange folk, often singly but sometimes in groups. I read of one account where two motorists were surrounded by these glowing eyed figures.
Steinbeck wrote about them in his 1938 short story “Flight”.
“Pepe looked up to the top of the next dry withered ridge. He saw a dark form against the sky, a man’s figure standing on top of a rock, and he glanced away quickly not to appear curious. When a moment later he looked up again, the figure was gone.”
Short Story Collection: The Long Valley
This experience of the dark watchers vanishing when you look away is a common one. People glimpse them while driving or walking only to have the figures vanish upon closer inspection.
The poet Robinson Jeffers also commented on the shadowy observers:
“He thought it might be one of the watchers, who are often seen in this length of coast-range, forms that look human to human eyes, but certainly are not human. They come from behind ridges to watch. He was not surprised when the figure turning toward him in the quiet twilight showed his own face. Then it melted and merged into the shadows beyond it.”
“Such Counsels You Gave Me” from 1937
I used the idea of them melting into the shadows for the illustrations.
One theory posits that swaying trees cast against fog create these specters. Our pattern-seeking brains misinterpret the image (a phenomenon is known as pareidolia). This is similar to how a Rorschach test works.
Yet the accounts of people who have witnessed are too varied to be simply a trick of the brain. One eye witness stated that the dark watcher waved back and smoked a cigar.
Whoever these mysterious figures are, they seem to not want to harm us. Still, let’s leave them be. Just in case.
October is the creepiest month, so I’ve saved my creepiest weird tidbits for this month.
Optical Illusion Rugs
Want to creep out your visitors? Make them hesitate to step into your home? Then purchase one of these optical illusion rugs. They’re so good, I think I would scoot around the perimeter rather than step inside. See more here.
Even if your guest manages to avoid the rug, would he or she be willing to sit down on this chair?
Designed by Yaara Derkel, the cutout of the Coppelius Chair creates the shadow of a monstrous creature when lit from above. The best part about this chair is that when it’s lit in any other way, it looks just like a normal chair.
Cute But Deadly Forest Imp
Not everything with large eyes and fur is meant to be cuddled. Take this short film “Murphy” made by students at ISART Digital. It features a seemingly well meaning creature that torments a WWII soldier.
An English paratrooper crashes behind enemy lines and has to rely on the help of this seemingly benign creature. I get a certain “Yoda” feel from it at times, but the end is hilarious.
Most artists keep their sketches confined to the page. But not Troqman. His cartoons interact with the environment in hilarious ways.
Found Object Bugs
These insects are created from found objects and create a steampunk vibe. Mark Oliver makes his “Litter Bugs” from gears, old eyeglasses, tins, and other things he collects.
On his website, he describes how his art is a throwback to Victorian bug collecting. Each of his projects boasts a scientific name.
“Urban Entomology is Mark’s (Post Modern) bow of respect to the Victorian tradition of insect collecting, where the decaying and disposed – the ‘litter’ of modernity, is assembled to create illusory collage. He intends the work to fascinate from a distance, and reveal humour and beautiful art upon closer inspection.”
Stay creepy this Halloween and keep your eyes open for mischievous furry creatures wanting to help you.
I’ve spent the past few days scouring my art books in search one specific artist. I recalled seeing his fantastic landscapes that seemed so desolate, jet full of energy. In this world, Greco/Roman-styled buildings stood solitary with shadows that stretched all the way across the painting. I wanted these to be the inspiration for the world of the Tarot. After quite a bit of time, I finally found what I was searching for: the art of Giorgio de Chirico.
Piazza d’Italia circa 1956. This painting is exactly what I picture a dreamscape to look like. On the surface it looks simple and straightforward, but then I start to wonder. What is that train doing in the background? Who are those two people talking?
Technically, de Chirico wasn’t a surrealist. He worked with some of the artists at that time, but he art was more symbolic and used dream imagery. This is what drew me to him.
La Torre Rosa 1913. This was painted during de Chirico’s stint in Paris. You can see the long shadows that characterized his work.
Giorgio de Chirico was born in Volos, a town in Greece on July 10, 1888. When his father died in 1905, the family moved to Munich. At the age of seventeen, de Chirico studied at the Academy of Fine Arts where he was introduced to the ideas of Nietzche. De Chirico also found inspiration in the European Symbolist artists like Franz Stuck and Carlos Schwabe. De Chirico loved their use of dream-like imagery. His earliest paintings used Symbolist ideas with his love of Greece and Italian antiquities. His paintings also represented his musings on the true nature of reality.
La Grande Torre 1919. Again, this tower seems so simple on the surface, but the depth of the shadows draws me in. What lives inside that tower?
After settling in Florence, de Chirico traveled to Paris in 1911. There he met a number of avant-garde artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi. He also exhibited his work to the public. It was during this time (1911-15) that De Chirico created many of his most influential paintings such as “The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street” (1914). His paintings showed scenes with classical architecture where only a single lone figure or monument was present. Often long shadows hinted at other elements or figures just out of view. This creates an unsettling mood.
Mystery and Melancholy of a Street 1914. This is one of de Chirico’s most famous paintings. Notice the shadows of two figures just out of view. That creates an unsettling image for me as my mind desperately wonders who or what they are.
The Great War (World War I) forced de Chirico and his brother into the Italian Army in 1915. De Chirico was stationed in Ferrara, but soon had a nervous breakdown and recouped in a military hospital. In 1917, he met artist Carlo Carrà, who helped him create his style of “metaphysical painting” that emphasized the hidden significance of ordinary places and objects.
The Predictor 1919. Landscapes weren’t the only subject de Chirico painted. He often included these mannequin creatures with oblong blank heads.
De Chirico and Carlo Carrà created a style known as Pittura Metafisica. This type of painting showed recognizable items, but displayed in an unusual manner. De Chirico created city squares with arcades and distant walls. The scenes were dominated by classical statues or his metaphysical mannequins, which were derived from tailor’s dummies. Sometimes, these figures were the only “human” presence in the painting.
This painting of a mannequin draws me in, yet I cannot find the title or the year it was painted. I see de Chirico’s signature on the painting. I know that there were some paintings created by other artists with his signature and this might be one. However the cubist shape of this mannequin is compelling.
De Chirico developed this technique from his readings of of the German philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer and Otto Weininger. He became interested in Nietzche’s idea of the eternal return and the circularity of time. In this philosophy, true reality was always hidden behind the reality of appearances and visible only to the ‘clearsighted’ at enigmatic moments. De Chirico wanted to unmask reality and show the mystery that lay underneath.
Visite aux Bains mystérieux I, 1935. This is perhaps the most surreal of de Chirico’s paintings. I wonder what happens inside that tiny building? Is it more than just a changing room?
What mystery lies beneath the surface of our reality? De Chirico sought to find it through his painting. His work encourages us to look deeper and see beyond the obvious. We are all seekers of the truth.
With so many choices for vampirism these days, the decision for immortality can be a daunting one. But stay with me, curious reader, as we delve into the murky world of the fanged undead. Stroll the aisles and choose the form of blood-lust that most appeals to you.
Yes, this the Twilight variety. Able to saunter around in daylight (looking eternally glum in the process), this vampire has some great features to consider. Sunlight has no negative effects. Plus, you become a disco-ball in the blazing sun. Bonus. Add to that the special ability you get by going vampiric (prophecy, telepathy, tracking) and you’re a vampire that’s going places.
Good old fashioned undead who shriek in the sight of the crucifix. Nothing beats the original. People often debate what happens when the cross-bearer or vampire isn’t Christian. Stop it. You’re complicating things. Just accept that crosses make the vampire flesh sizzle like bacon on a griddle.
Also known as the “Ugly Vampire.” These vamps often have chrome domes and pointy ears. But hey, looks aren’t everything. You get super long fingers, nifty German-Expressionist shadows, and the ability to cause disease. Who’s missing their hair now?
And now, new and improved, Nosferatu with hair. Check out the Radu model from Sub Species.
Maybe you don’t want to spend eternity in the shadows. Maybe you want to party down with your blood-sucking self. Why not opt for the public vampire. One that’s been outted from the coffin.
True, there are all those fangbangers to deal with. Groupies always flock to the famous. A warning here: with fame comes certain consequences. People want to drain your blood and sell it as the drug V. Now the vampire is the victim. Go figure.
Do you want vampire friends, but don’t relish the three bite quota of most vampire conversions? Well look no further, the virus vampire is your answer. Any blood contact, bite, scratch, hangnail, can create new vampires. This variety sprouts a nasty set of teeth, bordering on shark-like.
They have the added benefit of never truly dying. Just a bit of blood is all that it takes to revive them. Take a look at the grandaddy of long-living vampires, Christopher Lee in “Dracula, Prince of Darkness.”
Go ahead, make your choice. After all, if you’re going to be stuck with immortality, you might as well get the features you want.