The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads

Via an anonymous commenter, an excellent supernatural investigation site, Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads.

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Ghost hunting summit

From the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle:

Ghost hunting isn't as glamorous at it looks on television. That's just one of many common misconceptions Western New York Paranormal, a local team of paranormal investigators, wants to clear up. "Most of our investigations are going out and sitting around in a dark house, taking pictures and shooting video," said Dwayne Claud, an investigator with the team. To set the record straight, the group launched the first Supernatural Summit on Saturday at the Army Reserve Center on North Goodman Street. "We think that putting on a conference like this will help to educate the public," Claud said. The conference blends the scientific methods of hunting the supernatural — ghosts, spirits and other unexplained phenomena — with the spiritual approach of psychics and tarot card readers. On the first day of the conference, shoppers browsed among crystals, candles and books. Others attended workshops focused on the history and methods of ghost hunting, like "Ghost Hunting 101" and "Orbs: What Are They Really?"

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Code in the DaVinci Code decision

From The BBC:

The judge who presided over the failed Da Vinci Code plagiarism case at London's High Court hid his own secret code in his written judgement. Seemingly random italicised letters were included in the 71-page judgement given by Mr Justice Peter Smith, which apparently spell out a message. Mr Justice Smith said he would confirm the code if someone broke it. "I can't discuss the judgement, but I don't see why a judgement should not be a matter of fun," he said.

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Terrifying specter haunts pub

From the Yorkshire Post:

A TERRIFIED landlord is calling in a priest to exorcise his Yorkshire pub after he confronted a ghostly apparition causing mayhem to his premises. Roger Froggatt, of the Low Valley Arms, was left severely shocked after seeing the ghostly figure of a woman dressed all in white when he went to what he thought was a break-in at his Barnsley pub around at 1.30am yesterday. But it was when he went to check the toilets that he got the shock of his life. In front of him stood the grotesquely disfigured apparition of an elderly woman dressed all in ghostly white. When she turned to look at him he saw half her face was missing, from her cheekbone down to her jaw. He and his wife Kathryn were so terrified they called the police who also witnessed spooky goings-on.

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Shipyard calls in vicar to expel ghost

From the North West Evening Mail of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria:

STRANGE spirits have scared the life out of BAE shipyard workers, prompting top brass to call in ghost-busting experts. A specialist in paranormal research and the shipyard’s chaplain, Reverend Di Hervey, will visit the Pipe Shop on Ferry Road next Tuesday to exorcise the spirit. They have been called in after paranormal occurrences caused things to go bump in the night.

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Suspected killer claims to be 300-year-old werewolf

The murder suspect linked to Vampire Freaks (see posts below) has some issues:

Jeremy Steinke is accused of a horrific crime: Killing a mother, father and their eight-year-old son in Medicine Hat. Now the mother of the 23-year-old suspect is speaking out, saying her son has been maligned in the media. Acquaintances of Steinke have told the press that he claimed to be a 300-year-old werewolf who liked the taste of blood. But Jacqueline May paints a different picture of her son, who is charged with three counts of first degree murder for killing a family. His 12-year-old girlfriend has also been charged. “He talked to me about anything,” says May. “He would say, ‘Mom, I love you,’ and I would tell him I love him."

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NY Post vs. Vampire Freaks

The New York Post gets shrill about Vampire Freaks.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Croatia revives vampire -- for tourists

So if the vampire is revived and kills all the tourists, what will that do to Croatia's economy.

KRINGA, Croatia (AFP) - As evening mist slowly embraces this village in the heart of Croatia's picturesque Istrian peninsula, a few young enthusiasts gather in a bar trying to revive the legend of a 17th century local Dracula. Sitting in a red velvet chair in the "Vampire" bar, decorated with garlic wreaths and lamps with crosses, Mladen Rajko explains how local tourist authorities launched a project last year called "Jure Grando, the Vampire from Kringa". "No one is claiming that vampires or evil forces exist, all we want is to promote a documented legend in order to boost what we can offer tourists," says Rajko, 28, head of the nearby municipality of Tinjan.
Be careful Rajko. So who is their local version of Count Dracula?
In his 15-tome work "The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola", which was published in 1689 in Germany Valvasor tells the story heard when he visited Kringa. According to the legend, for 16 years after his death and burial Grando terrorised his former fellow-villagers, notably his widow. At night he wandered the area knocking on the doors of houses, many of whose inhabitants later died, it said. The lustful demon paid regular visits to his widow, forcing her to continue fulfilling her marital duties. Eventually, in 1672 a group of nine local men decided that they had to put an end to the menace. Upon opening his grave they saw Grando, his body intact, smiling at them. After the first attempt to drive a hawthorn stake through his corpse failed because the wood rebounded, the bravest of the nine eventually managed to decapitate the body, bringing to an end Grando's reign of terror, the legend said. "Grando already has all the characteristics of future literary vampires -- who appear some 150 years later -- he is a cynic, challenges both civil and church authorities and is sexually active," explains Boris Peric, a writer who investigated the issue.
Actually, those characteristics probably describe a lot of the tourists too.

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Frankenstein on trial in Indiana

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

VALPARAISO | The chains around the waist of the massive creature clanked noisily as he lumbered through the courtroom. Too large to fit easily into the witness stand, he flopped clumsily into the seat. "He left me, he abandoned me," the creature said, abdicating responsibility for the four murders in question. All the while, Victor Frankenstein, the creature's creator, sat at the defense table with a blank stare. The debate over who was to blame -- Dr. Frankenstein or his creation -- played out in the Porter County Courthouse on Tuesday evening. The mock trial, conducted by the Valparaiso High School Speech and Debate team, was part of the annual "VALPO Reads a Book!" civic event to encourage reading and conversation in the community. Organizers chose Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" as the book this year because of its universal themes.
What a great idea. You'll have to read the full story to find out the verdict. Before you do though, if you're familiar with the book, is Dr. Frankenstein guilty or innocent of the acts committed by his Monster in your opinion?

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Accused killers met on vampire site

No it wasn't here. It was Vampire Freaks. From The Chronicle Herald in Canada:

MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — In one photo, she can be seen holding a gun to the camera as she professes her love for goth, punk, dark poetry and death metal music. In another, she’s pretending to cry, black teardrops drawn in eyeliner marking her cheeks. The images of a preteen girl, now accused of killing her parents and younger brother, were part of her website on the Internet, where she is said to have met the co-accused in the slayings, the Calgary Herald reported Tuesday. The two were arrested in Saskatchewan on Monday after the bodies of the deceased were discovered in their Medicine Hat home Sunday afternoon. "I go crazy if I’m kept inside my house for to (sic) long," the girl wrote in a Feb. 23 blog entry. The 12-year-old girl cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. A classmate of the seventh grader told the Calgary Herald she was "feeling really sad" because the girl was one of her closest friends. The friend told the newspaper the girl was a good student, earning marks in the 80s and above, but started to change about six weeks ago. Her well-scrubbed look turned goth with dark eyeliner and black nail polish, she said, referring to the teen subculture characterized by a preoccupation with macabre themes of death, darkness and sometimes vampires.
The people at Vampire Freaks are discussing it in this message thread. raging angel nailed it in my opinion:
So, did they find the body in Jet's apartment [he's the founder of Vampire Freaks, Carnacki]? No? They didn't? So why is anyone surprised that two out of five hundred thousand are murderers? Cleveland has a higher ratio of killers than this place does.

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Ghost aboard whaler

From United Press International:

Paranormal researchers say they're convinced a pipe-smoking ghost may be aboard the 165-year-old whaling ship Charles W. Morgan in Mystic, Conn. Based on sightings of the silent man wearing 19th century clothing in the Mystic Seaport ship's blubber-rendering room, members of the Rhode Island Paranormal Research Group did some initial testing last week. "I'm convinced there's something going on, and I'm pretty sure that the majority of it isn't naturally caused," Andrew Laird, founder of the volunteer research group, told the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. While 90 percent of paranormal activity reports are explained by natural causes, the Morgan's case falls into "that rare 10 percent," Laird said. "We have not confirmed the evidence, we have to review it. But we have enough to go back for a full investigation" in June, Laird said.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Horrors of War

SlashFilm reviews b-movie flick Horrors of War:

For its budget, too, the war scenes are very realistic, not the least bit cheesy. Ross and Whitney found WWII reenactors to add to the supposed reality of the film, and they work. I felt like I was really at the war, not some fields and forests in Ohio. Impressive. Additionally, the special effects were campy and cheesy, but not too far over the top to take away from the drama. I mean, it's hard to make a werewolf or zombie B-film and not have the camp. But i liked it. The zombies looked as realistic as zombies can, and the werewolf had great long hair. It doesn't get much better than that. Also, when blood and gore were needed, they were not too over the top either. Just about right. This isn't some film where the gore goes spraying everywhere. I remember a scene where the werewolf bites a soldier's arm, and we see a close-up of the mauled arm, and it's a little scary. Then there's a close up on the soldier's face and we begin to see him turning into a werewolf as well. It was all well done.
B-movies are where it's at in horror. See post below too.

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Bram Stoker's Dracula's Curse

This sounds fun. From

This movie is quite possibly the movie all vampire LARPers have been waiting for. It's a coked up Vampire: The Eternal Struggle. In fact, this is a blueprint for the most ambitious scenario you role-play types have ever seen. We got FOUR different vampire factions here. We got The Nine. We got the Random Vampires that show up every so often to provide aid and comfort for The Nine, and even better than that... ...we got an ending with so many twists it'll make your EYES BLEED. Seriously. I was watching this, and when they got to the one hour twenty eight minute mark and pulled out those swords and got down to the dueling, I thought, damn. Somewhere, every vampire LARPer on earth just had a simultaneous orgasm and they're only vaguely sure why. "I--I don't KNOW what happened! It just suddenly felt like vampires and Highlander just got crossed over and...and...and then I needed a change of pants."

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Tarzan vs vampire

I confess my heart rate increased when I first saw the headline on this Washington Post article. I'll save you the trouble of following the link. Here's what the article is really about:

The reigning champion of Broadway with long-running hits such as "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast," Disney's latest mega-musical about the jungle man Tarzan is one of the most expensive shows ever mounted. Rival Hollywood studio Warner Bros. is challenging Disney with its first foray into musicals, "Lestat," which opens on Tuesday and is based on Anne Rice's vampire novels and featuring songs by Elton John and his writing partner, Bernie Taupin.
OK, back to the cool stuff. My inner fanboy wants to run wild with the idea of Tarzan -- the version from the Edgar Rice Burrough's books where he's multilingual and intelligent -- battling a vampire. You could set the story in either London or a remote African village. Works either way for me.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

A grim followup

I want to follow up briefly on yesterday's post on Silent Hill. One of the unfair criticisms in the MTV review of the movie is it describes it as owing much to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos (yea!) while also calling the movie too dark and grim. WTF? If it's inspired by the Cthulhu mythos, it should be grim and dark. Don't get me wrong. I love the haunted house comedies (The Old Dark House, the Cat and the Canary) as much as anyone -- if not more so -- and I thought Slither one of the most underrated monster films in ages, but that doesn't mean every horror film has to be like that. I'm looking forward to Silent Hill. The Fungi of Yuggoth have apparently infested the brain of the MTV reviewer.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Silent Hill

MTV covers Silent Hill:

All of this owes a heavy debt to the demon-stoked Cthulhu stories of H.P. Lovecraft, and the movie actually does those tales some grisly justice. But the story, which also involves Sharon's much-less-cuddly twin sister and another creepy little girl who's vague about her identity, is tediously complicated, and it goes on and on and on (the movie feels about 30 minutes longer than its two-hour running time). The characters are ciphers — you don't really care what happens to them. And because the picture is so unrelentingly morbid, and its visual design so unvaryingly grim, it makes you feel as if you're trapped under a rock. This may be part of the appeal of the video games; in a movie, where you can't break away to grab a sandwich, it quickly becomes oppressive. In a way, "Silent Hill" is well done; it definitely has its own look, and its own blighted emotional atmosphere. But it's not enjoyable in the way that good horror movies always are. It's a dank, slow trudge, an oddly meandering trip that, halfway through, you may wish you hadn't bought a ticket for.
Bah, I'm still buying a ticket for it. The trailers looked fantastic and it's a horror movie. It's supposed to be morbid and grim.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Terror in the attic II

Need more room in the house.* Kids are growing. House too small. Spent from last Friday to Tuesday clearing out the attic. Threw the junk stored up there in one pile and clothes and toys to donate to Goodwill and Rescue Mission in another pile. Tore out the 1972 carpet filled with dust. Tore out the old ceiling tile. Wednesday installed new ceiling tile, installed two new light fixtures and new outlets. Thursday installed new ceiling moulding and trim and painted old dark paneling with one coat primer and two coats new Churchill Hotel Ivory until 1 a.m. Today installed new wood flooring. Almost finished up with that. Just few pieces to cut in and put floor trim in. Contractor is nearly finished installing new windows. I'm tired. But mostly happy. * Sorry for the lack of complete sentences. I'm really too tired to be blogging.

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A Robert E. Howard Western

I've always thought that if Robert E. Howard had not killed himself at such a young age, he would have been best known today for his Western tales. He would really have given Louis Lamour a run. I first reported back in February how Paradox Entertainment obtained the rights to Howard's non-Conan characters (archive seems screwed up at the moment). Here's a release the company just put out:

Not long after acquiring the entire Robert E. Howard library, Paradox Entertainment announced it has commenced development of a motion picture based on one of Howard's many western stories, titled "Vultures of Wahpeton." The story is an action thriller that focuses on the character Steve Corcoran, an amoral Texas gunslinger who finds himself far from home in a mining boomtown. Appointed Sheriff, his job is to rid the town of its crushing lawlessness. But Corcoran soon finds himself drawn into a conspiracy to rob the town, led by a mysterious gang known as The Vultures. The movie will be produced by Paradox's Peter Sederowsky and Fredrik Malmberg along with producer Ken Aguado via his company, Standard Film Group. Leif Rahmqvist acts as executive producer. Paradox has hired David Heller to adapt the novella into a screenplay. Says Aguado, "This is really one of the best stories I've read since `Unforgiven.' It has all the elements of the great Hollywood westerns: a strong, enigmatic lead fighting evil while battling his inner demons."

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The spectre in the cellar

From the Wiltshire (U.K.) Evening Advertiser:

YET another ghostly apparition has been seen at a Devizes public house after ghosthunters photographed what they believe to be a spirit at the White Bear in Monday Market Street. Members of the Swindon-based South West Paranormal Group spent the night in the pub cellar on February 18. One of the group, medium Billy McLeod, was aware while being shown round the pub by landlord Bryan Smith-Dowse of a young woman in a 1960s-style floral dress and a young man in a butcher's apron, whose name was Mark and who died in 1989 at the age of 29, possibly having taken his own life. In the bar area, Mr McLeod became aware of a young boy and a man dressed in highwayman's clothing. This man, said Mr McLeod, was about 30 and may have been called David Robson or Robeson. He seems to have been a real ladies' man. He showed Mr McLeod two photographs, one of young blonde woman and one of a woman dressed as a man. In the cellar, Mr McLeod sensed a young woman being pinned up against the wall and a man, about 6ft 2in, with a moustache and a ferocious temper. The group held a sance and came up with the name Lucy.

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Buffy author begins new series

From iFMagazine:

Well-known and respected BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER novelist Nancy Holder has been hard at work on a new supernatural book series. Premiering in bookstores everywhere June 13th will be Holder’s new novel DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES.

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Supernatural and science

From the Swarthmore College newspaper, The Phoenix:

Supernatural conjures up many connotations to the modern ear, none of them fashionable or desirable in the august halls of academia. Quackery and primitivism come to mind, and many suspect that soon the pursuit of knowledge based on reason will die if we begin to turn to the miraculous for explanations.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A tribute to Laurie R. King

Fellow Holmesian bustacap emailed me his recent tribute to Laurie R. King. I liked it so much I'm posting it here with his permission:

Cheers to Laurie R. King. She's the author of one of my favorite series of books, the Mary Russell novels. If you'd told me several years ago that today I'd be reading (and loving) a series of feminist historical novels, I'd have called you a nutjob ... yet here I am. I have been an avid Sherlockian (i.e. rabid fans of all things Sherlock Holmes) for much of my life. Five years ago or so, I was searching out pastiches to fulfill my Holmes jones, and ran across an oddly-named (but highly-praised) "The Beekeeper's Apprentice". The premise is this (slightly modified from an uncredited review):
At 15 years of age, Mary Russell is tall and gangling, bespectacled and bookish, as well as tormented by the accidental demise of her parents and younger brother in a car accident that left her scarred but alive. In 1915, the orphaned heiress is living in her ancestral home on Sussex Downs (in the south of England) with an embittered aunt acting as Mary's guardian until she comes of age. To escape the aunt's generally malevolent disposition, Mary wanders Sussex Downs, exploring reading books. On one such outing, she literally trips over a gaunt, elderly man sitting on the ground, "watching bees." This gentleman turns out to be Sherlock Holmes (who, as every Holmesian knows, retired to Sussex to raise bees). The resulting acquaintance evolves into a mentoring experience for the young woman. The story is well written in a style reminiscent of Conan Doyle's, but is also very much King's own. The plot is by turns predictable and surprising, and the characterizations are excellent, with skillfully evoked times and places. Readers come to understand much of Holmes that was unexplained by Dr. Watson. These additions are entirely plausible, and the relationship between the great detective and his apprentice is a delight. Readers see much of Sussex, London, and even of student life at Oxford and the conditions of Romanies (Gypsies) in Wales. Wartime Britain is accurately evoked, and the whole is a lot of fun to read. While a fitting addition to the Holmes oeuvre, the narrative is delightfully feminist.
I was captivated, and devoured the book, as well as several sequels, as soon as they became available. Russell, as tough-minded and brilliant in her own way as Holmes, matures into almost the perfect foil for him ... even, perhaps, better than Watson (heresy!). Over the years, their relationship progresses, and Russell becomes more than simply an apprentice to Holmes; an unlikely (yet satisfying) April-December romance blooms between them. Thus far the series has explored the nascent feminist movement in England (A Monstrous Regiment of Women), ancient early Christian theology (A Letter of Mary), the Devonshire Moors -- the ominous setting of Holmes' most famous adventure "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (The Moor), early 1900s Palestine (O Jerusalem), murder amongst the British aristocracy (Justice Hall), intrigue in India in the time of Rudyard Kipling (The Game), and in the latest effort, the demise of Mary's own family in San Francisco (Locked Rooms). Along the way we meet many famous true-life and fictional historical figures, all richly drawn. If you like Holmes, strong female characters, snarky humor, theology, detective fiction, historical novels, and general all-around intelligent writing, you could do far, far worse than the Mary Russell books. Highly, highly recommended.
I've read a few of Laurie King's books and I concur with bustacap.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spaniards survive night in Dracula's castle

Sounds like the beginning of a good Hammer horror film. From Think Spain:

Rumanian police have fined four young Spaniards and a Rumanian for breaking into one of Count Dracula's castles to spend the night there. At around 1am yesterday morning, a police patrol from Brasov was alerted by security guards at Bran Museum that "a group of people had gained illegal entrance" to the castle. The five youngsters, who said that they were seeking "strong sensations," explained to police that they were on holiday, that they did not have much time, and that they wanted to see the castle at night. The castle, which is located near Brasov in the centre of Rumania, was built by knights of the Teutonic order at the start of the 12th century and was used during the Middle Ages to defend the trade route between Valaquia and Transylvania. The current heir to the property, a 67 year old engineer who now lives in the USA, grew up in the castle, which was used by the Prince of Valaquia, Vlad the Impaler, who is strongly linked to Dracula mythology, during the middle of the 14th century.
Is "good Hammer horror film" redundant?

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On why Maryscott represents better

The Washington Post recently profiled Maryscott O'Connor, a contributor on DailyKos and founder of My Left Wing. It created a stir in the left side of blogtopia because it made liberals sound so angry. Billmon of the Whiskey Bar described it as a hit piece on the left. It could have been much worse, however. In a parallel universe, a Washington Post reporter sent me an email two months ago asking to feature me as a representative of blogtopia (skippy coined that phrase, you know) and the other-universe me agreed. Through a bizarre accident involving the flux capacitor, I managed to get a copy of that story. And it's an example of why it's better Maryscott O'Connor represents the left as compared to someone like me.

By David Stinkel

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, April 15, 2006; A01 MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- In the macabre, even grotesque life of Carnacki, the horror begins as soon as he opens his eyes and realizes that the president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to set and his family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, Carnacki, age unknown, is out of his coffin and heading toward his computer. Out there, among the Scary Left, where Carnacki's reputation is as one of the scariest of all. "I'm happiest when I've made someone hurl their cereal if they read my blog with their breakfast," he said. He inhales deeply. Should he write about President George W. Bush, a man he considers the Anti-Christ, or should he write about Karl Rove, a man he considers a traitor to the country. He checks his email and perks up with excitement. His anger at the administration must wait. He has found the perfect story for his audience and his fingers dance across the keyboards like manic miniature tapdancers high on crack. Keith of Old Haunts, a man he knows only through his online writing, has emailed him a link to a story about a burglar caught stealing a book made from human skin. "Paging Dr. Armitage," Carnacki writes, making an obscure reference to a character from a horror short story published in the 1920s. "Dr. Armitage to the courtesy phone, please." He leans back and sighs. The joke is weak. The reference so obscure it will go over the heads of all but the most dedicated horror fans. He does not care. He's too lazy to delete everything and start again. Next to him on the desk is an empty beer bottle, Rolling Rock. On the book case to his left is a human skull. Gray gargoyles surround him, one perched on a shelf, another kneeling at the top of a book case, a pair holds candles. A death mask of Sherlock Holmes stares down at him. The book cases are lined with occult tomes, vampire encyclopedias and reference books on the supernatural and paranormal. "Reference material," he says as he begins writing for a political blog. His 5-year-old daughter interrupts him. "What fresh hell is this?" he asks. "Daddy, Mom says there's another dead mouse in a trap," she says. "Can we cut it's head off and put it on a pike like the others?" A flash of panic and embarrassment crosses his face and he turns to the reporter shaking his head. "I don't, uh, know where she gets these ideas," he says. "Uh wait here." He goes down to the basement and pulls out the mouse from the trap. Small mouse skulls are propped on miniature pikes with a miniature sign posted at mouse height: "Beware all those that enter here." "Uh, I didn't know you followed me," he says. "Let's go back upstairs." Carnacki checks his blog. No comments. He sighs. He writes a diary offering advice to Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for DailyKos. In minutes, 10 comments, 20 comments, 100 comments, 200 then 300 and more are posted in response. "Why can't I get this kind of response with the human skin covered book?" he wonders aloud. "What's wrong with these people?" He begins writing a new piece. "That son of a bitch Bush..." he begins. Is it for another political blog? he is asked. Carnacki shakes his head no. "It's for the Sunday school lesson I'm teaching this week," he says.

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Remember the site updates? I got a look at the future of the site, and I love it. Protected static's come up with something very cool, imo. And yes, I'm just going to tease right now. I always found anticipation the most exquisite of pleasures.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Terror in the attic

Meanwhile, as the rest of the world is busy making exciting cryptozoological studies (see below) I've been stuck in my attic tearing out old carpeting, installing new ceiling tile and getting ready to put in new hardwood flooring. We are in the middle of many renovations here at the Carnacki crypt. The attic isn't even spooky or haunted. New windows are being delivered and installed tomorrow. The only thing scary about my day was the amount of money I've spent on home improvements.

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An Argentine lake monster

Via Boing Boing, a monster similar to the Loch Ness monster surfaced and was photographed in Argentina. CryptoMundo has the details, translation of the Argentine story and photos.

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The inspiration for Sherlock Holmes

From The Sunday Times of London:

HE WORE a deerstalker hat and cloak, frequently gazed through a magnifying glass and boasted a razor-sharp mind, but, as far as history can tell, he never smoked a pipe or uttered the immortal words: “Elementary, my dear Watson.” A new archive to be displayed in Edinburgh this summer shows the remarkable extent to which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle drew inspiration for Sherlock Holmes from his cerebral university tutor. Dr Joseph Bell, Conan Doyle’s mentor at the University of Edinburgh medical school, was often able to diagnose patients before they had revealed their symptoms. As well as being a renowned professor of medicine, he also went on to become president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSE). Conan Doyle met Bell in 1877 and the tutor is said to have made a huge impression on the aspiring writer. However, until now it was not known that the writer had given his creation so many of his mentor’s physical characteristics. A picture in the archive shows a man who bears a striking resemblance to Basil Rathbone, the film actor who played Holmes. The RCSE has obtained a new collection of material that includes a letter from Conan Doyle to Bell, written in May 1892, which establishes the connection beyond doubt. The letter was held in a private collection by Bell’s family and is being put on public display for the first time after being donated to the RCSE. It states: “It is certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes and though in the stories I have the advantage of being able to place him in all sorts of dramatic positions I do not think that his analytical work is in the least an exaggeration of some effects which I have seen you produce in the out-patient ward. Round the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man who pushed the thing as far as it would go — further occasionally. I am so glad that the news has satisfied you, who are the critic with the most right to be severe.”
The exhibit will be displayed from July 1 to Oct. 29.

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Blood and Roses

Thomas M. Spiros likes the arty vampire romance "Blood and Roses." From Blogcritics:

Mesmerizing and surreal, Blood and Roses may be the ultimate "horror-art film." Certainly, it's the quintessential "romantic vampire film." As mythological creatures go, the vampire comprises so many conflicting aspects (Satanist, monster, victim, parasite, aristocrat, immortal), most films focus on only some of the creature's traits. Blood and Roses focuses on the romantic rather than monstrous. Romantic, in a melodramatic, steamy, Harlequin romance sort of way, yet in a way that is also sensuous and classy.
Eh, not my cup of tea. I like my vampires with steamy and scary.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Oregon's haunted coast

From the Medford (Ore.) News:

There's a whole other side to the Oregon coast: one that's shadowy, elusive and full of paranormal mystery. Ghosts on Oregon's coast - and other paranormal rumors - are a growing segment of tourism that's a ways below the surface. There are a lot of reasons to visit Oregon's coastline. Most of these center around the beaches, the natural attractions, eating loads of clam chowder until you roll out of the restaurant Monty Python-style, etc. There's a lot that's obvious. But there's a whole other side to the Oregon coast: one that's shadowy, elusive and full of paranormal mystery. Ghosts on Oregon's coast - and other paranormal rumors - are a growing segment of tourism that's a ways below the surface. You've got to look a bit beyond the beautiful beaches and touristy shops to find this. But it's there. And interestingly enough, it's not always lurking where you think it might be.

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Cthulhu Sex: Blood, Sex and Tentacles

The Yale Daily News reviews the graphic novel Cthulhu Sex: Blood, Sex and Tentacles:

The editors of this graphic novel compile poems, short stories, drawings and paintings from amateur artists (read: adults who would find nothing sexier than a 12-legged succubus whose dirty talk includes such phrases as "rotting human flesh," "germinating fungal spore" and "Internet blog of doom").

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Paris catacombs

Via an email from "Starshine" on the Unreasoning yahoo group, a web cam of the Paris catacombs deep underground.

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Jewel joins The Tribe

Via Whedonesque, Serenity's Jewel Staite updates her blog with news of her upcoming roles:

On to the work side of things: I've signed on to do a movie called The Tribe, and how they're pitching it is Lost meets Predator. Kind of weird, I know, but the script is great, and I get to do lots of action sequences and fun stuff like getting chased by scary things in the jungle (won't tell you what scary things). It's going to be probably the most demanding thing I've ever done; I'm in literally every scene except a couple, which I haven't done yet, and there's a ton of stunts and running for my life... but I'm always up for an adventure, so it should be a lot of fun. The next time I write will probably be from my hotel in Costa Rica, where the film will be shot, and I'm sure I'll have all kinds of stories to tell you by then. Hopefully not about snakes in my toilet or anything. Not so wild about the snakes.

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Happy birthday Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar, the Buffster of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, is 29 today. Happy birthday, slayer. Other birthdays today, Adrien Brody, 33, of King Kong and The Village, and Julie Christie, 65, of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Demon Seed.

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Cthulhu worship

Since tonight (unintentional on my part, perhaps I'm being subconsciously guided by the strange dreams of the South Pacific?) has developed into a Cthulhu theme, I thought the unusual web site I would guide you tonight would be one for Cthulhu worshippers (more proof that the dreams are at work and causing me to guide them to Cthulhu?). So here is a pdf on the Church of Satan's page describing the Cults of Cthulhu.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006


Updated:: I saw it tonight. I hadn't had the chance to go to movies in a while and this looked like the last chance to see it in the theater. Slither was excellent, more fun than I've had in ages. Some good jump moments, gross out scenes and good humor. I saw a trailer for Slither. After a long span of movies I knew I'd see but didn't excited because I knew if I got my hopes up too high they'd be dashed, I'm psyched to see a horror film again. Too bad I have to wait until March 31st when it opens. Slither reminds me of a late night Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game with my friends a decade ago. I mean that in a very good way. A meteor crashes near a small community. What appears to be space slugs come out, infect one person and spread out rapidly while police and others try to figure out what is happening. There was even a Call of Cthulhu scenario just like this except it was a geode. The infected turn into horrific, mutated zombies. The sheriff (played by Nathan Fillion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Serenity) and his deputies are trying to figure out what is going on and stop it before his town is destroyed. This looks like it's old school monster horror. The movie is rated R so there's no PG-13 cop outs like Cursed. Parts of it look quite grotesque and macabre, other parts humorous with the sick gallows humor that is the best kind of humor of all, and to me it just has a terrorific* vibe. I'll admit I'm a huge fan of Fillion because of his work in the final season of Buffy and as the captain of Serenity so I'm probably biased about this movie. But it's also written and directed by James Gunn, who did the script for the really well made Dawn of the Dead remake so that too gives me a lot of hope. Originally posted Jan. 26, 2006.

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Ghost hunting class in Salt Lake City

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

The Forever Bronze Tanning Salon is a cheery white-stucco building with hardwood floors, potted plants and overflowing magazine racks. Business is brisk, but eight women in the basement aren't here to work on that perfect glow. In fact, what they're looking for is more likely to turn them pale. Welcome to Ghost Hunting 101, a five-week course that covers the nuts and bolts of seeking out spirits. For $45, students learn ghost-hunting basics, including the typical types of entities (poltergeist, intelligent and residual) and the necessary equipment (flashlight, notebook, tape recorder and 35 mm camera), and they attend four field trips to haunted locations along the Wasatch Front. The class also provides plenty of opportunities for students to share their own encounters with the paranormal. "In my house, I often smell a scent of heavy men's cologne when no one is around," one woman said.
Long article, but well worth reading. Lots of fun details. Come on, a ghost hunting course in a Salt Lake City tanning salon basement? It doesn't get better than this.

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Cthulhu rising

Fangoria updates us on the new Cthulhu movie in production:

Grant Cogswell, executive producer and co-screenwriter of the currently-in-postproduction feature CTHULHU (not to be confused with Andrew Lemen’s THE CALL OF CTHULHU, which we last reported on here), checked in to give Fango the lowdown and some pics (above and below) on his modern take of the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” Helmed by first-time director Dan Gildark (who co-scripted with Cogswell) and shot in Astoria, Oregon during fall 2005, CTHULHU stars Jason (1999’s THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE) Cottle, Tori Spelling, Cara (THE HULK) Buono, Amy Minderhout, Dennis Kleinsmith, Richard Garfield, Brian Padilla, Ian Geoghegan, Nancy Stark and Hunter Stroud. Cogswell reveals of the plot, “A college professor from Seattle [Cottle], called home to his estranged family on the Oregon coast to execute his mother’s estate, finds out that his father’s New Age cult has a dark history of human sacrifice. In a spiraling series of events, he is drawn into a race against time to avert an apocalypse.” Explaining his decision to set the film in modern times (Lovecraft’s original tale, much like the bulk of his work, is set during the 1920s), Cogswell says, “If you set a movie about a cosmic struggle in the early 20th century, it kind of kills the suspense. Like, you know we made it this far, so how scary can it be?” Given the source material’s rich mythology, Cogswell’s script for CTHULHU not surprisingly hefts a bit more metaphor than standard fare. “The film is set just slightly in the future,” Cogswell explains, “at a time when climatic chaos due to global warming is beginning to fray the stability of the world. Most horror movies are about people getting into trouble doing the things you ‘should’ do: reaching out to strangers, having sex in the neighbors’ hot tub, being curious and exploratory beyond the bounds of quotidian reality. I wanted to make a movie about the real dangers surrounding us, which come from our collective habits and consent, what happens when we get lulled into collective suicide for the sake of some impossible fantasy of plenty. Lightning is a lot more likely to get you than a serial killer. And the weather is getting worse.”
Entire article well-worth the link, plus Fangoria has photos online.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dracula collection donated to Dublin library

From the Belfast Telegraph:

A rare collection of Dracula-related books is to be handed over to Dublin City Library. It includes copies of books on vampires and Transylvanian history likely to have been used by Dublin-born author Bram Stoker for his classic horror novel, foreign translations of Dracula, and first editions of some of Stoker's other books. The Bram Stoker Society, which has organised the handover of the collection, said it contained more than 200 books in total. "They have enormous research value and significant but not overwhelming financial value," said registrar Albert Power. The books were collected over several decades by Englishman Leslie Shepherd, who developed a strong interest in the occult and the paranormal. He edited books of vampire and horror stories and campaigned for recognition for Bram Stoker in Dublin, the city where the author was born in Clontarf in 1847.

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Who is afraid of 'The Dark'?

It's stars the great Sean Bean and it's supernaturally themed with Welsh mythology. What more do you need?

When their daughter mysteriously vanishes, estranged parents Maria Bello and Sean Bean have to confront a sinister supernatural power. An atmospheric British horror movie Set in a remote area of Wales, The Dark is loosely based on the novel 'Sheep' by author Simon Maginn. This adaptation dumps the book's twisted psychological horror in favour of a more supernatural approach that taps into Welsh mythology. It turns The Dark into a British answer to recent Asian-related horror movies such as Ringu.

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Vampire Vow

From The Advocate:

Vampire Vow, Michael Schiefelbein's acclaimed novel of an ancient Roman officer falling in love with Jesus Christ before becoming a vampire, is being optioned as a film by a Chicago-based independent film company.

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Thief steals book bound in human skin

Paging Dr. Armitage. Dr. Henry Armitage to the courtesy phone please: Image Hosted by From National Geographic:

We've all heard of leathery skin, but this macabre object is the real thing: a book bound in human skin. The 300-year-old ledger was found in downtown Leeds, England (map). A burglar apparently dropped the tome, police announced Saturday. Human-skin books are rare. But they appear to have been not quite as rare during the French Revolution, which is why it's not surprising that the Leeds book is in French, says Anthony Bliss, curator of rare books at the University of California, Berkeley's Bancroft Library.
Hat tip to Keith of Old Haunts for emailing me the link. Yes, this is the right place to email any weird, macabre, spooky or strange links you find.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dear President Bush

Dear Mr. President, In my last letter to you dated Nov. 9, 2005, I wrote:

"Confession is good for the soul, and you, Mr. President, need to remove the taint that stains your soul. Confession can be cleansing and it can help you on the path to healing. Tell him everything. I suspect -- and I guess most of us suspect -- that the decision to out Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative didn't come from Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or even Dick Cheney. It fits the kind of thing you did for your father's campaigns. Ambassador Wilson attacked your administration's rationale for war. And you wanted to be a war president and you didn't want anyone to question that. Of course you attacked back. It's what you do, whether it's Ambassador Wilson or Al Hunt or John Kerry or even your own father when you were a young man."
And I was right. The world now knows it was you that ordered the leak of highly classified information for political reasons. Who knows how many covert agents died as a result of your decision? Who knows how endangered you made our country by outing? You should feel ashamed of yourself, but we know from Mr. Taylor's astute question that you are incapable of that level of introspection. In my earlier letter, I suggested you could restore honor and integrity to your name by confession to Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald your crimes and resigning. It is too late for that. Your name will go down in infamy for launching an illegal and unnecessary war based off lies and your own desire to be a "war president." Your war has cost countless lives, bankrupted the country, tarnished our nation's honor and damaged our national security. And whether you can be charged with a criminal act or will escape on a technicality, you should resign. Confession is good for the soul and your soul is stained with innocent blood. The thought came to me tonight that you should resign for the children. It has become a cliche because of the television show The Simpsons (a show you should know since your father was featured on it) to ask someone to "think of the children." But as I held my 5-year-old daughter in my lap, I thought you should do it for the children. I held my arms around her and she had her face against my chest and I knew that no moment in my life would ever be better than that. And I sensed from her that she felt warm and loved and safe and happy. You are a father. You should know the feeling I'm talking about when you held your own girls. And I thought of all the American and Iraqi children that would grow up never knowing that feeling because their mothers and fathers died because of your lies. And I thought of all the fathers that would never get to hold their children again because they died because you wanted to invade a nation that had not harmed or threatened us. The latest revelations give you the opportunity to come clean with all of your misdeeds. The revelations are only going to get worse and make your days in office even more difficult. It is time for you to go, Mr. Bush. And take Dick Cheney with you. Perhaps the two of you can spend time together on your ranch clearing brush or quail hunting. And go hug your daughters. There are many fathers no longer able to do that.

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Living with serial killers

King Tractor Press is publishing a comic book series based on the real-life exploits of Ray and Faye Copeland:

In the first chapter of Family Bones, rebellious teen Sean is shuttled from one family member to the next, finally landing at the farm owned by his elderly Aunt and Uncle. There, the city boy must quickly adapt to the rigors of farm life. Sean must also adjust to the emotional and physical abuse that Uncle Ray visits upon his wife and nephew. Family Bones is based on a true story about teenage angst, family secrets, and murder on a small Midwestern farm. Based on actual events, it's the story of the elderly serial killers Ray and Faye Copeland as seen through the eyes of their unwitting nephew who stays with them one summer. "I know this is going to be a series with a bit of controversy," the writer Shawn Granger said. "It’s more hard edge than anything I’ve written before, but not without its lighter sides. Family Bones is unique in its mix of horror, romance, and coming-of-age genres. I really think readers will be shocked to find out that it's not all blood and gore, there are more layers to the story" Mr. Granger told a fan. "But it's definitely not a story for kids. I definitely didn't kiddy-coat the harsh realities either." Orlando Baez, the artist on Family Bones Chapter 1 is very comfortable with dark stories. He's best known for his work in horror comics. Orlando said "'Family Bones' is a dark & gritty story. It's interesting and real and because of that I want to pencil and feed the story in a rough, scratchy style."
King Tractor Farms web site is located here.

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Call of Cthulhu games

From Kotaku:

More games should be Cthulhu based. There, we said it. The dripping tentacles of the Old Ones bearing towards mankind a fathomless hatred born from beyond the stars and nurtured over the millennia in chthonic tombs far below the sea — it’s depressing that games don’t feature Lovecraft monsters more often.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Werewolves are really stupid

In a lot of horror fiction, werewolves are treated as second-class monsters to vampires. There is a reason for that. Werewolves are really stupid. Certainly their fans are. Don't believe me? Read this message thread and count the factual errors. With one or two exceptions, it's like that in every thread. Bad doggies.

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The science of Sherlock Holmes

The Christian Science Monitor reviews crime historian E.J. Wagner's new book, The Science of Sherlock Holmes.

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Voodoo ritual in Haiti

Out grrl traveled to Haiti and witnessed a voodoo demonstration. Her well-written post is not for the faint of heart -- but not because of the voodoo. The excerpt below is from the comment section:

Well, we sat in a big circle. There was a man and a woman. They made a figure of what looked like a bird in the middle of the circle. They put a pan with some rum in the middle of the figure. They put one of those Malta drink bottles upside down in the middle of the pan. They lit the rum. They dance around it. The man kept singing and calling out -- looking up to the sky. It was in French so I didn't understand what he was saying. There were three men playing drums of different sizes. All very rough construction. He dance for a while. There was a woman dancing with a flag. The woman stopped. He poured some alcohol over the Malta bottle and it flamed up. He did that a couple of times -- passing his hands through the flames. After a while, he stopped. He broke the Malta bottle into pieces. He put what looked like one of the pieces in his mouth and chewed up the glass. He was playing up the spectacle quite a bit. He showed us what looked like chewed glass on his tongue. He swallowed it and chased it with the rum. He took two piles of sticks and put them over the figure. He lit them on fire. He ran the fire all over his body. He put the burning sticks into his crotch and held them there for a while. He put the sticks into his mouth and held them there. They were still on fire when he took them out. He did variations on eating fire and rolling in fire for about 10 minutes - so everyone with a video camera could get a good shot. That was about it. It was fascinating to watch, but I got the impression it was customized for la tourista.

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Ghost fair to scare away evil spirits

From New India Express of Chennai, India:

GAYA: At a time when people across the country and world are relying upon the ultra-modern medical facilities for their health problems, people living in some rural pockets of the Bihar still believe in magical powers and evil spirits. In one such instance, hundreds of people thronged a Ghost fair, in a non-descript village in Gaya and offered prayers at the shrine of a Hazrat Sayal Khayal Kutram Tulla, a Muslim saint, whose 'super natural' powers are believed to rid people from the grip of ghosts and evil spirits.
I'm at the point I'm ready to blame evil spirits for my allergy problems.

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A Wyoming ghost hunter

From The Casper Star Tribune:

Today, Bennage is a paranormal investigator, certified by the International Ghost Hunters Society. He says he's the only certified paranormal investigator in Wyoming. He runs a not-for-profit organization called Ghost Researchers of Wyoming out of his Sheridan home. “I’ve always been into ghosts and ghost stories,” Bennage said. When he was in high school, Bennage said, he had a strong curiosity about death, which many of his peers characterized as morbid. After high school, he worked at a funeral home. There, he says, he gained a better understand of the grieving process. Then one day he was surfing the Internet and came across a Web site for the International Ghost Hunters Society. He sent away for the certification materials (essentially a home-study course), and his childhood dream of following in the footsteps of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd’s characters became a reality. According to Bennage, a typical field investigation begins with an extensive questionnaire. Questions range from "Have your pets been acting strangely?"’ to "Have you noticed any unusual odors?" to "Have you had an exorcism performed?"
Nice article well worth the click.

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The dead live on

The dead live on when they die online.

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Bloggers of the night, what sweet posts they write...

Curt at the Groovy Age of Horror dropped his "Left Behind" crossed with "The Matrix" project. And I'm glad because I'm looking forward to his monster rally which promises to be a lot of fun. The torrid pace of posts at Old Haunts has slowed, but check out the clips to American Scary that Keith has posted. Exclamation Mark writes a review of Blood of Dracula that's more entertaining than the movie. Favorite line:

Though Blood of Dracula shares almost identical elements with I Was A Teenage Werewolf (just plug Nancy into Michael Landon's role, Miss Branding into Whit Bissell's character, and change werewolf to vampire) it lacks the strong performances that made Teenage Werewolf so enjoyable.  And, by now, the story is getting old, and still seems preposterous.
Tim at Mondo Schlocko took me back to the glorious age of 'zines. I miss mine, "Cthulhu Times," which had a circulation of about seven. Stacie at Final Girl continues her love affair with Silent Hill. I'm looking forward to it too. More later.

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PsyOps on the U.S.

Now this is really scary.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Clue found to ancient temple's mystery

Paging Dr. Jones. Dr. Indiana Jones to the courtesy phone please. From The Middle East Times:

CAIRO -- An Egyptian archaeological team has discovered a series of structures in the southwestern town of Fayoum that could yield vital data as to how a Middle Kingdom temple was built, the culture minister said on Thursday. Farouk Hosni said that the structures included administrative buildings, granaries and residences believed to have belonged to priests of the temple, which was dedicated to Renenutet, the goddess of harvest, as well as the crocodile-god Sobk and falcon-deity Horus, Hosni added. snip Items found at the site included seals used by the priests of Renenutet with hieroglyphic inscriptions, a headless limestone statue, a bronze statue of a woman and papyri with Greek and demotic writings, said Abdel Rahman Al Aidi, director of the SCA's excavations department and team leader.

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Dracula Park cancelled

The Romanian Orthodox Church never stops fighting the forces of darkness.

Romania's Orthodox church has welcomed a government decision to cancel a "Dracula Park" entertainment complex near Bucharest, five years after the project was initiated to take advantage of the country's legendary vampire. "Our church was against this project from the beginning - we regard the fact that it has now been dropped as something normal," said Constantin Stoica, the church's spokesperson. "Although the churches weren't consulted, they made clear the Dracula myth had nothing to do with Romanian history, and this view was shared by many historians." Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu had in March announced the cancellation of the contract with Dracula Inc, the company assigned to build the 460-hectare theme park at Snagov, near Bucharest.
The cancellation had little to do with religious views, but rather irregularities in the contract and delays.

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My daughter and the dead mouse

My wife found a dead mouse in a trap in the laundry room. Months ago when the weather turned cold, we had a mice invasion and I had set a lot of traps throughout the house. But we hadn't seen any signs in months and this mouse had triggered a long-set trap. So she asked me to remove it because she doesn't like to deal with the dead if I'm around to do it. My 5-year-old and 2-year-old daughters followed me down to the basement. I put the youngest on top of the dryer to sit and my 5-year-old knelt over the dead mouse. "Can I touch it?" she asked. "No," I said out of habit. "Can we cut it in two?" "No," I said quietly. "Can we cut its head off?" she asked. "No," I said. My wife always says that the 5-year-old is the one that is most like me.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Vampire photography

Sean Coetzer has an impressive collection of photos of vampires and cemeteries.

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Friday vampire cat blogging

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grading the horror films

Cinematical has posted the first quarter grades. I pretty much agree with the results, but Scott needs to learn my trick of drinking whiskey while watching some of these movies.

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Cremation as the eco-friendly option

From Taiwan News:

On Tomb Sweeping Day yesterday, a candidate for Taipei City mayor, Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), suggested that families should choose the more environmentally friendly option of having their loved ones cremated after death instead burying or storing the remains at a mortuary. After cremation, the ashes could be scattered in the sea or in forest, he said. "Right now a large portion of the land in the city has been designated for cemeteries. But if more people are willing to chose cremation instead of burial then the city would have more land to build parks," said Yeh, adding that cremation is also more cost effective than burial. Tomb Sweeping Day, also known as "Ching Ming" Day is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture as it is the day when people show their filial piety by worshipping their ancestors. Traditionally, relatives clean ancestral gravesites and pay tribute to their ancestors by burning incense and "ghost money." It is believed that the dead can use "ghost money" - paper that represents cash - to buy things in the underworld. But fire departments have warned that burning ghost money is a fire hazard and have urged caution when doing so, particularly near gravesites.

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Dracula's castle returned to rightful owner

The Financial Times, a publication not often featured here, has the story:

The Romanian government says it will return Bran Castle, popularly known as Dracula’s Castle, to Dominic von Habsburg, a New York architect and nephew of Romania’s last king, as part of a wider push to resolve the country’s long-standing controversy over property restitution. Mr von Habsburg made a claim for the 900-year-old castle after the Bucharest government last year strengthened the rights of those who lost property under communism. No legal agreement has been finalised, but Herzfeld & Rubin, Mr von Habsburg’s lawyers, said the government indicated it would turn over the property this month. Officials in the culture ministry could not be reached to confirm the decision. “To me it is emotional and extremely important,” said Mr von Habsburg. “I spent my childhood there and have very warm memories.”
No doubt those warm memories have a lot to do with Dracula's brides.

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If you're in Wisconsin this weekend, check out Odyssey Convention 2006.

For example, kicking off the event will be a discussion on "The Darwin Awards of 2150: Discovering new and clever ways to kill ourselves." Other programs include "Narnia Chronicles: universal tale, or Christian propaganda?," "Bouncing Boomerangs Batman!: Outrageous comic heroes and villains," and "Brains! Need brains!: zombies and their foul kin." And speaking of Cthulhu, one panel is dedicated to remembering August Derleth, the Sauk City native who invented the term "Cthulhu Mythos." OddCon also - most likely unintentionally - expresses the new guard in fandom. Gone are panels dedicated to Gene Rodenberry and Star Trek, replaced by multiple panels dedicated to Joss Whedon and his creations Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly.

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The cyclops kitten

My best friend has a one-eyed cat, but his cat was born with two eyes (he was a stray that had lived a hard life - the cat, not my friend). However, Cynical-C updates us about a kitten born with only one eye in the center of its head like a cyclops.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Mystery of 'The Jesus Papers'

MSNBC features a new book, The Mystery of the Jesus Papers, on the possibility Jesus did not die on the cross, but escaped to have children in southern France. It's long been a popular theory with conspiracy buffs, and it gained wide attention with Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. Hat tip to the Daily Grail.

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Uwe Boll on 'BloodRayne'

Director Uwe Boll calls his vampire movie 'BloodRayne' a "disaster," but not for the right reasons:

Calling the January U.S. release of his vampire-splatter movie BloodRayne a "complete disaster," maverick director Uwe Boll says he is handling the Canadian distribution through his own company. The film opens Friday but only in independent cinemas, with no participation from big chains. Boll, a German director who has made several genre films out of his Canadian base in Vancouver, says BloodRayne ended up in few U.S. cinemas — only half as many as the number of prints made. He also says that in recent years a producer's traditional relationship with distributors has changed, and not for the better. His beef is over high costs that distributors claim to have incurred for advertising and making prints.
Uwe, that's not why BloodRayne was a bloody disaster. (Only the whiskey made the movie enjoyable to me.) There is an interesting detail in The Star's story explaining how Boll gets big name actors to appear in his films:
He approaches actors at the very last minute when they are between productions and uncertain where their next job is coming from. And they are invariably willing to take even small parts for an easy paycheque. "If you go really late to actors you actually save money," he says. "Genre movies are not the actor's first pick in general. But if you wait, a lot of actors are still available. "If we went to Ben Kingsley a year in advance and offered him the money we actually paid him, he would never do that. He was available."

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Paging Dr. Armitage. Dr. Armitage to the courtesy phone please. Since one of my desires is to emphasis more sites featuring arcane lore, let us begin with the Necronomicon. Forget all you've heard about the Necronomicon being made up by H.P. Lovecraft. A school of thought exists that Lovecraft was referring to an actual book.

The answer to this interesting question lies in two people: the poet and magician Aleister Crowley, and a Brooklyn milliner called Sonia Greene. There is no question that Crowley read Dee's translation of the Necronomicon in the Bodleian, probably while researching Dee's papers; too many passages in Crowley's "Book of the Law" read like a transcription of passages in that translation. Either that, or Crowley, who claimed to remember his life as Edward Kelly in a previous incarnation, remembered it from his previous life! Why doesn't Crowley mention the Necronomicon in his works? He was surprisingly reticent about his real sources. There is a strong suspicion that '777', which Crowley claimed to have written, was largely plagiarised from Allan Bennet's notes. His spiritual debt to Nietzsche, which in an unguarded moment Crowley refers to as "almost an avatar of Thoth, the god of wisdom" is studiously ignored; likewise the influence of Richard Burton's "Kasidah" on his doctrine of True Will. I suspect that the Necronomicon became an embarrassment to Crowley when he realised the extent to which he had unconsciously incorporated passages from the Necronomicon into "The Book of the Law". In 1918 Crowley was in New York. As always, he was trying to establish his literary reputation, and was contributing to The International and Vanity Fair. Sonia Greene was an energetic and ambitious Jewish emigre with literary ambitions, and she had joined a dinner and lecture club called "Walker's Sunrise Club" (?!); it was there that she first encountered Crowley, who had been invited to give a talk on modern poetry. snip In 1921 Sonia Greene met the novelist H.P. Lovecraft, and in that same year Lovecraft published the first novel where he mentions Abdul Alhazred ("The Nameless City"). In 1922 he first mention the Necronomicon ("The Hound"). On March 3rd. 1924, H.P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene married. We do not know what Crowley told Sonia Greene, and we do not know what Sonia told Lovecraft. However, consider the following quotation from "The Call of Cthulhu" [1926]:
"That cult would never die until the stars came right again [precession of the Equinoxes?], and the secret priests would take Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild, and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstacy and freedom."
It may be brief, it may be mangled, but it has the undeniable ring of Crowley's "Book of the Law". It is easy to imagine a situation where Sonia and Lovecraft are laughing and talking in a firelit room about a new story, and Sonia introduces some ideas based on what Crowley had told her; she wouldn't even have to mention Crowley, just enough of the ideas to spark Lovecraft's imagination. There is no evidence that Lovecraft ever saw the Necronomicon, or even knew that the book existed; his Necronomicon is remarkably close to the spirit of the original, but the details are pure invention, as one would expect. There is no Yog-Sothoth or Azathoth or Nyarlathotep in the original, but there is an Aiwaz...
But is the connection between Lovecraft's wife and Crowley true or a clever spoof? And isn't the best way to hide the truth is to pass it off as fiction?

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Urban ninja

Urban ninja should be cast to play Jack in the Werewolf By Night movie. No wires needed, he already moves with a supernatural speed and grace.

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Iglesia de San Francisco, Lima, Peru

My friend Kristina has posted a set of photos on flickr from her recent trip to Peru. In addition to photos of the Nasca line drawings, guano-covered sea coasts, and lounging seals, she has some images up of the Church and Convent of Saint Francis in Lima. I can hear your yawns already - well, the yawns from those of you who aren't interested in Baroque-Moorish-Spanish architecture. Who cares, right? Well, in addition to being a beautiful example of early Spanish Colonial architecture (founded in 1535 by Pizzaro, the current structure is one of the few buildings that survived Lima's 1746 earthquake), it has a pretty amazing ossuary. Verbatim from a review on Virtual Tourist:

'The catacombs served as a cementary until 1808, it is estimated that more than 80.000 bodies were put to rest there. The bone reservoirs are 10 m deep, and is build to resist seismic waves. Also note the crypt with the name Venerables where the rests of Fray (brother) Juan Gómez are placed (died 1631). Fray Juan Gómez was immortilized by the famous peruvian author Ricardo Palma in the tradicional legend "El Alacrán [Scorpion] de Fray Gómez.'

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Return of the Haunted Vampire

I have returned to my haunted and dusty blog crypt. The spiders have laced their webs into a 'Welcome back' banner for the readers. Much has occurred behind the scenes and one development I'm excited about is the Haunted Vampire web site. Protected static has taken the lead on it and we should have more on it soon. In addition, I promise new features to The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire blog. Along with the news items of vampires, ghosts, werewolves, archaeology and Fortean events, I plan to post more links to sites featuring strange creatures, hidden mysteries, outre' web sites and frightening tales. Regarding my manuscript, there is no news to report on it at this time. My final edit is taking longer than I expected due to my facing of unspeakable terrors. But I plan to also post more on the novel in the future and on the writing process in general. And lastly, I intend to publish my shorter tales of horror and adventure on the site. You have been warned. Only the brave, the bold and the seekers of curious and forgotten lore should continue forward with us from here.

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