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Across the Forest

Bivol International, 2009

This is a quite brilliant documentary by Justin Blair and Matthew Vincent who have travelled around Romania, interviewing people about the local vampire traditions that are still very much alive in the smaller villages. Sadly, it has been quite a while since I last visited Romania myself. But seeing this film and hearing the language brings back many old memories. Some of them good, some of them not so good. If you have any interest in this kind of thing, you should make sure that you get yourself a copy of this film. More information can be found elsewhere on this site on the page called ACROSS THE FOREST.

Dracula

Discovery Geschichte, 2007

Wow ! Just what we have all been waiting for: Bram Stoker's "Dracula" explained at last... Unsurprisingly, there are lots of images from various Dracula films. As to the expert side of things, no complaints there. We get to see David J. Skal, James V. Hart, Elizabeth Miller, Leonard Wolf, "Val", Nina Auerbach and Barbara Belford. Sadly, this here version of the DVD is in German. There are no subtitles and - most annoyingly - the original voices of the experts have been replaced by German voice-overs. I must confess that I would probably have given it a miss if it wasn't for the fact that the price of the DVD was only 3 Euro. Hey, I am Dutch so I do like a bargain...

FRIGHT NIGHT

History, 2009

8 Discs. Judging by the titles there seems to be enough variety to keep everybody happy. I have watched 5 of them now so there is only 3 more to go.

   DVD 7 - "Vampire Secrets"

Sadly it seems clear that the makers of this episode were mainly interested in the more sensational aspects of vampirism. Countess Elisabeth Bathory was given lots of space, bathing in blood and biting a piece out of someone's arm, a fragment that was repeated again and again. The American Vampire Role Play and Gothic Vampire Scene was another part that seemed to go on forever and ever. There were plenty of experts who came to say their say. No complaints there. The funniest bit was forensic expert Marck Benecke giving us a private Master Class in the morgue of Bucharest, where they had kindly lent him a couple of corpses so that he could point out interesting bits and pieces with the stem of his extremely long pipe. Let's be fair. They even did a reenactment of "The Vampire of Haidamaque". But if there still are people who do not know that both the "Nosferatu" and "Dracula" films are based on one and the same book, I have my doubts that they should be making documentaries about vampires. The voice-over tells us that if you had mentioned the word "vampire" around 1400 everybody would have been scared to death. Really guys... get your act together. Rely on the experts or do your homework !

GHOST TOUR OF GREAT BRITAIN - London Ghosts

Ghost Tour of Britain, Felix Films, no date

If you want to find allegedly haunted places in London, this would not be a bad guide to start with. Ghosts are everywhere. Buckingham Palace, St.James Palace, Westminster Abbey, St.Thomas Hospital. Lots of ghosts in the Underground where deaths and suicides have taken place. The Tower of London, apparently the most haunted place in the whole UK. Marble Arch, which used to be Tyburn, the place where some 200 people were hanged. The Masons Arms Pub, last stop on the way to be hanged at Tyburn, with a secret tunnel to the place of execution.

There is Mitre Square, haunted by the ghost of one of Jack the Ripper's victims. There is another rather horrible place of execution. There is Highgate Cemetery, not completely unknown to me. Mr. Felix's report of the facts concerning the vampire seems not completely in line with some of the other versions, but hey, what is new ? They all seem to be different. There is the Gatehouse Pub in Highgate where the cellars are haunted by the ghost of a murdered woman. And there is the place where murdering Dr. Crippen's house used to stand. Crippen's ghost is reported to be seen carrying a bag with the cut off head of his murdered wife. If you don't know London very well and want to go on a ghost tour. I can recommend this.

One of the more horrible execution places seems to be near to a Pub that I have often visited. It was not far from the hotel near Tower Bridge where I used to stay when in London. I think it was called "The Hanged, Drawn and Quartered" or something. The Pub, that is. Supposing that unlike myself you are not allergic to London business men, it is not a bad place to go for a pint or a quick pub meal. Be sure to try and avoid the rush hour, because that is the time when those perfectly dressed British gentlemen suddenly turn into wild animals !

GHOST TOUR OF GREAT BRITAIN - Merseyside Ghosts

Ghost Tour of Britain, Felix Films, no date

"One of the most haunted regions of England". Personally I do remember seeing and hearing a brilliant concert in the famous "Cavern" way back in uh... 1966 ? So even though I do not know much about Merseyside ghosts, I do remember the Mersey Beat. Well, there is a haunted house in Penny Lane with strange footsteps and the scent of a lady. There is St.Andrew's churchyard where a woman can be seen floating around. There is another place where a girl vanishes into air.

There is a beach that tries to eat cars and is the home of some mysterious whirlpool. In another place a girl was almost raped by an appearance with a horrible face. It turned out to be a dead Satanist. YUK ! There is a spooky hell-hound named Trash (?) who is a harbinger of death. There is what is left of the Palace Hotel. Just the bar, turned into a Pub now. In 1886 no less than 27 drowned sailors were put in there, and it has never been the same again.

We get to see Mr. Felix on the local radio. And being the bastard that I am, I am not surprised that the engineers appear to have serious trouble getting the sound level sorted out. Come on guys, move back that microphone, pump up the headphones volume, and may I suggest some serious compression plus a brick wall limiter on top of that. Can we do it ? YES WE CAN !

After climbing the cemetery wall of a Liverpool graveyard, Mr. Felix shows us the pyramid shaped grave (inspired by what is printed on the back of a dollar bill ?) of a notorious gambler who at his own request has been buried dressed (thank God for that) sitting at a card table with his winning hand. He appears to be haunting the neighborhood, dressed in a tophat and cloak, and the word goes that he has turned into a VAMPIRE. There is the churchyard of Liverpool Cathedral and the Mersey Tunnel with its phantom girl. Plenty of ghosts, so beware: You'll never walk alone...

GHOST TOUR OF GREAT BRITAIN - The Most Haunted Graveyards in Britain

Ghost Tour of Britain, no date

Once again we get to get to hear about the vampire gambler in his pyramid grave. In the graveyard of Liverpool Cathedral you can find grey ladies, white ladies, vampires (or so we are told and sadly that is all that we are told) and the "Limping Spectre".

Highgate Cemetery and its large black figure also gets a mention. Go check it out for yourself. WWW.FELIXFILMS.NET.

History's Mysteries

The History Channel, no date

8 Discs covering various subjects.

   DVD 5 - "The Real Dracula"

Here we go again... "Immortalised in fiction and in film". Which makes me wonder: so a Dracula or Nosferatu film is fact and not fiction then ? On to Bram Stoker, who was a sickly bed-ridden child, and heard about the famine and starvation going on outside his house. When he finally decided to get out of bed he started hanging around in the part of the churchyard where the suicides were buried. Cheerful little chap. He eventually moved to London and came to work for the great actor Henry Irving. For his novel "Dracula" he did serious research for no less than seven years. So who else is there ? David Skal, Norine Dresser, Gordon Melton, McNally, Florescu, and oops ! there is Elisabeth Bathory again. Did I forget to mention Vlad Tepes ? Maybe I did it on purpose. I really think that you should know the story by now.

Monster Quest: Season 2

History Channel, no date

This is a 5 DVD set with 20 episodes:

   episode 05 - "Chupacabra"

Something strange is killing animals on the ranches of Texas, sucking the blood. Could it be the legendary "Chupacabra" ? Texan witnesses describe the beast as being a cross between a canine and a kangaroo with razorsharp fangs. In Puerto Rico the chupacabra even looks better: a two-legged hairless beast that stands on its hind-legs like a kangaroo with sharp fangs and glowing red eyes. A skeleton, a frozen head and hairs are subjected to scientific tests. Could it be a dog ? Or a cross between a wolf and a coyote ? I guess we will never know.

   episode 19 - "Vampire Beast"

In North Carolina we find an unknown animal that kills off goats as well as dogs and seems to drink the blood rather than eat the meat. Witnesses have seen a dark brown beast with a face like a cat, claws like a dog and teeth like a vampire. Some 50 years ago similar things did happen. Has the beast returned, or could it be a cougar that has lost its way?

   episode 20 - "Vampires in America"

This turned out to be an interesting documentary built around the various New England Vampires, and concentrating on the research by Nicholas Bellantoni and Michael Bell. To put things in a wider perspective we also have some further experts. There is Katherine Ramsland commenting on "The Vampire Clan" and the Welsh Vampire Killer. Psychic Vampire Michelle Belanger tells us about her need to feed on other people's vital force. She is then subjected to paranormal measurements. Konstantinos tells us about Elisabeth Bathory, Vlad Tepes and Dracula. We have Joy Poulos, living vampire, getting a check-up from Hematologist Lawrence Ossias, who also mentions porphyria. And there is Dr. Jeffery Laitman trying to explain death and post-mortem processes in just a few sentences. Nice one !

Monster Quest: Season 4

History Channel, no date

This is an 8 DVD set with 27 episodes:

   episode 13 - "Mothman"

It looks like a cross between a man and a bat. "Seven feet tall, with a large wingspan 10 to 15 feet across, and weighing an estimated 250 pounds, part man and part beast, it has dark hair and eyes that glow a ghostly red at night...". The appearance of the Mothman is believed to be an omen that terrible disasters are going to happen. Is it a monster or could it be a dark angel ? The experts investigate and try to find answers. Nice one !

Mysterious Forces Beyond

Orion Channel, 2004

Like myself you may have noticed that there seems to be quite an overdose of DVDs on ghosts and ghosthunters, which is fine with me. Having said that, it is also good to find a few DVDs that deal with other subjects relating to "The Unexplained". The DVDs were published in 2004, but the series itself appears to date back to 1994, 1995, thereabout. It is being presented convincingly by a guy called Nick Mancuso, of whom I have no further knowledge. This nicely produced set of 2 DVDs features six different items:

   Episode 5 - "We are not Alone – Vampires"

Beware, you are moving in on my territory now... So what do we get ? About everything we could have expected. There is Bram Stoker, Dracula, Nosferatu, Vlad Tepes, there is Paul Barber, contagious diseases, porphyria, David Skal, Forrest Ackerman showing us Lon Chaney's tophat from what was it, "London after Midnight" ? There are blood fetishists, there is a guy who is in jail because his bloodthirst almost got out of hand, there are role players, there are energy vampires, there is Greg Cox. And to round things off there is a priest who prefers people to drink the blood of Christ. He thinks vampirism is "revolting and evil".

Ölüler Konusmazki - (TURKISH LANGUAGE)

Onarfilms, 2007

This is an interesting DVD that I ordered from Greece, where it was produced in a numbered series of 1200 copies. It feautures 2 old Turkish horror films, one of them - Ölüler Konusmazki - about a vampire, the other one - Aska Susayanlar Seks ve Cinayet - about a deranged psycho killer. As a bonus - and that is the reason why I bought it and why it gets listed here - there is a long and interesting interview with my good old friend Giovanni Scognamillo, who knows everything about Turkish cinema, and also is an expert on vampires. And - in case I forgot to mention it - there are English subtitles.

The Supernatural: Vampires

Pegassus Entertainment, 2009

Oh dear, oh dear... Presented by Michael Leighton, who is dressed up as a vampire. We get to hear everything we already know about all the usual suspects: Dracula, Stoker, Byron, Vlad, Bathory, de Rais, Lilith, Lamia, etc., etc. Having said that, I did enjoy the bit where 3 ladies give a rather nice rendering of the Harker bedscene. And fortunately there is the 5th part titled "The Modern Vampire". In this chapter Les Prince, of the University of Birmingham, gets a little more room than in the previous chapters, so he can finally share his thoughts on blooddrinking psychopaths, energy vampires and other dubious characters.

True Horror: VAMPIRES

Discovery, 2010

Presented by our favourite vampire librarian: Anthony Head. We get to hear about Dracula, Stoker, Vlad, Bathory and the plague. Highlights: the Romanian newscovering of the Toma Petre case. Forensic expert Mark Benecke showing horrible corpses in an attempt to make Anthony Head regurgitate his Paprika Hendl. And there is some nice old footage of a young vampire hunter garlicking about in Highgate Cemetery. There's a few people that I have met, years ago. Tina Rath, Sean Manchester, Brother Keith... Dear Lord, we are all getting old, aren't we ? On to a fake seance in the backroom of a pub. Conclusion: we saw what we wanted to see, we believed in what we wanted to believe. Nice one !

Truth or Scare : Dracula - Night Visitors

Discovery Kids, 2001

This is a DVD that was published in the Netherlands with 2 episodes from an American (?) TV show presented by no one less than Buffy's younger sister, Michelle Trachtenberg. One is called "Dracula" which seems like a well chosen title considering the subject. The other one however is much more interesting and is called "Night Visitors". Among other things it has a nice bit about one of those vampire cases from New England. Undoubtedly there will be an earlier English language version on which this edition with Dutch subtitles was based.

Die Vampir Prinzessin

Pro Omnia, 2007

There is some good material to be found on this DVD. We get to see interesting images of the manipulated skeletons found in Cesky Krumlov. We also get a good impression of the town itself. There's a nice soundtrack. And we are even allowed a periscopic peep inside the crypt of Fürstin Eleonore Amalia von Schwarzenberg. As to the attempts to turn the Fürstin into a vampire, we will mention them elsewhere. And as to the suggestion that she was the source of inspiration for "Dracula's Guest", I'd say that is a bit outside our field of interest.

Vampire Clan

Bridge Pictures, 2002

Not a documentary as such but a film based on sad and unpleasant things that have really happened. I still must have the newspaper cuttings somewhere. Something like kids who believed they were vampires and killed their parents. As with some of the other DVDs, I will have to see this again before I can give you an honest opinion.

Le Vampire de Dusseldorf - (FRENCH LANGUAGE)

Studiocanal, 1964

A nice French film about the infamous "Düsseldorf Vampire" Peter Kürten. As seems usual with films like this, the directors and scriptwriters don't seem to have lost too much sleep after bending the facts to make it a "better" story. Over the years I have been to and have stayed in Düsseldorf dozens and dozens of times. So I know the place well and know my way around. It is not all that far from Amsterdam. Couple of hours on the train. It is a nice place to be if - like me - you like beer and German cuisine.

It also happens that I do have quite a bit of material on Peter Kürten, some of it dating back to the time when his identity was still unknown and he had not even been arrested. The story seems strong enough the way it is. And I do remember a German documentary that was very good and sticking to the facts. So what is it ? Why do film makers always have to change and distort the facts ? I suppose they are not interested in the truth and just want a good story.

Vampire Forensics

National Geographic, 2010

The first episode is a documentary "Is it Real ? Vampires". So what do we get ? There is some nice material about the Toma Petre case (a case that you can also find listed on our site under "Marotinu de Sus"). There is Elizabeth Miller, and there is Nicolae Paduraru whom I once had the pleasure of meeting way back in the late seventies. There is my former "friend" Sean Manchester showing some nice footage from his earlier career. National Geographic: "Proving the existence of God and the devil is a bit beyond our investigative powers." Quite. There's Nick Bellantoni (state archaeologist for Connecticut) and there is Michael Bell and the interesting New England case. Forensic Anthropologist Bill Rodriguez kindly confirms the things that we have already learned from Paul Barber's book. And there is living vampire Don Henrie who gets a medical check-up. Not bad at all, in fact I much enjoyed it.

The second episode is called "Vampires in Venice". I did like all the parts that were about Matteo Borrini and his interesting find. For I was really pleased with every bit of information about the Venice vampire that we were given. I also loved all those images. Having said that, there also was quite a bit of material that we had already seen in the other episode. I would probably have managed to live without seeing that twice. Otherwise, no complaints.

But what's this I read on the back of the DVD box ?
"The Shroud-eater feasts on corpses and then rises from the earth to infect the living." Gentlemen, please.....

Vampire Secrets - Bram Stoker

History Channel, no date

These DVDs are part of an extremely inexpensive 6 DVD-set called "VAMPIRE SECRETS".

This particular episode is all about Stoker's life and works, with some speculation thrown in about what made him write "Dracula". Elizabeth Miller is the main expert, and rightfully so. Leonard Wolf and David Skall also put in short appearances. Not bad.

Vampire Secrets - Dracula's Underground

History Channel, no date

Actually, this is an episode from a rather nice series called "Cities of the Underworld". First we go visit a large bat-infested Romanian cave system. On to good old Vlad. We visit the ruins at Tirgoviste and the secret prison - or so we are told - that is under it. Next stop: the Castle of Poenari, and yes, I well remember the 1500 steps you have to climb to get there. There's Vlad in prison in Hunedoara Castle. There are old military tunnels under the castle. We are shown the prison cell where Vlad was kept and on we go to Turda where we visit a giant saltmine. There are old ruins in Bucharest. And, as a desert, we are treated to the mysteries of Snagov.

Vampire Secrets - Movie Monsters: Vampires in America

History Channel, no date

And History Channel has done it again: this is in fact an episode from the series "Monster Quest".

Despite the ill-chosen title, this turned out to be an interesting documentary built around the various New England Vampires, and concentrating on the research by Nicholas Bellantoni and Michael Bell. To put things in a wider perspective we also have some further experts. There is Katherine Ramsland commenting on "The Vampire Clan" and the Welsh Vampire Killer. Psychic Vampire Michelle Belanger tells us about her need to feed on other people's vital force. She is then subjected to paranormal measurements. Konstantinos tells us about Elisabeth Bathory, Vlad Tepes and Dracula. We have Joy Poulos, living vampire, getting a check-up from Hematologist Lawrence Ossias, who also mentions porphyria. And there is Dr. Jeffery Laitman trying to explain death and post-mortem processes in just a few sentences. Nice one !

Vampire Secrets - Origins of the Vampire

History Channel, no date

Most of the film consists of a voice-over reading a not always accurate text about vampires, accompanied by a plethora of uninspiring images taken from books and films. I was really getting worried. But fortunately there is a young Michael Bell telling us about consumption and the New England vampires. Raymond McNally personally gives us the story of his first-hand vampire experience in Rodna. And hey, there's another one of my favourite vampire experts, Paul Barber ! All in all, not a bad film really. Although it left me wondering why those dusty mummies from St. Michan's Church in Dublin kept popping up, again and again.

Vampire Secrets - The Real Dracula

History Channel, no date

Please note that this episode can also be found as DVD 5 of a box called "History's Mysteries". I will save you the trouble of scrolling there and repeat myself:

Here we go again... "Immortalised in fiction and in film". Which makes me wonder: so a Dracula or Nosferatu film is "fact" and not fiction then ? On to Bram Stoker, who was a sickly bed-ridden child, and heard about the famine and starvation going on outside his house. When he finally decided to get out of bed he started hanging around in the part of the churchyard where the suicides were buried. Cheerful little chap. He eventually moved to London and came to work for the great actor Henry Irving. For his novel "Dracula" he did serious research for no less than seven years. So who else is there ? David Skal, Norine Dresser, Gordon Melton, McNally, Florescu, and oops ! there is Elisabeth Bathory again. Did I forget to mention Vlad Tepes ? Maybe I did it on purpose. I really think that you should know that story by now.

Vampire Secrets - Vampire Secrets

History Channel, no date

And again there is a DVD that we have seen before. It is the same as DVD 7 of an 8 DVD box-set called "Fright Night". I will save you the trouble of scrolling up:

Sadly it seems clear that the makers of this episode were mainly interested in the more sensational aspects of vampirism. Countess Elisabeth Bathory was given lots of space, bathing in blood and biting a piece out of someone's arm, a fragment that was repeated again and again. The American Vampire Role Play and Gothic Vampire Scene was another part that seemed to go on forever and ever. There were plenty of experts who came to say their say. No complaints there. The funniest bit was forensic expert Marck Benecke giving us a private Master Class in the morgue of Bucharest, where they had kindly lent him a couple of corpses so that he could point out interesting bits and pieces with the stem of his extremely long pipe. Let's be fair. They even did a reenactment of "The Vampire of Haidamaque". But if there still are people who do not know that both the "Nosferatu" and "Dracula" films are based on one and the same book, I have my doubts that they should be making documentaries about vampires. The voice-over tells us that if you had mentioned the word "vampire" around 1400 everybody would have been scared to death. Really guys... get your act together. Rely on the experts or do your homework !

Vampires

History Channel, no date

Starts off with people claiming to be vampires, like Nicholas Stratloch of the "Temple of the Vampire". Next stop Bram Stoker's "Dracula". On to Vlad Tepes. Next, Dale and Kathy McKinley, who claim they have been channeling Vlad's spirit. What else ? Cathrina Coffin, a woman who's been drinking the blood of her friends since childhood. And then some kind of epilogue to round things off.

Non-vampirical contributors: author J. Gordon Melton, psychiatrist Alexander Obolsky, Raymond McNally, Nicolae Paduraru, screenwriter Don Jakoby, hypnotist Gary Dallek, psychic Shirley Strasburg, psychic Nancy Mostad, and folklorist Sabina Ispas. Like the voice-over says: "Does this obsession with vampires merely reflect man's desire for immortality ? Or is it an experiment with the darker impulses of human nature that most prefer to leave uninvestigated and unexplained ?"

Vampires in the Twilight

Avalanche Productions, 2007

Tattoos, piercings, artificial fangs, vampire wine, vampire clans, vampire parties, and I'll be jiggered: there is Jean-Paul Bourre himself ! There is Father Sebastian in Amsterdam and a little bit of mild SM. New York again and a shop for vampire protheses. Victor Magnus, former magician turned vampire. And then the fine line between pleasure and pain. On to New Orleans and a "vampire dentist". Lots of vampires, martial arts, secret societies. There is Michelle Belanger working her magic during a gathering of the clans. On to Paris where we meet Nicholas who ate pieces of flesh taken from the morgue and apparently committed a bizarre murder. He seems to be into painting these days and sees himself as a blood fetishist rather than a vampire. Next stop Venice to awaken our Luciferian origin. And - for our director - success at last. He is allowed to witness a blood ritual... What can I say ? Definitely not my kind of vampire.

World of Hammer - VAMP

Anolis Entertainment, no date

Where would we be without the good old Hammer films ? I love them. But much as I love them, I am not going to list them here as such without a good reason. So what is "Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter" doing on this page ? It so happens that one of the bonus items on this particular DVD (published in Germany) is an episode about Hammer "Vamps" from the documentary series "World of Hammer". Hey, that is good enough for me.

Having said that, I can not honestly say that I am a great fan of the "World of Hammer" series. As far as I remember, most of the episodes completely consist of bits and pieces cut from Hammer films, without adding anything extra except for some voice-over comments. I used to have the complete series on video cassettes, but I was happy to give them all away when one of my friends was foolish enough to show an interest.

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last update May 2012
Obviously all the rights to the images are the property of their rightful owners.

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