The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lebanese vampire movie broadens the myth

Director Ghassan Salhab is setting a vampire movie in Beirut. This sounds like a film I'd like to see, but I doubt if it'll be at my friendly, neighborhood video store. The Daily Star of Lebanon has the details:

"[This film] follows the mutation of a man," he says to the tabletop. "It's about a doctor who's changing into a vampire."

Like many filmmakers before him, Salhab is interested in the metaphoric power of the vampire myth. "It isn't a genre movie with crosses and fangs and all that," he smiles. "It's not a gore movie. A vampire is very peculiar as he's neither living nor dead. He rejects day for night. The mirror doesn't respond to his image. This isn't a genre movie: I'm using the genre.

"We understand that the protagonist, Dr. Khalil, has been bitten. We see the vampire's victims." He refills his water glass. "It's like a classical tragedy insofar as the character has a tragic flaw which leads him to a certain end. You resist because you don't want to kill. You struggle against this destiny but you can't escape it."

Salhab says he wants to examine the process of change. "I'm not interested in the exterior aspects of mutation - except for the mirror not reflecting his image. The mirror is very interesting. It doesn't reflect you. It gives you another 'you.' You are confronted by the 'other,' but it's you.

"Khalil won't make any big speeches about not wanting to kill. It's about the battle between the beast and the man within all of us but it's not through words. As usual I don't explain a lot of things. I hope the audience feels them.

"I'm treating the vampire myth seriously. That's why I'm not using any special effects. The more special effects you use, the more comfortable the audience feels - because they know that it's a myth. The more human the protagonist looks, the more interesting the frontier between human and nonhuman."

I wish more directors of vampire films from Hollywood understood that concept.


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