Vampires, Ghosts, and the ‘Dark Shadows’ Beauty Pageants of the Early 1970s

Today’s pop-culture landscape is rotten with stories about melodramatic, brooding vampires and their supernatural love affairs. But back in the 1960s and ’70s, those narratives belonged almost exclusively to the soap opera Dark Shadows. Near the end of its run, the series had become such an institution that it spawned a pair of Dark Shadows feature films (not to be confused with the 2012 Johnny Depp reboot), and to promote them, the producers staged what might have been the first ever nationwide spooky beauty pageants.

Courtesy of Atlas Obscura.

The Complete Daughters of Shadow and Blood Trilogy is $9.99 for the Month of October

Daughters of Shadow and Blood – The Complete Trilogy is on sale at Amazon for $9.99 for the month of October. Follow the link to get the e-book box set today!

Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin, the naïve daughter of an Ottoman bureaucrat, finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to the son of the powerful governor of Buda. She is unprepared for the gossip and scheming rampant in the palace but realized she faces more than petty jealousies when someone tries to drown her in the baths the day before her wedding.

Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. Even seeking refuge at the nearby monastery, though, is not enough to keep the creatures that stalk the night at bay.

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. A murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, and she is soon caught up in a hunt across the city for a brazen killer.

They became known as the Brides of Dracula. You know his story. Now read theirs.

35,000 Drawings Turn a Vampire Classic Into a Story of Immigrant New York

For three years, Italian artist Andrea Mastrovito and a dozen assistants have slaved away on NYsferatu: a Symphonie of a Century, a remake of the 1922 vampire classic Nosferatu, but made out of 35,000 hand-drawn pictures. “This movie is my second wife right now,” Mastrovito told us. “We are always together, me and NYsferatu. And even if I love it, I love and hate it. NYsferatu has sucked my blood.”

Courtesy of Bedford + Bowery.

Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth is Available Now!

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks

The last volume in the saga of the Brides of Dracula is finally here. Get your copy of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth today!

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. When a murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, Elizabeth finds a number of unlikely allies, including an American named Thomas Parson, a self-styled vampire hunter. She becomes embroiled in an intrigue involving fortunetellers, assassins, and foreign spies, but dark forces threaten her at every turn, and as she discovers, even friends harbor deadly secrets.

Bucharest, Romania, 1999: Adam Mire reels at the abduction of his one-time love, Clara MacIntosh. Left with the admonition to “work faster,” Adam knows he’ll only see Clara again if he can find Dracula’s infamous medallion. Using the clues he’s pieced together, he follows a bloody trail across Romania, but Clara’s time is running out.

Meanwhile, Clara finds herself in a secluded manor house, the captive of a man both seductive and terrifying. Plagued by dreams of Elizabeth’s life in Berlin, Clara works to uncover her mysterious host’s agenda. However, she soon realizes both she and Adam are pawns in the schemes of all three of Dracula’s Brides, and to stop them, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

 

This Is Where the Story Ends

PRE-ORDER: Amazon | Apple iBooks

The last volume in the saga of the Brides of Dracula is finally here. Pre-order Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth today!

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. When a murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, Elizabeth finds a number of unlikely allies, including an American named Thomas Parson, a self-styled vampire hunter. She becomes embroiled in an intrigue involving fortunetellers, assassins, and foreign spies, but dark forces threaten her at every turn, and as she discovers, even friends harbor deadly secrets.

Bucharest, Romania, 1999: Adam Mire reels at the abduction of his one-time love, Clara MacIntosh. Left with the admonition to “work faster,” Adam knows he’ll only see Clara again if he can find Dracula’s infamous medallion. Using the clues he’s pieced together, he follows a bloody trail across Romania, but Clara’s time is running out.

Meanwhile, Clara finds herself in a secluded manor house, the captive of a man both seductive and terrifying. Plagued by dreams of Elizabeth’s life in Berlin, Clara works to uncover her mysterious host’s agenda. However, she soon realizes both she and Adam are pawns in the schemes of all three of Dracula’s Brides, and to stop them, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Monster Monday: Mykonos Vampire

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Mykonos Vampire.

Title page of the account of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort's journey through the Levant
Title page of the account of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort’s journey through the Levant

This story was recorded by a French botanist named Joseph Pitton de Tournefort traveling on the Greek island of Mykonos in 1701. A peasant who had been an unpleasant person during life died and was buried, but a few days later people began to report seeing him at night. He came into people’s homes, overturned furniture, put out lamps, made noise, and other mostly harmless tricks. However, when he started harassing the islands wealthy residents, they called in priests to stop him.

They exhumed the body and said a mass over the corpse, and then they called in the town butcher to cut out the heart so they could burn it. The butcher, though, was old and more familiar with sheep anatomy than human anatomy. He mutilated the body while trying to find the heart. The priests burned incense to cover the smell, but Tournefort suggested the stench caused those present to hallucinate, and many of them began screaming “Vrykolakas!” at the sight of the body, which was said to be still warm and filled with fresh blood.

They took the heart to the seashore and burned it, but the vampire still appeared, this time angrier. He began beating people, breaking windows, and doors, and tearing clothes. The priests decided that they should have burned the heart, then said mass, so they marched around the village chanting, saying prayers, and throwing holy water on the doors of the houses. It did not stop the vampire, however, and just before everyone considered leaving for the neighboring islands, they decided to dig up the body again and burn the entire corpse. When they did, peace was finally restored.

Monster Monday: The Melrose Vampire

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Melrose Vampire.

A photograph of Melrose Abbey by Henry Fox Talbot (1844)
A photograph of Melrose Abbey by Henry Fox Talbot (1844)

The story of the Melrose Vampire is recorded by the medieval historian William of Newburgh. Melrose is a town in Scotland near the English border. There was an abbey nearby built in the twelfth century. According to the legend, there was a chaplain to a lady who lived near the abbey who did not live a priestly life. He was know as the “Hundeprest” or “dog priest” because he liked to hunt with hounds. He was so wicked that when he died, his spirit was denied rest. He came back nightly and terrorized the village, screaming, and moaning, and attacking people and drinking their blood.

He tried to enter the abbey, in the form of a monstrous bat, but the monks drove him back. After that he returned to terrorize his former mistress, and she begged the monks for help. One night they sent four monks to guard the grave of the suspected vampire, expecting him to rise up at midnight. When he failed to appear, three of the monks left for shelter in a nearby cottage, but one remained.

No sooner had they left, but the grave opened up and the vampire appeared in his monstrous form. He tried to attack the monk, but the monk hit him with an ax, and he retreated back into his grave. The next morning, the four monks dug up the body to discover it exactly as it had been when the priest was buried, except for the giant ax wound. The carried it outside of the church burial grounds and burned it, scattering the ashes to the winds.

Monster Monday: Vampire of Croglin Grange

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Vampire of Croglin Grange.

Illustration from Varney the Vampire (1847)
Illustration from Varney the Vampire (1847)

The Vampire of Croglin Grange is a legend from Cumberland, England. The events supposedly took place in the 1870s. Croglin Grange was an estate near a churchyard. The family that owned it moved into a bigger home and rented it to two brothers and a sister–Edward, Michael, and Amelia Cranswell.

One summer evening, Amelia was alone in her room when she saw a figure at her window and was so terrified she couldn’t scream. The creature had glowing demonic eyes and long talon-like fingers it used to pick out the lead between the panes of glass in the window. When it was able to remove a pane, it reached through and unlatched the window and came into the room. The creature grabbed Amelia and bit her on the neck. She was then able to scream and alert her brothers.

They came rushing into the room after breaking down the door and chased the creature off, saving their sister, who nonetheless lost a great deal of blood. After some time spent in Switzerland helping Amelia recover, the three siblings returned, vowing to take revenge on the creature.

One evening shortly after their return, the creature again picked the lead from between the window panes and entered Amelia’s room, but the brothers were hiding in wait. They both shot at the creature, which howled in pain and fled back through the window.

The next they they followed the trail of blood to the churchyard. In the crypt, they discovered a number of upturned coffins. The only one intact contained a corpse wrapped in a moldering shroud with a fresh bullet wound in its leg. They dragged the body out of the crypt into the daylight and burned it. After that the creature never returned.