In honor of Halloween, we have slunk into the UIP vault of horror to dig up books both Profound and Mysterious to get you in the mood for our most popular pagan holiday. Will any of these titles help you raise dark forces to unleash on the Department of Motor Vehicles? No. Can one teach you the ancient mysteries of the dread Necronomicon without that supernatural small print that demands you sacrifice your immortal soul? Sorry. Any advice on apple bobbing? Not in the books, but unofficially, heed our words: don’t do it with a head cold.
The Living and the Undead: Slaying Vampires, Exterminating Zombies, by Gregory A. Waller
You cannot swing a black cat in our pop culture these days without hitting a sexy vampire or one of the many sub-species of the walking dead. Gregory A. Waller sinks his teeth into both genres in this enjoyable film studies survey of two movie monsters that, clearly, will never die. Fearing no evil, Waller contemplates the expressionist terror of Nosferatu and the sharp wardrobes of the Hammer Film classics, the idea of the king-vampire from Stoker’s Dracula to Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, and the ever-expanding Land of the Living Dead created by director George Romero. Seriously, this book is so complete it covers Blacula and analyzes how to look at a guy rifle-butting a flesh-eating Hare Krishna. Put down the brooding teenager vampire media. Get a blanket and some garlic. Dare to contemplate the sensual vampiric intensity that is Frank Langella.
Dracula’s Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood, by Joseph Valente
There are countless readings one may apply to the classic novel Dracula. But whichever you prefer in your reading group or lit department, we can all agree on one thing: that novel is pretty fixated on blood. As insightful as Van Helsing and as fetching as Mina Harker, Dracula’s Crypt presents the iconic vampire read as Bram Stoker’s commentary on the British obsession with blood purity. Claiming Stoker saw himself as an Irish interloper among London’s blueblood elite, Joseph Valente sees the author espousing a progressive racial ideology at odds with an Anglo-Saxon culture that inexplicably insisted it should reign supreme despite a public embrace of light opera and dimwitted Germanic monarchs. Valente makes it plain: Dracula critiques the very anxieties it has previously been taken to express: anxieties concerning the decline of the British empire, the deterioration of Anglo-Saxon culture, and the contamination of the Anglo-Saxon race, as if it hadn’t been contaminated enough by Normans, Vikings, and Romans.