Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Vampires, Vixens and Death from Above

Well, it's getting to be that time again, when heavenly shades of night begin to fall and teenaged girls count every second sweeping across the clock's face. Yes, on June 30, the new Twilight film hits the screen, unleashing a host of clandestine memes on an unsuspecting world. Memes so deeply hidden, I'd bet the farm that Stephenie Meyer- the cheerful Mormon housewife who is channeling all of this weirdness- is completely unaware of just how deep and strange that weirdness is. Or would I?

Ka-Hathor-Ein Heigl in Roswell

Some people have made note of the similarities between Twilight and the Roswell series. Some have pointed out that the scene in the first Twilight film in which Edward saves Bella from sudden death in the school parking lot matches a scene in the Roswell pilot concerning a gunman in a diner and a alien healing. However the scene in Roswell is a flatout ripoff of an X-Files episode, "Talitha Cumi."

A scene from the vampire-themed X-Files episode "3"

That episode in turn was which was continued in the fourth season premiere "Herrenvolk," which took its name from the German, meaning "master race." And that's exactly what the Cullens and their vampire chums all are- they are a hidden race of godmen and godwomen- superheroes, in a word. The only problem is that they need to drink blood to survive. The Cullens are "vegetarians," in that they only "feed" on the blood of livestock. The naughty vampires are the ones who "feed" on humans.*


When you start talking Roswell and The X-Files in relation to vampires, you can't help but think about the origin of the whole vampire mythos in general. In fact we see a lot of old folktales about beasties that feed on cows and sheep. From Monstropedia:

Evidence that a vampire was at work in the neighbourhood included death of cattle, sheep, relatives, neighbours, exhumed bodies being in a lifelike state with new growth of the fingernails or hair, or if the body was swelled up like a drum, or there was blood on the mouth and if the corpse had a ruddy complexion.
And strangely enough we have our own modern variants on the vampire, in the very real epidemic of cattle and livestock mutilation. The cause of this phenomena is controversial, but what is certain is that for the past forty years ranchers and farmers have been finding their livestock dismembered (using tools of unknown origin) and drained of blood. But what is truly shocking is that the BBC- arguably the most prestigious news organization in the world- is taking the topic seriously, even dropping the a-word in a recent story:
A Walsall man has told BBC WM that aliens and UFOs are responsible for a string of animal attacks in the UK.
Mike Freebury, a member of the Animal Pathology Field Unit, has investigated the mystery of 'cattle mutilations' for a number of years. The phenomenon, first reported in America in the 1970s, involves the unexplained deaths of rural animals. The bodies are often discovered with missing limbs and organs, removed with surgical precision.

Mike says that the illegal attacks are also happening in Britain - and UFOs are responsible. "(UFOs are) often seen around the areas where mutilations are taking place. I think that the animal mutilations are possibly some sort of sampling programme being carried out by the entities that are propelling these crafts."
Others have theorized that aliens consume the blood and tissue or use for some restorative purpose. The first modern case of the phenomenon dates to 1967 and took place in Alamosa, Colorado:
Agnes King and her son Harry noted that Snippy..a three-year-old horse had not returned to the ranch...Harry found Snippy on September 9. Her head and neck had been skinned and defleshed, the bones were white and clean. To King, the cuts on Snippy seemed to have been very precise. There was no blood at the scene, according to Harry, and there was a strong medicinal odor in the air.
Another detail from the case brings us back to the X-Files mythology:
The next day, Harry and Agnes returned to the scene with Mr. and Mrs. Berle Lewis...(t)hey found a lump of skin and horse flesh; when Mrs. Lewis touched it, the flesh oozed a greenish fluid which burned her hand. They also reported the discovery of fifteen tapering, circular exhaust marks punched into the ground over some 5000 square yards.
I should probably mention that all of this drama took place right off of a Route 17 (surprise, surprise). Around the same time, similar events were being reported on the other side of the continent:
(In) The Mothman Prophecies, John Keel claims to have examined a number of slain dogs, cows and horses in the Point Pleasant, West Virginia area in 1966 and 1967. These animals, Keel writes, bore surgical-like incisions in their throats ... often the carcasses seemed drained of blood.
But the link between aliens and vampires is nothing new for geeks. We recently looked at the legacy of the late Frank Frazetta and an important of that legacy was the power his cover art lent to the great alien/vampire/superhero of the 70s, Vampirella, who came to Earth from the planet Drakulon.

Vampirella might seem a little obscure to the mainstream, but was a geek favorite in her heyday (the less said about her 90s revival the better). Vampirella was published by Warren, who also published Creepy and Eerie. Their comics were soaked to the gills in the occult as well as sex and violence, so much so that I had to go across town to buy their comics (my local newsstand refused to stock them) and then be sure to hide them from my mother once I smuggled them home. But take one look at the Conjuress there, the alien goddess to whom Count Dracula prayed...

...whoever designed the costumes for The Queen of the Damned obviously had read an issue or two of Vampirella. That of course is Aaliyah, who died during the making of the film, joining Heath Ledger and Brandon Lee in the ranks of comic book movie stars who died before the films were released (QOTD was adapted for a comic before the movie), unleashing a host of conspiracy theories in her wake (this was the old USENET days, before celebrity conspiracy peddling became America's most lucrative hobby). One blogger even tied Jay-Z to the 'plot'.

Queen of the Damned brings us back to the once and future Holy Land of Egypt, which again brings us back to Vampirella, who did the Egyptian vampire thing first.

Vampirella's origin was apparently rewritten at one point in which she was sent back in time and incarnated as Cleopatra. After doing battle with an evil sorcerer, no less than Amun-Ra appears and grants her eternal youth. The only catch that she's now a vampire. Or something.

We saw Egypt show up briefly in the first Twilight film (itself also filled with Route 17s) when Bella was researching the vampire phenomenon and wouldn't you just know it...

...Vampirella #17 rocked the Egyptian vampire meme and the werewolf meme (in "Death of a God" a classic Wally Wood story in which Anubis is a werewolf). What was the title of the cover story for #17?

I'll give you a hint.

Let's not forget that we previously looked at the Egyptian vampire meme in light of The Hunger, which starred the man who fell to earth and sold the world himself, David "Bowman" Bowie...

I don't know how I could have forgotten one of the all-time greatest Hathors of the silver screen, the legendary Catherine Deneuve. It's hard to imagine a role more semiotically charged than her masterful portrayal of Miriam ("Beloved of Amun") Blaylock, the seductive, pansexual vampiress in The Hunger.

You've got a story written by alien contactee Whitley Strieber about an ancient Egyptian queen whose backstory sounds very much like one of the Nephilim ("Miriam Blaylock is in Thailand, looking to find a mate at the Asian conclave of Keepers. She is a Keeper, and Keepers are vampires, ancient extraterrestrials who cultivated humans for sustenance"). You've also got occult initiate David Bowie, goth gods Bauhaus and one of the greatest love scenes in the history of cinema.

With the Mormon Church's most famous daughter taking vampires to the bank, we should remind ourselves that Egyptian and extraterrestrial memes are all over Mormonism itself, with alien planets like Kolob playing a major part in Joseph Smith's theology. Gods of Eden author William Bramley argues that Smith was in fact contacted by aliens not angels. Of course, Bramley argues that with all of the other religious figures as well.

But does Meyer see her vampires as aliens? I don't know if Twilight fans have opinions on the issue. But it's worth noting that Meyer has a non-Twilight bestseller in her catalog- 2008's The Host, which is a chicklit spin on the alien possession conceit of the Heinlein classic, The Puppet Masters (see Silverberg's "Passengers" for a more prurient spin on the concept):

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Meyer is reportedly developing this theme into a series. I can't wait to see the first movie.

* My life's ambition to one day watch a vampire movie that doesn't have anyone saying "I thirst" or "I must feed." For that will be the day that I do not cringe.


  1. @Chris,

    great work Mr. Knowles!

    and then in our modern world we also have MALARIA which kills between 1 and 3 million people each year, mostly in Africa... to name the biggest of several nasties transmitted by one of nature's smallest VAMPIRES, the MOSQUITO!


  2. All this - and a CLASH t-shirt too!

  3. What sync's for me about x-files vampire themed episode "3", is that they use a song from the incredible band X, titled " the unheard music". Isn't that what we're all trying to listen in for?

  4. Here's X performing it at the Bat Bar in Austin Texas

  5. "My life's ambition to one day watch a vampire movie that doesn't have anyone saying "I thirst" or "I must feed." For that will be the day that I do not cringe."

    .feast your eyes on the cliche-free:

  6. Hey Chris,

    Whilst reading your post, I suddenly remember the film "Lifeforce"(1985). "A space shuttle mission investigating Halley's Comet brings back a malevolent race of space vampires..."

    SynC's nicely with your post.

    :) Nice one mateY!

  7. I'm barely over Twilight's target age, yet I cannot grasp why the series is so appealing.

    The books are just awful.

    - and this is coming from a girl who used to get busted in school for reading cheesy terrible Harlequin romance novels under her desk.

    My theory:

    I think Twilight is popular because it taps into that “waiting for Prince Charming to take you away from your awful life” fantasy Disney embedded in every five year old girl's mind.

    Oddly, said meme is also a religious allusion. Jesus and the rapture = getting taken away by Prince Charming [I attended a Catholic school, we were taught everything is somehow an allusion to Jesus].


    Talking 'bout Cleopatra and vampires, there's a new series of dolls being release by Mattel called “Monster High”.

    Here's a link:

    Notice how Cleopatra's boyfriend is a snake person. And the blue girl is half swamp monster.

  8. Strangey- Yeah, this planet hates most of us.

    C!- I knew there was something I like about her.

    77M- Yeah, I love that song- love all of those old X albums, especially More Fun.

    VJ- Cool- I'll check it out.

    Harun- Oh yeah, with Mathilda May and Patrick Stewart. But mostly Mathilda May.

    レベッカ- Well having some magical creature come along and solve all of your problems? Who wouldn't want that? Hell, I want that. Monster High reminds me of You Go, Ghoul.

  9. Yeah, Lifeforce! Colin Wilson wrote the novel and a few others preceding it on parasites, energy vampires and entities.

  10. Wilson wrote what was practically a trilogy of novels in a Lovecraftian vein, mostly after being challenged over some less than kind things he'd had to say about Lovecraft in The Outsider and The Strength to Dream (mostly the latter i think - i don't have my library near at hand to check). All great books if you can find them:

    The Space Vampires (filmed as Life Force)

    The Philosophers Stone

    The Mind Parasites

    All three books are full of an insane number of references to philosophers and other thinkers - more juice than a lot of non-fictional works i've read (Wilson was great before he fell too deeply in love with himself). From memory, only one of the references in the Philosopher's Stone was bogus, all the rest were real (following Lovecraft's advice to write weird fiction with all the attention to detail of a good hoax, i guess).

    Off topic, i know, but have you heard about the worlds biggest solar power plant being proposed for Abu Dhabi?

    The proposed name is Shams 1. Shams is Arabic for sun - obvious enough - but its also the name of sufi mystic and poet who was the mentor of the poet Rumi.

  11. Heya. A recent Doctor Who episode titled "The Vampires of Venice" had an enemy race called the Saturnyians infilitrate aristocratic Venice because their race was dying. Saturnyians.....there is that article where life on Saturn may exist @_@
    But the 'vampires' in the episode has another form, their true form is that of an aquatic creature that can shapeshift. Hmmm

  12. Hi again Chris,

    Re vampires and animal mutilations, i've often wondered about the link with the phenomenom of "horse ripping" that used to hit the news occasionally, both here and in the UK. Commonly ascribed to pathological behaviour by humans rather than anything paranormal or supernatural, very few convictions have ever been made. Peter Shaffer's play Equus delves into the (possible) psycho-sexual motivations behind 'ripping', and is based on a supposeldy real case in England involving a teenage boy who was accused of blinding six horses.



  13. :: Huh? Nobody but nobody has even raised British horror author, Brian Lumley's "Necroscope" series? I'm genuinely surprised. Really. You see, his mythos casts vampires as the Wamphyri, a dimensionally-shifting offworld race that came from another far-off planet through a Stargate who are here for, well, food & ultimate worldwide takeover. Unlike the elegant Anne Rice kind, these guys are truly monstrous in appearance. A wonderful series, that. Also, he has extrapolated on the Lovecraftian mythos as well, what with his separate Ship of Dreams & separate Titus Crow storylines, too.

    Also, alien abductee & author Whit's ravishing 6,000+ year old vampiress, Miriam Blaylock, unlike the stunningly beautiful Catherine Deneuve's portrayal, actually is described as having an elongated head in "The Hunger" & its late-arriving 2001 sequel, The Last Vampire, simply concealing that peculiar physical attribute by wearing stylish feminine headwear and/or an elaborate bouffant coiffures. Yes, an <elongated cranium, just as in those mysterious skulls found around the world & seen in certain ancient Egyptian renderings, whether rendered in statuary or frescoes. That's what her character has.

    Vampirella of Drakulon …. sigh .… I love her & was an instant convert when the late, great Frank Frazetta's original cover, wearing feminist cartoonist Trina Robbins' uproar-stirring costume design had 1st hit the newsstands. Unlike you, Professor Knowles, I had never had to hide my burgeoning collection of Warren magazines away, my parents probably thinking that their little artist son would one day, too, be an illustrator or writer or both of such fantastical testaments to fandom (whistling, rolls eyes, looks around room), and wouldn't it be good to encourage me in that direction by watching me collect boxes of these gems?

    As for cattle & other animal mutilations, would it surprise you to learn that as a grammar school kid I was one of two students out of my entire fifth grade class who chose to do a current events report on the sadly dispatched horse, Rusty? Probably not. American Ufologist, Linda Moulton Howe, is expedient & thorough in keeping us apprised of such as-yet-unexplained phenomena as they occur.

    As for the Twilight series. Oh brother. You have heard, have you not, of the psychedelic-imbibing nascent days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, haven't you? Yep, there was something a lot stronger than mere wine in their Eucharist. Just take a look here. Trippy, man. I wonder what Stephenie Meyer would think? Anywho, Christopher, another beautifully thought over & engaging piece. Thanks, man ~ (•8-D

  14. Chris,
    Love your blog and regularly follow you, just want to point out that Aaliyah died in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming her video for "rock the boat", not during the filming of Queen of the Damned.

  15. Well, the film was in postproduction. Her brother had to act as a stand-in for some reshoots. Or was it voice looping? QOTD was dedicated to her memory.