The Day I Wore Fangs

I seem normal enough on the surface. I don’t have crazy or colorful hair. I don’t dress in any shocking manner. The only piercings I have are in my ears and the few tattoos I have aren’t seen all that often. Yup, just a normal, everyday kind of gal …until you start asking around, that is.

If you were to approach some of my childhood friends, mainly from my high school days, you’d get the inkling that maybe this normal thing is all an act. Or maybe I’ve just outgrown the black fingernails, eyeliner, and lipstick. Maybe dressing all in black every day, muttering in Latin, and sitting in the corner of the school cafeteria at lunchtime alone with my nose buried in some sort of occult-themed novel or research book was all just a fad; something I’ve grown out of as my mother so fervently prayed I would.

Or maybe in my dotage, I’ve just toned those things down a bit, just a bit. I still have my moments, like the day I wore fangs.

It was about ten years ago, making me about forty years old at the time.

Ever since I first began watching all those vampire movies, I’ve wanted a pair of realistic-looking fangs. I wondered how Hollywood did it. I considered talking to my dentist about it, but never did. Even if had dental insurance, I’m pretty sure they’d not cover something like that. I attempted to craft my own numerous times, adapting those cheap plastic things, buying different sorts every October hoping against hope that at last I’d found The Ones! I even tried to make some out of wax, but nothing had that real look I was striving for.

And then, the internet and online shopping happened. I found a site that looked promising, , but I didn’t get my hopes up too high. I’d been disappointed before. $30 seemed an awful lot for fake fangs, but my primal urges screamed out for satisfaction. I ordered them. They arrived in a little coffin-shaped case. I remained skeptical.

One day while I was home alone, I decided it was time to put that $30 to the test. The results? Amazing! I couldn’t have been happier! Not only did these fangs look real, they allowed me to drink (no, not blood – I’m not QUITE that off) as long as I was mindful and to eat, though somewhat awkwardly.

The following July, I bought them in October, I decided to step up my game. I was no longer satisfied to just wear them around the house and yard. It was time to go public and what better way than to just pop them in on a Friday morning after brushing my teeth while getting ready for work?

I don’t work with the public much, but I do have a few office mates. My goal was to just act natural and go about my day, not to flash the fangs at everyone I met or spoke to. Let’s see who notices! There’ not a lot of chit-chat in my office, but my boss did eventually take note. She rolled her eyes and laughed. “Only you, Pam,” she said. “Only you.” By the end of the day, half a dozen people were aware I was in vampire mode.

It being the Friday after payday, it was also grocery day! Directly after work I headed over to one of the bigger grocery stores in town. No one noticed as I picked out my fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee, milk, butter, and eggs. I was paid no mind at the check-out as I unloaded the cart and helped bag things up. And then the cashier, a young man in his early-mid-20s, told me my total and glanced up. I gave him a slight smile as I opened my check book. There was a flicker of surprise in his eyes. His mouth dropped open for a fraction of a second, then he looked away and refused to make further eye contact.

A few minutes later, I pushed my packed cart out of the store and towards my car, wondering about the conversation that likely arose from the lad’s encounter with the normal-looking lady with fangs who had just exited the building.

I did this several more times, but the first time was the sweetest and most memorable. Now I just need to get some of those weird-colored contact lenses …maybe something along the lines of lizard eyes.


The Horrors That Grew Me – Vampires

Welcome to the first installment of The Horrors That Grew Me. Each month for as long as I can come up with ideas, I will be posting a blog about specific authors, actors, books, movies, and maybe even some personal experiences that have fascinated and led me down this dark and spooky path I now walk as a horror novelist.

Not long ago I wrote a blog called Why I Love Horror where I tried to explain WHY I love and prefer horror over romances, sci-fi, and other genres. Since then, I’ve given a lot of thought to being more specific because, believe it or not, not ALL horror appeals to me.

Some of my earliest and fondest memories involve sitting with my mom on a Saturday afternoon enjoying a show called “Monster Movie Matinee”. They showed all the Universal Studio classics, Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, Dracula starring good old Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman. They were the first to bring me The Blob starring Steve McQueen, and Them a tale about giant ants. In a nutshell, as the show’s title implies, Monster Movie Matinee specialized in MONSTER movies. My favorite monsters? Vampires!

If you were to ask anyone who knew me as a teenager what I was interested in, one answer they’d surely give you is, vampires. Vampires, vampires, and more vampires. I couldn’t get enough!

LeeDracCount Dracula takes the throne, but there were so many other books and movies out there about vampires other than those involving dear old Vlad. Everyone knows about Dracula and Bram Stoker. Though I wonder how many of you have read his follow-up Dracula’s Guest that was published in 1914, two years after Stoker’s death. Odd as it may seem, I never thought of Dracula as a monster. He was the misunderstood bad guy.  I always cheered for him to escape whatever method of destruction was being employed.  This is probably why I was also a huge fan of the British Hammer Films starring Christopher Lee as the immortal count. They may have killed him at the end of one movie, but someone always found a way to resurrect him for the next.

And talk about sex appeal. Oh. My. God. For as much as I love Lee as Dracula, I must confess that Frank Langella’s version of the count langelladraccertainly made my teenage blood simmer just a wee bit more. Here’s a little secret for you, especially any of my classmates out there reading this who asked, “Don’t those books scare you?” to which I’d dreamily reply, “No, not at all.” Dear friends, do you have ANY idea how much sex goes on in vampire novels? Yes, even back in the 1970s and 1980s when I was doing the majority of my vampire novel reading, the vampire genre was chock full of the sensual.  Hell, even Dracula was considered damned racy in its day with the wanton and buxom women going down on their knees and licking their voluptuous lips. But enough about the Count, let’s move on.

Everyone reading this has probably heard of Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire (1976) and all the books that followed. Frankly, I got my fill of Lestat after Memnoch The Devil and haven’t read much beyond that of the Vampire Chronicles. I’d even bet the majority of you are aware that Stephen King wrote a vampire novel back in 1975 called ‘Salem’s Lot, so that’s all I’m going to say about either of those.

FeastOfBlood_CollinsI have a little book of short stories that was published in 1967 called A Feast Of Blood that contains my all-time-favorite vampire short story, Blood Son (aka Drink My Red Blood) written by Richard Matheson in 1952. Matheson always penned I Am Legend (1954) which I first saw as a movie titled The Last Man On Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price. I still prefer it to the Will Smith version. I loved Blood Son so much that for my pubic speaking class final, I chose it as one of my readings for my final … in a dark room, with a red spotlight. Jules, the young boy featured in the story, is totally obsessed with vampires. I found the story completely relate-able. The first time I read the ending I got all goose-bumpy.


In 1975 Fred Saberhagen came out with a little something called The Dracula Tape. Love! This is Dracula told from the perspective of the Count on a series of cassette tapes found in the back of a car owned by Arthur Harker of Exeter, England. As mentioned above, another story that spoke to my sense of Dracula not being the horrible monster everyone makes him out to be.

ColdHand I have the short story Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal in the 1977 collection by Robert Aickman called Cold Hand In Mine, although I believe the story itself first came out in 1975. This is the tale of two journeys. The first is a journey of the traveling-across-land kind. The “young girl” in question, who is English, is touring with her parents in Europe, mainly to Italy, in the mid-1800s. The second journey, and the far more interesting one, is the mental and physical transformation of the girl from one of an innocent virgin into a creature of the night. As with Jules in Blood Son, the character’s thoughts and desires were completely relate-able to me as a vampire-obsessed young girl.

Anne Rice wasn’t the only author back then working her way through a series of vampire novels. I was equally as enthralled with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s leading man, Saint Germain. The thing with St. Germain is, he’s based on a real person. The legend of Saint Germain is explained in Wikipedia as:

Count_of_St_Germain“St. Germain, as one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, is credited with near god-like powers and with longevity. It is believed that Sir Francis Bacon faked his own death on Easter Sunday, 9 April 1626, attended his own funeral and made his way from England to Transylvania where he found lodging in a castle owned by the Rakóczi family. There, on 1 May 1684, Bacon, by using alchemy, became an immortal occult master and adopted the name Saint Germain and became one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, a group of beings that, Theosophists believe, form a Spiritual Hierarchy of planet Earth sometimes called the Ascended Masters.

Thus, according to these beliefs, St. Germain was a mysterious manifestation of the “resurrected form” (or “resurrection body”) of Sir Francis Bacon. Some write that his name St. Germain was invented by him as a French version of the Latin Sanctus Germanus, meaning “Holy Brother”. In the Ascended Master Teachings (but not in traditional Theosophy), the Master R, or the Master Rakóczi, also known as the Great Divine Director (a term introduced by Guy Ballard in the 1930s) is a separate and distinct being from St. Germain – the Master Rakoczi is regarded in the Ascended Master Teachings as a name used by the Great Divine Director when he was functioning as Saint Germain’s teacher in the Great White Brotherhood of Ascended Masters.”

Whether or not he was Sir Francis Bacon aside, there was a man named Comte de Saint Germain who was an adventurer in Europe during the 1700s with a very obscure birth and history. He was also an acclaimed occultist. Wikipedia has a pretty good biography on him to get you started if you’re curious about the real man behind the legend and the books of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Count of St. Germain – Wikipedia

What Yarbro did was make him into a vampire HotelTrans and with that she follows him on his various adventures through the ages and around the world. Starting with Hotel Transylvania in 1978 she published five St. Germain novels that were followed up with many, many other shorter works in later years.  Wonderful stuff, though be prepared to read a lot of description. Yarbro likes to put a lot of detail into what people are wearing and the world in which they live, at times, a bit too much. But still. She and her hero were certainly main contributors to my love and understanding of vampires.

A lesser-known George Romero movie called Martin is like no other vampire movie out there. Honestly, and I’ve seen hundreds! Martin’s parents have died and as part of his uncle’s family-duty, Martin is sent to live with him and his cousin, Christine, in Braddock, PA, a small town just outside Pittsburgh. Martin His uncle believes the young man to be cursed and immediately sets to work hanging up garlic, crucifixes, mirrors, and even arranges an exorcism, all of which Martin, rather sadly, shakes his head at, sighs, or just ignores saying, “It’s not like that.” The ending was a real gut punch. At my first viewing I just sat there, stunned into being able to utter only one word, “No,” with tears trickling down my face. It really is a must-see.

It’s hard to even fathom it’s been 30 years since The Lost Boys came out! Talk about my dream movie! Vampires on motorcycles! Who could ask for more? I was riding my own motorcycle back in those days (1985 Honda Rebel, for those who are curious) so may have done a bit of day dreaming about such things while on the road. Not a huge fan of Kiefer Sutherland, but I’ll make an exception in this case. He was pretty hot as the lead vampire.


Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge

Finally, and to serve as a segue for next month’s Horrors That Grew Me, I must mention Fright Night starring Roddy McDowall and the oh-so-sexy Chris Sarandon as the vampire Jerry Dandridge.  As with Frank Langella in his role as Dracula, Chris Sarandon was, um …yeah. Is it getting warm in here or am I just having a hot flash? I’m feeling a little light-headed now, too, so we better stop there. You get the idea.

I could go on forever.  Once upon a time I had no fewer than 200 vampire novels and research books on my bookshelves. In recent years, I’ve whittled that down to about thirty of my all-time-favorites while keeping all the research material. Although my totally obsessive days may be behind me, (to which my mother is surely saying, “Thank, GOD!”) vampires played a huge leading role in The Horrors That Grew Me. I’m in the early stages of re-writing a vampire novel I first had published close to ten years ago and look forward to sharing it with you sometime soon.  It’s time to release my own vampire bad boy back into the night again.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first installment. I look forward to writing again next month on the actor I so adore and his role in growing my love of horror – Roddy McDowall.

My Top 10 Favorite Vampire Movies

Horror, of any kind, is subjective. My goal here is not to tell you what THE best vampires movies are, but to tell you my personal favorites. I can’t even claim that the ones listed are going to be in any sort of order, but they have all left a strong enough impression on me over the years to never forget them.

My first vampire love was and always will be Christopher Lee’s Dracula via Hammer Films.  Of all the Dracula films Hammer put out starring Mr. Lee my favorite is:

#1 DRACULA AD 1972 starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Stephanie Beacham


Synopsis: Dracula is resurrected ONE MORE TIME through the wonderful world of the Black Arts amongst the ruins of a church somewhere in London by one of his disciples who convinces a band of hippy chums to help him out. Turns out one of those crazy kids (a buxom, young miss, of course) is a Van Helsing. Dracula picks up on this fast and plots his revenge.

Many will quirk an eyebrow at this one, but my only excuse is that it has hippies, British hippies and I thought the guy who played Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) was smoking hot at the time. I was obsessed by the British and by hippies and yes, by Dracula. It’s like it was made just for me! Keep in mind, kids, I was in my tweens and early teens when I was watching all these for the first time. Lee actually does a fair amount of talking in this one, too. Lots of tall, dark, and gruesome going on here!

#2 DRACULA (1979) starring Frank Langella

Synopsis: Very, very closely based on the Hamilton Deane stage play script, which first starred Raymond Huntly as the count and later, in 1931 it hit the big screen staring the more well-known Bela Lugosi.

Again, yeah, I was fourteen when this bit of wonderfulness came out. Frank just swept this love-struck vampire fan girl away. *sigh* What can I say? Apart from that I loved the whole atmosphere that was created for this film. It was dark. It was sexy. It had scary parts. It was all I could have dreamed of a Dracula movie could be and the ending is slightly different than all the other versions I knew of. It gave me some sort of hope that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t really the end for my beloved Dracula.

#3 LOVE AT FIRST BITE (1979) starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, and Richard Benjamin

Synopsis: The poor count is forced to move out of his Transylvanian castle and decides to move to New York City. He quickly starts looking for a new bride. Hilarity ensues.

Yes, this is a comedy and as far as I’m concerned the best Dracula comedy out there. George Hamilton’s sexy and serious count is completely lost in the Big Apple and his assistant isn’t really a lot of help. Better yet, the modern version of Van Helsing is Jewish. A lot of great and memorable one-liners!

Now that we have Prince Vlad Tepes out of the way, let’s move on to a young boy by the name of Martin. Okay, maybe he’s not so young after all.

#4 MARTIN (1977) starring John Amples, Lincoln Maazel, and Christine Forrest


Synopsis: Martin, who appears to be “not even twenty”, but claims he’s really 84, goes to live with his relatives in a small town just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His cousin is disgusted by the boy and only endures housing him out of family obligation. The cousin’s granddaughter feels sorry for him and doesn’t understand why the old man is so disgruntled. Martin doesn’t have fangs so he’s forced to employ other methods of bloodletting.

Directed by George Romero, I find this movie a visual delight! Romero does for vampires what he does for all his films, they are intense.  Filmed mostly in color with black and white flashbacks, the film has a certain gritty, rough texture to it. Best of all, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before in the vampire film genre and that ending! Holy Shit! I never saw that coming at all! Everything seems to be humming along nicely then BAM! I was like, “What the what? No way!” It’s been said that this movie little-known movie is one of Romero’s personal favorites, too.

#5 SALEM’S LOT (1979 – TV mini-series) starring David Soul, James Mason, and Lance Kerwin.

Synopsis: Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Salem’s Lot becomes home to a nasty vampire who very strongly resembles the original tall, bald, pale, and rat-toothed Nosferatu and it’s up to his minion to bring him food. When a young boy and a writer both come to the realization what’s going on, they team up with the local priest to rid their town of the evil vampire and his disciple.

One of the few Stephen King novel adaptions that’s actually pretty darn good and follows the book, more rather than less. Creepy atmosphere and dang, when Danny Glick come’s-a-scratchin’ at your second story bedroom window, you know something’s not right! I was wallowing in the glory that was, and still is to some extent, Stephen King back in the late 1970s. How could I not love this one?

Let’s leave the 70’s behind and head into the 1980’s.

#6 THE HUNGER (1983) starring David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon.


Synopsis: A pair of classy and rich vampires stalk the Goth and punk bars of the city looking not just for blood, but for sexual partners for themselves and each other. John (Bowie) begins to realize that even though Miriam (Deneuve) promised it would be forever, he’s starting to age and rather rapidly. He seeks help from a gerontologist (Sarandon) who falls under Miriam’s spell to become her newest partner.

Another vampire movie that offered me something different! As with Martin, these vampires don’t have fangs, but employ tiny daggers they wear as necklaces. This was probably the first movie I ever watched that had lesbian love scenes in it, too. That’s quite something when you’re seventeen! Plus, the musical score is amazing, from classical to punk with the unforgettable “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” performed by Bauhaus in the movie’s opening scene. AWESOME!

#7 FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) starring Roddy McDowall, Chris Sarandon, and William Ragsdale

Synopsis: The empty house next door to teenager Charley Brewster become home to a vampire. The vampire, Jerry Dandrage (Sarandon), sets sights first on Charley’s mother then on his girlfriend. Charley will have none of that, but first he has to convince his best friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) and a local horror-movie host, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) that vampires are real and that he needs their help.

Anyone who knows me at all, know how much I love me that Roddy McDowall. That was the main reason I wanted to see this movie at all. Jerry Dandrage wasn’t so bad to look at either, mind you. The most memorable scene for me is when the vampire is honing in on and seducing Charley’s now sexually charged, and scantily clad, girlfriend to a song called “Come To Me”.  Can’t tell you how much I wished I was her for that scene.

#8 THE LOST BOYS (1987) starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, and Kiefer Sutherland

Synopsis: A single mother and her two sons move to a small coastal town in California. A group of loud, young bikers terrorizes the town where mysterious murders keep taking place. The younger son meets up with two local boys who claim to be vampire hunters. They quickly convince him that the leader of the vampire pack is after his mom.

Vampires and motorcycles, you say? Count me in! When this came out I was tooling around on my own motorcycle and may have developed an attraction for ‘bad boys’ and leather. This movie has some great scenes while they are enjoying Chinese take-out and a bottle of ‘wine’ in the lair of the Lost Boys and the Frog Brother (vampire hunters) provide great comic relief. I laughed and I lusted. A good time was had by all, well, until the end where things get seriously nasty and bloody.

#9 DAYBREAKERS (2009) starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Defoe, and Isabel Lucas


Synopsis: The year is 2019 and vampires have taken over the world. There’s one slight problem. With everyone wanting to live forever, being a vampire has become the norm and the supply of human blood is dwindling fast. And as we know, a hungry vampire is an even meaner and nastier vampire. While trying to find a solution to the whole blood supply problem, a scientist (also a vampire) happens to meet one of his own kind who seems to have come up with the answer; revert back to a human! But is he a rare oddity or does he somehow hold the cure and salvation of the whole human race in his veins.

#10 LET ME IN (2010) American remake starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz Synopsis: A lonely, sad, and bullied twelve-year-old boy, befriends the girl who’s moved in next door with her father. One slight problem, she’s a vampire and it’s up to dear old dad to find her what she needs.

Ah, young love. How can you beat it? I saw this movie recently for the first time. I was greatly impressed and as with most of the other movies I’ve listed here, it offered me a slightly different take on the vampire story. The boy who played Owen was amazing. During one scene where he’s talking to his father on the phone, I was nearly in tears. You can find my full length review of this movie HERE.

And that wraps up my Favorite Top Ten Vampire Movies! Feel free to disagree. Even if you do, I hope you’ve enjoyed the list. Maybe you’ve discovered a couple movies you never heard of before and if you have, I hope you check them out!


Movie Review – Let Me In (2010)

Movie Review: Let Me In (2010). Directed by Matt Reeves. Rated R.
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, and Elias Koteas

Not only must twelve-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) endure the nightmare of his parents going through an ugly divorce, he also faces the tortures of being the main target for the school bully. Owen keeps to himself and has no friends until a new family moves into the apartment next door. He meets barefooted Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz), who says she’s also twelve, more or less, at the apartment complex’s playground one night. She’s not particularly friendly and tells Owen they can’t be friends. When he asks why, she only shrugs and says, “Because that’s just the way it is.”  Despite this, their mutual sense of loneliness and need for a companion, draws the two children together.

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I adore vampires! I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I was very close to the same age as the two main characters in the book. My book shelves once housed well over 100 vampire novels and non-fiction titles dealing with the undead. Christopher Lee’s version of the Count enthralled me through my impressionable teenage years. Over the years you start to crave something unique. It’s all well and good to be about vampires, but a new spin is always welcome. Let Me In, a remake of the 2008 Swedish film, Let The Right One In, certainly puts a new spin on things yet remains true to the classic Horror idea that vampires are monsters! Abby doesn’t sparkle, that’s for sure.

Abby’s father (Richard Jenkins) knows all too well the price of loving her. She’s blood thirsty and feeding that animalist hunger can only push the boundaries of those who love her to the breaking point. When he realizes that Abby had made friends with the boy next door, he makes his disapproval very clear. However, he’s helpless to end the relationship blossoming between the two. No one is safe from Abby’s thirst: not her father, not the policeman (Elias Koteas) investigating the strange Cult-like slayings in the area, not the other neighbors in the complex, not the bullies that torment Owen, and maybe not even Owen.

The performances by Kodi and Chloe are amazing. Kodi, especially. When he’s on the phone trying to talk to his father you could feel the torment and fear in his voice. His expressions begged for help. His rage at the bullies was palatable. His young love for Abby was pure bliss and yearning. I’ve already recommended this movie to several people over the past week since seeing it. Great film!

5 stars out of 5!