2017 – Ringing in the New Year!

PrintWith the advent of a new year, sensibilities rise to the forefront of our mind. Perhaps more than a birthday, the new year sings its own reverie to get our ducks in a row, to begin again to tow the mark, bids us to turn the page and start anew. Yes, the new year taunts us to envision the horizon and see the future by improving our focus. The festivities are over – winter is settling in and she proves to be a preponderance of resolution our inner being innately underscores in its need for reparation toward the achievement of our newest creative seeds and their triumphant emergence in the springtime for summer’s consumption and fall’s exuberance.

As a fledgling entrepreneur / small business connoisseur, having experienced equally great successes and failures, it is time to embrace the season and refresh business acumen, ideologies and direction. It is time to take successes into the future, and to comprehend lessons-learned from entrepreneurial failures of the past, in order to benefit clients, customers, readers and authors universally in our future.

In order to enact benefits, change is required. So, throughout the month of January 2017, change is the plan of the hour. And, will be introduced as the month progresses to enrich government and commercial clients and customers, as well as literary and non-fiction readers and authors.

Both dpInk Company Ltd. and DonnaInk Publications, L.L.C. wish each of you happiness, prosperity, and health throughout 2017!

Advertisements

Urban Legends of Louisiana – The New Orleans Axeman

the-axemanOn May 22, 1918, Joseph Maggio and his wife Catherine, would meet gruesome fates at the hands of a fledgling serial killer: The Axeman of Louisiana.  The Maggios’ were asleep in their home, on the corner of Upperline and Camp streets, when their murderer broke in and sliced their throats with a straight razor. Catherine’s lacerations were so deep that her head was nearly severed.  Dissatisfied with his handy work, the Axeman decided to add his very own special touch by bashing in the heads of his victims with an axe.

The fledgling serial killer, now having committed the first of many heinous acts, found himself longing for the taste of blood again, just a few short weeks later.  During the wee hours of June 27, the Axeman would strike again.  Louis Besumer and his mistress, Harriet Lowe, were bludgeoned with an axe while they slept, ironically with the very axe that Besumer owned.  Both survived the attack,  Lowe died in August due to complications during surgery in attempt to repair damage done during the attack.

On the same day that Harriet Lowe passed, the Axeman sought out another victim.  28 year old, pregnant woman, Elmira Schneider, woke to a dark figure looming over her.  She was then bashed in the head repeatedly with a bedside lamp.

Just a few days after on August 10, Joseph Romano, an elderly man that was living with two of his nieces, was attacked in his sleep with an axe.  Romano survived for a couple of days before dying from his injuries.

It seems that our mysterious Axeman had had his fill.  Several months passed without incident; the streets of New Orleans had settled into a false sense of security.  On the night of March 10th, 1919 screams racked Jefferson Avenue as the Cortmiglia family woke to discover an intruder inside their home.  Charles, Rosie and their young daughter had all been attacked with an ace.  Charles and Rosie would survive but their young daughter died on the scene.

It seems, at this point, that our Axman was more than amused with himself.  Three days after the Cortmiglia attack the infamous “Axeman Letter” makes it’s appearance:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don’t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

The Axeman

 

One would imagine that the Axeman passed the next few weeks hidden in plain sight, observing the chaos that he had created among both the community and law enforcement.  Giddy with his handy-work, his thirst for violence peaked once more.  On August 10th 1919 the Axeman broke into the home of Steve Boca then attacked him while he slept with of course, an axe.  Boca also survived the attack but because of his injuries, could not recall any of the details.

Sarah Laumann, another of his victims who would recover with no recollection of the event, was attacked just a few weeks later.  On the night of September 3rd, neighbors of Laumann who had come to visit, broke down the door when she did not respond.  Laumann was found unconscious in her bed with sever head trauma and missing several teeth; a bloody axe was discovered on the front lawn.

On the night of October 27, 1919, the Axeman would commit his last “verified” attack, resulting in the murder of Mike Pepitone.  Pepitone had been asleep in his bed, next to his wife, who was spared from the attack.  Mrs. Pepitone awoke during the attack and witnessed the assailant flee from the scene but could give no definite description.

 

Many have both analyzed and speculated the identity and motivation of the Louisiana Axeman.  Regardless of his methods or madness, his identity and motivations remain a mystery.

Among one theorist is a dear friend of mine, Todd C Elliott.  Todd published a well researched, factual timeline of the true Axeman murders.  Elliott manages to bind the loose strings of this Louisiana mystery as he investigates all victims and suspects.  “Axes of Evil” is an insightful view of this well known, unsolved “Urban Legend”  Check out his book here!

Urban Legends of Louisiana – The Rougarou

rougarouHere’s another Louisiana legend that varies from community to community.  As a matter of fact, there are nearly as many versions of the legend as there are variations in spelling the name, Rougarou.

This legend took root in Midieval French culture and was born into Louisiana when the first French Canadian immigrant settled among us.  To the French settlers, the tale was spun to keep children in line and out of the woods, especially at night.  To locals, well versed in the effects of VooDoo, the Rougarou became an even more fierce creature.  Said to stand between 7 and 8 feet in height, the beast has a human body but the head of a wolf, with razor sharp teeth and glaring red eyes.  Some believe that you must not look into the eyes of the Rougarou, lest you befall the curse and become one yourself!

There are several theories on how to become a Rougarou.  First, If you were to kill a Rougarou, you could become infected with the curse if you are exposed to its’ blood.  To further this belief, If one were to kill a Rougarou and witness the beast returned to its’ true form, he should not tell anyone of the encounter for 1 year and a day else he would see the same fate.  Other legends, no doubt put in place by the Catholic church, states that if one does not abide by the rules of Lent for seven years, he will become a Rougarou.  And yet another version of the legend says that a person who is turned into a Rougarou is cursed for 101 days, upon the last day the curse is passed to the first victim that the beast draws blood from.  The Rougarou will then permanently return to his human form, the victim will turn into a Rougarou at sunset that day.  Lastly, it is said that one can be cursed by a witch an become a Rougarou as well.

So, what do you do if you are turned into a Rougarou?  I’m glad you asked!  Legend states that you will retain your human form during daylight hours, though you will appear quite sickly to those around you.  At night you will prowl around the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, and sometimes within the city of New Orleans itself.  In these areas you most certainly would not be alone in your prowling however, you would likely be the only one searching for prey, human prey that is!  The Rougarou is said to have and insatiable hunger for blood and unfortunately, it seems to search out those that he knows in his human form to feed upon.

Though there are some parallels between the Rougarou, Vampires and Werewolves, the three are not the same.  The Werewolf has an intolerance for silver, the Vampire detests holy relics, garlic, silver and sunlight.  I have only found these references to talismans used to ward off the Rougarou; a man would place a leaf inside of his wallet, a woman would paint a hexagon beneath her bed.  I don’t know about you, but I find these two forms of protection a bit on the weak side for my liking!

So how would one defend himself against this beast?  Looks like to me, you would have to kill it!  So silver bullets are out and so is the good old stake through the heart approach.  Thank God the Legends are thorough!  Cajun Legends state that the Rougarou must be decapitated and his body mutilated or burned, to keep him dead!

So when and where was the last Rougarou spotted?  Well, it has been a very long time and there is no photographic evidence as found in the case of the Honey Island Swamp monster (sometimes claimed to be akin to the Rougarou).  However, let’s not write the creature off just yet!   Since the massive flooding brought about by hurricane Katrina, there have been reports of something large moving about in the swamps just beyond the suburbs of New Orleans.  Howls and screeching noises can be heard echoing through the bayous at night beneath the Louisiana moon!  Perhaps this is the resurgence of the Rougarou, warning the inhabitants of the suburbs to stay out of the swamps, especially at night!

“Assured” eternal resting places……..

bars    Many cultures have taken precautionary measures concerning the passing of those suspected to be vampire.  For thousands of years mankind has cast spells, installed talismans or amulets, prayed on and otherwise thrown the proverbial  “kitchen sink” at final resting places of those thought to be infected by vampire.  Any inkling of a suspicion would result in desperate, and might I add, futile attempts to entomb “infected” corpses beneath the earth, never again to rise in search of blood.

 

 

spellProof can still be found in faded artwork within the ancient tombs of Egypt.  Many tombs have ancient spells which not only prevented the dead from rising but also insured that evil spirits could not penetrate tomb thus inhabiting the body that had been laid to rest within the tomb.  Within the archives of this blog you can find legends about Egyptian Vampire legends such as Menes and Sekhmet.

 

 

 

polish     In Slavic cultures, corpses of the undead still lie beneath mounds of rubble, their mouths held agape by bricks, their bones pinned to the ground by stakes and spikes.  Burial rituals vary from region to region, evidence of such can still be found today.  Some of which has been preserved by man, some of which is presently being excavated.

 

 

 

 

 

c4     Later in Victorian times, cages were installed over mortared grave sites, intent on  preventing the dead to rise.  Though an entirely explanation has been given to prevent panic within the public.  “Some” say that the cages were installed to prevent robbers from desecrating the graves and removing jewelry or other valuables that had been placed in the coffin with the deceased.

 

 

 

decap     Those suspected, in some cultures, were not necessarily “bitten” by one of the undead.  Many believed that it was possible to become vampire after having passed violently, or by suicide.  Extreme measures were sometimes executed to insure that the deceased would not rise from their graves.  In some cases the head would be removed and placed face down between the feet of the corpse.  Many rituals included removing the heart, sometimes burning it, or the entire corpse.

 

Follow me on Facebook

Vampire Warfare

sexy     As difficult as it is to comprehend, there are those among the living who refuse to succumb to the embrace of the immortal.

For those of you who insist on stockpiling garlic cloves and spend your evenings whittling stakes, I thought you would have interest in knowing the history concerning Vampire repellents!

As you well know, legends of the undead have existed for nearly as long as mankind has walked the earth. Artifacts have been excavated from ancient dig sites which validate their long-lived legends.  Not all of these ancient relics exalt their existence, some, in fact, were created with the intention of protecting the bearer from the wiles of the blood sucking wretches that were known to both civilize and destroy.

The Lilith Amulet

lilith-51     This particular amulet (and others like it) were excavated at a burial site in Ur; it is dated back beyond 2500 B.C.E.   Lilith and her children were said to roam the land during this era.  (More information on the Legend of Lilith can be found in my past blogs)  It was a well known fact, in these times, that Lilith herself vowed no harm would come to those who wore the amulet, particularly pregnant women or their infant children.

Scarab Amulet

scarab     Also found in the same and later eras was the Scarab amulet.  Both the Egyptians and Sumerians associated the Scarab with the sun God Ra.  Ra was given praise for rolling the new sun across the sky therefor renewing the bodies of his worshipers both is a physical and spiritual sense.  The light of Ra’s sun was known to cleanse both humans and earth of the evil spirits that roamed the land during the dark hours.

Garlic

garlicherb     Everyone knows that Vampires detest even the sight of Garlic, but why?  Garlic was known to be a sacred herb, so highly regarded was it’s worth that half of the pyramid builders wages were paid in garlic.  The herb was used in the embalming process; it was believed that its powers would repel evil spirits from inhabiting the bodies of the deceased therefore prohibiting the soul of that person from finding his way back to his body in the afterlife.  The mystical powers of garlic do not end here.  Amid many other beliefs, ancient Europeans knew that the pungent aroma would deter blood sucking insects.  Other cultures, along with that of the Egyptian lore, believed that garlic cured infections and killed bacteria.  It was in early European legends where the conception of Vampirism was first initiated via a virus.

Crucifixes, silver and sunlight

crucifixsilversun    Three of the most commonly known Vampire deterrents known through history all hale from the same legend.  The story of Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Christ, is one of the more well known Vampire origination theories.  Judas, after having been paid in silver coins to betray Jesus, was so distraught by his own actions that he hanged himself in a nearby tree.  This is where the story ends in most traditional religious literature.  Ah, but as legend would have it; there is always more.  After Judas’ soul abandoned his body, God brought him back to life, in a matter of speaking.  Judas was cursed by God to wander the earth in darkness until the day of reckoning.  In his eternal wandering, Judas would know the pain of losing all he knew and loved lest he cast his own curse upon them.  Never again would Judas feel the warmth of the sun on his face and forever he would thirst for the blood of the living.  It is because of Judas’ betrayal that Vampires loathe the symbol of the cross and silver, it is an ever present reminder to them of how they came to be the tormented souls that they are.

Running water repels Vampires

river     This belief stems from both Greek and Asian legends.  It was thought that the purity of running water was seen as offensive to the Vampire.   The Greeks would often relocate those suspected of being or becoming Vampire to isolated islands with the belief that they would not be able to tolerate the salt water for long enough to make their return to the mainland and feast on those that had opposed them.

Wooden Stakes through the heart

stake     The act of staking or impaling has endured for centuries, even in the time of ancient Babylonia.  The belief was a stake driven through the heart of a possessed or reanimated body would rid it of the evil that had claimed it.  Later in European regions, anyone that dies while suspected of being or becoming one of the undead was typically staked to the ground and decapitated thus preventing the body of rising from its grave.

Vampires and OCD

seeds     European folklore concerning Vampires often depicts them with arithmomania, such as a compulsion to count seeds or grains of rice.  It was for this reason that seeds would be scattered about the grave of those suspected of being or becoming Vampire.  Legend states that the newly undead would be so distracted by counting that they would never make it far from their grave before sunrise.

 

 

So there you have it, the history behind most of the well known Vampire deterrents known throughout legend and lore.  Much more information concerning the legends of Vampire origination can be found by searching my blog.

Live and uncensored!

69Lyn Gibson will be stopping by NIGHT TALK with JoeRoxx this THURSDAY for our 100th episode Lyn is a Best Selling VAMPIRE novelist and historian author of the “The Adrian Trilogy,” by Lyn Gibson is a three-part fictional account of the vampire legend experienced through the life of a modern-day warrioress ~ once real estate practitioner, Adrian. Her long-standing lucid dreams continuously elicit an epic figure in the form of Christian who is an eight-pack wielding hunk of manhood with a taste for blood and all-things Sanguianrian. Christian works to keep Adrian untainted by his malady but love and lust turn the tide of time to their both being immortals. Of course, their communications are full of passion and play before and after Adrian gets bit LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON This THURSDAY on NIGHT TALK with JoeRoxx 10 pm EASTERN.

Hammer: Dracula Prince of Darkness at 50 – Dead and just not putting up with it

Excellent tongue-in-cheek rummage through the many resurrections of Christopher Lee’s Count Dracula . . . from

WE’RE NEAR THE END OF A WEEK THAT’S PILED ON SOME TERRIBLE LOSSES. AND 2015 WAS PRETTY BAD. Over the last 12 months we’ve lost two British icons whose careers seemed to defy any idea of death. Sir Christopher Lee and David Bowie. Bowie played a vampire of course, in Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983). Lee’s illustrious career would take in everything from Gremlins to Jabberwockies and heavy metal, but he will be long remembered as a definitive vision of Stoker’s legendary vampire.

Of course, this horrid week also saw the loss of Alan Rickman, most famous to millions of Harry Potter fans for his glorious portrayal role of the vampiric Severus Snape. And just yesterday, Roberts Bank Stewart, the legendary British screenwriter, father of Bergerac, was also lost. Among his many achievements was the creation of Doctor Who’s premier shapeshifters the Zygons. Ah Dracula, one of literature’s great shapeshifters.

So from the depths of gloom, where better to look that at the glorious fall, rise, fall, rise and so on of Lee’s Count Dracula. As this bloody week ends, let’s celebrate utterly ridiculous over the top and glorious concept of resurrection.

Dracula Prince of Darkness was the second of Hammer’s films to feature Lee as the eponymous Count. Of course, it wasn’t the second of Hammer’s Dracula films, but 1960’s The Brides of Draculacan be dismissed along with 1977’s The Legend of the Golden Vampires. While both starred Peter Cushing as (a) Van Helsing, neither featured Christopher Lee. The latter even attempted to replace him, painfully. If you’re after the modes of vampire slaying therein: the shadow of a giant cross and a spear through the heart.

Dracula Prince of Darkness signalled the glorious return of Christopher Lee as the Count, eight years after his first appearance and sparking off the Hammer Dracula franchise proper. And as the first true sequel, it kick-started the Count’s ability to return. And of course, despite the wonderful recap of Dracula’s death almost a decade before, it rendered the whole final act killing of a vampire utterly pointless. The franchise didn’t care a jot for that however, and so began one of the earliest examples of a series where every successive film practically wiped out its predecessor. Don’t pursue that logic too heavily though. You’ll end up with The Satanic Rites of Dracula sat shivering and alone in the corner.

There’s more to Dracula Prince of Darkness – as well as bearing quite probably the best title of anyDracula film, it also kick-started double-bill horror. Released 50 years ago this week in the US it was accompanied rather oddly by The Plague of the Zombies. Some were luck to receive plastic vampire fangs and zombie eye glasses on attendance.

The film’s script features a very handy reminder of the many weaknesses of a vampire. Just as a refresher:

“He can be traced to his resting place during the daylight hours and there, a stake through the heart. He can be exposed to the direct rays of the sun. Running water will drown him. The cross will burn him. He is not invulnerable.”

But who needs to be invulnerable when you can constantly be reanimated, even a century later? And so, let’s have a good old and tongue-in-cheek rummage through the many resurrections of Christopher Lee’s Count Dracula.

Dracula (1958)

“I am Dracula and I welcome you to my house”

By no means a direct adaptation, it was still hammer’s most faithful adaptation of Stoker’s original novel. Jonathan Harker duly turns up to meet the Count, this time at the Castle Dracula outside Klausenburg, but the real reason for rapid departures was the lock-tight contract Universal Studios had cunningly taken out with the Stoker estate two decades before. Universal’s take, with Bela Lugosi apparently defining the role, looked to have the eminently adaptable story sewn up  (Stoker after all was business manager of the Lyceum Theatre for 27 years).

But months of wrangling yielded Hammer the rights to make the film while Universal were set to distribute what would become known as The Horror of Dracula in the United States. The Count would emerge a far more feral creature in Lee’s imposing hands, although not the mute and angry force of nature he would soon develop into. The supernatural abilities were pared back as Dracula became a highly physical foe, pared against Peter Cushing’s equally action-oriented Van Helsing. For all the stereotyping that came from Hammer’s prolific success, Dracula exemplifies. Stunning shooting, shocks and gore and Lee at him imperious best. Director Terrence Fisher reportedly suffered nightmares during the production. In every way this was intended to be the stuff that bad dreams are made of.

Copyright would release Dracula to the public domain in 1962. How fortunate it was that no one could wait four years.

How to reanimate a Vampire: No need!

Even under the confusing chronology of the conflicting Hammer films, we can accept that the Count has no need to be resurrected. Although off camera, it fell to the dark art of lawyers.

How to slay a vampire: Sunlight (Vitamin D).

In a splintering chase, Abraham Van Helsing pursues Dracula as he races back to his castle lair high in the Carpathian Mountains before the sun rises. After saving Mina from Dracula’s vicious attack a breakneck chase around the castle interior ends when a quick-thinking Van Helsing sprints down a table and leaps onto the castle’s tapestry curtains like a cat. Caught by the sunlight, Dracula is forced into the rays when Van Helsing pushes him back with a cross of candlesticks. Dracula is slowly reduced to a pile of dust which blows away to reveal a ring.

Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966)

“My master died without issue, sir… In the accepted sense of the term.”

One of cinema’s great reboots. One that spawned the other great Hammer cycle, tied Christopher Lee’s name even more extricably to the role and was another key nail in the coffin that would later unleash immortal slashers on the world. Unlike the Baron Frankenstein who was well on his way to his fourth cinematic outing, here was the monster that could reanimate itself 9with a little help). Although never stepping into the difficult area of antihero. Legendarily causing cold sweats at the BBFC, Prince of Darkness has a quite extraordinary build-up. The hapless four travellers, three of them barely able to get a word in with the wonderfully irritating Charles in their party, are warned away from a trip to Carlsbad, but end up guided by fate, superstition and a riderless horse drawn carriage to Castle Dracula where the Counts regeneration awaits. Lee, ever brilliant, remains silent throughout (writer Jimmy Sangster and the actor disagreed on whose decision that was). With a much enhanced budget, Prince of Darkness puts the emphasis on appearance and succeeds through a swagger that overcomes the rather light and, shudder, dull plot. The Count is now a totem of utter feral, seductive evil. All hissing, scarpering, cloak trailing and peerless reaction shots. But at the risk of repetition, the Count was in dire need of a Van Helsing.

How to reanimate a vampire: Lure a dolt, cosh him, drain him.

The wonderfully loyal Klove runs a whole castle by himself 10 years on from Dracula’s destruction and, no doubt compelled by one of the travellers Charles’ taunting that both he and his abode are dusty, realises his purpose with the use of a fine banquet and supernaturally compelled horses. On the first night he takes out Charles’ older brother Alan with an off-screen throat slit (despite the BBFC saving him from decapitation) yielding just the blood (masala) to reanimate Dracula’s ashes in a ridiculously ornate reanimation chamber. Ritual was very in. Very slowly in. One of many story’s that hinge on the need for a slave to condemn themselves to perpetual bondage.

How to slay a vampire: Ice, ice, slay me…

Another rip roaring chase, this time following Dracula’s coffin on horseback. A neat inverse of the first film, here is a race against the failing light, ending as Dracula’s tomb slides across the frozen ice around Castle Dracula. While Charles proves most ineffectual at scrapping on the ice his wife’s desperate gunshot gives a priest a marvellous idea and his swift fire power promptly submerges the count in the icy water. It all looks wonderful, a superbly filmed finale up until the abrupt ending. Although running water… Really?

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)

“Now my revenge is complete”

The Carpathian ball was rolling, not least thanks to this film’s sensationalist title (at least it wasn’t exploitationist – more of that later, in the ‘70s). Risen carries some of the series most distinctive scenes thanks to its opening and closing on the rocky trails up to Castle Dracula. In-between, its all overt eroticism as Dracula is forced to compel young women to do his bidding, the poor love. Oh, and there’s a drunk priest. This film was a bit of a tipping point for Hammer let alone their Dracula series. Lee, already unsettled by the series lack of authenticity to the source novel was persuaded back to the role by the Hammer owners only to be over-ruled, quite incorrectly, over the ridiculous scene where Dracula pulls a stake from his chest amid spurting blood. Vivid it may be, but it’s almost as if the makers read this post and hoped to mock it. I mean, stakes that require devout belief behind the force? Elsewhere, Hammer was less interested in ramping up the visual than Veronica Carlson as Dracula’s ongoing victim.

How to reanimate a vampire: Have a reputation that drives a priest to drink and bloody mistakes.

It’s 1906. Mildly less ridiculous than the English gallivanters of the previous entry, a strident priest and a drunk one head up to Castle Dracula from the terrified village that sits in its shadow. Having barred the doors with a huge cross, the drunken priest proves an inevitable liability when running from a storm and foolishly smashing his head on some rocks. The blood seeps onto the ice that’s kept the Count chilled out. Yes, that’s right. Encased in the running water that caused his defeat in the previous film.

How to slay a vampire: Holy impalement and prayer.

Proving once again, that most accidents happen at home, the Count returns at long last from the village with a girl he compels to debar his castle… Before a battlement scrap with her boyfriend causes him to fall onto, you guessed it, the very same cross that barred his door before. The earlier drunken priest who’s not only been through the ringer of a headache but also under the Count’s control for much of the film redeems himself by reducing the vampire to dust with the words of the Lord’s Prayer. He doesn’t even have time to check his mail.

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)

“They have destroyed my servant. They will be destroyed…”

Taste may break into the 1970s and push Hammer poster boy Ralph Bates to the fore, but it’s also somehow the best Dracula film since 1958. No disrespect to Carpathia, but part of the reason is its relocation to a wonderfully atmospheric Victorian London. It’s also great to see good old Peter Sallis get up to some immorality as the depths of he and his friends’ secret lives lead to the Counts reanimation. You would hardly know that Ralph Bates was lined up to reanimate himself as the new Count before Lee cloaked up once more to sink his teeth into revenge.

Its strength is not only the relocation, but the strong sub-plot of three family men being dragged down by the fear of their crime and insidious double lives. The worst part is Dracula’s immediate quest for to avenge the death of his young servant. The travel obviously affected him greatly. And the script did have to contend with Lee’s ever increasing reluctance. Oh that the budget had stretched to include Vincent Price as one of the three Gentlemen objects of Dracula’s revenge. then it might have been THE classic.

How to reanimate a vampire: Devout followers happy to put their bodies on the line.

On the road to hell, the last thing three morally corrupt Victorian gents need is to be seduced to the dark arts by charismatic disgraced Lord Courtley. Black mass is too much for them, but in beating the Lord to death in panic they inadvertently reanimate the Dark Lord thanks to a phial of his powdered blood, carried from the East (which Courtley had earlier drunk). Oh, and in case Revenue and Customs are reading, they’d carried Dracula’s broach over too.

How to slay a vampire: Throw the church sink.

Swapping his castle for an atmospheric London chapel, Dracula gets to tear around once more, before being decimated by the light of a stain glass window, the recanting of the Lord’s Prayer in a quickly re-sanctifying church and finally a fall to the alter cross below. He returns to dust once more, a state that was quickly becoming his natural one. Talk about overloading defeat.

Scars of Dracula (1970)

“You fools! You think you can destroy my Master? The flames will never reach him.”

Made as a rapid follow-up, Scars starts in dazzling fashion before quickly collapsing. Back in Carpathia there’s no hanging around this time as the villagers of Kleinenburg assault Castle Dracula after discovering a girl’s corpse with unmistakable puncture wounds. Villagers, even villagers with pitchforks, prove to be no match for a fleet of revenge bats who massacre the wives and children holed up in the village church below. It’s horribly gruesome and only really let down by the bat effects. But this random break with continuity after the franchise’s previous glorious trek to London was just the tip of the changeberg. Not only did distribution fell to EMI, but Scars also has the horrific distinction of being the first R-rated Hammer film. It’s unclear if that’s entirely down to Dennis Waterman taking the role of hero.

Perhaps the real writing was on the castle wall with contemporary comparisons between the scenes of bat attack and Hitchcock’s The Birds. If a deliberate reference to that classic, it was seven years out. And Dracula was already two films into a decade that would bring exorcists and slashers. Next time he had no choice but to get fully up to date.

How to reanimate a vampire: Be kind to your pets.

In a prologue breaking the logic of the previous film, Dracula’s remains are somewhat extraordinarily assembled on a plinth in a room high up in his castle tower, accessible only through a window. Of course the real reason is to have the Count scarper down the walls later on, a reference to the Stoker novel and one that undoubtedly pleased a far more active Lee. He would even get to string some sentences together in this film. And that’s not the only sign of increased superpowers. Having persisted far too long with human help, he now relies on a large bat to fly in and vomit onto his remains the sweet, regurgitated blood of rejuvenation. Presumably it was bats that repatriated his remains in the first place. Just as well, Klove, returning from Prince of Darkness has not only morphed into Patrick Troughton but finally turns on his master…

How to slay a vampire: Impale, burn and plummet.  

Taking to the battlements of Castle Dracula once again as a storm bears down on them, Dennis Waterman’s bold attempt to impale Dracula with an iron spike goes awry when he hits the wrong side of the chest. This rookie error, something we’ve come to expect in the continuing absence of Van Helsing, is rectified when the Count, attempting to return the favour finds that giant iron spikes make irresistible lightning rods. Engulfed in flames, the Count falls from the battlements edge to end up burning on the ground far below.

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

“Look on me Dracula look on me and remember”

For all the gimmick of the 1972 reboot, Hammer knew how to get a few things right. One is the glorious (re)appearance of not one but three Van Helsings. The second is the glorious opening where Van Helsing number one (oddly, Lawrence van Helsing) grapples with the Count on the roof of an out of control horse drawn carriage in 1872. Rescued and resuscitated from his certain demise 100 years later, the rest of the film was always going to be odd, and can’t help but looks like a trailing attempt to update the Hammer brand in the wake of modern horror.

Broad brush stroke decisions, such as the round 100 year update – and so placing the opening sequence a good decade before the 1880s set original Hammer Dracula – ram those nails in. Still, it’s not the worst film in the franchise, mainly thanks to the sheer class of pitching Cushing and Lee against each other once again. 1972 packs in a police procedural, the domesticity of the Van Helsing sitting room and keeps Dracula lodged in the decrepit church he was reborn in As an unimpressed Lee said, “all I get to do is stand around on unhallowed ground, sweep down corridors and make the odd pounce or two”. But all is virtually forgiven when the excellent opening is balanced by the final stand-off between the two adversaries, where the circling Lee even gets to utter some Stoker dialogue (albeit, missing the context somewhat): “You would play your brains against mine. Against me who has commanded nations?”

How to reanimate a vampire: Wait a hundred years and invoke a blood ritual.

His ashes interred alongside his nemesis’ grave, it takes the coercion of the subtly monikered Johnny Alucard (fond of the old jazz spectacular) for a group of teens, including the latest in the Van Helsing line Jessica, to invoke a black magic ritual to resurrect Dracula in the derelict St Bartolph’s church at the far too early expense of Carol Lombard. Dracula lands his best bit of prime London real estate yet.

How to slay a vampire: Take your pick. An improvised stake through the heart or a bear-pitfull of stakes with a splash of holy water.

It’s an affecting but rather unfortunate run of events that leads Dracula to kick Van Helsing from a galloping carriage only to emerge from the ensuing crash to find the spokes of a wheel in his chest. Van Helsing’s wits are enough about him to push home the point. Wonderful, vulnerable, snarling, lurching acting from Lee from which a thousand slashers were cloned.

In the 20th century, the need for Van Helsing and Dracula to circle each other doesn’t prevent the bizarrely named Lorrimer (that’s ‘harness maker’ in Latin – an obtuse metaphor) Van Helsing being far more prepared than his ancestors. Rescuing his granddaughter, Van Helsing realises that holy water has been under-utilised in the franchise and by applying that liberally to the count he forces him into a pre-prepared pit of stakes. That should do it.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

“Oh, just a quiet bit of mind blowing”

Comes the end, not a moment too soon. The film once supposedly titled Dracula is Dead and Well and Living in London famously inspired Lee to 20 adjectives. One of them was “fatuous” – the rest are unrecorded. The actor’s ongoing struggle to retain even a shred of elements from Stoker’s original reached a new level in a plot that pits the Count as a Bond villain, intent on unleashing a new strain of bubonic plague on the Earth on 23 November, the Sabbath of the Dead. Ridiculous scenes include the Mafiosa style interview where Van Helsing visits the pseudonym who couldn’t be any more obviously Dracula, on the offices built on the graveyard of St Botolph’s from the previous film… And can’t make him out thanks to the judicious use of an angle-poise lamp. But, it certainly draws out the dialogue, a fresh step away from the feral Count who dominated the series. Minimal debate rages over whether this is superior to Dracula 1972 AD. It isn’t. Two years later, the Dracula films behind him, Lee would become a real Bond villain.

Wonderful reblog from: http://jokerside.com/2016/01/16/hammer-dracula-prince-of-darkness-at-50-dead-and-just-not-putting-up-with-it!

jokerside

Hammer Dracula Dead and not putting up with it

Of the minor things worth celebrating in what’s been a rather terrible week is the 50th anniversary of the US release of Dracula Prince of Darkness. Jokerside breaks the gloom with a look at the glorious world where resurrection is FACT.

WE’RE NEAR THE END OF A WEEK THAT’S PILED ON SOME TERRIBLE LOSSES. AND 2015 WAS PRETTY BAD. Over the last 12 months we’ve lost two British icons whose careers seemed to defy any idea of death. Sir Christopher Lee and David Bowie. Bowie played a vampire of course, in Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983). Lee’s illustrious career would take in everything from Gremlins to Jabberwockies and heavy metal, but he will be long remembered as a definitive vision of Stoker’s legendary vampire.

Of course, this horrid week also saw the loss of Alan Rickman, most famous to millions of Harry Potter fans for his glorious portrayal…

View original post 3,556 more words