The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Monday, October 10, 2005

A scary world

Great column by Al Martinez in The Los Angeles Times:

WHENEVER the country is in questionable shape, like now, we turn to supernatural creatures for help. Not the ones in Washington, D.C., but those that crawl from their graves and drop from the skies and come shuffling and drooling toward us from across the horizon. They can't make things better, but they do take our minds off the fix we're in at the moment. Our entertainment world has been shoulder to shoulder over the years with space aliens, vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies, sea monsters, bloodsuckers, nuclear-generated killer insects, savage seagulls, giant rabbits and even murderous cigar smoke. snip While none of these shows are even vaguely comparable to "Frankenstein," "Dracula" or any number of werewolf movies from my youth, they continue to serve a purpose, which, as I said earlier, is diverting our attention from the truly scary world we live in. This has been true during my lifetime beginning with shows like Orson Welles' radio presentation of "War of the Worlds," in which a terrified audience believed we actually were being invaded by Martians but which also took our minds off the lingering burden of the Great Depression, which happened not to be all that great . I was only 9, but I remember everyone in the neighborhood running outside to look skyward, hoping, or hoping not, to see the invaders, then ultimately deciding that they probably wouldn't bother with East Oakland anyhow. During World War II there was little need for make-believe monsters due to the unfortunate existence of so many real ones. But in the Cold War that followed, the dark prelude to the Atomic Age loosed Godzilla on us, accompanied by a creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mighty (but short-lived) Gorga and the strange and terrifying puppet people, among many other atom-generated anomalies. My intention is not to visit every decade's escape from reality through means of open graves and screaming hordes but to observe how often we use some form of entertainment to avoid confronting the more stultifying issues. Watching "Surface" the other night, my mind was locked on a boy and his baby sea monster (whose mama was out there smashing and killing for reasons not yet explained) and away from the surreal war in Iraq, where many are smashing and killing for reasons that were never truthfully explained.
Well worth reading in its entirety. And Howard Peirce of M Valdemar was the first to point out that we were entering a new upswing in interest in the horror genre.


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