vampire

Photo of the Day

Mercy Brown’s gravestone in the cemetery of the Baptist Church in Exeter.

Mercy Brown Vampire Incident

Every town has its mysteries, but some places hold secrets far more bizarre than others do. The Mercy Brown vampire was roaming the streets and taking lives. She apparently wouldn’t stay dead. In these enlightened times, vampires are relegated to literature and folklore. This was not always so. As recent as the 19th century, many Americans believed that there were undead humans that walked among us and fed on the blood of the living.

The case of Mercy Lena Brown, a 19-year-old resident of the town of Exeter, was the last known instance in the state of Rhode Island of a large group of otherwise sensible folks exhuming, mutilating, immolating, and cannibalising a corpse to kill a vampire.

The Mercy Brown vampire incident occurred in 1892 and is one of the best-documented cases of the exhumation of a corpse in order to perform rituals to banish an undead manifestation. The incident was part of the wider New England vampire panic.

Several cases of consumption (tuberculosis) occurred in the family of George and Mary Brown in Exeter, Rhode Island. Friends and neighbours believed that this was due to the influence of the undead. Two family members’ bodies were dug up, and they exhibited the expected level of decomposition, so they were thought not to be the cause. Daughter Mercy, however, was held in a freezer-like, above-ground vault, and her corpse exhibited almost no decomposition. This was taken as confirmation that the undead were influencing the family to be sick. Mercy’s heart was burned, then the ashes were mixed with water and given to her brother, Edwin, to drink as he was sick, in order to stop the influence of the undead.

Read more »

Photo of the Day

Maneater: Theda Bara in a series of unconventional portraits. Her publicist claimed it was her lover and that not even the grave could separate them.

Theda Bara 

‘The Vamp’ of the Silent Screen

“A vampire is a good woman with a bad reputation, or rather a good woman who has had possibilities and wasted them”

 — Florenz Ziegfeld

The queen of the vamps was one of America’s most mysterious movie stars — Theda Bara. The magnetic actress, with her steely gaze and jet-black hair, was the prototype for a movie bad girl. She shook convention so dramatically that a critic called her a “flaming comet of the cinema firmament.”

Bara might be the most significant celebrity pioneer whose movies you’ve never seen. She was the movie industry’s first sex symbol; the first femme fatale; the first silent film actress to have a fictional identity invented for her by publicists and sold through a receptive media to a public who was happy to be conned; and she might have been America’s first homegrown goth.

According to the studio biography, Theda Bara (anagram of “Arab Death”) was born in the Sahara to a French artiste and his Egyptian concubine and possessed supernatural powers.

Progressive, liberated women were clearly so frightening one hundred years ago that equating them to undead, bloodthirsty creatures borne of Satan didn’t seem so unusual.

In the late 1910s, women were on the verge of winning the right to equal representation in the voting booth. Women were asserting power in unions, and, in the wake of disasters like the Triangle Factory Fire, those unions were influencing government policy. They were taking control of their destinies, their fortunes, even their sexuality (Margaret Sanger‘s first birth control clinic opened in 1916).

This surging independence came just as the entertainment industry heralded the female form as one of its primary attractions. Ziegfeld’s sassy, flesh-filled Follies — and its many imitators — defined the Broadway stage, mixing music, sex and glamour with a morality-shattering frankness.

But it was the birth of motion pictures that gave the allure of female bodies an unearthly, flickering glow, as nickelodeon shorts became feature-length films, and the first era of the movie siren was born.

Combine the power of liberation with the erotic potential of cinema, and in the late 1910s, you got the vampire (or as we would come to know, the ‘vamp’).

Read more »

Ginger bashing goes back to Greek Mythology

After readers expressed their discomfort with making fun of gingers, it required some more research:

GINGER FACTS & MYTHS

GINGER FACTS & MYTHS

1. Red hair is seen on the heads of only four percent of people. Most of these exist in the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, and Australia.

2. There is a belief that redheads are prone to industrial deafness. This actually could be true as the melanocytes are found in the middle ear.

3. A 2002 study found that redhead are harder to sedate than any other people requiring twenty percent more anesthesia. Inadequate doses cause people to wake up during surgery and have increased recall of procedures.

4. In the late 16th century, the fat of a redheaded man was an essential ingredient for poison.

5. The Egyptians regarded the color as so unlucky that they had a ceremony in which they burned red-headed maidens alive to wipe out the tint.

6. An Irish judge in 2001 fined a man for disorderly conduct stating “I am a firm believer that hair coloring has an effect on temper and your coloring suggests you have a temper.”

7. Redheads have always been thought untrustworthy. Judas is most always depicted as a redhead displaying the prejudice against red hair.

8. Adolph Hitler reportedly banned the marriages of two redheads as he feared their children would be “deviant offspring”.   Read more »