Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vampires: the Complete Guide to the World of the Undead – documentary – review


Directed by: J Charles Sterin & Lars Ullberg

First Aired: 1994

This documentary, narrated by Stanley Anderson, was part of “Ancient Mysteries” and is now available on a low priced dvd that runs at some 48 minutes. It is a brief look at, primarily, the folklore of the vampire and aims mostly at the seventeenth century.

Certainly it relates, briefly, the tale of Arnold Paole and has plenty of recitals from journals during the European vampire hysteria. It also briefly touches upon some of the US vampire cases, such as that of Mercy Brown (though in that case the word vampire was not used at the time).

Inevitably it touches on Dracula and Vlad Tepes as well as Erzsébet Báthory. Finally it does touch upon the works of 19th century fiction (curiously bypassing Carmilla) and film vampires.

There are several experts featured, most notably Paul Barber who wrote the astounding “Vampires, burial and death” and, unsurprisingly, Anne Rice makes an appearance.

Narration wise, I found it a little melodramatic and cheesy – but that’s my personal opinion. The detail is not in-depth, given the length, and herein lies the problem. This sort of DVD is only likely to be purchased, even at the very low price I picked it up for, by a hardcore genre fan and there is nothing really new relayed within. The casual watcher might have put this on when aired on TV but is unlikely to purchase the DVD. That said, kudos for looking mainly at the early folklore vampire.

I mentioned the narration and this was not helped by the fact that the sound quality of the DVD is fairly muffled. Even so, there are some very nice images flying around in the documentary, using early illustrations. There are the inevitable movie images, Dracula and Nosferatu making the obvious appearance but the clips of Paul Naschy were unexpected and welcome.

Over all an average documentary but worth picking up if you are a completist, especially when you see it for £1 as I did. As a documentary and for the price 4.5 out of 10.

I can find no corresponding imdb page.


Μαριανα said...

Hello, very interesting enter!

Where did you find the last image (gravoure)? is it from the 19th century?


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Μαριανα. Thanks for stopping by.

All the images came from the documentary.