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Fangs, Fangs and More Fangs

fangs

“WHEN OTHER LITTLE GIRLS WANTED TO BE BALLET DANCERS I KIND OF WANTED TO BE A VAMPIRE” – ANGELINA JOLIE

At 14, my two favorite worlds – Goth and Horror – collided for the first time when I saw The Hunger.  In a visually disturbing yet gorgeous piece of cinema, the opening sequence of the movie switches frantically between Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy singing Bela Lugosi’s dead while hanging onto a metal fence, and vampires Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie slashing open the necks of their unsuspecting victims with sharp edged ankhs they wear around their necks. When at 19 I found myself at the infamous Sunset Tattoo shop in Hollywood on a whim getting my first tattoo – I knew exactly what to get – the ankh from The Hunger.  My love for horror and especially vampires was immortalized forever that day.

My love of vampires has only grown more ravenous with time – so for the next few weeks, we’ll be spending time with the vampires of The Hunger by Whitley Strieber, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, Sunshine by Robin McKinley, 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  Finally, we will learn how to defend ourselves against bloodsuckers with Liisa Ladouceur’s crash course, How to Kill A Vampire.

We’ll kick off this vampire party with Salem’s Lot.  I recently fell in love with Stephen King again as an adult when a friend suggested I read his book, On Writing (I suggest you read it too).  Obsessed, I quickly jumped to Salem’s Lot.  As I read, I remembered why I loved his writing to begin with – it is authentic, unapologetic, intelligent, terrifying, gross and spiced with wicked humor.  King’s ability to build tension slowly from scene to scene until it erupts into breathtaking horror (which he expertly does in this novel) is exciting to experience both as a writer and a reader.

Salem’s Lot, first published in 1975, is a book about fighting demons – personal demons and also unfortunately for the town of Salem’s Lot, Maine, a very real demon that must be defeated.  The novel revolves around main characters – Ben Mears (a writer still reeling from the accidental death of his  fiancée), Father Callahan (a priest whose hands shake from booze and whose faith shakes from doubt),  Matthew Burke (a smalltown teacher wondering if his usefulness has past) and Mark Petrie (a young boy who must grow up fast when he discovers the imagined monsters of childhood really do exist).

The other characters of the book are also wrapped up in fighting personal demons which makes Salem’s Lot the perfect feeding ground.  The residents are too distracted to notice the mounting deaths in their town, chalking them up to illness, coincedence and bad luck and completely oblivious to the evil that has them cornered.

The novel’s vampire, Kurt Barlow is no teenage girl’s crush.  He is monsterously pale with red eyes and sharp fangs.  Barlow is a cunning predator – offering deals of power and answered desires to the townsfolk of Salem if they join him and happy to resort to using loved ones as barter and bait when deals can’t be made.  Will all of the town fall prey to Barlow’s powers? Will the four would be heroes survive? Gotta read to find out.

Want to spend even more time in Salem’s Lot, you’re in luck.  In the short story collection Night Shift, King once again visits Salem’s Lot, in the prequel Jerusalem’s Lot and the sequel One for the Road.  There were two mini-series based on the book (one starring David Soul in 1979 and one starring Rob Lowe in 2004).

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Welcome

issa

1st grade – wearing my 100 acre woods shirt

My name is Galadriel (yes legally, hippie parents enough said).  I was never a princess sort of girl – I hated my barbies, never loved pink (boy that has changed).   But like Christopher Robin, I did have a soft spot reserved for a certain little yellow ball of fluff.  And while Winnie the Pooh was my main man as a little girl, a new “man” would soon enter my world and change it and me forever.

When I was 6, I got the world’s worst case of pink eye.  All the white parts of both eyes turned blood red.  I was stuck in the house until I got better so I wouldn’t scare and/or infect the neighborhood kids . It was then that the new man came along.  He was everything bear wasn’t – he was mysterious, strong and I dare say dangerous. He was the bad boy to my sweet bear.  It was the summer of 75 and we were all about to be afraid to go back in the water.

While I was at home getting hourly pokes in the eye with painful medicine, the trailer for Jaws began showing up on tv.  I was transfixed every time it came on.  The theme music, the people screaming and running on the beach and… the blood.  I would stare with my mouth open at the tv and as soon as it ended I would start begging my mom to take me to see it.  And as any guilty mom would do with a sick kid, she promised when I got better she would.  A cool thing about having hippie parents is that they can be a little more hell why not without considering first things like lifetime damage from the trauma of watching a gigantic shark rip people to bits.  And although I spent many months afterwards frightened to pee (are you positive a shark can’t stick his or her head up out of the toilet?), it was worth it.  To this day, I still have a deep fondness for that big fish and for the obsession with horror he created in me that continues to this day.

Mom’s pretty lucky I turned out to be a sweet well adjusted law abiding heavily tattooed goth girl, because she was my partner in crime for all my early horror experiences.  After Jaws, she took me to see Fantasm, then it was Carrie and then Audrey Rose.  I tried to watch The Exorist with her when it was broadcast on tv, but it was so scary I mostly only “heard” it from my open bedroom door while I hid under the covers.   Thanks Mom, you rock.

I spent a lot of my childhood lost in books in the corner of my local library or laying on my bed, so it didn’t take long for my love of horror to spread from the movies to books.  Reading Jaws was even more terrifying than watching  it because now I was in in the shark’s head.   Same with Cujo – I was able to develop an understanding of what made the rabid dog tick that I couldn’t get watching the movie.  As a tween, Peter Straub’s Ghost Story was a find courtesy of the Burbank Public Library (cheers to the librarian who let me check that out without question ) and John Saul’s Suffer the Children was a bookshelf discovery at an otherwise very boring adult party my mom dragged me to.  As a teenager, Clive Barker and horror writing got more elegant, complex and sexier as bondage mixed with human failings and ego and the coolest gate keepers of hell ever.

My desire is that this site will be a gathering place for other people with a love, passion, and obsession for all things horror to meet up.  Ultimately, as the forum gets set up, I really would love to see this site become a place for writers of horror (like me) to share ideas, book suggestions, writing tips/experiences and most importantly support.  And as we go along together on this journey,  I will be sharing my writing.  I hope you’ll share yours with us too.

So to borrow from my favorite vampire, I bid thee welcome.  Looking forward to scaring with you.

 

 

 

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