It Came From the Vault: New Year’s Resolutions Are for Everyone, Even the Undead by Heather Roulo

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How are your Resolutions coming along? In this short Guest Blog I found in the Vault, by Heather Roulo.  A Resolution’s list fit for a zombie!

New Year’s Resolutions Are for Everyone, Even the Undead

by Heather Roulo

The holidays are tough. Even being undead doesn’t put an end to the stress and expectations. So, for the New Year, I’m posting my resolutions. If I can stick to them, so can you!

  1. Diet & Exercise: I haven’t been feeling myself. I’m sluggish and my figure has suffered. From now on, it’s quality food all the way: Human brains, no more animal brains no matter how tempting they look. And the new pedometer I found ensures I’ll shuffle at least 5,000 steps a day. Gotta keep going while I have two good legs, especially since the left one is looking a little soggy.
  2. Reevaluate What I’m Doing with my Undead Existence: This is all we get. At any time, an angry mob, accidental avalanche, or something pointy could come along and I’d be finished walking this earth for real this time. I didn’t like it when my life flashed before my eyes the first time, so my undead life needs to be full and rich, because re-runs are never as good.
  3. Take A Trip: I can’t remember the last time I took a vacation just to see the world. Flying is out, since they locked down all the airports, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped others of my kind from reaching every corner of the earth. With a little determination I can hitch a ride on some survivor’s RV and truly explore nature.
  4. Manage Stress: It’s always fight and hunt, hunt and fight around here. When does a zombie get to just relax? And even when I get the chance, it’s hard to chill when the rest of the horde is getting ahead. But I need to find me time. There’s nothing more peaceful than a deep dark hole, and I’m resolved to dig myself a nice one.
  5. Manage Debt & Save Money: I have totally cut my addiction to credit cards and hardly spend a dime anymore, but somehow creditors continue to hound me. I’ve eaten a few, but it’s never as much fun when they’re chasing you. A little more fiscal responsibility and maybe I can pay off those debts and get them off my back.
  6. Improve my Knowledge & Learn a New Skill: With time, people change. I definitely have interests I’d never have considered a few years back: anatomy, the mechanics of doorknobs, and easy solutions to barbed wire, to name just a few. I’m thinking there must a school, or class, or maybe an online course I can take. If not, I’ll figure it out. Maybe I’ll write a book, because if I’m confused then others are too.
  7. Participate more in my Community and Give Back: Charity begins at home. When I have a lot, you know I share. My hole is your hole. My brains… Stay away from my brains.

And I’m going to take a minute to congratulate myself on last year’s resolution to Drink Less & Smoke Less. My new fear of fire really cut back on the smoking, and alcohol is tasteless. I can’t get drunk, and rarely experience social anxiety anymore. I can’t remember the last mixer I attended. It’s true, that if you avoid situations where you’re used to drinking, you fall out of the habit. Sure, others might say I take a swish now and again, but it’s medicinal. It clears the moss off my teeth.

Times keep changing, but it’s funny how resolutions aren’t that different no matter who you are. So, keep me honest and ask me, next year, how the diet went.

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It Came From the Vault: Vincent and Me – Garth Von Buchholz

 

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Vincent and Me
By Garth Von Buchholz

I wanted to meet Vincent Price. In the late ‘80s, Vincent was in his ’70s but still famous to my generation as for all his kitschy horror cameos in music, movies and TV. His voice was heard in Alice Cooper’s music, he narrated the early Tim Burton animated film Vincent, and he even appeared on Scooby-Doo cartoons, Sesame Street and TV commercials, such as the one for the bug zapper device. His last major film role was the Inventor in Edward Scissorhands. Vincent was everywhere, and all his tongue-in-cheek, campy horror, carried off with a metaphoric wink of the eye and the chilling laugh, made him into an iconic pop culture personality.

To most people, Vincent was no longer scary. He didn’t start his career trying to be scary. In the ‘40s, he was a handsome leading man in gothic romance potboilers such as Laura (1944) and Dragonwyck (1946). By the ‘50s he was doing television roles and appearances, then began his descent into the maelstrom of pop horror by starring in such classics as The Fly (1958), Return of the Fly (1959), and, of course, the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations by Roger Corman (1960-64). He brought his old world Hollywood gravitas to these sensational flicks, but even though he was creating a niche for himself, he was also losing credibility as a serious actor. Hollywood proper wouldn’t come calling until years later when Tim Burton wanted him.

By the ‘60s, Vincent was already becoming parodied, and in fact, he helped parody himself to the younger generation in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)and in his famous role as Egghead in the old Batman TV series (1966-67). By the ‘70s, Vincent was everywhere, a true journeyman actor. He appeared in the brilliant monologue series An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1972), the black comedy Theater of Blood (1973) and even on an episode of The Brady Bunch (1972) and The Love Boat (1978). Clearly, Vincent liked to work, had no pretensions about himself as an actor, and had a very dry sense of humor. He simply wanted to pay the bills and earn enough money to support his two true loves: his wife, Australian actress Coral Browne, and his extensive art collection.

As a fan of Poe, I had tremendous respect for the work he did on An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe, which you can still see in clips on YouTube. When I heard that he would be appearing in my city to perform poetry by Edgar Allan Poe on stage, accompanied by live music, I decided I had to meet him. As a young writer and journalist, it wasn’t difficult for me to arrange complimentary tickets and a backstage pass to meet him before the show.

On the night of the show, I was ushered backstage to his dressing room. He was sitting at his dressing room table applying stage makeup under the bright globe lights above the mirror. When he caught sight of me, he turned with a broad smile and stood up, like a gentleman, to shake my hand.

“Hello, I’m Vincent Price,” he said, as if an introduction was necessary. His skin pallor was very pale because he had not completed his makeup yet, but his eyes were remarkably clear, and he was a tall, elegant man who stood more than six feet in height (I am six feet tall). It was like meeting a crown prince or duke from Europe. He was the personification of noble grace and elegance. I felt like a thick-tongued commoner in his presence.

I gave him a copy of my own book of poetry as a gift and an introduction (how unembarrassed I was to do that shameless bit of self-promotion!) I explained that I had been a fan of his for many years, and loved his work in the Poe stories. He said that he very much enjoyed doing them as Poe was a wonderful writer. He told me he was looking forward to his performance that evening, although it would require some effort because he had to modulate his voice so the orchestra would not drown him out during some key moments.

As I knew he was preparing to go on stage soon, I thanked him profusely and bid him farewell so that I wouldn’t be in the awkward position of having the stage manager appear to shoo me away. His performance that evening was breathtaking, made even more voluptuous and dramatic because of the orchestra’s choice of atmospheric works such as the spooky Night on Bald Mountain. I can still recall him intoning the words from Poe’s Alone, The Raven and The Conqueror Worm, the last of which made the greatest impression on me. Whenever I re-read The Conqueror Worm, I can still hear his voice.

A few weeks later, the venerable Mr. Price sent me a postcard with a contemporary painting on the front and a few words on the back, thanking me for my book of poetry. This correspondence was an unexpected pleasure, a final goodbye from a famous acquaintance who had endeared himself to me not only for his talent, but for his gentility and generosity. Did he actually read the book or simply toss it on a pile in his library? I believe he did read it. There was an honesty and forthrightness in his reply.

Vincent Price died on October 25, 1993, after completing his final work—ironically, it was voiceover work for an animated movie called The Princess and the Cobbler. He never lived long enough to see how the World Wide Web would become a new medium to perpetuate his legacy as an actor, performer, entertainer, and pop culture persona.

No need to say goodbye. Your ghost is still with us, Vincent.

Garth Von Buchholz is an author of dark fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. His new book of dark poetry, Mad Shadows, was published in June. Garth is the founder of the Dark Fiction Guild (http://DarkFictionGuild.com) and Poe International (http://PoeInternational.com). He is also the Editor and Publisher of Dark Eye Glances, the eJournal of dark poetry.  Garth lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast.  Visit his website: http://VonBuchholz.com

It Came From the Vault: Traditions by Stephen Kozeniewski

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TRADITIONS

by Stephen Kozeniewski 

Granny clattered on the counter with a wooden spoon until the children stopped squabbling. When they finally turned to pay attention, she smiled, baring each and every bright white denture with joy.

“All right, little nuggets,” she said, “Now granny is going to show you what to do. Come up here.”

She lifted two-year-old Benji and planted him on the counter beside the sheer metal stockpot that was almost as tall as him.

“Now, Benji, this wax is very hot so don’t put your fingers in it and don’t splash.”

“Yes, grandma.”

“Now start to feed the coil in slowly and let me know when you run out of length.”

Giggling, Benji did as he was told.

“Granny, why do we wax the decorations?” little Suzie asked, her pinky hooked into the corner of her mouth.

“So that they last, my dear.”

“And why do we want them to last?”

Granny crouched down to Suzie’s level, even though it pained her ankles.

“Because it’s a tradition, my dear.”

Little Suzie’s eyes lit up with the wonder of excitement and recognition.

“A t’adition?”

Granny nodded.

“Like when we invite a homeless person in for Christmas?”

“That’s right.”

“All done!” Benji announced, clinging to the last link of this year’s holiday visitor’s small intestine.

Together, as they did every year, they draped the wax-dipped organ around their tree of horrors. The attic was starting to overflow with their collection of decorations.

“God bless us every one,” Benji said joyously.

******************

Kozeniewski Author PhotoStephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German. Find out more at: www.amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

It Came From the Vault: Ghost Sightings Resurrection Mary

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This gem was found when I was strolling, or maybe looking for a dance partner, in our archives. David Watson wrote this in 2011. This is one of my favorite ghost stories and I hope you enjoy it as well. What is your favorite ghost story? What are famous hauntings in your area? Email me at horroraddicts@gmail.com. I would love to hear about them… and now….

Since the last episode of HorrorAddicts was on the 1930’s, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about my favorite ghost story: Resurrection Mary.   The story of Resurrection Mary takes place near Chicago Illinois in a town called Justice. Mary is a ghost that haunts Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom and the Resurrection cemetery.

Mary was first spotted in the 1930’s. People have described her as a young woman with blond hair, wearing  a white party dress with a shawl and carrying a purse. Men have reported picking her up hitchhiking near the Willowbrook ballroom, sometimes she asks to be taken to the cemetery. She  gets into the car and disappears before the driver reaches their destination. Many people have claimed to have seen Mary. Sometimes she just appears in front of cars driving down Archer Avenue and sometimes she appears in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle and slowly fades away.

Mary’s early appearances started when several motorists who drove past the Resurrection cemetery kept claiming that there was a young woman who kept trying to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. The story changed after that, some people  say that they met Mary at the Willowbrook Ballroom which at that time was called the O’ Henry Ballroom. People said that they would dance with the girl and then she would then ask for a ride home. The directions she gave would lead to the cemetery, she did not speak when she got into the car and then mysteriously vanished when they got to the cemetery.

Many people have also claimed that they have seen Mary walking along Archer Avenue and when they ask her if she wants a ride she disappears. The strangest thing about Mary was that most people who saw her in the 30’s all described her as looking the same from her blond hair, blue eyes, and party dress to her shawl and the small purse that she carried.

Other descriptions of Mary were much more terrifying than a vanishing ghost. Some drivers have said they were driving along when a young woman bolted out in front of their car and screamed. Then the driver heard a sickening thud followed by the woman being thrown through the air and striking the pavement. When the driver would go out to check on the girl, they found no trace of a body. The Justice police department has had several reports of people coming in and crying that they had struck and killed a woman but could not find the body.

No one knows for sure who Mary was in real life but the story that most people believe is that in the winter of 1930 there was a young woman dancing at the O’ Henry Ballroom with her boyfriend. At some point in the evening they got into a fight and Mary stormed out of the ballroom and started to walk home along Archer Drive. She was then struck by a hit and run driver and left to die in the road. She was buried by her grieving parents at the Resurrection Cemetery.

Most appearances of Mary happen in the winter and most of the sightings of her were in the 30’s and 40’s but reports of Mary have never stopped. Mary has become a legend and is considered to be Chicago’s most popular ghost.  There have been books written about her and even a movie was released about her a couple of years ago but it didn’t do Mary justice. The only way to really find out about Resurrection Mary is to take a drive along Archer avenue and maybe you will find Mary walking along the road  by herself, trying to get back to the cemetery.

Do you have any favorite ghost stories that you want to share with us,  leave a comment and let us know.

It Came From the Vault: Kbatz: Thanksgiving Treats!

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking for some movies to watch this Thanksgiving? Here’s some suggestions that still hold true… Which one or two will you be watching this holiday?

 

Tasty Thanksgiving Treats!

By Kristin Battestella

Put the babes to bed and send the boys to the football game while you pour a glass of Chianti and nestle in for these demented families, cannibals, hungry werewolves, thirsty vampires, and more tasty terrors!

childrenofthecornChildren of the Corn This original isn’t the best, and the entire series is fairly lowbrow in plot and effects. Nevertheless, all those rustling cornfields, creepy kids, and plant worship go a long way for a post-Halloween Harvest marathon. Name players come and go despite the low-budget status; and even if you’ve never actually seen all-count ‘em-seven films, you’ve probably heard of ‘He who walks behind the rows.’ I prefer Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest myself. And to think, I grew up on a farm.

HannibalThis 2001 sequel to Silence of the Lambs obviously has big shoes to fill. Thankfully and blessedly, Giancarlo Giannini (Casino Royale) is great, and the Italian scenery is flat out awesome. Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) is sleazy and so much fun while the twisted Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is unrecognizable. Even in the shadow of prior Clarice Starling Oscar winner Jodie Foster, Julianne Moore (The Hours) shapes her own Clarice beautifully. And but, of course returning Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins is wonderful. He is without a doubt the star here, and does the most in what seems like less screen time. The one on one dialogue and action sequences are perfect, with fine suspense pacing, intelligentsia horror, class, sexy, and gore. Unfortunately, however, great the performances are in getting there, the storyline does meander. Director Ridley Scott’s (Blade Runner) ending is somewhat flat and leaves a ‘What was the point of all this?’ feeling. Nevertheless, I applaud the twisted romantic aspects and creepy for adults only production. Twilight wishes it could be like this.

The Insatiable Sean Patrick Flanery (Young Indiana Jones) and Michael Biehn (The Terminator) are both very cool guys who, after some thinsatiableseriously great stuff, have made their share of clunkers. With that in mind, one wonders if this unconventional 2007 vampire comedy romance can pull off what is so often an uneasy mixing of genres. The mood certainly doesn’t start as horror, and the “Average Joe” life sucks montages get old fast. Actual time punch cards, full-size desktops, pop up AOL email, and typing in all caps replete with old lingo such as “shit is wack” and “word”? The funny and sexy in that anti-hip sardonic way also tries a little too hard, and the black comedy is uneven between the horror research and dark action. Some jokes work – ordering blood on the web, needing a coupon for a big bag of lime – Biehn is bemusing as a wheelchair bound vampire-hunting badass, too. However, some of the dream-esque flashes are off, and the bare minimum blood and gore and standard sweaty chick in a tank top hardly warrant an R rating. Charlotte Ayanna isn’t necessarily weak, but the character is too cute, hip, and poorly drawn to be sexy, evil, and dangerous. Miss Teen USA a vampire does not make. The end is a bit obvious, yes, and the pace never quite balances the humor and dark or seriousness. This should have been a straight horror comedy instead of some depressing mood thing – and yet this nothing stellar, direct to video fair is good for a fun late night viewing.

medium-raw-night-of-the-wolf-2010Medium Raw – John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings) is good to start this 2010 wolf meets asylum romp. The maniacs and asylum hang-ups are indeed better than the usual haunted madhouse types, but the wolf designs are unfortunately kind of dumb. Writer/director/hero Andrew Cymek (Dark Rising) is a bit too new and weak as well, but the scary ideas and effective killing concepts are played pretty straight. Okay, so the title is totally stupid, the subtitle Night of the Wolf is even worse, the twist is a bit obvious, and there’s nothing superior here. However, the getting there is good with a few better than expected jump moments. Great claustrophobic sets allow room for dark fears to play (even if that dang title doesn’t give the film much of a chance!) and uses of red lighting, cannibalism, kitchens, and more warped fetishes add to the creepy. Modern jagged camera attempts and silly, unnecessary dream/ghost hinges over do it just a bit, but the Red Riding Hood motifs are just enough. Refreshingly not used for sexy boobs and nudity distractions, Brigitte Kingsley (W/D/H’s wife) and a surprisingly fun Mercedes McNab (Buffy) keep it all together along with X-Files alum William B. Davis. I do however, wonder why new horror movies waste time on intercutting cool credits? No one else does anymore.

motel-hellMotel Hell You just know what the secret ingredient is in this 1980 country cannibal thriller! Ironic use of hillbilly music and television evangelist Wolfman Jack contribute to the charming and quaint but disturbed feeling here – the mix of late seventies styles and early farmhouse contentment doesn’t seem dated at all. Hanging pigs and slaughterhouse gore aren’t too over the top, but enough bloody suggestion and touches of nudity and kinky accent the dark humor and bizarre yet sentimental familial relationships. Rory Calhoun (How to Marry a Millionaire) has some sick and disturbing fun here yet remains strangely endearing, heck, even likeable. Vincent Smith’s reducing the riff raff population and keeping the community fed – it all seems like a real win win, and the winking tone pokes fun at this irony without being laugh out loud. The audience can chuckle at the soothing New Age eight track music amid the escalating events and interfering romance. Who’s next? When will the good guys find out? The pig mask and chainsaw duel in the finale are stupid and not scary now, hampering the otherwise bemusing wit and multi layered action. However, all in all this is some down home simmering and well done entertainment.

Pumpkinhead0-1988

Pumpkinhead Lance Henriksen (Near Dark) stars in this delightful 1988 backwoods tale full of deepening vengeance and deadly mayhem. Late Oscar winning creature master Stan Winston (Terminator 2, Jurassic Park) directs this taut, sorrowful thriller beautifully while fellow effects designer and performer Tom Woodruff handles the gruesome titular monster. Understandably, this does make the monster look slightly Alien in stature, but the mystical resurrection and freaky pursuits remain solid thanks to the familial revenge and action torment from Henriksen. Awesome as his design work is, why didn’t Winston direct more? Sweet a character cult favorite as he is, why wasn’t Henriksen a leading man more? His predicament is instantly relatable for parents – how far would you go? Pumpkinhead does what the vengeful aren’t capable of doing, but his deeds consume them nonetheless. Perhaps the shocks, thrills, or gore here aren’t super scary, but these ends justifying the means questions are scary concepts in themselves. Yes, there’s no law enforcement, some redneck dialogue is frustrating, and the middle of nowhere witchery may be too much for viewers wanting more polish. Fortunately, there’s atmospheric red lighting and nighttime photography, and the largely outdoor happenings are perfectly dirty, dusty, and desperate – matching the very effective personal scares, dementedness, and questions on right and wrong perfectly.

It Came From the Vault : Guest Blog: KBatz – The Blade Series

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Here is a great vault guest contribution on December 27, 2012. This comes from our own Kbatz when she sent in a guest review…….

 

Such Promise, But Blade Sequels Lacking

By Kristin Battestella

When it came time to continue our Halloween movie marathon with Blade II and Blade Trinity, it was soon apparent that the series lost some of its edge since 1998’s Blade. Cool technology and vampire dustings can’t save this Wesley Snipes train.

His mother was attacked while in labor, and thus Blade (Snipes) is born half human, half vampire.  Raised by weapons master and vampire hunter Whistler (Kris Kristofferson, Millennium), daywalker Blade hates vampires and struggles with his need for blood.  Young vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff, Backbeat) uses Blade’s weakness for Dr. Karen Jensen ( N’Bushe Wright) against him and seeks to capture Blade for his unique blood.

Blade establishes its universe and vampire set of rules firmly and sticks to itself almost to the end.  The film went through several rewrites and re shoots before coming up with its best but still lacking ending.  Initially, the devices and dustings in Blade’s very impressive opening are cool, but after so many years of Buffy, I’m a bit tired of vampires exploding or burning to ash in visually cool ways-or better yet with quips and great humor.  Stake them and kill them already.

It might be odd to say it so, but I much prefer the bad ass blackness Blade brings to the vampire genre.  Previously, African American vampires were somewhat of a joke or parody- turned slaves, or voodoo fiends.  Eddie Murphy’s Vampire In Brooklyn didn’t help.  Thankfully, Blade fills another gap in this urban minority horror genre. There’s edge, conflict, and intelligence for the most part.

Blade is also a comic fan’s dream, with references and allusions to numerous comic books and heroes.  Without the popularity of this first film, we might not have had the comic film boom and franchises like X-Men or Spiderman.  I can’t fault the comic origins for director Stephen Norrington’s emphasis on the explosive finally rather than Blade’s torment over being half human/half vampire-which dominates the early part of the movie.  I’ve read many a dark and serious comic book.

Blade II (2002) picks up two years after the first film.  A new subset of reaper fiends is hunting vampires, and Blade must unite with a vampire task team before the hunters upset the underground balance between humans and vampires.  Screenwriter David S. Goyer (Batman Begins) brings Whistler back under some pretty thin circumstances, but some of the better dialogue is between Whistler and new tech boy Scud (Norman Reedus, The Boondocks Saints).  Ron Perlman-now of Hellboy fame-is sufficiently bad ass as vampire henchman Reinhardt, but the silly detonator beacon that Blade sticks to the back of his bald head takes the kick ass down a step.

It’s strange to say I miss Stephen Dorff, but his asinine hedonist style was at least believable to a degree, unlike the decrepit vampire eaters here.  How many times must they get whacked, shot, and tossed through windows?  Blade II lets action and effects take over the more somber elements from the original film, which Goyer can clearly write about if Batman Begins is an example.  Isn’t Blade still conflicted about his dual nature?  Are we supposed to care if he is?  Blade II would have the viewer think not.  Skim on story, sure, but action fans will dig Blade II and its creepy cool devouring sequences.

2004’s Blade Trinity starts out promising.  After Blade is set up by familiars and kills a human, he is taken to the authorities.  New vampire villain Danica (Parker Posey) can’t keep Blade, for he is rescued by Abbie (Jessica Biel), Whistler’s illegitimate daughter, and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) an ex vampire.  Together the trio must destroy Drake aka Dracula.

I like Dominic Purcell on Prison Break, but he’s nearly impossible to take seriously as Dracula.  He’s worthy of the tough ass Blade we’ve known for two movies? Come on. Blade has its own vampire universe, why even bring a seven thousand year old Dracula into it? Trinity starts out so realistic; Blade in the news and being chased by cops-and the extended edition gives us more dialogue and explanations. Unfortunately, somewhere halfway through, we end up with dues ex machina vampire cures, gadgets, and history.  Ryan Reynolds’ (Waiting) comic relief is not needed because we’ve fallen into such unbelievably again.  Blade was already the black hip post Buffy vampire.  We didn’t need a tag team of pretty white kids cracking jokes.  American Pie’s Natasha Lyonne as a blind scientist? Are you serious?

Trinity seems to go for some cult stunt casting with this crew, including Parker Posey, who normally is great fun as the cute or bitchy hip chick like Dazed and Confused and You’ve Got Mail. Here unfortunately, she’s made to be one stupid and ugly vampire.  What happened to the original vampire organizations established in the first film?  Where is Karen and her hematologist realism?  Dividing the issues of cures and vampire origins among a young, sexy white cast is not in the spirit of Blade.    Unless you’re a die hard fan of the Wesley Snipes and the comic books, I’d rather watch Blade ten times over before I view Blade II and Trinity again. After these two disastrous sequels, why would anyone tune into the short livedBlade: The Series?

I never thought myself so sappy, but audiences who love the tragic romantic vampires ala Interview With A Vampire won’t enjoy the action and fast paced style of the Blade series.  There’s enough story and establishment of its universe with Blade for serious enjoyment, and action and gore enough for those fans in Blade II and Trinity.  Unfortunately, the lack of consistency and further suspension too far into unbelievability doesn’t give this trilogy much repeat viewing.  Blade should have been much more than kick ass.

It Came From the Vault: Real Life Horror – Garth Von Buchholz

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The Lady with the Owl Eyes
By Garth Von Buchholz

When I was in college, I had a summer job at a personal care home for the elderly. I was that young kid wheel chairing the snowy-haired old doll into the courtyard, or saying carefully chosen words to the Alzheimer’s patient who wanted to know when her father was arriving, or helping a wizened gentleman in a musty suit and tie mount the stairs to the tour bus. They had their own tour bus that was used for taking residents on outings, provided their state of health was such that they wouldn’t collapse in the middle of a coffee shop in some other town.

The old folks seemed to like me. Occasionally they’d get a little cranky, but that was part of the deal. You get old, your body is sore, and you have a right to bitch at young people like me who could still get out of bed and look forward to the day instead of feeling like they were a wounded infantryman about to climb out of the trenches and onto the battlefield one more time. I liked most of them, too, but my favorite resident was Mrs. V., a Russian immigrant who settled in Canada after the Second World War. She was a cultured woman with round, glassy eyes like an owl, a haughty stance with her chin raised to a 20 degree angle, thick white hair that was styled like a movie star, and an impeccably outdated wardrobe that must have been fashionable once, though I wasn’t sure when. She looked like a living, black-and-white Kodak photo from a half a century ago.

Mrs. V and I would spend time talking after our weekly excursions on the bus. She admitted that she had no interest in most of the destinations that we visited, but simply went along with the group so she could escape her small suite. She was fairly independent, and was allowed to keep a small electric coffee percolator in her room so she could brew her own harsh, metallic java that I had to share with her. She asked me whether I had girlfriends.

“I started dating someone,” I replied.

“Are you having sex with her?” she asked me bluntly. I drank some coffee to collect myself.

“No, it’s not…we’re not at that point right now.”

She shook her head and twisted her mouth as if she had swallowed an insect.

“If I liked a man, I would give him sex,” she said in her percussive Russian syllables. “Get another girl. Don’t waste your time. You grow old fast enough, yes?”

“Yes,” was my meek reply, not certain what we had just agreed upon.

By the end of the summer, Mrs V. was ill with heart problems. She stopped joining the bus tours and started spending more time in bed. I still had my responsibilities with the tours, but I always stopped in to see Mrs. V. afterward, just to keep our little tradition alive.

The last time I saw her before she passed, she was startled as I entered her unlocked room. She had been asleep, and her curtains were drawn. When I spoke to her, she rose up on one arm and stared at me for several moments as if I were a stranger who was slowly transforming into someone she vaguely remembered.

I gave her a moment to primp her hair and sit up in bed with some dignity. I noticed she was holding a small, ornate box in her hand—not quite a jewelry box but more like a fancy pillbox that a child might use to store a baby tooth that had fallen out. She saw me looking at it, and her moonish eyes opened wider.

“It’s a lock of hair from a baby,” she explained. “My daughter.”

I was afraid to ask. “Is she still….”

“No, she died as an infant. An infant!” she emphasized.

I shook my head to show my sympathy.

“Do you know what you must suffer for your children? No, you don’t. You will have a child someday, you are young. Her name was Ekaterina. She was born in 1941, the year the Germans marched into Russia. In July, Stalin was ordering the Russian people to fight back against the Germans. Better to burn your own barns rather than leave them to the invaders, he said. My husband was fighting with the Red Army. I was alone with our child.”

Mrs. V opened the box and beckoned me to touch the hair inside. It was blonde. I didn’t want to touch it.

“One morning, the neighbors came to my door. They were fleeing. ‘The Germans are only a few kilometers away!’ they cried. My best friend, Sofia, told me the Germans were raping women and bayoneting babies to the walls of their homes. She was shaking so badly it made her baby’s little head nod up and down as if it were agreeing with her.”

“Terrible,” I said, for lack of anything else to say.

“I wanted to run with them, but I had valuables, things my husband entrusted to me. If I left without taking them along, he would never forgive me. It was all we had, something to help us start anew after the war. “

Mrs V. stopped and stared at a point just above my head. I could see the memories returning to her, at first like a slideshow and then as the frames started appearing more quickly, a movie.

“What was I thinking?” she asked herself, alarmed by some impending crisis that had, in fact, happened decades ago. “The time flew. As my mother always said, ‘Pray to God, but keep a sharp mind!’ I was tying a satchel and dressing the baby when I heard it.” She stopped and went still.

“Mrs. V?” I prodded. Was she having a stroke?

She looked at me gently, her eyes more glazed than ever.

“I heard my neighbors screaming,” she said. “I heard cars, tanks. The invaders had arrived. They were almost at my doorstep.”

My mouth was open, but I could not speak.

“The women were screaming. And children. ‘Mama, mama!’ I had no where to hide. I could not outrun their vehicles. That was when I knew that I would be raped in a few minutes. Raped. And my baby….” She trailed off.

I glanced at the open box again, and the little lock of golden hair seemed ghoulish, as if I were standing beside an open grave. I was stiffened by the horror of what had become of Ekaterina. It was too much for me to hear. I wasn’t certain I wanted to know what happened next. I tried to fast-forward her story.

“How did you finally get away? How did you survive?”

She laughed. “Oh, yes, it was survival of a sort. We were interned by the Germans, then the Red Army pushed back the German front and freed us into poverty a few months later. Here…” she said suddenly, pressing the little pillbox into my hand. “Keep it. You can throw away the contents, but not until after you leave this building, please. Maybe you give your girl a little ring inside it someday?”

I was aghast at her offer. I did not want the box. I did not want to touch the baby’s hair, ever.

“Please,” she begged. “I have no one left. The people here will put it on the table to be sold at one of those silly craft sales they have here. I want you to have it because you know the story now. Part of the story.”

I nodded weakly. I would accept it, just to honor her wishes. Then I would throw it away the first chance I got. She placed it in the palm of my right hand, and closed my fingers around it.

“The Germans did not kill my baby,” she said. There was a long pause. I counted her breaths: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….

“Do you understand?” she asked.

I did not.

She whispered. “I would not wait for them to stick my baby on the walls with the tip of their bayonet. My mother taught me how to bleed a goat or a lamb. When I walked into my front yard carrying my child and my razor, Ekaterina’s sweet blood was soaking the front of my dress. It made me go mad. I was smiling because I knew she was in heaven and would never be harmed by those devils.”

I stopped breathing.

“When the Germans saw the crazy woman with the dead baby, the soldiers and their motorcade veered around me. They never even came near me.”

Garth Von Buchholz is an author of dark fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. His new book of dark poetry, Mad Shadows, was published in June. Garth is the founder of the Dark Fiction Guild (http://DarkFictionGuild.com) and Poe International (http://PoeInternational.com). He is also the Editor and Publisher of Dark Eye Glances, the eJournal of dark poetry.  Garth lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast.  Visit his website: http://VonBuchholz.com