Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Dead Travel Fast

This book is something like a pop culture history of the vampire.




It’s light and breezy, readable and engaging, but definitely not a “history.” Don’t read this book if you want trustworthy information. Read it for something like your goofy brother’s tale of a vacation. It’s lots of fun, but not really trustworthy.



Nuzum decided to investigate the proliferation of the vampire image in our modern world. He met with lots of “pretend” and “pretender” vampires, who come across as mostly either pathetic fanboy wannabes, or creepy (possibly sociopathic) intendees.



He talks about his Dracula tour of Eastern Europe, and it is loads of fun to read. The emphasis throughout the book is on fun and wry commentary, which is the intent of the book I suppose.



Here are three things that stuck out like bloody necks to me – mistakes of a sort. (Or mis-STAKES, bwah-ha-ha!)



1) In Nuzum’s quest to understand vampires, he decides to watch every vampire movie he can. In his comments, he says that although Dracula’s Daughter (1936) is a sequel to Universal’s 1931 Dracula, it doesn’t say what happened to the King Vampire. I guess Mr Nuzum must have missed the five-minute-long sequence where Gloria Holden burns her father’s body, hoping to give his soul peace.



2) Mr Nuzum says that there’s no evidence that the Countess Elizabeth Bathory bathed in blood trying to stay young. Umm, yes, those little things called court documents, they do say that, along with other descriptions and testimony contemporaneous with her trial and conviction on murder charges.



3) In his discussion of the long, sad decline of Bela Lugosi’s personal and professional life, Mr Nuzum mentions “During Lugosi’s lifetime, only one other actor attempted to portray Dracula in a film (John Carradine in 1945’s House of Dracula).” Mr Nuzum has evidently missed the 1944 House of Frankenstein, where Carradine FIRST played Dracula; as well as the 1943 film Son of Dracula, in which Lon Chaney, Jr played the King Vampire (reversing the name to present himself as Count Alucard).



So, as I said, this is a breezy and fun-to-read book, but read it for its atmosphere. Don’t use it as a fact-check reference. The $5 price I paid at Half-Price Books was about right.

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