Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
A Midsummer Night's Feast by Neil Benson is a story about a civil engineer who has worked a long, hot day and seeks respite in the shade of a forest. There he meets a beautiful lady who offers him a cool refreshing drink, and ultimately a lot more. But, as we all know, there is no free lunch.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Last night's episode of Castle wasn't Just about Halloween and Vampires. It introduced many viewers to the vampire subculture in a very vivid manner. I'm sure many viewers were surprised to learn that some of men and women who live the life of a vampire have porcelain fangs implanted in their mouths. Even more shocking were the scenes of sanguinarians, or blood drinkers, actually ingesting blood from other people. The writers of the show didn't make this up, it happens to it in special clubs, in homes and apartments, and sometimes-in dark and places out on the street.
Though the show had a campy atmosphere, it was well paced, and figuring out who was the murderer was difficult. The surprise ending, took the viewer to a dark place where a stepmother murders her stepson in order to preserve her secret that she killed his biological mother.
After the show, many people Twittered each other about the episode. How do I know this? When I went on Twitter at 11:20 p.m. Eastern time, Castle was one of the hot topics listed. When I entered, "#Castle," I could see the actual messages going back and forth. The majority of them was from women and concerned Nathan Fillion, the tall, hunky, star of the show, has over 200,000 people following him on Twitter. Nathan, was the star of the short-lived cult science fiction show Firefly. Later, he starred in the movie Serenity, based on the television show.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I watched a couple of old, old vampire movies and was disappointed. The original Dracula has become a classic for a variety of reasons, but largely due to Bella Lugosi's campy, over-the-top, performance. His image, words, and style has become "the vampire" for many people for many decades.
This is not true of most of the other early vampire movies. The movie "Vampyr " made in 1932 by Carl Theodore Dreyer, is long on style and short on substance. The director, focused on visual effects, which were very powerful in their time, but not enough on the plot. It is the story of a traveler obsessed with the supernatural visits an old inn and finds evidence of vampires. In a way, it's unfair to compare a movie made seventy-seven years ago with current and recent films. This movie is best enjoyed by aficionados of vampire movies, and other early cinema.
Mark of the Vampire, made in 1935,starred Lionel Barrymore and Bella Lugosi. I found the dialogue to be clichéd and the acting "hammy" even for its time. One critic thought it was amusing. Perhaps it was, but I failed to see it as so. The photography by the famous James Wong Howe captured the eerie atmosphere, but didn't provide anything we hadn't seen in the original Dracula. Only when the script turns everything on its ear at the end of the movie, doesn't rise to a higher quality. The supporting cast, including Lionel Atwell, was talented, but limited by the stylized acting of the time.
The myth of the vampire has become part of world and American culture. It's a shame that movies about vampires aren't seen as potentially premier movies by the powers that be in Hollywood. Then again, the powers that be in Hollywood give us an endless array of cartoon characters in our movies.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
My wife and I went to Asheboro, North Carolina to visit the fabulous zoo just outside the city. We had a great day at the zoo visiting the Africa section.
Gwen had gone to sleep by 10:00pm, tired from the walking we had done. I was in the mood for a couple of mugs of a good microbrew. Asheboro was dry, no alcohol, until July of this year, and doesn't have well-established pubs. I was talking with the hotel manager about this when he told me about some private clubs in the area. He recommended one and gave me a card to get me admitted.
For obvious reasons I can't mention the name of the club. However, I was impressed when I went inside. A long old fashioned bar with well-appointed tables and a jazz trio playing old favorites greeted me.
The bartender had just brought my second mug of a North Carolina lager when I heard someone approach. I turned to see a slender, dark-haired man of middle height. He was wearing a Carolina Panthers sweatshirt, and tan khaki pants. What caught my attention, was his pale white skin. Oh no, not another vampire, I thought.
"I'm glad to see that you recovered from the attack by the female vampire," he said in a local drawl.
"So am I," I replied. "How did you learn to about my attack?"
"I have been following your articles with some interest. Your approach is evenhanded, and you do not condemn us as many mortals do."
"Who might you be?" The vampire' s manner seemed friendly, I was nervous about his intentions.
"John Valerius," he replied, extending his hand.
It was cold when I shook it. I swallowed hard, hoping I wasn't facing another hostile encounter with a vampire.
"I'm glad that our mutual friend in Bucharest was able to help you." He smiled, showing an even row of teeth, without any display of fangs.
"And how do you know our mutual friend in Romania?" I asked.
He chuckled. "I have been in North Carolina for over a hundred years. But I was born in Hungary… some time ago. During my travels I visited Bucharest on several occasions and had the privilege of spending time with our mutual acquaintance."
"You sure have adapted well to the local scene," I said.
"Blending in is a survival mechanism. Modern society makes it easier to do so." He looked at my mug of beer for a moment, then turned his attention back to me. "Please excuse me. While we have been chatting your beer has gotten warm."
John made a motion with his hand and the bartender moved quickly to him. "Please give Neil another mug on the house, and give me a glass of my usual."
"Your usual?" I asked.
He smiled. "I'd be a poor host to allow you to drink alone."
"You own this club?"
"I'm a businessman. In a dry county, I saw an opportunity to make money meeting people's needs. Prohibition was a farce, and men and women will always find places to drink."
A few minutes later, the bartender returned with another mug of beer for me. He put large wine glass, half filled with a red fluid, in front of John.
"Is that what I think it is?" I asked.
"Yes. I always have a supply of blood in the refrigerator. The bartenders warm it up for me so I can drink with the customers." He lifted his glass and touched mine. "To new friends."
"To new friends," I replied. Also, to new experiences. This was the first time I had ever drunk with a vampire.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Desperate Choices by Neil Benson is a short story about a man who becomes a drug addict in an effort to deal with his depression. One evening, he meets a woman who offers him a solution to his problems that he never imagined. But at what cost?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Bear, I thought and quickly walked to my car. I had opened the trunk, when I heard a noise much closer to me. When I shined a flashlight into the trees, and I saw a man holding his right hand over his face.
"Please don't point the flashlight in my eyes," he said.
As I moved towards him, I saw blood on his hand, his face, and shirt. "Are you all right?" I asked.
"I'm fine," he said. I was close enough to see him lick the blood off his lips.
My God, a vampire. I took a step backward, then another.
"Please," he said. "You're in no danger. I'm sorry I frightened you."
I held my ground, realizing that if he meant me harm, running would do me no good.
He reached behind him and brought forth a flask of water. Then he took out a large handkerchief from his pants pocket and washed his face clean of the blood.
"That's better," he said. He moved towards me until we were less than four feet apart. "I'm Stephen Harklos." He extended his hand.
"Paul Grady," I said gingerly taking his hand.
"This is an embarrassing situation for me. I assure you that I get all the blood I need from a blood bank in Atlanta. However, now and then, I get an urge to taste it from a warm living animal. I take less than a pint from a deer, and none of them die. Is there any way I could reward you so that you wouldn't report me to the authorities?"
"What do you mean?"
"I own a jazz club downtown and am able to obtain tickets to the Falcons, Hawks, and many other sporting events."
I finally let myself relax. "I'm a great basketball fan. A couple of tickets to a Hawks game would be very nice."
"I can do better than that," he said. "I can get you courtside seats for the entire season."
So, Stephen and I became friends and attended many basketball games together. I also visited him at his jazz club whenever my wife and I could make it.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Dragged into Hell by Neil Benson is a short story about the horrendous experience of a woman taken from her home and turned into a vampire. While she attempts to exact a measure of retribution against the creature who did this, she realizes that her eternal life is something she could have never imagined.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Mercy by Vampyr14 is a short story about a vampire who sees an opportunity to help the elderly and help himself. A humanistic vampire? No, just an opportunistic one. Read it and find out.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The Vampire Maid by Hume Nesbitt is about an Englishman that visits a cottage on the moors. He has dreams about the maid and her full red lips. But are those just dreams or might leave visitations from a deadly creature? Read more and find out. This is the complete story.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I was sitting on a stool in my neighborhood pub drinking a pint of my favorite brew when a black-haired, swarthy man of middle height approached me. I looked at him while he stared at me. I turned away, hoping he would disappear into the men's room. Unfortunately, I could feel his eyes boring into my back, and I knew he wouldn't go away.
I turned to him and asked, "Is there something you want?"
He continued staring at me without showing any indication he had heard what I had said.
"Okay, stare away," I said, and glared at him. After a while, the intensity of his gaze became disconcerting.
"You are the person that wrote the article stating that psychic vampirism is nonsense?" he asked in a strange foreign accent.
"I wrote a post on my blog to that effect," I replied.
"Same thing," he said. "You think psychic vampirism is a joke?"
"I don't know if it's a joke, but it's certainly not real." His intense gaze continued to bother me.
"Perhaps you need to learn a lesson in humility," he said tersely.
"Life has humbled me many times but I don't see you as tonight's teacher."
"Perhaps a demonstration is in order," he said as he opened his eyes wider.
Suddenly, I began to feel dizzy and leaned forward. I wasn't sure what was happening, but I'm knew I needed to steady myself. So, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and visualized a peaceful blue sky. I slowed my breathing until I felt relaxed and noted that the dizziness had disappeared. Time to face this character down.
I raised my head and he maneuvered his so that his eyes were in contact with mine. I continued my slow rhythmic breathing and returned his stare. This time it had no effect on me.
He squinted and his forehead furrowed as if he were trying to intensify his stare. Beads of perspiration broke out on his forehead and above his upper lip.
Feeling more confident, I smiled at him.
"Grrrhh," he said as he leaned forward, bringing his face closer to mine.
"Enough is enough I said," as I put the palm of my hand against his chest and shoved him backward.
He had difficulty maintaining his balance and bumped into a large, muscular blonde-haired man. The Nordic-looking fellow pushed him away. The swarthy stranger opened his mouth without saying anything. He righted himself, but when he looked at me all of his confidence was gone, and his eyes were confused.
By this time he had attracted the attention of Mike the bartender. "Hey, buddy. We don't need any trouble around here. If you wanna drink, fine. If not, get out," Mike said.
The swarthy man shook his head, turned, and walked out the door.
"Neil, who the hell was that guy?" asked Mike.
"A wannabe psychic vampire," I said, and laughed.
"A what?" Mike asked with raised eyebrows.
"Never mind," I said, and picked up my mug to finish my beer.
As Mike walked away, I called out to him. "Another beer please."
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Mark of the Beast by Rudyard Kipling is a story about what happens in a time and place East of Suez where the veneer of civilization wears very thin. Strange religious ceremonies are held that turn a man into a beast much like a werewolf. A leper proves to be a formidable opponent. Can the narrator help his friend? Find out.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Gary Hendricks, a writer for Slate magazine, after attending Comic-con, said, "The big story wasn't comic books -- it was vampires. Some 2000 young women set up a tent city outside the San Diego convention Center on Tuesday, sleeping rough so they could attend the Thursday panel on new moon, the upcoming sequel to vampire blockbuster Twilight." What he said next is of major importance to people who make a living writing about vampires, and to vampire lovers, young and old, across America.
"Like many people who acquire mega celebrity, the vampire has developed an eating disorder. Read the books. Watch the movies. You'll see vampires who manage nightclubs, build computer databases, work as private investigators, go to prep school, lobby Congress, chat with humans, live near humans, have sex with humans, and pine over humans, but the one thing you won't see them do is suck the blood of humans."
No, bloodsucking is so yesterday. It's so 1994. It's Anne Rice. Today's vampire is a good listener. He cares about our love lives and our problems, which is strange because we're supposed to be his food."
Gary has hit the nail on the head, or the vampire with a stake, whichever you choose. When I read Twilight, I wondered what the fuss was. Nothing happened. I didn't think there was enough action to make a movie. But once they had put it all together some things had happened, but the movie still wasn't good. Part of the problem is that vampires have become the property of teenagers who allegedly smoke dope and have sex, but won't let vampires be the evil creatures they are meant to be.
Vampires are supposed to live outside the realm of human society. We are their food source, their cattle so to speak. Or at least we were. Now they survive on whole blood which is readily available to them. At the same time, a vampire subculture has emerged among mortals where people actually ingest blood from each other. Would somebody please explain this to me. I'm a psychologist and I don't understand it. I've also written a vampire novel, as yet unpublished, in which vampires are nasty creatures, except for the lover of my mortal hero.
What next? Freddy Krueger working as a volunteer with wayward youths? This has got to stop. There needs to be real evil in the world. Or at least some evil besides Al Qaeda or the people who talked you into mortgages you couldn't afford.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The Transfer by Algernon Blackwood is is a short story a ballot a peculiar patch of earth and a peculiar man. The narrator notices a desolate patch of earth in the garden where nothing seems to grow. At the same time, a man noted for his ability to seemingly draw the life out of others arrives for a visit. When this man and the desolate patch of earth come into contact, both are changed forever.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The Haunted House by Edith Nesbitt is about strange events that are taking place at the Omehurst Rectory in Kent. People are taking ill and do not recover. Desmond, a visitor soon finds himself in the same situation. His host leads Desmond downstairs so that he can but what does he have in store for his guest?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Stone Chamber by HP Marriott Watson is about a man who takes possession of an old house only to find out that all is not well. It would have been wise of him to have determined that previous occupants, long dead, were not inhabiting the premises. People's lives are at stake when strange creatures are encountered during the night.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The True Story of a Vampire by Count Stenbock Eric shows that vampires are not always what they appear to be, nor are their appearances uniformly the same. However, they inevitably inflict destruction on the people and families that are unfortunate to encounter them. This is one man's tale of how a vampire entity enters his, and his family's life to their utter dismay.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Good Lady Ducayne by Mary E. Braddon is a story about what happens to the young ladies who work for the Good Lady. These young women start out in good health but soon become pale, one, and sickly. Strange bite marks appear on the bodies of these ladies. Are they victims on giant mosquitoes, or something much worse than a mosquito?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
How do vampires carry out their active physical existences? Humans, mortals, have complex biological systems that provide energy to the muscles, tendons, bones, etc. that enable us to carry out physical activities. Vampires are dead: their hearts don't beat; their lungs don't breathe; and their former biological energy producing systems are no longer functioning. Where do their muscles get the energy? Dr. Katherine Ramsland wrote an entire book, The Science of Vampires, speculating about how vampires function and think. Dr. Ramsland could only speculate, because neither she nor anyone else has examined a "real undead vampire."
In the movies and in novels, vampires share blood with humans to turn them into vampires. How is this possible? Without hearts that beat, what keeps vampire blood flowing? Vampires are always depicted as being cold to the touch, quite logical since they are dead. Vampires are also depicted as being impervious to the cold. However, if they are cold-blooded creatures, and they are outside, or even inside, in freezing temperatures there blood would begin to thicken. That issue has never been addressed to the best of my knowledge. It's not a matter of unanswerable questions as much as it is a illogical possibilities.
We've also seen, or read about, vampires turning into some kind of dust or smoke. The transformation of matter from one form, a solid, into another form, gaseous, requires heat or some kind of chemical process. Modern science has no means by which it can almost instantaneously turn a solid object into a gaseous one with the exception of a nuclear explosion. There's a lot of bad science going on when it comes to the undead vampire. The stories of these creatures arise from folklore and are given life not by some magical process, but by the creative imagination of writers. The reader also has to participate, because more than a little suspension of disbelief is required to go along with the idea. However, judging by the current popularity of vampire books, movies, and now television shows, science and logic of the furthest things from the minds of readers and viewers.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The Vampire Maid by Hume Nisbet is a classic horror story. There are all sorts of advantages to having a maid, such as being served, and having someone to clean up. However, sometimes the maid is not the prim and proper lady we expect her to be. In fact, she may be something out of our worst nightmares.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The Anima by Lucas White is about a terrible creature that is found in another country. The story reminds us then when we go abroad we have to see things differently. We also may be forced to make terrible choices in order to protect ourselves.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Southern Bites by Neil Benson is a vampire story that takes place in the south. An obese young man with minimal intelligence is turned into a vampire as a result of an accident. The young man learns that being a vampire can be more challenging than he thought. Do not look for southern mansions, pedigreed families, or any form of aristocrats from the south.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Aylmer Vance and the Vampire by Alice and Claude Askew is a tale about a once healthy men who has become pale and sickly. His relationship with the family of ancient lineage has led him into a dangerous place. Perhaps he should've been more concerned with family curses than family trees.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Book Bites by Neil Benson is a short story about what happens when a young male student at a college goes home with the attractive female librarian. Does the young man get lucky? Or does he have an encounter of another kind.
Friday, May 15, 2009
An Authenticated Vampire Story by Franz Hartman is about an occulist who sees a picture with moving eyes and has a table move toward him. He also has a strange woman come to his room and try to seduce him. Were these products of an overactive imagination or a very real peril to his life?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I keep hearing it's important to think outside of the box, what ever the box is. In this case, however, the box is thinking of making traditional, and even beautiful things into horror stories, movies or pictures. Think about Beauty and the Beast in a horror story. Then again, maybe not.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Horror doesn't consist only of vampires, werewolves and demons. Sometimes it consists of taking the routine or mundane and twisting it in ways people would have never thought of. Some people can't even turn our favorite cartoon characters, such as Snow White, into the realm of horror. The picture below illustrates this point. If you're a fan of supernatural imagine Sam and Dean meeting this Snow White. Looks like one of the guys is going to need to get the salt.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
By P’ou Song-lin. As with most things oriental it is a bit more subtle than we are used to in America. Remember, the vampire survives by stealth rather than brute power.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Imagine that Clint Eastwood is saddling up for the last time and that he has warrants for every crook, slime ball and miscreant on Wall Street and throughout the nation who contributed to the current financial disaster. He is also under instructions to bring back the worst offenders dead or alive. Along with him are Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Samuel Jackson. None of them have shaved recently, and they look like they have ridden from Silver City Nevada without a bath. They are the modern day four Horsemen of the apocalypse for financial felons. Don't be afraid, be very afraid.
They ride across the Brooklyn Bridge, through lower Manhattan to the Goldman Sachs Building. Clint, Morgan, and Samuel dismount while Gene proceeds up Broadway with a mule following behind him. Clint reaches into a leather pouch and pulls out a large handful of warrants. He distributes them to Morgan and Samuel, and the three of them walk up to the front door. They are immediately confronted by security guards, but when Clint squints at them the guards all melt away. The three men draw their weapons, enter the building, and then ride up the elevator. A half an hour later, 50 men are marched out of the building onto a waiting bus. This is no ordinary bus, it's a black bus with the words "Bound for Hell" written on the side of it.
After leaving the Goldman Sachs Building, the four horsemen proceed to Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, and on to Citigroup. By the time they are finished at Citigroup six busloads of prisoners have been collected. While Clint, Morgan and Samuel have been rounding up their felons, Gene Hackman rode to Bernie Madoff's apartment. Gene rides up the elevator and knocks on Bernie's apartment door. When Bernie opens the door Gene sticks the warrant in front of his face and grabs him by the collar. Gene drags Bernie down every step and out the front door. He puts Bernie on the mule facing backwards, ties his feet together, and his hands behind him to the pommel.
Clint is chewing on a cigar when Gene rides up towing Bernie behind him. The four men ride to the Holland Tunnel; the six buses following them. A half hour later, the four horsemen emerge towing Bernie behind them. But the buses are nowhere to be seen. Screams are heard from within the tunnel, but when police are sent in to investigate they can't find the source of the screams. Neither can scientific investigators find any sign of the buses.
Even as Clint, Morgan, Samuel, and Gene ride south towards Washington, and eventually Charlotte, with an even larger bundle of warrants, the buses still don't emerge from the tunnel. In fact, the buses are never seen again. Perhaps the "Bound for Hell" on the side of the buses wasn't a metaphor. On to Washington. The buses filled with prisoners from the Senate, the House of Representatives, lobbyists, and other miscreants, also disappear never to be found again.
The screams continue for weeks and months. Ordinary drivers wearing earplugs are able to drive through the tunnel. However, anyone working in the financial industry is driven insane as soon as they enter the tunnel.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I have a free vampire short story on my blog. It's a humorous story about a vampire from a trailer park in the south. "The Wrong Vampire" Leave comments to let me know what you think.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Of course, homage must be paid to the original "talking" Dracula. (The German movie Nosferatu preceded it.) Bella Lugosi's campy performance grows more intriguing as time goes by. I can remember the first time I saw the movie over 50 years ago. The movie, which took liberties with Bram Stoker's novel, introduced us to a creature of mythology from all over the world. Some of the campy lines from the movie have become legendary. The raw sexuality of the movie and the power of the vampire gave moviegoers an image of something most of them had never heard about. Enough of the movies for the time being. Next time I'll address the fundamental issues of the vampire and how it relates to the not so unconscious desires and fears of socie