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!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Peter Kurten: Vampire of Dusseldorf

“After my head has been chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”

― Peter Kurten 1883 - 1930

Peter Kurten, known as 'The Vampire of Dusseldorf,' committed a series of sex crimes and murders against adults and children, although it is his crimes against children that have made him infamous.

Kurten was born into poverty and witnessed violence. His father, a violent alcoholic, sexually abused Kurten’s mother and sisters.

While fairly young, Peter began committing various offenses for which he served some time. When released he began torturing animals. He soon graduated to attacking humans.

He served eight years in prison for strangling a ten year old girl. He was released in 1921 and returned to Dusseldorf where he began the series of crimes for which he is best known.

From February 1929 through November 1929, Kurten went on the attack and viciously murdered six people.

Then in early 1930, Kurten began a series of attacks with a hammer. None of his victims died. His last one reported him to the police.

Kurten confessed to nine murders and seven attempted murders and in April 1931, he was convicted and sentenced to die by guillotine.

 "I had a small but sharp pocket knife with me and I held the childs head and cut her throat. I heard the blood spurt and drip on the mat beside the bed. It spurted in an arch, right over my hand. The whole thing lasted about three minutes. Then I went locked the door again and went back home to Dusseldorf."

~Peter Kurten

Fritz Lang directed the classic film 'M'—formerly entitled: Murderers Among Us.

Lang was asked to change the title by Nazi officials as they thought the film referred to them. Lang and the star of the film, Peter Lorre left Germany for Hollywood soon after.

If you haven’t seen the film, you should. It is creepy, atmospheric and very powerful and for a film, that old—well that tells you something.

The direction is superb and Lorre’s performance is memorable. However, as compelling as the film is, nothing could have properly portrayed the hideousness of Peter Kurten and his crimes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mystery of Murder Castle

Secret passages, sliding walls, trapdoors in the floors, oddly angled hallways, stairways to nowhere, windowless rooms, doors which opened only from the outside...

A fun house?

No. This was no fun house. This was a torture-chamber of horrors in real life, built in Chicago 1893. At this time the World's Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) was held in Chicago, and many people were drawn to the fair. Holmes Castle seemed to be exactly the place to stay. Large, it took up a whole block and was three stories tall. Built by a man by the name of H.H. Holmes.

Sound-proof sleeping chambers with peepholes, asbestos-padded walls, gas pipes leading into some, and sliding walls, or vents that Holmes controlled from some other place in his huge “castle”, which he himself only knew the actual lay out, as he would change builders during the construction.

You would definitely not want to spend a night here. Your sleep would be permanent. After being asphyxiated. Or worse. It was believed that Holmes would place his victims into these special chambers, and then pumped lethal gas into them, controlled from his own bedroom where he would watch what happened.

In some cases he might ignite the gas to incinerate them, or sometimes a stretching rack he had devised.

Holmes had trapdoors in the floors with greased shoots, leading down into a two-level cellar. There he had installed a large furnace. In some cases it is thought that he would take twisted pleasure in dissecting the corpses, strip the flesh from the bones, and sell the skeletons to a medical school. (Later on, it was said that parts of bodies found were so dismembered and decomposed that it was difficult to tell how many bodies there actually were.)

His alias was Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Aside from being a psychopathic serial killer, he was a swindler. He liked to swindle insurance companies. In many cases having a ready made corpse for the body of someone so as to collect on the insurance. He was also married to two women at the same time in two different states. He also liked to marry rich widows and then get them to leave him their wealth and then kill them.

His undoing was his last swindle. He found a lawyer who would go in on a plan to swindle an insurance company out of $10,000 by taking a policy out on himself, and faking his own death. He promised a man he went in on with $500 commission for the name of the lawyer who he could trust his plan to. The insurance company became suspicious and refused to pay. He decided to try a similar plan with his associate, Benjamin Pitezel. Pitezel had agreed to fake his own death, arranging that his wife would collect. Holmes was to find an appropriate cadaver to play the role of Pitezel. Instead, Holmes killed Pitezel. Evidence in the case against him was that he had administered chloroform to Pitezel after he died, trying—presumably--to fake a suicide.

The only thing that foiled Holmes was that he forgot to pay off a man who helped supply him with the name of the lawyer to help him with this scheme, and he tipped off the police.

As far as “the Castle” Holmes built in Chicago, a custodian for the place informed the police that he was never allowed to clean the upper floors, and so the police began a thorough investigation over the next few months. There are conflicting numbers as to Holmes' victims, but it has been said that anywhere from 20 to 100, and as many as 200, based upon the missing persons reports of the time, and testimony of his neighbors who saw him escorting young women to his hotel. Yep. A real life “Hotel California” where nobody leaves. He apparently liked blondes.

Holmes was convicted of murdering Pitezel and he confessed soon after, to 30 murders in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto. Some of these people were actually still alive. Apparently the man was such a good liar, even he couldn't keep track of his lies. At one point he even said he was possessed by Satan. You think?

On May 7, 1897, Holmes was hanged. It's really too bad we can't hang them a second and maybe a third time. However, he didn't die right away. It took him approximately 20 minutes to die.

Lorelei Bell's author's blog:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch ~ a Review

There I was in the coffee and candy aisle and edged over to the books and magazine section (of course), of my local grocery store.

There it was. I saw the title: Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch by Lara Parker.

Well, I had to have it. I needed something to read in the evenings during my vacation, and so I bought it. I was hopeful for an enjoyable read and I was not disappointed.

Description from book back cover:
Freed from his vampire curse, Barnabas Collins is ready to embark on a new life and marriage with his savior, the virtuous Dr. Julia Hoffman. But when Antoinette, a beautiful flower child with a shocking resemblance to the immortal witch, Angelique, rebuilds the Old House, his past returns to haunt him. Discovering a grisly corpse in the basement—where is old casket once lay—Barnabas realizes another vampire has invaded his domain. His fight to protect his family from this new threat will take Barnabas back through time to an evil moment in America's history: the corrupt witch trials of old Salem.

I enjoyed the history told from an innocent girl, Meranda du Val, who is accused of witchcraft by girls of the village. Although she is innocent of all their accusations, she is magical. And—I loved this part—she could fly, and she had been raised by the Indians during her childhood. This all ties in with the ending so well!

I loved the story told from both her voice, and Barnabas' through out the story. Meranda's story takes place in 1692 from Salem, Massachusetts, while Barnabas' takes place in 1971. The time lines were well depicted, well organized when she went back in time too. Laura must have done some vast research on how people spoke, and lived back then. And also what it must have been like to live in Salem during the witch-hating craze where all it took was someone saying your looking at them cause them to feel as though you were on fire, or that you caused a cow to die, etc. And the corrupt judges—wanting to take over land which you owned pretended to believe them.

Meanwhile, Barnabas is trying to decide if this woman (Antoinette), who looks just like the evil Angelique is really her reincarnation, after she has bought the Old House, and began decorating it just as it was before a fire took it. Meanwhile he suffers from the daily injections that Julia gives him in order to make him human again. He's finding out how it is to be human and aging. But at the same time enjoying certain delights he never could before—such as going out into the sunlight. I felt Parker really captured Barnabas in this story.

And what of Antoinette's daughter who she rescues from an insane asylum? And there is something attacking the hippies who are camped out on her property. Is it a vampire, werewolf, or zombie? Barnabas needs to find it and stop them before it's too late!

Parker's beautiful prose paints the surroundings wonderfully, dutifully adhering to the diction of the times—which ever story we are in at the moment, from the 1600's to the 1970's. It is spellbinding suspense and the storytelling does pull you in. I wanted to read it all in a matter of nights, but held back so as to enjoy it for an hour or so each night.

I enjoyed this read, and want to get the next book as soon as I can find it. I think anyone who loves the darkness of the series, or someone who is looking for a great read could really get into this book. I highly recommend it!