WHAT YOU MUST KNOW TO HUNT VAMPIRES!
by Vanessa Cortez, staff writer. [November 25,
Although TV's fictitious Buffy kills vampires with a stereotypical drop-kick
or a stake through the heart, true-life vampires are a richly diverse and
multicultural people -- possessing a diversity of habits, strengths, and
weaknesses -- which Shawn MacDougall records in The
Vampire Slayers' Field Guide to The Undead!
The book's contents
are divided by nationality, so vampire slayers in every nation can determine
what to look out for, and not be hindered by human-centric stereotypes. For instance, while Chinese vampire slayers can learn from horror films
(their indigenous Chiang-Shih is challenged by garlic, mirrors,
and running water), most vampires defy horror film stereotypes!
In addition to
nationality, other chapters include "Becoming Undead," "Fighting the Undead,"
"Defenses Against the Undead" and "Destroying the Undead" -- but nowhere
a chapter on "Learning to Live in Peace and Harmony With the Undead."
With all this newfound understanding and rising above stereotypes, shouldn't
someone be asking, Can we all get along?
But if all you
want to do is hunt and kill, you may have to go abroad. Not every
nation appears in MacDougall's book (maybe vampires are an endangered people?),
although they still live in portions of six continents. (Antarctic
is vampire-free, perhaps due to repressive and discriminatory immigration
laws.) Yes, they do live in Transylvania -- and even the U.S. has
its own indigenous vampires!
Speaking of Transylvania,
MacDougall writes: "During the time of Vlad Tepes, Romania's ruling
class was composed of Romanian Szekelys and Hungarian Magyars." However,
one Weekly Universe source reports that the Szekelys are Magyars, albeit
a subgroup, and not Romanian. (And as Magyar is Hungarian
for Hungarian, "Hungarian Magyar" is redundant).
writes: "Tangled in the complex rural histories of Romania and other
Slavic countries are a number of references to different types of Strigoi." But Romanians have long insisted that they are not Slavic but Latin, descended
from Roman colonists. (It's why they prefer Romania to such
other Western spellings such as Rumania and Roumania). The late Romanian
Ceausescu, in seeking Western aid, stressed that Romania is "a Latin
island in a Slavic sea."
definition of vampires is inclusive of "revenants," which he defines as: "A
corpse that has been reanimated and has risen as a vampire, ghost, zombie,
or angel. For the purposes of this book, Revenant will be used as
a term to describe those vampires that are human corpses that have returned
from the dead. These vampires are often pale and shambling, their
bodies showing signs of decay."
But in privileging
his definition, MacDougall ignores the richly diverse history of horror
film revenants. In Horror Film Aesthetics, horror film critic Thomas M. Sipos defines a revenant as a
corpse with a degree of self- awareness and intent (usually revenge, e.g., Tales
from the Crypt). By contrast, zombies lack self-awareness; they
are usually under another's control (White
Walked With a Zombie) or are mindless flesh-eaters (Night
of the Living Dead, Zombi 2).
Vampire Slayers' Field Guide to the Undead is thick (540 pages of text,
132 pages of appendixes covering vampire websites, unset groups, bibliographies,
filmographies, glossary, etc.), but it's an easy read, with many pictures! Mostly artist sketches (by 19 artists), but also photos of women demonstrating
how to wear fangs or carry stakes. (Amazingly, when it comes to females,
both vampires and vampire hunters prefer to dress skimpy!) All illustrations
in black & white, aside from a 14-page "Color Gallery."
The book prominently states that Shawn MacDougall is the pen name of Jonathan
Maberry. Sort of defeats the whole point of having a pen name, no?
Copyright 2003 by WeeklyUniverse.com
|Vanessa Cortez is a Los Angeles based tabloid reporter who investigates the occult underbelly of the entertainment industry. Read more about her journalism in Hollywood Witches.
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