Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Vampire Hunting We Will Go

Vampire Hunting with Michael deMeng
 A Vampire Hunting Kit Workshop in New Orleans
May 12-18,  2014

I have never met a vampire personally, but I don't know what might happen tomorrow.
- Bela Lugosi

The Workshop:
Nixing Nosferatus is not like getting rid of raccoons in the attic.   It takes skill and training but it also takes the right tools and devices.  So in this workshop you will be using your artistic skills to modify an everyday box or case into something that will send shivers down the spines of those nocturnal lurkers.  Of course, to make a proper vampire hunting kit one must understand the type of vampire at large and use the appropriate method to exterminate.   

Before you get to New Orleans you may want to do a bit of research into the type of vamp your dealing with. In the famous words of vampire hunter, Hieronymous Grost, “There are as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey. Their methods and their motive for attack can vary in a hundred different ways.”  Take this into account when devising your kit You’ll start off with a nice portable briefcase, suitcase or toolbox and then you will transform it into a home for anti-vampire gizmos.  Some of the items that you might deem necessary for you kit are things such as: 
  • Undead Irritants - like garlic…silver….Britany Spears etc.. 
  • Protective Baubles- amulets, religious artifacts, holy water, etc.
  • Vampire Detectors- things that clue you into a vamp being in the room, like mirrors…though a bloodless corpse is a pretty good indicator.
  • The Killing Device – things that will get rid of the rascals for good such as stakes, liquid sunlight,  etc.
Don’t forget…the most important aspect of a Vampire Hunter’s kit is that it looks cool (vampires hate a stylin’ Vamp Hunter), so you’ll want to make sure you bring lots of nifty adornments for your stakes, vials, case, etc.
Here are but a few of the possible late night nibblers lurking among us:

Types of Vampires

Homo Wampyrus Lamia

Rael stands astonished doubting his sight, struck by beauty, gripped in fright;
Three vermilion snakes of female face, the smallest motion, filled with grace.
Muted melodies fill the echoing hall, but there is no sign of warning in the siren's call: "Rael, welcome! We are the Lamia of the pool.
We have been waiting for our waters to bring you cool.”
The Lamia – lyrics by Peter Gabriel

These are demonic vampires from ancient Greece…and earlier.  Watch out…they are shape shifters who can appear in a pleasing guise.  They are seducers and also child snatchers.
Best places to find them: 
Near water
Where children play without adult supervision.
Tell tale signs
Snake-like body when not in disguise (sometimes full snake, sometimes just the lower body}
Viper like fangs
Snake scales
Affinity for streams and bodies of water
Silver (annoyance)
Silver knife (fatal)
Rosemary, salt and fire (fatal)

Homo Wampyrus Nosferatu
Graf Orlok: "Is this your wife? What a lovely throat."   -Nosferatu – Symphony of Horror

These are vampires that had a tough time shedding there mortal coil…thus they usually quit physically deformed.   They are more like zombies in many ways…just blood-drinking beasts, with very little finesse.
Cemeteries – typically their own grave
Dark alleys
Rural, dark and sparkly populated areas.  Since they are beastly in appearances they use the cover of night to stalk there prey
Often found in areas with much pestilence or disease as a way of disguising the cause of death.
Tell tale signs
Hideous looking
Typically bald
Long claw-like hands
Front two teeth are sharp fangs.  Rat-like teeth
Pointy ears
Usually dusty or dirty from sleeping crypts.
Extremely pale
Never visible during the day
Cross (annoyance)
Garlic (annoyance)
Sunlight –this is the best way for these beasties (fatal)
Stake through the heart (fatal)
Destroy it’s coffin or prevent it from returning to its grave – these monsters need to sleep on there native soil. (fatal)

Homo Wampyrus Draco
“I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth; these protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years.”
Bram Stoker, Dracula

This type of vampire is closely associated with Count Dracula.  They are the most human like of all vampires and often walk among them.  They are extremely powerful with tremendous powers of persuasion and seduction, thus making them extremely dangerous.
Dark urban alleys
Subway stations
Tell-tale signs
Canine fangs
Pale skin
Well dressed, often in clothes that are from earlier eras.
Usually wealthy – High intellect years of immortality have allowed this vampire to acquire vast amount of money
No reflection
No shadow
Can change shape into many things…wolf, bat, mist, younger, older.
Religious artifacts, such as crosses, holy water, magic amulets. (annoyance)
Garlic (annoyance)
Beheading (fatal)
Stake through the heart (fatal)
Sunlight (annoyance-  usually only weakens…not necessarily kills)
Fire (fatal…if the body is thoroughly burned…must be burnt to ashes)

Homo Wampyrus Sauria  
It took us centuries to make them believe that we are no more than just bad dreams. We should give them no reason to suspect.  -30 Days of Night

These are vampires who typically don’t mingle in the human world unless hunting.  A close nit vampire clan with there own language and ways.  Extremely violent with a tendency to binge feed…then go for long periods without nourishment. 
Remote places with little outside contact
Places with long days – Russia, Alaska, Nova Scotia.
Cold climates
Tell Tale Signs
Teeth all pointed like a lizard.
Usually blood stains around the mouth due to the ferocity of there attacks
Pitch black eyes
Unusual accent  and language- they are a clan vampire and have a special language of there own.
UV lighting (can be fatal if in large doses_
Sunlight (fatal)
Vitamin D (annoyance)

New Orleans - Vampire Central
New Orleans is rich with Vampire lore so this will be are base of operation, as we search for the beasties in the French Quarter bars, cemeteries and jazz clubs.  Are you ready to join the Elite League of Vampire Hunters?  If so...prepare to report for duty.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vampire Cinema: May 22 Episode 2

Welcome to the Second edition of Vampire Cinema - Undead Movie Club of the Month.  

Each month I will put together a little video introducing a vampire film of note (some classic...some downright horrible yet fun). I'll give you a bit of vampire lore and film history and a few clips. Your job will be to track the movie down and watch it.  

I've also set up a FaceBook Group that members can compare notes and comparisons of the various films.   Click Here to Join Vampire Cinema Group 

Vamp Hunting 
in New Orleans
Registration Starts Friday May 24th!  
All this is being done to promote my upcoming Vampire Hunting Workshop in New Orleans 2014.  More info coming soon on the workshop and itinerary.  Here's the date: May 12- 18, 2014.
Come back to this blog on Friday for the entire scoop.

Now this edition of Vampire Cinema.
Feature One
Black Sunday 

Yummy Cocktail of the Undead Recipe

Feature Two
Interview with the Vampire

See you on June 22nd for another edition.
If you want to get ready for next month's films
Here's what I'll be featuring

Billy the Kid vs Dracula
Dracula (1958) 
with Christopher Lee

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

You want to know what I hear all the time when someone who is familiar with my art meets me for the first time? "Wow, I thought you'd be much weirder in person."  Yes it's true.  I'm a fairly normal-ish dude….other than my obsession with vampire movies and transforming dollies into various monstrosities.  So it seemed to me I should write a little post on why I think that is…why is my art weird and why does an everyday guy like myself lean toward a darker aesthetic?  Well I'll give you a few reasons that I think this is the case

1. Simulates Danger…Without Being Dangerous.
We have all had or experiences where you feel out of control, where something dark and looming threatens us or someone we love.  This could be anything from a home intruder to big ol' nasty black widow crawling across your face.  Playing with dark themes gives you control of those frightening forces.  A good example of this is how I started messing around with monsters in my art.  When I was a kid I had nightmares about monsters….like most kids.  My solutions was to draw them in ways that I could conquer them.  A big ol cyclops would haunt me in my sleep….solution: I'd draw the big ol' cyclops being zapped by me with a ray-gun.  Voila, I have conquered my monster.    A funny thing though…over the years the monsters I created eventually became my friends…protectors if you will.  The truth is that there are a lot scarier things in the world that cyclopses and vampires.  

2. We All Need Make Offerings to Our Dark Side.
I am a firm believer that we are all filled with light and dark. I also believe we need both.  But the question is how to feed the dark without becoming an "evil-doer".  From my personal experience, I know that if I didn't have art I would probably be a lost soul.  As a kid I was shy and afraid…but I had my art.  Sure my creations were a bit sinister, but better to make your piece with your dark side using Crayolas than allowing the darkness to consume you.  In many cases I believe that fear and depression, and sometimes violence can be thwarted by creative thought.

3. It's Fun Being Something We are Not
Most of my grimly inspired art friends (though not all) are actually very kind and gently people.  I'm sure they get the same response from folks that I do about my art…ooooh it's so dark.  But, you know, it's fun to play a part for a while.  I am really not dark in the way I live my life but I can still experience devilishious things without become devilish.  It's similar to the value of holidays like Halloween, where we be have fun playing a fiend.  

4.  Tom Foolery Can Be Incredibly Inspiring
I see it in workshops I teach all the time…folks who are in creative ruts, but get an incredible surge of creativity when they can be a bit subversive.  Recently I was teaching my "Baba Yaga BirdHouse" class, which is based on the slavic witch who live in a house that was perched on a giant chicken leg.  I watched as an entire room of everyday folks did the most devilishly bizarre things.  There were houses with big monster mouths, crazy periscopes popping out of the roof (each with glass eyes peering out), or with bat wings that flap.  This group of mothers and wives,and grandmothers and husbands were having a blast making crazy creepy things.  It seems to me that when dealing with an eerie subject matter, you can have a lot more freedom.  This is because there is not the constraint of trying to be "pretty".  Creepy can be almost anything and everything….to make something look beautiful, however can be much more limiting…mostly because when trying to create something of beauty there is often more reverence given to the viewers approval.  

So next time you pull out a pencil or pen…or perhaps a dismantled crusty dolly head…don't be afraid to take a step on the dark side.  Ironically you may be a better person for it.