Moderately disappointed not to find a spooky marathon of serial killers on “Criminal Minds” anywhere on the TiVo on a Saturday before Halloween, I scanned the on-screen viewing guide in search of something appropriately eerie. And clicking on the History Channel for a potentially interesting nugget titled “Vampire Secrets”, I hit the pause button before cleaning up the carnage that had been the McDonald’s Angus Burger shared with my feline carnivore side-kick Pretty on our 16th Anniversary together. :)
Sure a lot of the show was familiar enough, recounting the usual folklore surrounding the Transylvanian- born Vlad III Dracula “The Impaler” and his notorious blood-lust, as well as his likely inspiration for Bram Stoker’s most famous novel. Creepy, of course, yet strangely so deeply-embedded in our current books and movie culture that there seemed little to add that could deign to shock or scare me.
Admittedly unfamiliar with Hungarian-born Romanian Aristocracy of the 16th century, I nearly barfed up my lunch at the History Channel’s reenactment of perhaps the most prolific female serial killer of all time, Elizabeth Bathory aka “The Blood Countess” wallowing in a tub of thick red goo, the likes of which she sponged wickedly on her body in an effort to retain her youth, before biting a chunk out of the arm of one of her (possibly as many as 650) virgin peasant servants brought to the castle under the guise of being taught how to become “proper ladies”.
“It’s just a reenactment! It’s just Hollywood fake sugar syrup! The servant is just a Background Actor!” I cringed to my intuitive kitty who had already heard quite enough and had surreptitiously disappeared into her favorite plastic baggie for comfort.
But with the introduction of Certified Forensic Biologist Dr. Mark Benecke (Ph.D.), who offered scientific explanations for all things “vampire-esque”, I managed to crawl back into my skin (and out of a fetal position).
Yes! Science! Logic!
Apparently the whole “wooden stake in the heart” lore came from the excavation of buried bodies, wherein the villagers would see the corpse with red fluids coming out of the mouth or nose; the “seemingly dead” would appear bloated as if having fed on something; hair and nails continued to grow, and as ‘the earth would not reclaim the flesh nor the heavens accept the soul’, the body was nailed to the ground and the head decapitated.
*click TiVo pause!*
Snugly tucked once again back into a comforting fetal position clutching my bag-o-kitty for fifteen minutes or so, I eventually tackled watching the last half hour of the show (remote control at the ready should anything more become too gruesome).
As it turns out, a decaying body that may appear slim at burial eventually expands as all inner gases make their way out, which may often include the expulsion of reddish fluids from the face. Plus, human beings are made up mostly of water, and as the water dissipates, the skin tends to shrink revealing the hair and fingernails that are already in existence.
And, um, “icky” as the explanations were, I was profoundly proud of myself for taking a logically scientific approach to the matter, lending an open ear to the higher pursuit of knowledge!!!
Intent on sharing his expositions, Dr. Benecke appeared once again to visually prove his findings; with a few fresh REALLY DEAD CORPSES ON AUTOPSY TABLES. (*gag*)
*click TiVo off!*
A sincere “thank you” to the History Channel for imparting chronological information previously unknown to me (that will likely give me nightmares for weeks…)
And as to the High Holy Holiday of Halloween, well, you successfully vampirifically sucked the living joy out of my marrow!!!
Humbly reduced to buying cheerful socks at my local Rite-Aid store on sale for $1.99,