When I was young, a Boston TV station aired a Saturday afternoon syndicated program called Creature Double Feature. Two horror movies played back-to-back. If I were lucky, the selection would be dual Hammer Films starring Christopher Lee as Dracula.
Christopher Lee was a master at portraying Dracula—slicked-back hair, black cape, bloodshot eyes. He was tall, suave and sophisticated, yet terrifying when threatened. Christopher Lee turned fanged and ferocious when facing down Peter Cushing, who played Dracula's on-screen nemesis, Dr. Van Helsing.
And thus, my fascination with vampires began.
I'm not biased—I enjoy vampires in their many on-screen and literary forms. My tastes span the gamut from the traditional Nosferatu and Dracula to modern badasses Blade and Selene. My latest favorite vampire movie (and subsequent FX series of the same name) is the mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows. Brilliant and hilarious.
However, the vampire stereotypes featured on TV, in books, and movies all originate from folklore. Nearly every culture has its version of a vampire. And that is what I find truly fascinating.
In New England—where I live—the New England Vampire Panic occurred during the mid to late 1800s. People didn't understand the disease, tuberculosis. And, there was no cure—the victim would waste away over time. Once one family member contracted the disease, it would often spread. People blamed the malaise on an undead family member returning from the grave and feeding on the living.
In this recent article (August 5, 2019), DNA was used to identify Connecticut vampire, "JB 55", whose remains were found with his skull removed and placed above his crossed arms. This was an post-burial attempt to keep the vampire grounded in his grave.
So, I guess it's why I decided to write my own vampire story. Vampires are an interesting mix of fiction, folklore, and truth. And, it appears that they are here to stay.