Tag Archives: horror

Pack Up Your Native Soil: Traveling the World with Vampires

28 Oct

In Dracula, a vampire must bring boxes of his or her native soil from where they were born to be buried in to protect them from the sun during the day.  He would certainly be lugging it around a lot, if he went all of the places the vampire myth has traveled.  Here are a few films to checkout this Halloween to see how vampires have translated across the world.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

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I had been hearing a lot of buzz online about A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night from fans of horror as being one of the most original and interesting vampire movies in years.  Technically this is an American film, however, it is set in a spooky Iranian ghost town called Bad City and the film is in Farsi with English subtitles.  A sweet love story emerges between a young Iranian man, who is overwhelmed by taking care of his drug addicted father, and a mysterious young woman who glides about town in something that resembles at times a chador and other’s Dracula’s cape.  The black and white film is visually stunning.  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is available from several BCCLS libraries and online from Hoopla.  I’m interested to check out other things by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour in the future.

Let the Right One In

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Let the Right One In is a Swedish vampire film that centers around two children who form a strong bond over their outsider status: Oskar, a boy who is bullied at school, and Eli, who needs to drink blood to survive.  Vampire children are always extra creepy.  In Anne Rice’s and Stephenie Meyer’s vampire mythologies the creation of vampire children is forbidden.  In Poppy Z. Brite’s world of born vampires they literally absorb the life from their mothers.  Yet there is something vulnerable and touching about Eli. This is another film for those looking for something a bit more unusual than the typical Dracula retread.  An English version of the film was released in 2010 with the title Let Me In and moved the setting of the film from Sweden to New Mexico.  The book by John Ajvide Lindqvist that the films are based on is available from the Hoboken Public Library (the first English translation was published under the title Let Me In, subsequent editions are titled Let the Right One In).  Both film versions, Let Me In and Let the Right One In, are available from the Hoboken Public Library and Hoopla.

Vampire Party

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Vampire Party is a funny light French film for those looking for a bit of slap stick absurd comedy with their horror.  It is available online from Hoopla.  Three best friends Sam, Alice, and Prune think they are incredibly lucky when they manage to get invites to Medici Night a legendary party at a remote castle, but it turns out that they haven’t just been added to the guest list, they are on the menu for an elite group of vampires.  The French title for the film is Les Dents de la Nuit, which translates to teeth of the night, which alludes not only to vampires, but also to one of the silly running gags of the film that a VIP at the event is a dentist.  If you thought films like Bridesmaids and The Hangover would have been better with vampires than you should find Vampire Party a bloody good treat.

Vampire Hunter D

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Vampire Hunter D was one of the first animes (Japanese animation) I encountered.  As someone that was used to animation that was either only aimed at children or comedic like The Simpsons for adult audiences, I was surprised and intrigued by the complex and dramatic story line.  The 1985 film was based on a series of Manga (Japanese graphic novels). D is a half vampire/half human who fights vampires in a post-apocalyptic future.  Some unique details include D’s cybernetic horse and a symbiotic hand whose wise cracks add some levity to the story.  Although I’ve seen a great deal of anime since then, this remains one of my favorite with its cool blend of gothic horror with science fiction.  A second film Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was released in 2000.  Check the films and manga out from BCCLS libraries.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Haunted Houses: The Supernatural Enhancements and The Hawley Book of the Dead

15 Apr

Now that the weather is finally getting warmer you may be planning to go camping.  What better book to bring with you then something suspenseful.  If you are looking for something slightly spooky, but not the typical horror fare here are two uncanny stories about haunted houses with a twist. 

The Supernatural Enhancements, by Edgar Cantero.

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Edgar Cantero was born in Barcelona and this is first novel written in English.  I read The Supernatural Enhancements during the week leading up to Halloween last year.  It has spooky elements of horror, but contains so much more.  The Supernatural Enhancements refers to the unusual attributes of Axton House, inherited by the Irish protagonist of the novel A. from a distant wealthy relative living in Virginia.  The novel unfolds in a variety of ephemera that were collected during A.’s inhabitance of the house along with his younger, mute punk companion, Niamh; these include entries from dream journals, letters, advertisements, transcripts of security video footage and more.  Fans of more traditionally structured works may find the structure of The Supernatural Enhancements frustrating, but I was charmed by Cantero’s quirky sensibilities.  Since the novel is told through scraps of different things it has the added mystery of things that are hinted at but not said.  The Supernatural Enhancements is compelling enough that it could have been told without the unusual format, but I felt due to the nature of the tale it felt well suited to it and it kept the structure from feeling purely gimmicky. The title and format immediately put me in mind of the found footage horror movies such as Paranormal Activity.  Part One of the book seems like a classic haunted house tale where the foolish inhabitants are more curious than afraid of the ghost, however, as the novel progresses it turns into a much more complex and unusual tale.  I was surprised by, but happy with the direction the novel took in the end.

The Hawley Book of the Dead, by Chrysler Szarlan.

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The Hawley Book of the Dead is Chrysler Szarlan’s first novel, and the beginning of a quartet of books.  Like The Supernatural Enhancements, it takes the idea of a haunted house and magic and takes it in unexpected directions.  This book’s ominous title seemed like the perfect choice for this past March’s Friday the 13.  However, it is more akin to Deborah Harkness’s Discovery of Witches than a horror novel.  The Hawley Book of the Dead is the story of Reve (Revelation) Dyer, a magician along the lines of Criss Angel.  I liked how Szarlan used her own experience as a magician’s assistant in the creation of the book.  Reve and her husband live happily in Vegas where they perform together and raise their three daughters.  But one night Reve shoots her husband on stage with a gun that should have contained only blanks, which leads her to realize that she is being stalked.  She flees across country to Hawley Five Corners, an old New England town that her family helped found and the locals believe is haunted.  Reve (whose nickname is the French word for dream) and her daughter have nightmares that seem to be portents.  All the women in Reve’s family have unusual abilities such as healing or her ability to disappear.  The Hawley Book of the Dead is mostly told from Reve’s point of view, but also includes chapters of third person narration about her youngest daughter, and texts sent between her two teenaged twins.  I found The Hawley Book of the Dead hard to put down and found myself always wanting to read just one more chapter before I went to bed.  The novel feels self-contained in that it has a satisfying ending, but there are several subplots that seem likely to pop up in future novels, which I’m looking forward to checking out.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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