The Coffin Boffin’s Choice of Vintage Vampire Shorts
Here, in all their beauty and glory are my pick of the greatest vintage vampire shorts; seductive and predatory, terrifying and comic, vital and metaphoric, doomed and daring!
THE VAMPIRE Marusia is courted by a young man who she later sees eating a corpse laid out in the church. Falling victim to the vampire, she’s carried out via a hole under the door & buried at a crossroad, appearing again as a flower. Afanasev, Russian Folk & Fairy Tales (1855-67)
THE BLACK VAMPYRE (1819). The first black vampire, the first vampire story by an American writer and the first vampire anti-slavery narrative. You can read about this remarkable text in OGOM’s forthcoming book on Polidori: the Romantic Vampire and its Progeny
LUELLA MILLER A psychic vampire story written by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, c.1902. Luella drains everyone she comes into contact with, whilst retaining a youthful vitality herself. Pyschic vampires steal souls rather than blood, & energy, ideas & creativity ooh!
WAKE NOT THE DEAD (1823) Brunhilde is restored from beyond the grave at the instruction of her grieving husband; turning vampire/serpent, she preys on her own children in imitation of female demon Lilith. The work of Ernst Raupach, the tale was misattributed to Tieck
THE VAMPIRE MAID is written by Hume Nisbet. It was published in Stories Weird and Wonderful 1900. A tenant succumbs to the charms of his landlady’s raven haired daughter Ariadne. He awakes one night to find her sucking blood through the vein in his arm
VAMPIRISMO or ‘The Vampire’ by E.T. A. Hoffman, 1821; predates Carmilla & is indebted to vampirish Lord Byron. Aurelia, turns vampire & shifts from sexually alluring girl to used up old crone, enacting every husband’s worst nightmare. Image: Rounseville & Tchérina in Tales of Hoffman
A TRUE STORY OF A VAMPIRE by Eric Count Stenbock, (1894). A vampire desolates the home of young Carmela, when she is 13 years old in Styria. As an adult she falls under the spell of the vampire and has no ill will towards him. Indebted to Carmilla, the story predates Dracula.
THE DEATHLY LOVER or ‘La morte amoureuse’ French vampire by celebrated writer & critic Théophile Gautier (1843).The story of Lord Romualdo and his undead lover Clarimonda. Baudelaire dedicated Les Fleurs du mal which contains ‘Le Vampire’ to Gautier
THE FAMILY OF VOURDALAK Russian vampire story written by Aleksei Tolstoy, published in 1894; successfully fuses the sexual allegory of vampirism with the folklore of peasants; cites Calmet’s Hungarian vourdalaks who return from their graves to prey upon their own families
COUNT MAGNUS M.R. James story about an undead count in a mausoleum who has acquired a knowledge of the Black Mass (1904). James was influenced by De Nugis Curialium a twelfth-century work on ghosts, vampires and wood nymphs. He was also a huge fan of Le Fanu’s Carmilla, 1872.
THE GOOD LADY DUCAYNE uses transfusion, the very medical procedure by which Van Helsing desperately tries to save Lucy Westenra in Dracula, as the mechanism for her own vampirism. Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s vampire story was published in same year as Stoker’s novel in 1897
LET LOOSE Mary Cholmondeley,1890. Stylish vampire story by set in the fictional village of Wet Waste-in-the-Wolds; takes as its starting point lines from a Victorian sonnet: ‘The dead abide with us though stark and cold Earth seems to grip them they are with us still’
THE PARASITE An 1894 novella by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about a psychic vampire Miss Penelosa, a small pale creature who requires a crutch to walk, practices mesmerism and the evil eye & transforms into a ‘monstrous parasite’ who creeps into her victim’s form.
CLARIMONDE Vampire courtesan, Gautier, Paris, 1836. A version of La Morte Amoureuse.(above). ‘If thou wilt be mine the angels themselves will be jealous of thee. Tear off that funeral shroud. I am beauty. I am youth. I am life. Come to me. Our lives will flow on like a dream in one eternal kiss’ (trans 1908).
THE ROOM IN THE TOWER E. F. Benson. 1912 vampire short in which a man is trapped in the same nightmare for 15 years after being given the room in the tower which contains the portrait of Julia Stone, a suicide. Benson went on to publish Spook Stories in 1928
FOR THE BLOOD IS THE LIFE one of the most memorable vampire tales ever written, appearing in Wandering Ghosts by F. Marion Crawford, 1911 “I have seen an evil thing this night. I have seen how the dead drink the blood of the living. And the blood is the life”
SCHOOL FOR THE UNSPEAKABLE A vampire story by Manly Wade Wellman published in Weird Tales (1937). Three demonic school boys torture a new boy. They turn out to have been murdered 50 years earlier by the master of the school and have been reborn as vampires. The story plays on the idea that murder victims or suicides (traditionally buried at crossroads) are particularly susceptible to becoming undead and may rise again as vampires!
About Sam George
Associate Professor of Research, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire
Co-convenor OGOM Project
La Morte Amoureuse and Clarimonde that’s one and the same title by Gautier, often translated as Clarimonde in English
Hello. Thank you for your comment. Yes, I should have made that clear. The English version is not an entirely faithful translation and obviously has a different title. They are 2 different books but are derived from the same source . I will add a little note that explains this. Great.
I may add The Pale Lady by Dumas, published in 1849, which akes us right into vampire homeland, the Carpathian Mountains. An old malediction of the Brankovan family causes the wild and ferocious Kostaki to return from the grave as a vampire in order to consummate his unrequited love to Hedwige by way of draining her veins.When the corpse is laid out in a truly nightmarish scene Hedwige sees “les yeux du cadavre s’ouvrirent et s’attachent sur moi plus vivants que je ne les ai jamais vus” (the corpse’s eyes opened up and watched me more alive than I had ever seen them before) and his mourning mother whispers in her ear “Kostaki loves you” in the present tense as if it was a love d’outre-tombe. Unlike Lord Ruthwen the vampire corpse has hypnotic powers that put the poor woman into a drowsy state to freely plunge his teeth into her neck. Grégoriska who became Kostaki’s deadly rival over Hedwige’s love informs her how to kill a vampire according to Romanian tradition: “on leur enfonça un pieu dans le cœur, et on les brûla ensuite.” (= to thrust a stake into his heart and to burn his corpse) which is in fact the same way to kill Dracula almost 50 years later. To protect herself from the vampire, Grégoriska provides her with a piece of box-tree wood bathed in holy water and Hedwige keeps the ambulant corpse at bay by brandishing the wood in front of him which is reminiscent of Van Helsing deterring Dracula with a cross. When Gregoriska confronts his vampire brother in the final showdown he stresses his divine mission against this infernal spectre and forces him to withdraw, and pierces him with his consecrated sword, but even in his tomb, the dying vampire refuses to renounce Hell to obtain salvation. The dying Gregoriska offers Hedwige the rather unorthodox advice to take some earth covered with Kostika’s blood and to apply it to her wounds to keep the vampire at a distance. Hedwige recovers but still has “cette pâleur mortelle qui accompagne jusqu’ entombe toute créature qui a subi le baiser d’un vampire.”(that deadly paleness which accompanies to the tomb every creature that was kissed by a vampire!)
Thank you for your very full account of ‘The Pale Lady’. It sounds like it is definitely worth a read. I confess I haven’t read that one. I will look it out! Good call!