Archive for disco evil

REVENGE!

Posted in Australia, batman, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, set in Australia, Set in Germany, Set in italy, the punisher, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

SEEKER OF REVENGE! 

Revenge is a relatively new television show that has done well in the ratings. There is intrigue, nice settings and a top cast. Revenge is also something that turns up quite often in movies and literature.

 

    Plenty of people dream of ‘getting even’ with past wrong doers. Some people even make plans on how to ‘get even’ and eventually carry them out. The thing about ‘getting even’, though is that no one really succeeds in doing so. Usually by the time the persecuted are able to rise up and strike back the playing field has changed.

Someone who was utterly horrid in their youth might have a change of heart and become a much better human being. You could get revenge on them for past misdeeds but the person you really want revenge on is them the way they were back when and not the way they are now. Hell! They may not even remember all the misdeeds of their past and be sorry if they really had committed them. Striking back soon after the offense has bee made would seem to be the best way to go but for many people this just isn’t possible.

In a playground near Dubbo in NSW some years ago, I stopped a fight between two boys in their early teens. One was the class bully who was outraged that this skinny kid he’d been picking on most of the year wanted to fight back. He was a dumb S.O.B and, if I’d been anything but an adult at the time, I’d have liked to have thumped him but good in place of the other weaker looking kid. I hate bullies, especially sports freak bullies.

Meanwhile the skinny kid was on a kamikaze mission. Things had gotten so bad for him that he didn’t care if he got beat to death just so long as he got a few good punches in. It was the skinny kid who had started the ruckus. He’d snapped from past abuse and his mind was set on what he had to do. I believe he’d spent the early part of the day working on his courage and his self righteous anger. If might truly had anything to do with being in the right I wouldn’t have intervened. As things stood, I had to prevent the skinny one from getting hurt. I don’t know if I did him any favors by doing so. I don’t know if the talking to both boys got from the principal penetrated into the head of the bully. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do about bullying.

Quite possibly the bully mentioned has already forgotten this incident and the others he was primarily responsible for. Hopefully the desire for revenge doesn’t continue to haunt the skinny kid. It is difficult to know where bullying begins and where it ends. The same can be said for revenge.

In the movie The Breakfast Club (1985), a former jock gets his high school jock son to pick on a smart kid because he still hates high school smart kids. The son doesn’t want to do this and only does it to please his dad. Then he has regrets about picking on someone who could be his friend for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense to him. In the end the jock and the smart kid make peace with one another. Thus this particular chain of hatred is broken and the desire the smart kid might have for revenge against the young jock is also broken.

An old saying has it that the person seeking revenge had best dig two graves. There’s something in this. Revenge can consume one’s life to where, once the deed is done, there’s nothing to go on with.

       It is said that the best revenge you can have against your detractors is to be successful. Even though this is often the tougher option to swallow, it is the best. You may think that once you make it big you’ll look down and scoff at your old enemies. Generally speaking, those who do make it big never go in for the looking down or the scoffing. They have far more important and often far more pleasurable things to occupy their time and their minds with. Those who have helped you get somewhere have got to be, in the end, far more important than someone who was once a bully or a downer.

Revenge is a motivating force in many of Agatha Christie’s novels. She took this motive to exceptional heights and lows in Murder on the Orient Express where virtually everyone on the train has revenge as a reason to murder a particular passenger.

In the D.C universe, a  boy’s parents are killed by a small time hood and that boy, when he grows up, becomes the caped crusader, Batman.

Then there’s Marvel Punisher. A man’s family is wiped out by a crime boss and, for his revenge, the man becomes a vigilante, The Punisher. Much like Batman, as a vigilante he spends his days and especially his nights warring on crime.

In my novel, Disco Evil, the driving force behind Paul Priestly is revenge on all male and female jocks. When he is made over into a vampire he realizes he can have all the revenge he can handle.

Over time, however, Paul begins to understand that such revenge eats away at him till there’s nothing else left and finally ends in his second death. Paul, when he is human, sees the hippy ideal of ‘make love, not war’ perverted by the Sydney disco scene and it is there, as a member of the undead, that he first seeks recompensed in blood.

In my novel, Ghost Dance, a young vampire named Petra becomes all too aware of how the desire for revenge on the Germans by the English and French after the First World War inevitably led to the Second World War. She is also aware that love, even hope, can change the present and make for a better future.

In my latest work, Desk Job, the seekers of revenge on past sexists and racists only manage to create new forms of sexism and racism. The idea that everyone should be equal is there but the practice is that some people are more equal than others. Meanwhile, where people are treated in a fair and open manner, work of a higher standard does get done and cooperation between various groups isn’t very difficult to achieve after all.

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REVIEW OF DISCO EVIL: DEAD MAN’S STAND

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, Scotland, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Disco Evil

Disco Evil back cover art

Neil K. Henderson

Knightswood, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

6th Sept. 2009

Dear Rod,

Finally getting the chance to comment back on DISCO EVIL: DEAD MAN’S STAND…You have certainly taken an interesting angle on vampire culture, with not only the uncompromising contemporary setting, but the ‘moral code’ adhered to by your (anti-) hero. Indeed, the entire novel has a ‘both-sides-to-the-story’ aspect which leaves one finally unable to take sides. As in life, no one is either all good or all bad. You make this point repeatedly, and stress the need for mutual understanding and co-operation. This indeed comes to pass not only between the Secret Compass and Rising Sun Group, but with Muslim and non-Muslim Australians…

I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed being transported around the globe for a bat’s-eye view of human existence in recent times. I like the way you handled differing timescales, with life going on as normal in NSW, while Paul maintained eternal youth. The only fault I found with this was that it didn’t leave enough scope for in-depth vampire adventure on those travels. That’s an unavoidable problem, I suppose, since too much time spent with Paul would unbalance the structure of the novel. He did at least have some exciting near-misses with the forces of Life and Order. I have to say, I didn’t fancy his chances with those Maclean fellows one bit…

Anyway, I’ve had a ball reading your book. I found myself drawn into your fictional world and engaging with your characters in a way that says plenty for your descriptive skills. I hope you have a great success with it, and that it leads the way for many more.

All the best,

Neil

Neil k. Henderson is the author of a number of fictional works including MALDEHYDE’S DISCOMFITURE, or A LADY CHURNED (Pentagraph Press, Brighton, 1997), FISHWORSHIPPING – AS WE KNOW IT (Regent Books, Wolverhampton, 2001), AN ENGLISH SUMMER IN SCOTLAND AND OTHER UNLIKELY EVENTS (Skrev Press, 2005), and HORMONES A-GO-GO (Atlantean Publishing, 2009).

REVIEW OF DISCO EVIL…

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, set in Australia, Sex, Uncategorized, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
DEAD MAN'S STAND

cover to Disco Evil

Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand by Rod Marsden

Night to Dawn Books
www.bloodshadow.com
Paperback
$16.50
244 Pages
Horror / Dark Fantasy
Rating: 3 Cups
He vowed this would be the last time he stepped into the disco club, The Blue, but Paul Priestly never guessed how right and wrong he was. So many rejections can make a man do some crazy things, but when that man becomes a vampire, the world better stop and take notice.

Never one to take the easy route, Miles Henry becomes one of the elite undercover operatives for the Secret Compass. Their mission is to eradicate the vampire vermin from the earth. However, his mission is much more personal, and he vows to take out the one vampire who murdered his niece.

Paul admits to making a multitude of mistakes after his turning, but he cannot understand the personal vendetta the Secret Compass seems to have against him. He moves constantly to avoid their attacks, and over the span of many years, he circles the globe. The close calls happen with frightening frequency and still Paul manages to escape, much to the frustration of Miles and the Secret Compass. Miles knows his age is catching up with him, and if he cannot fulfill his personal vow, he can only pray that his great nephew will continue the fight…World history seems to be the reigning theme, the detail of which is well researched and delivered with a true sense of imagination and knowledge.

Lototy
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

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BACK COVER BLURB TO DISCO EVIL BY ROD MARSDEN

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Love, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, set in Australia, Sex, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
vampyre

THE VAMPIRE

“Make Love, not war” was the catch cry of a generation. Growing up, it meant everything to Paul Priestly but nothing to those who owned and managed The Blue, an inner city Sydney disco.

When Paul became a vampire, he swore to avenge himself on the destroyers of make love, not war. In many cities of the world, such as London, New York, and San Francisco, he would seek them out and take their blood. He would recruit from the living to aid him in this great work. In other words, as a walking cadaver, a mobile corpse, he had made a stand – a dead man’s stand.

Night to Dawn

P.O. Box 613

Abington, P.A 19001

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Extract from DISCO EVIL BY ROD MARSDEN

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Love, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, set in Australia, Sex, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
flight of the vampire

The vampire: flight toward revenge

Extract…Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand

CHAPTER  ONE

Sydney, The Rocks, the first Friday in November, 1976

The dock rats were still around but in fewer numbers than before. The smart ones had already staked their claim to the Hyde Park area and to the railroad tunnel system between Town Hall and Circular Quay. There people dumped plenty of food in quarter, even half filled packets. Also, there were lots of dark, safe places to get some sleep during the day.

The Rocks area of the docks, however, had retained some nocturnal life. It had, in fact, built upon certain beliefs in humans and had flourished. Strangely enough, like the rats of yore, certain comings and goings were not only of the night but also took place beneath the pavement where life could be chilly in winter and muggy in summer. There was even the mating dance, not dissimilar to the one performed by the rodent only crueler in its promises and in too many of its outcomes.

For Western style humanity the summer of love had died, killed by a number of movements including disco, a less than amiable bowel movement. Even so, young men still went along to the below ground venues of false light and loud music for the remnants of the hippy dream. They wanted to howl at the distant moon like lycanthropes or maybe at the giant ball that rotated in all such places as a cold, rotund ice goddess. It was all so similar to the North American ghost dance and the hope of turning back the world to a better time that one could choke on the tears it invariably elicited. Yet dance cannot turn back the clock or the calendar. Dance can neither bring back the buffalo to the American prairie nor can it take us to that oh so special summer in which the best of emotions reigned. So what, in the end, is the use of it?

The young men at the disco were told that how you danced no longer mattered and were then judged on how they danced. The scotch served early in the night was of a cheap brand no matter what was on the label of the bottle it came in and got progressively weaker from being watered down as the night progressed. It was a rip-off from start to finish but, hey! Where else did you go to meet girls? And they were girls and you were not quite a man but, oh so anxious to become one, God help you!

Listening to the recorded music was like having two gallons of corn syrup from the ‘States or forest honey locally produced dumped on you. The senses quickly became blocked with all the phony sweetness. A hole to breathe through could be cut with a glass or two of bourbon but the ensuing alcoholic haze carried its own falsehoods. The bourbon in the gut, in the end, held best the lies one tells one’s self when things are not going well. Only one usually has the common sense to keep those lies to one’s self. It was amazing what one might say while in that haze and to whom. It could be down-right tragic or, if not tragic, then comical in an executioner’s joke book sort of way. And who needs a laugh more than the guy about to get it in the neck?

Sure, I’m Bogart looking at some tall, luscious babe. Sure, I’m Sean Connery going after some hot dame who knows something. Sure, I’m Mad Max only not so mad. And all in one night folks! All in one single night and without strings! All happening right here, right now, this night folks!

Here there was a nasty cycle of unrealistic promise followed by despair followed by more unrealistic promise. Only the elite got anywhere but very few participants understood this. Plenty of fools thought they could make their dreams come true and their money was as good as anyone else’s. Others knew from night one the odds against them were ridiculously high but gambled anyway because there was nothing else they could see themselves doing. Besides, didn’t Batman always fly home a winner to the bat cave? Was it then so impossible to meet a nice girl you could actually have a good time with? Did the success stories all have to be about supermen with their Lois Lanes?

‘The Blue’ was once part of a warehouse. It was the below ground part where coal was once stored. Since becoming ‘The Blue’ there had been a glittering sign on the street pointing downwards to the action. From there stairs descended into what appeared at first to be a dark pit lined with old, cheap carpet. The carpet was red and the stairs always smelled. Sometimes they smelled of vomit but more often than not of cleaning alcohol or industrial strength antiseptic. No one commented going down and once down it was hard to communicate with anyone save whoever was serving the drinks. The management liked it that way. There wasn’t a cover charge. Obviously watering the drink at the appropriate hour was enough.

Paul Priestly had taken the stairs a dozen or more times. On the last night he’d truly be himself he said to that inner voice he’d never, ever do it again but that would not be entirely true.

He was on his own. He was a small, skinny guy always alone and he wanted to change that. He had come to realize, however, that this was not the right venue for him. Maybe it wasn’t the right venue for anyone with a soul. Maybe this realization at last made him smarter than some of the other people who tried their luck there but he was still dumb enough to turn up one last time just in case he was wrong. It was pathetic. Hope burned and the intensity of the flame meant he had to have at least one more throw of the dice he knew had to be loaded against him.

The only thing he could think of to make himself feel better about where he was and what he was doing were the bizarre murders he’d read about in the paper. They had taken place less than two blocks away and involved a jock football player who had had his right arm broken in three places before being siphoned of blood. Also a female tennis player had had her neck broken before being emptied the same way. Paul didn’t see himself as the type this killer or killers were after but that could change. At present, however, they seemed to be after people he had no reason to like and that suited him fine.

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BIO ROD MARSDEN VAMPIREBIRDIE

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, London, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
art by Rod Marsden

A fanciful medieval style set of glass panels in an ancient church

Bio: Rod Marsden

Rod Marsden was born in Sydney, Australia. His very early influences were his father, Charles, who taught him how to fish and how to appreciate nature and his mother, May, who helped him to value the written word. Other early influences include writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Gene Colan. He has three degrees; all related to writing and to his other passion, history. His stories have been published in Australia, England, Russia and the USA. His written work includes short stories in Cats Do it Better. Undead Reb Down Under and Other Vampire Stories is a collection of his stories on vampirism. His novel Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand is his first venture into the vampire novel. His  Ghost Dance is his first go at a dark quest style novel. His Desk Job is a salute to Lewis Carroll and some indication of how insane life got in the office in the mid-1990s.

Back in the 1970s, Rod took a trip to the USA and still has fond memories of his time in New York and San Francisco. He also visited Bali way back in the 1970s.  He would love to visit Britain and this desire does appear in his work.

Rod Lives on the South Coast of NSW, Australia and still occasionally puts a line in the water. He has a fondness for the Wollongong area but an abiding love for the more northern Clarence River region of his home state.

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A SALUTE TO MY FRIENDS UP NORTH

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN

aaaaaaaaaab

I grew up in a suburb of Bankstown in New South Wales, Australia. My fondest memories of childhood, however, were those Autumn holiday trips up north. Every year my dad would travel further and further up north until he came to Iluka, in NSW. My parents fell in love with this wonderful fishing village and, when they retired, that’s where they moved to.

Nowadays my youngest sister lives at Maclean, not far from Iluka. She is married with three kids that are not really kids any more. One will some day soon become a primary school teacher.

In my novels and short stories the Clarence River area of New South Wales gets some mention. It remains a beautiful part of my home state and I can’t see this changing much in the future. Look for references to Maclean, Iluka, Yamba and the Clarence River region in Disco Evil, Ghost Dance, and Desk Job. My latest work, Desk Job, is my salute to Lewis Carroll.

And speaking of up north, I have friends in Scotland and also in the USA. Hence Scotland and the USA also feature in my writing. I visited the USA way back in the ’70s so I do have some personal experiences there. Mind you I have friends in the USA who do tend to keep me up to day as much as news reports, fresh new novels by American writers, and the internet. And my Scottish friends do keep me informed of what is happening in Britain.

THE TERRORS OF THE NIGHT

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, horror writer, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, pulp fiction writer, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
VAMPYRE

VAMPIRE!

In Magazines such as Barbara Custer’s Night to Dawn there are tales that mostly take place at night. There you will also find the kind of nightly terrors that have been with humanity for centuries.

One of the oldest of the night terrors is the vampire. It has been suggested to me that the male of the species began his run in Ancient Egypt. Certainly the female is best known in Eastern Europe and it was only in the 19th Century that the male began to become popular as a fictional horror in Europe.

The werewolf was always male and the first signs of the female of the species came about in the 20th Century.

The vampire was a more persuasive evil and the werewolf was more or less an out-of-control creature, as much a victim of wrong doing as he was a victimizer.

Since the 19th Century, male vampires have walked the earth and certainly in the 20th Century there have been  packs of female werewolves on the hunt in such places as the somewhat ill-conceived Howling movie series and the much better orchestrated Ginger Snaps series.

Nevertheless, tradition in our Judaic-Christian world has it that females are more likely to bare the fangs to drink blood whereas males are more likely to bare fangs to rip flesh apart. To discover just how this came about and why things changed a journey back through time is required – a journey hazardous and filled with much horror both real and imagined.

Possibly the earliest story with the female menace takes place in the biblical Garden of Eden. To celebrate the coming of Adam and Eve to this very special place, God has invited all the truly important angels to a grand party. All are invited, that is, save one who takes the slight very much to heart. She doesn’t say anything to God but bides her time. She will have her revenge.

Soon after the party, the serpent and the apple incident occurs. Adam and Eve are thus banished from the garden and, some time later, the vindictive angel, whom we must now consider to be fallen and thus a demon makes her move. One of the daughters of Eve is seduced by a very special kiss and reciprocates. And, by reciprocating, this daughter of Eve becomes the first official vampire.

Why did it have to be a daughter rather than a son of Eve who reciprocated? The answer is somewhat unpleasant in that it is couched in male ego and general lack of faith in the overall goodness of the female.

The idea that women are spiritually weaker than men and are thus more likely to fall to temptation has its ludicrous aspects in today’s world. It was, however, strongly believed by our ancestors. Proof of this can be read in The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer) of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger (modern translation by the reverend Montague Summers, Dover publications, New York, 1971 edition). First published in Europe around 1486, this work for three centuries became the standard legal document on the way witch hunters and court judges were to seek out and deal with witchcraft. Thanks to The Malleus Maleficarum and other similar writings, more women were suspected, persecuted, prosecuted, tortured and burnt than men for crimes it would have been impossible for them to have actually committed.

Also, there is a stronger connection between bad blood in the female than in the male. In the days when hygiene was neither well considered nor well practiced, too many young women did not survive their first menstrual cycle. Living in filthy conditions, they died of diseases that we presently would consider highly preventable. Certainly, in quite a few cases, a little soap and water would have done wonders. All this seems so very far away from us now but, in some parts of Europe, menstruation is still referred to as Eve’s Blight and is held up as evidence of the female’s guilt in our collective fall from grace. For most of us, however, science has convinced us over the centuries that the monthly bleeding is natural and proper rather than vile and wicked. Still, in the 19th Century, the spread of venereal disease in England, also something to do with the blood, was most firmly blamed on female prostitutes plying their trade rather than their roving male clients.

 In the West in the 1920s, during the Jazz age, a new, exciting breed of woman emerged which would challenge much of what has come before. They were young, independent and not afraid to go after the things they wanted in life. They wore black make-up, dressed in black leather and called themselves Vamps. The Vamp was obviously short for Vampire since they did, for the most part; think of themselves as female night creatures. They frowned upon the traditional woman’s role and made the night clubs of Europe and the USA their own.

Nowadays they are best remembered through the marvelous period photographs of German photographer Manray. Their fiery spirit, however, lives on and is appreciated in the present day female Goth and in the continuing appeal of D. C. Comics’ Catwoman –  the latter coming into existence in the 1940s and going strong ever.

During the 1960s, the live action Batman series, starring Adam West, often had as guest villain the Catwoman. She was first played by Julie Newmar who, incidentally, had earlier acted the role of a cat transformed by magic into a woman in the television series Bewitched. Being a cat seemed to come natural to Newmar and the black glittery jump suit she wore suited her well. There was something wonderful in the way she teased the somewhat stuck-up and pretentious Batman. Never quite evil but never really good, she was, as she is today, somewhat of an enigma.

The first feline to star in a Batman movie was Lee Meriwether who toyed wonderfully with West’s Batman in very much the tradition established by Newmar. And, like Newmar, she had long sexy legs and could really move.

In the 1992 hit, Batman Returns, Michelle Pfeifer lends both vigor and substance to the Catwoman, thus reinvigorating and reinventing her for a new generation of fans. This time the costume is more leathery black than glittery, like the Vamps of the 1920s, and the whip much more prominent. She is less playful but, when she does play, there is that element of wonderful danger in her doing so. Pfeifer as the cat is just as likely, for example, to lick Batman’s face as try to claw him to death.

Halle Berry, who stars in Catwoman (2004), very much blends all that had come before her in her portrait of a human cat yet, at the same time, she is quite rightly her own feline. She has the playfulness of Newmar and Meriwether and, at the same time, the elements of unpredictability that made Pfeifer’s night creature so captivating. New is the element of destiny connected with the ancient cat worship of the Egyptians and with the notion that there had been catwomen before and that it is an ongoing thing. Also, unlike earlier cats, she does, at last, have superhuman abilities. She can, for example, land on her feet after being pushed from a balcony just like a real feline.

Why then has the Catwoman proved herself to be such a continuing force in the world of fiction? Could it be that, since the wolf is related to the dog, the cat is more of a tease to, and a menace to, the male of the species than the female vampire? There was a Batgirl in West’s Batman series but, despite a tight outfit and a come-hither smile, she didn’t prove to be as popular with the fans as the various incarnations of Catwoman. Why was this? Perhaps she was simply too much of a goody-two-shoes and also too much of a girl and not enough of a woman with all the complications that implies – the complications that could be seen in the 1920s Vamp.

The oldest known story of Lycanthropy, or wolfish behavior by a man-creature, is the cautionary children’s classic Little Red Riding Hood. Here a talking wolf eats a little girl and her grandma. He does this through cunning as well as violence. The consumed pair are eventually rescued when a woodsman slices the wolf’s stomach open thus releasing them. Somehow the wolf survives this gutting and, as a final act of revenge upon the creature, the woodsman fills its stomach with rocks, sews them into place and throws the now very unfortunate beast into a nearby stream where it frowns.

There are numerous reasons why the werewolf came about and why he continues to play such an active role in our collective imagination. It is known, for example, that in many parts of the world, during the stone age and beyond, men were want to dress in animal fur to hunt wild game. The choice of fur was usually that of an animal admired for its ability to perform well in bringing down its prey. The psychology behind this is simple, effective and is still practiced, in numerous ways, in various societies to this very day. In donning a wolf skin, for example, the hunter becomes imbued with the spirit of the wolf and thus becomes a more cunning and resourceful hunter.

During the dark ages, Viking warriors would have on board their dragon long boats a berserker – a man who, when dressed in a bearskin, would kill the enemy remorselessly and without fear of personal injury. He would in a very real sense become the savage bear. During World War Two, American fighter pilots working for the Chinese government painted fierce tiger faces on their P40s to not only frighten their Japanese counterparts but to presumably imbue themselves with the tiger’s strength. Near the end of this war, there was a group of German teenage boys and old men who performed acts of sabotage against American units coming into Germany. They took the wolf as their symbol of resistance and referred to themselves as werewolves.

In present day Australia, there’s a popular rugby league club that refers to itself as The Dragons and another that refers to itself as The Bulldogs. What’s more, it is not uncommon, throughout the Western World, for such clubs to have mascots dressed as their representative animals in the way of imbuing the spectators as well as the players during the games with team spirit.

A less pleasant aspect of the werewolf is cannibalism. At given times, during much of human history, human beings have been forced into the eating of their fellow humans. As late as the 19th Century, Irish peasants, due to widespread famine and zero relief from uncaring English overlords, resorted to the partaking of the flesh of their dead in order to survive. It is only in the 20th and 21st Centuries that man has managed to do away almost completely with this vile and up to now necessary practice. Presently, it is only the occasional madman who thus indulges and it is in such madmen we glimpse the dread face of the wolf within. This particular visage has been around since the dawn of our existence and shows no sigh of ever completely going away. The 19th Century serial killer of White Chapel in London, known as Jack the Ripper, for example, showed at least one element of true lycanthropy when he mentioned, in a newspaper letter, of the tasting of part of one of his female victim’s organs. In 1919, a German butcher sold meat to starving Berlin customers that turned out to be human flesh.

The werewolf has long been associated with the full moon and with the madness the full moon can supposedly bring. It is not by accident that the word lunatic comes from the word Luna which is another name for the moon. In certain European mythology the moon is represented by the huntress Dianna – she who strides across the sky at night. Does this then make the werewolf both the subject and victim of a long ago Goddess? It is, after all, considered true that a good man that says his prayers at night, once bitten or scratched by a werewolf, will invariably become one during the next full moon.

Lastly, another cause for the belief in the werewolf comes from a rare though well documented physical state in which the person affected grows more body hair than is considered normal on your average human being. It is a genetic anomaly and, apart from making the victim appear unusual, it has no side-effects this writer is aware of. Examples of this condition can be seen in side-show freaks such as the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy.

In the first half of the 19th Century the Penny Dreadfuls of both England and France boosted female readership interest in the vampire by making him predominantly male rather than female. Decades later, Irish writer Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, which was based roughly on Eastern European folklore, became an international hit. In doing so it firmly set the stage for the dominance of the male vampire over the female for the next century.

Directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi, the 1931 Hollywood film version of Bram Stoker’s great vampire tale also proved to be popular. It did, however, run into a significant censorship problem. For its release, a scene involving three rather seductive looking female vampires vamping it up in the best of the Vamp style of the 1920s, had to be cut. Unfortunately, all that remains of it are a few publicity stills that give the impression that the women were young, beautiful and empowered. In other words, they were way too much of a scare for the censorship boys of the day.

Britain’s Hammer Studios in the 1960s and early ‘70s brought a new and dynamic look to the character of Dracula with a whole slew of films starring Christopher Lee as the immortal blood-sucking fiend. Lee in the role dominated the screen as well as his female victims which, incidentally, included some of the most beautiful actresses ever to be captured, so to speak, on film.

In some ways Hammer proved to be more innovative than Hollywood. Here the female vampire was allowed, once more, to come fully to the fore in such productions as Twins of Evil and Vampire Lovers.

For some reason. Italian films of the period showed a preference for the female vampire and had her soaring high like never before. She became vivacious, daring and very sexy. She was, to some extent, the go-go dancer with fangs.

Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, the French film Blood and Roses came out in 1960. To this day, this writer finds both the storyline and the female cast haunting in ways difficult to describe. Suffice to say it seduces this male in more ways than one and remains a treasure of late night viewing worthy to be sought after on both video and DVD.

Believe it or not, vampires have occasionally come from outer space. Starring John Saxon and Florence Marly, The Planet of Blood (USA, 1966), has an alien female blood drinker making her way to Earth in a rocket. She has her eggs to protect and a new planet to conquer. Here cheap science fiction meets psychological horror (trust me most men would find a large scale breeding program run by a strange woman pretty scary).

An unlikely, success story starting its reign in 1996, was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the young woman with the unusual calling, it ran for a glorious seven seasons. Crisp scriptwriting with a profound understanding of teenage growing pains, coupled with dynamic characterization and with brilliant special effects, soon elevated it to cult status not only among teenagers but adults as well. Here vampires could be both good and evil. Redemption for the undead was possible. Heroes whether slayers (something invented by Joss Whedon), witches or vampires, could slip from grace and then re-emerge into the light or, in the case of the repentant blood sucker, the semi-darkness.

Of the vampires in the show, the ones that will best be remembered are Drucilla, the hauntingly beautiful and quite insane Vamp-like ‘Princess’ of Spike, Darla because she was the first to appear and the first to actually fall pregnant though on another show, and Spike whose punk-like ways and ongoing character development was well realized.

In 1999, Angel, a spin-off television series starring David Boereanaz, had its first season run. It is based on the premise of a male vampire with a soul going to a big, bad city (Los Angeles) to make-up for the past wrongs he committed when he was a soulless fiend. It is fair to say that not until the third season did it begin to sprout independent wings of its own and fly high.

In the last two hundred years, the werewolf in fiction has gone through quite a few changes. In the 19th Century, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, introduced a new aspect to man into monster. Here the man, Dr Jekyll, transforms into the monster, Hyde, not through the bite or scratch of another victim of lycanthropy plus the rise of the full moon but through a formula he had himself created. The innocence, however, remains since the notion behind the formula was to remove the impulse to do evil from man rather than to bring it brimming to the surface. In other words, Hyde is a horrible accident, a terrible mistake on the part of someone seeking to do good. This indicates that, even in the best of us, there lurks something dark which is savage, bestial and requiring chains of the mind to keep in check. Once the chains snap, however, the hair and fangs sprout, the killer sadist is unleashed and the hunt begins.

Celebrated American actor Frederic March made the role of both Jekyll and Hyde his own in the 1932 academy award winning film version of the Stevenson masterpiece. There have been numerous other film adaptations, some quite bizarre. A British contender for just plain weird, titled Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde has a mild-mannered business man transformed by the infamous formula not into a hairy brute but into a voluptuous and very dangerous femme fatale.

Another 19th Century masterpiece which gave rise to a different view on man into beast was Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. In essence, it was about a young man who has his portrait painted and, through the magic of the painter’s brush, the painting ages whereas the young man doesn’t. What’s more, the evil done by the young man passes to the picture, leaving Gray’s appearance, despite what wrong doing he performs, completely without blemish. Here the beast, free to come out to play when ever it likes and as completely as it would wish to, does so and only through the painting can the world know of it having done so. According to The Horror Film by Ivan Butler ( A. Zwemmer Limited, London publication, 1967), an excellent movie version, directed by Albert Lewin, was made in 1945.

As for the moon inspired beast, the Universal 1941 movie, The Wolf-Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr., remains a favorite among horror fans as much for the early special effects as for the great script. Here the innocence of the man who becomes a wolf-being is reinforced by the words of a compassionate old gypsy woman and by the actions of the cursed man to prevent himself harming others during the full moon. Of course he fails and must die. Still, the fact that he tried should and does count for something in the end.

Other Universal films featuring the Wolf-Man followed including two comedies starring Abbott and Costello. Here warnings from the man who becomes the wolf-creature go unheeded resulting in humorous moments when the beast within comes out. There were also meetings between the Wolf-Man and Dracula usually resulting in a terrific battle between the two. Certainly, in the days of black and white cinema, the general rule was that wolf-things and bat-creatures just didn’t get along very well. The sensual and somewhat regal victimizer of mostly females just couldn’t form any kind of lasting relationship with what was essentially Mr Slash and Rip.

In 1981, An American Werewolf in London hit the cinema. Here teenage angst meets inner wolf in a film that mixes well horror/comedy with visual metaphor and up-to-date special effects magic. A young man (David Naughton) while visiting the English countryside is attacked by what he believes at first to be a wolf. He survives the mauling and, come the full moon, sprouts plenty of fur. What’s more, for the first time in cinematic history, the wolf-being actually looks convincing.

For the past thirty years, British author Terry Pratchett has enthralled fantasy readers with his wickedly funny series of discworld novels. Here, in these books about a flat planet, things such as political correctness are savagely sent-up through wizards, witches, werewolves and vampires. Here what is so right and what is so wrong with our collective views on mythological creatures such as the vampire and the werewolf can be lightheartedly explored with the true winners in the long run being Pratchett’s own loyal readership.

So what then is the future of both the vampire and the werewolf? Perhaps two recent movies provide some clues.

Based on a graphic novel by the same name, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came out in 2003 demonstrating, in its wake, new possibilities for the cinema for traditional monsters. The league, made up of a female vampire, the at first enigmatic Dorian Gray, Hyde, an invisible man, a British game hunter/adventurer and an American sharp-shooter, find themselves on the trail of a menace who calls himself The Phantom no doubt after the Phantom of the Opera. During their adventure together, the league discover a traitor in their midst. Not so surprising, it turns out to be Gray. Eventually, a battle royal takes place between lady vampire and handsome man of consummate evil. Here a female vampire, preferring to drink of the wicked, clashes with a foul thing whose crimes is only revealed in his portrait. Perhaps this is, in a sense, vampire versus werewolf?

In 2004, a movie starring Australian actor Hugh Jackman made its way to the cinema, receiving mixed reactions from horror fans. It was called Van Helsing and is not only a marvelous tribute to the Universal horror films of the 1930s and ‘40s, but the possible way forward for both vampire and werewolf. The vampires found within, including Dracula, are complex. The werewolf remains basically the same as he always was, an innocent man trapped in a situation not of his own choosing with but one very good twist. In this epic the werewolf is the direct opposite number to the vampire and thus has the mystical power to destroy the lead vampire, Dracula. It is perhaps a power the man-into-wolf has wanted, even needed for decades.

Will there be more cinematic clashes between vampire and werewolf? Will there be more female vampires and male werewolves and less of a mixture? Only time which is the enemy of the man-beast who is bound by it and the friend of the vampire who is not so bound, will, in the end, tell.

For modern vampire action please do check out Disco Evil and Ghost Dance.

For modern vampire and werewolf action do check out Ghost Dance.

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