Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Burying the stake

Dispatching vampires has garlic-soaked history

  • Print

As vampires sate themselves on human blood, so too is millennial western culture pretty much saturated with vampires.

The ongoing popularity of the Twilight series (books and movies), True Blood and The Vampire Diaries suggests a healthy market is in place for How to Kill a Vampire, a guide to fighting the bloodsucking undead.

Call it a thoroughly impractical guide. Toronto-based author Liisa Ladouceur warns that her book is in no way an intended as a how-to tome in the same vein as Max Brooks' tongue-in-cheek The Zombie Survival Guide.

It is more of a survey of vampire disposal in books, movies and in historic reality. An expert in this garlic-laden field, Ladouceur is the goth author (gauthor?) who wrote the 2011 book Encyclopedia Gothica and contributes regular vampire reportage for the excellent Canadian horror mag Rue Morgue.

The most famous vampire slayers are Abraham Van Helsing, Buffy Summers (a.k.a. Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and the sword-wielding Marvel comics badass Blade (popularized in a trilogy of films starring Wesley Snipes), and she duly explores their histories.

Van Helsing is an especially rich character as you can judge by the diversity of actors who have played him, including Peter Cushing, Anthony Hopkins and (lord help us) Hugh Jackman.

Ladouceur also covers lesser-known slayers, such as scientist Robert Neville, the sole survivor of a global vampire epidemic in Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend.

Here she betrays some diminished critical capacity, discussing the salient details of Neville's methodical vampire slaughter as delineated in the book but failing to notice that, in a world of vampires, Neville's vampire hunter is actually the Dracula figure, stalking his sleeping victims when they are most vulnerable.

For even the most casual genre fans, this is familiar fan-boy stuff. Much more interesting are Ladouceur's dips into non-fiction history, including iterations of vampires from different cultures. (For example, the "Brahmaparush" from India is a malevolent entity that "eats your brains, drinks blood from your skull, rips out your intestines, wraps itself in them and then dances around.")

Vampire prevention, as practised in reality, tends to be more colourful than its fictional counterpart, as Ladouceur explains how, in Bulgaria, a potential vamp might be buried face down so that upon its revival, it might only bury itself deeper into the earth.

While one must admire the sheer cumulative breadth of Ladouceur's expertise, the overall book feels slight. Former Winnipeg author Kier-La Janisse lifted the bar on this kind of genre survey with her recent book House of Psychotic Women, an examination of the crazed heroines from a wide cross-section of horror-thrillers.

Janisse put a bold spin on the subject by combining her formidable critical analysis with autobiography, explaining how those characters resonated in her own troubled life.

That is simply the kind of material you can't glean from Wikipedia or genre websites such as Horrorpedia. Given a wealth of online resources, it is not enough to present facts from the perspective of a fan, at least while the most compelling question remains unanswered:

Why are you a fan?

Free Press movie critic Randall King knows a thing or two about vampires.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2013 A1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Premier Selinger responds to NDP victory in Alberta

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR
  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Will you miss the old Banana Boat building?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google