Saturday, March 28, 2009

Food for the dead : Michael Bell

Michael Bell: Folklorist and Vampire Hunter

Michael Bell has spent the past twenty years tracking down vampires in the cemeteries of southern Rhode Island, northern Connecticut, and Vermont. His book, Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires (2001) documents his journey into the dimly lit world of nineteenth-century vampire practice, where, when one's children began to die from a mysterious, crippling disease, it sometimes became necessary to exhume the bodies of the dead, find out which one was possessed, cut out the heart of the corpse, burn it to ashes, and feed it to the living in order to put an end to the vampire's reign. Although Bell's vampires never wore capes, hissed, or even bothered to leave the grave, he maintains that they were much more terrifying than the monster we've become familiar with through movies and television. "They killed their kin while still lying, apparently dead, inside their coffins," he says. "How can you escape from something like that?"

More terrifying, perhaps, is that when I met Bell at a small restaurant around the corner from my house, he looked so much like a vampire hunter-at least, the way a proper vampire hunter should look-that I hesitated to call him over to my table. He is a narrow, handsome man who radiates a vehemence not unlike Christopher Plummer in his turn as Dr. Van Helsing in Wes Craven's Dracula 2000. It is so easy to picture him, wooden stake in hand, struggling atop a mound of freshly dug soil with a shrieking, reanimated corpse, that I found it difficult to focus on the interview at all. But some two hours later, I know a few things I did not know before. The good news:
The golden age of the vampire seems to be over. The bad news: You may be alive today only because a distant relative ate the charred remains of a possessed family member.

Read on HERE