Published by ECW Press on September 1, 2013
Pages: 190 pages
Reviewed by: Kristina
Citing examples from folklore, as well as horror films, TV shows, and works of fiction, this book details all known ways to prevent vampirism, including how to protect oneself against attacks and how to destroy vampires. While offering explanations on the origins and uses of most commonly known tactics in fending off vampirism, the book also delves much deeper by collecting historical accounts of unusual burial rites and shocking superstitions from European history, from the “real” Serbian vampire Arnold Paole to the unique Bulgarian Djadadjii, a professional vampire “bottler.” It traces the evolution of how to kill the fictional vampire—from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Hammer horror films beginning in the 1950s to Anne Rice’s Lestat and the dreamy vamps of Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries—and also celebrates the most important slayers, including Van Helsing, Buffy, and Blade. In exploring how and why these monsters have been created and the increasingly complex ways in which they are destroyed, the book not only serves as a handy guide to the history and modern role of the vampire, it reveals much about the changing nature of human fears.
HOW TO KILL A VAMPIRE: FANGS IN FOLKLORE, FILM AND FICTION is an excellent compilation and analysis of the vampire myth and its evolution from historical folklore to present day pop culture. This book had the folklore nerd in me very happy and I loved reading theories on how the present day vampire became what he/she/it is today. There were tons of morbid stories and details on what people did to stop vampires that had me shocked at the creativity and sometimes savageness of some traditions.
While I already knew quite a bit about vampire folkloric origins before I started this book, I was surprised at what I didn’t know. For instance, vampires being killed by sunlight was never really a part of any folklore or early vampire fiction. The death by sun part of the myth came from film for a more dramatic death scene in the newly visual medium. What I found even more amazing than the origin of vampire ‘death by sun’ was the fact that Ladouceur goes on to explain a scientific reason sunlight being harmful to the undead.
Continuing her in depth analysis of the vampire myth Ladouceur also contemplates the meaning of life and death for our ancestors and how our changing approach to death and disease has affected the narrative of the vampire in fiction. Her thoughtful analysis really gave me a new perspective on vampires as they relate to our culture and the stories we pass on to eachother.
HOW TO KILL A VAMPIRE: FANGS IN FOLKLORE, FILM AND FICTION is a thought provoking look at the evolution of the vampire through the ages from folklore to film. After reading this book I found myself adding to the list of older vampire movies and books I should pick up and some I want to revisit.