Author Lorelei Bell, welcomes you! Vampires are my addiction, I assume they are yours as well. Come and journey with me to the darker shadows, where the vampires lurk, watching us, waiting for us weak humans...

The journey awaits, come!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nosferatu's Star WAS A Vampire (according to Shadow of the Vampire)!


Max Schreck was either a vampire or he wasn't.

A lot of people in Germany thought he was, so convincing was he with his highly developed persona.

Personally, I think he was a very clever man who knew exactly how

to make a great deal of publicity for himself.

He was the incomprable star of Nosferatu.
And please consider the fact that Schreck in German means fright!

I don't have to elaborate on the magnificent post Lorelei did last week. I only want to discuss the film, Shadow of the Vampire which is a fictional account of the making of Nosferatu.

The performances are amazing, with John Malkovich as FW Murnau, the gifted Expressionist German filmaker.

A lot of poetic license comes in here, but you know what?! It's a hell of a lot of fun and it makes for one damned bloody good take on Nosferatu's
star, Max Schrek as well as FW Murnau. 

Schrek is played by Willem Dafoe. You have to see it to believe how riotious he is! It's delicously over the top and will have you amazed.

Not to be outdone is the terrific John Malkovich starring as director, FW Murnau.

The gist:
The director and his crew arrive to begin filming with Schreck already there waiting for them.

They start filming and a lot of very peculiar things begin happening. The implication is that Schreck is not acting the part, that he is in every way a vampire!

In one scene Murnau shouts: "Why did you have to kill the cameraman, why couldn't it be the script girl?"

Schreck responds: "I'll eat her later!"

Yikes! But fun yikes, right?

This is pure entertainment and it is really good fun. But it's more than that because it also provides great insight into the making of Nosferatu.

Purists will say that Murnau was not at all like the somewhat nutty character Malkovich portrays. So what? This is a fictionalization of the making of that classic. It's satirical and damned clever in my opinion.

Why not see it and decide for yourself. And be sure to tell us about it, because we'd love to know what you think!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rats and Black Death in "Nosferatu"

Renfield from "Dracula" Browning 1931
"Rats! Rats! I see them! Thousands of them! Millions of them..."

This line from the original 1931 Dracula movie, starring Bela Lugosi, is where Refield is anticipating his "master" Dracula's arrival hopeful that he will give him larger creatures for a meal of blood in payment for his loyalties.

No rats were shown in this film. An armadillo shuffled across screen in one early scene, which, in retrospect, could have gotten the skin to crawl if you didn't know what it was, as it does look like a giant rat on steroids!
In the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, starring actor Max Schreck--whose ghastly make-up changed throughout the film to make him more horrifying as the film progressed--did have a scene which depicted rats crawling around on the ship. In fact there is a whole scene of rats crawling out of a hole, and over a shipmate's feet. Very creepy stuff for 1922!

Max Schreck as Count Orlock in Nosferatu
Why were rats either mentioned or depicted in these films, when in the novel, Dracula, none are mentioned?

In Nosferatu, the film follows the original book by Bram Stoker. In fact so much so, that Stoker's widow brought suit against Murnau and won. His company folded. (The court had ordered that the original negatives and prints be destroyed--fortunately this never happened!) Murnau had to change things in order to comply.

So, Count Orlock arrives in Bremen (northern Germany), on board the ship, after killing the crew, and upon his debarkation, fear arises that the plague has arrived in the city. The whole idea was to drum in the fact that the count was the very personification of pestilence and death, so the relationship with rats, disease, and death are pulled together with a scene of long lines of coffins carried by men down a town street. And a man marking each door where people have died of the plague--so that no one goes in, I suppose.

It is further drilled home in a line by Van Helsing in the film: "I have long sought the causes of that terrible epidemic, and found at its origin and its climax the innocent figures of Jonathon Harker and his young wife, Nina." This makes Jonathon and Nina central and very important in the rolls they play. Nina having to make a most horrifying decision to allow the vampire stay with her the whole night until dawn, so that the sun would destroy him, thus ending this horrible plague. She is the ultimate heroine of the film.

Unarguably, rats play a roll in the revulsion factor for an audience who is new to the silent movies. Seeing these creatures scurry across the ship man's feet probably had women in the audience screaming, or hiding their eyes back then! Director F.W. Murnau, had to change the film, as he plagiarised the novel. Thus, I think bringing in the rats may have been a stroke of genius when it was shown, because it is still rather creepy to watch.

Count Dracula/Count Orlock both travel to England on a ship. And everyone knows that rats jump on board, and when it docks, off they go onto shore. Rats carry the flea which carried the Black Plague, and is how it had been spread--mostly and most devastatingly in the 14th century. The plague bacillus originated in the steppes of Central Asia, and traveled the trade routes opened up by the Mongols, reaching Constantinople in 1347. It wiped out whole towns, cities--wherever there was a population. Very few places were spared and there was no known cure. In fact this is where the common saying "Bless you" came from. Back then, if you sneezed, you were most surely going to die. And a worthless medical faculty in Paris claimed that the plague was cause d by "bad air", and had become the most widely accepted theory of the times.

Most people infected died within 2 - 7 days after infection. In some cases the infection went to the lungs, making breathing difficult. The name, "Black Death" comes from the gangrene on areas of the body in infected people. In others an inguinal bubo, which are swollen lymph glands (buboes) often occurred in the neck armpit and groin.

Hand showing acral gangrene due to plague
When one reads about how all of Europe was nearly wiped out during the 14th century, one can understand why it was used in this film. Bodies piled up so quickly that they could not bury them fast enough. Plus, no one understood what was killing them. How more horrifying can you get?

So, in the film Nosferatu, where people are dying and the scene shows men carrying casket after casket down the street in somber procession, the viewer understands that Count Orlock is basically spreading the plague.

I understand the revulsion factor in placing rats into this movie, and the duality of death by plague as a way to make this movie as horrifying as ever to audiences! The bite of the infected flea, or the bite of the vampire--in either case you would die, point taken! Nosferatu, is still considered one of the most terrifying versions of Dracula known even today.

Resources: pictures etc.Wikipedia; Films: Muranu's Nosferatu-1922; Dracula-Browning, 1931; Books: In Search of Dracula, 1972; The Atlas of Medieval Man, 1979; The Vampire Book, the Encyclopedia of the Undead,1979; Dracula by Bram Stoker

Tales From the Vampire Vault: Blood Madness!

They were occupying a disused church, the master and his coven. He thought they'd be safe there and they were but he had to warn them.
"Do not feed on tainted blood, no matter how hungry you are or what terrible thirst you have do not taste it, for it will drive you mad."

It was The Black Death of 1348 when Europe was ravaged by plague. Plague carried by the infected fleas that fed on the rats. The rats were everywhere. They dwelled within the thatch and straw of the buildings, in alleyways and cellars. They were the plague and the plague was them and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Death was all around--in the filth and contagion, beside the diseased ravaged ships in the harbor, moving up from the docks with the scurrying rats—!

And when the people began to fall ill, they perished fairly quickly, so marked were they with the signs of their contagion. No one was safe. Not the old or the young, not even babies.

People went into hiding if they could to wait it out. Yet thousands died in their supposed havens. And still the bodies piled up. The cart men weren’t even coming any more. Most of them had sickened and died.

There were those that were immune to the plague, such as the Master and his coven.

The Master was their lord and they, his coven of vampires were gathered around him many of them weeping.

“Do not fear, it will not help!”

They were male and female, nearly all of middling age. But of course that depended on their age upon creation.

He loved them all, for they were like his children. His woman, his favorite wench was weeping, so frightened was she.

“There, there, nothing can be gained by that! Dry your tears and listen to what I say!"

The room was bathed in the shadow of flickering candle light for he didn’t wish anyone to know they were congregated there.
Funny they should seek safe harbor in a church. But they did for there were few places they could hide.

He looked at each of them before he spoke. They waited for they knew it was important. And so he began, his rich voice speaking to each of them:

“Whatever you do, however thirsty you become, do not taste tainted blood!”

They began to murmur and whisper. Many of them sounded frightened.

"What shall we do, Master? We shall perish if we do not feed!"

The vampire nodded for he was tolerant with them, yet he wished them to understand.

“You will have to be patient, to wait until I can provide for you. Remember, tainted blood will drive you mad."

Some of them gasped, others wept.

“If they see one of our kind, and never forget, with careful scrutiny they can tell. If they identify you as a vampire that has fed on the dying, they will turn you over to the destroyers.” He shook his head sadly. “You do not know what a painful death that is for our kind. The pain is unimaginable. And all the while you suffer, your destroyer’s laughter will ring in your ears.”

When they were at rest, for they rested during the day, one of them began to move. It was a woman. A wench who thirsted for a fresh kill. She had dreamt of it, of the taste, of the sweet saltiness darkening her tongue and sliding down her throat.

She began to recall recent feeds she had, the white flesh of a young girl, the exhilaration of her teeth tearing that flesh apart—and then the first taste of the feed!

When she could no longer stand suffering, she crept out of the domain—hardly breathing for she was fearful that the master would discover her and reprimand her.

She’d have been far better off if he had.

She waited until dusk, whereupon she ventured outside. A young man was coming along; the vampire smiled and closed her eyes for already she could taste his blood.

She waited until he came closer. And because there was a full moon, she looked him over, just to make sure he looked well.

He didn’t cry out, he collapsed under the terrible strength of her touch.

And she fed hungrily.

What she hadn’t seen, was the terrible buboe under his right arm. It had already burst, and though he still looked fit, he was already dying.

The madness set in almost at once as she hurried back to the coven.  She saw a great black bird dive at her, shrieking loudly. She brushed it away, but there were more. Hundreds more and she screamed.

But because she walked alone and there was nothing attacking her, it was quite clear to all who saw her that she was mad.

“There’s one!”

A man had come to look at her, to examine her carefully. Holding his torch he had seen the caked blood on her teeth and her chin as well as the drained corpse nearby.

The Master saw it all; he had ventured out trying to find the girl but hadn’t come in time.

Yes, he said to himself. The plague kills all, both human and vampire alike, but whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad!

© copyright 2012 Carole Gill

Watch out for more tales from the vampire vault!  


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Vasyl & Julie

Hello, my pretties. This is a piece of flash fiction, a taste, really, from a future book.

Vasyl & Julie

The woman ran through the backyard, sobbing, “I don't want to die! I don't want to die!” Her robe flying as she ran barefooted, as though a demon was after her.
Vasyl watched as she ran toward the cornfield and it seemed that her intention was to run right into the tall, green corn. Why she would do this, he wasn't sure. A human could easily get lost in a large field of corn. He knew he had to stop her. She was the only one home to watch over her children.
Spreading his wings, he flapped a few times as he kicked off from the top of the roof of the old farm house. He flew low, as low as he dared, just over her head. His shadow, even in the dark, would be enough to stop her, he reasoned. And it did. She stumbled weakly as he came to a halt several feet before her, watching her fall to her hands and knees.
Turning, he pulled in his wings, making them as small as possible, for they were dark and jagged, and he knew the sight of them might frighten her. She brought her head slowly up, gazing first at his bare feet, and then her eyes rose to take the rest of him in. He was standing there shirtless wearing jeans; the lower half of his body was in shadow, the upper half was in the light from the large light in front of the house. He quite possibly glowed like a beacon. Or—did he dare think it?—an angel?
She gasped. Her attention fully on him. Mesmerizing her was not his intention, and yet he could not help himself. He could see he had startled her, but she didn't seem exactly frightened by his presence. If anything, she was awed by it.
He shook back the lengths of his wavy, black hair and said, “Everyone dies, at some point.” She continued to stare at him. “Why are you worried about dying at such a young age?”
What? Don't you know? I thought you would, since you're an angel,” she said. It was now obvious she was slightly confused as to who, or what he was. But he wasn't ready to answer the question as to what he was at this time. Better to focus on what had upset her so.
I thought you were here to answer my prayers.” She'd gotten to her feet, a little unsteadily. She looked terribly distraught, her hair was hanging loosely around her face. Her robe fell open, revealing her nightie. She was barefoot, having lost her slippers at some point.
It depends upon what it is that you pray for,” he answered carefully.
To not die,” she said.
Ever?” he asked.
She twisted her mouth in thought. “That would be nice,” she scoffed.
“This could be arranged,” he said.
She laughed at that. “Right.”
You doubt me?” He pressed his hands to his bare chest.
Oh,” she said, swiping the air, making light of their discussion. “Now you're making fun of me.”
Not at all,” he said trying to remain stoic and yet comforting. “Tell me what makes you think you are dying?”
A hand covered her mouth, while the other arm went around her middle and the sobs came. He waited a little while as she cried some more.
Please. You need not cry any more.” As he said this, she quit crying.
I was told by my doctor that I have cancer and that I only have months to live.” Her voice trembled. She was frightened of dying. Human cancers were indeed scary. He nodded his understanding.
That is a terrible thing for the doctor to tell you. There is no hope?”
No. He said it is in-operable.”
He nodded. “You have children. A husband. Do they know?”
She shook her head. “I only told my husband. I simply can't tell my children. I just can't!” She sobbed again covering her mouth with her hand, and then settled once more as he placed a hand on her shoulder to comfort her.
That is alright. They know that you love them. That is what matters. That is all that matters.”
Oh, yes! I do, I do!”
A silence fell between them for a moment.
You're here to tell me that God loves me and will take me to be with him when I die?”
If that is what you wish. But I don't believe that is,” he said. “Is it?”
I don't want to die,” she gasped again. “Why can't I have life? Why?”
Why indeed.”
She looked at him, again startled by his words.
What you ask for is—”
“—Impossible. I know,” she interrupted him, looking away.
Not impossible,” he said.
Her gaze snapped back to take him in. Hope sparked in her eyes.
What are you saying?”
What I am saying is for you to be absolutely certain that is what you want before you ask for it.”
Because it might come true?” She chuckled at her private joke.
Yes. It can come true.”
She gave him another startled look. “I-I don't understand. How? You're telling me I don't have to die? Are you able to cure me?”
No. Not cure. Not in the way you are thinking. But I do have a way.
What do you mean? If not a cure, what?”
Eternal life,” he said in a quiet tone.
She stared at him, trying to comprehend.
But it does not come without a price.”
No, of course not. What does?”
Exactly.” He paused and they looked at one another for another moment. “I want you to be certain that you are willing to pay for what I am willing to give you.”
I see.” He allowed her to think a moment. “What is it that you want?”
I want the sibyl.”
Sybil? I don't understand.”
He took a breath and let it out, working on how to word his next statement. “Your daughter. She has special abilities. No?”
She knows things before they occur. She knows things about people she has no way of knowing, in the normal way. She has a sixth sense, as they say. She is a strong clairvoyant.”
Yes.” She nodded. “Yes. It's true. We have to keep her away from people and she has to wear gloves to protect her so that she doesn't go into a—” she looked at him then. “How did you know this about my daughter?”
He smiled. “I have been searching for her for a very, very long time. It was my responsibility when I was a priest a very long time ago.”
You were a priest? Now what are you?”
He sighed deeply. Hands splayed, he said, “I am an undead.”
The woman pulled in a sudden breath, fists to her mouth.
Vampire, is the modern term.”
Then, you can bite me and make me immortal?”
Yes. I can.” Although it wasn't his bite that would turn her. But the specifics would be worked out later.
She took another moment to consider everything that had been said. “What do you want with my daughter?”
She is very important to, not only me, but the whole world. She must remain undiscovered until she is old enough to understand the responsibilities of being a sibyl. Until then, I will guard over her.”
Because I'll be undead?”
Yes. As such, you will not be able to remain here, with your family.”
Why not?”
There is the danger that you would pose to them as a vampire. You will miss them and want them to be with you. Be like you. That is your sacrifice for becoming immortal, and not dying.”
She thought for a long moment again. “But I won't die from cancer?”
No. I will make it so that you can never die from any disease.”
What will happen to my children?”
What would happen to them if you died?”
That had her thinking again.
Where will I go, once I become immortal?”
We will find you suitable lodgings. There are many more of us than you might think there are.” He wanted her to know that she would not be alone. After he turned her, he would have to leave her with those who could take care of her, teach her the ways of being a vampire so as to not become a threat to humans. The rogues were many in this part. He'd had to keep them from finding him and bothering him for fealty, and their need for protection. He so hated the politics. But he knew where she would find safety, shelter, and those who would keep her safe.
"Do you still think you would rather not die, but become a vampire?"
©Lorelei Bell 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vampires - Do They Really Exist?

What is it that attracts us to this blood-feasting stranger that wanders the night? Why do we continue to perpetuate it? Possibly it is the delicious shiver we feel when we read about our heroine facing that dark, handsome stranger. We imagine her succumbing to his thirst. We may imagine ourselves in this roll and play it over and over in our heads and become the victim in this erotic fantasy: The stranger with marble-white skin, jet-black hair, unyielding dark eyes and strong arms, the desire for his kiss and finally the orgasmic spasm that accompanies it. Yes, it has masochistic undertones, but that's what enthralls us.

Down through time, the human imagination has created fantastic beings solely for the thrill factor--trying to out-do one another. After all where do you think the unicorn came from? Or the giant octopus?

But none of these compare with the dark and erotic creature known as the vampire. Don't for one second think that Bram Stoker invented the vampire. He did not. But I'm sure many of you out there have wondered where the myths may have come from. Your curiosity must pull you toward information centers, newspapers, books, etc., that might have the answers. In my youth I would grab anything remotely dealing with vampires. Most of the times it might come in the tabloids about someone hunting vampires in a cemetery. Don't laugh! Laws were passed in order to keep people from going into graves and jamming a stake into a corps' heart!

Every nation, and nationality, has some sort of vampire lore. So, you have to wonder, is there something to it?

A research society founded in 1882 claimed that "The vampire still maintained his preeminence, and certain researchers promoted the theory that the vampire was a weird form of apparition that actually does thrive on some type of 'life force'."

Of course the concept of the vampire has been well exploited by Hollywood for generations, and now there is quite a glut of vampires in the movies, on TV, and in books. But this is all fiction. Right? Or is it? Don't you just wonder if there might be fact behind this whole "do vampires exist" question?

Well, as of late--and as I am able to report to you--the "real" human vampires are slowly coming out of the closet. There has been a special on TV, not very long ago about this. Unfortunately I had to miss it (I go to bed too early). As I've said, I've been on the prowl trying to discover the reason for the vampire lore.

"To my mind, a vampire in the true medical sense, is a person who by reasons of powers beyond his control must have human blood to quench his unnatural thirst..." - The Vampire In Legend and Fact

My personal thoughts have always been that the reality is so very secret and that the individual was so rare that those who are actual living vampires who need human blood have allowed the myths to perpetuate. Thus, we authors may do as we please and no one really gets hurt. We authors of novels deal with the "make believe" but are able to weave a tale so tantalizing and realistically, that you, the reader, suspend your belief systems and love it.

In reality, what I have learned is that there are two types of "real" human vampires. There are the psychic (or PSI) vampires and the sanguinarians (those who do drink human blood from a willing donor).

PSI vampires are those who need the life energy, or emotional energy from people that they feed from. They have found a way to tap the energy from the emotions of people in a room with them. In most cases it doesn't require touching, and in many cases large groups of people tend to be easier to tap this energy from--usually from a party, or maybe a concert, where feelings of elation and happiness exist. A PSI would never feed from anger, or any negative emotions.

However, feeding by physical contact is much easier, obviously. And this may be where the lore has come from because they are able to feed from any place on the body that from a hollow, such as the hollow at the base of your throat, or in your shoulder. Ever wonder where the idea of feeding from the neck came from?

While PSI vampires might be among your very good friends (and may not even know that's what they are), the sanguinarians are very different. In some cases these individuals have been the ones we have read about. The most famous was the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory who bathed in the blood of young women to keep her beauty in tact. But others who actually fed on blood have been with us down through time.

True sanguinarians wouldn't want to be bunched in with the likes of the countess or murderers. These are people who have willing donors, and are addicted because of a real chemical reaction in the brain.

Ah, my pretties, I see this has gone long and I'd love to come back and talk more about blood, vampires and their historical place in the world.

Nighty-night. Do let the vampire bite.

This subject is so broad that I could not cover everything about vampires. There are many other sites which go into depth, more so than I could here. If anyone wishes to check one out, then here is a link: