V Is for Vampire: The A-Z Guide to Everything Undead

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9780452271739: V Is for Vampire: The A-Z Guide to Everything Undead
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Have you ever wondered why vampires hate garlic? Or why they can't look at mirrors? And, while we're on the subject, do you remember the classic film Dracula Meets the Outer Space Chicks?
If any of these questions have kept you in movie theaters for hours or up until dawn with a page-turning horror tale, you are not alone. Vampires have recaptured the hearts and minds (and necks) of millions of people all over the world. And now, David J. Skal, the bestselling author of Hollywood Gothic, tells us everything about the fiendishly fascinating creature known as the Vampire. Here's the real story behind those wooden stakes, Nosferatu, and the children of the night. Here, too, are zombies, bats, crypts, Bram Stoker, satanic rites - even the psychosexual roots of Dracula lore.

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Nearly as comprehensive as the recent Madonna encyclopedia and of far greater long-term appeal, Skal's vampire vade mecum is also wonderful to read straight through, for each page contains its entertaining tidbits. All of the expected entries are here--Lugosi, Bela; Stoker, Bram; Nosferatu, etc. But they are trumped in interest by the more obscure items: Mad Monster Party, for instance, a 1967 "live-animation horror comedy with music," and many a foreign vampire movie, book, and story. The entry for the 1927 Lon Chaney movie London after Midnight is particularly entertaining, thanks to discussion of its status as a supposedly lost classic, unsubstantiated reports of which "keep cropping up like sightings of the Loch Ness Monster." Skal rakes up Karl Marx's vampire connection and Oscar Wilde's--which was more to be expected--too. Yet Skal notably refrains from desperate reaching to connect anything and everything to vampires and vampirism. His book is great fun and contains two must-have photos of, respectively, Bob Denver and Tiny Tim in Dracula drag. Mike Tribby

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David J. Skal
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