Review by Joey Madia
Legends of vampires have become so much a part of the fabric of who we are as human beings that we often give little thought to their origins, although those origins and how they manifest in popular culture are rather complex. There are true revenants—the stinking, almost mindless undead rising from the earth and their graves each night to satiate their bloodlust. There are the tuxedo’d, hypersexualized vampires that began with Bela Lugosi and culminated with Frank Langella on stage and screen in 1979. There are the teen and 20-something vampires best represented in Lost Boys and Twilight (the latter ushering in an age where the “monster” is analog for the human outsider and their bonding is their mutual salvation). Last, we must include the vampire/zombie hybrids that have derived from Matheson’s I Am Legend. In the age of COVID-19, we cannot overlook the virus as monster-maker, with too many films, TV series, and comic books produced in the past few decades to name.
A.P. Sylvia has written an indispensable guide for folklorists, horror writers, and vampire enthusiasts. He was initially driven to explore the roots of vampire lore after a visit to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! in Times Square, where he saw a purported vampire-hunting kit from the nineteenth century (having seen this display, it reminds me of the kit used in the Fright Night films). Researching the provenance of the kit, Sylvia found more questions than answers. Continue reading