Vampire Deep Dive – The Paranormal Podcast 720

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One of the world’s foremost experts on vampires joins us on The Paranormal Podcast. Dr. J. Gordon Melton gives us an education on vampires.

You can find his book on the subject at Amazon: The Vampire Almanac: The Complete History

Thanks Dr. Melton!

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TRANSCRIPT

Please note we do not guarantee 100% transcript accuracy. The below reflects a best effort. Thank you for your understanding.

Jim Harold 0:00
Everything you want to know about vampires, but were afraid to ask, up next on the Paranormal Podcast.

Paranormal Podcast Announcer 0:20
This is the Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold.

Jim Harold 0:23
Welcome to the Paranormal Podcast. I am Jim Harold and so glad to be with you today. And today we have a fantastic show for you. We’re going to talk all about vampires with one of the world’s foremost experts on that subject, Dr. J. Gordon Melton, and we’re going to talk about his new book, The Vampire Almanac, and we’re so glad to have him with us today. And I’m glad to have you with us today. And I thank you for joining us, I wanted to tell you about two quick things that are top of mind before we get to the interview. First of all, I have a weekly newsletter. And if you’re also a fan of my Campfire show, please know that we are going to start including in–we just started this last week,–we’re going to include a classic Campfire story in each newsletter, the text of it. We thought that would be a nice enticement for people to check out the newsletter because we think it’s great. We pretty much put all the updates from the Spooky Studio there so you know everything that is going on. So you can check that out over at jimharold.com/newsletter. That’s jimharold.com/newsletter. Please sign up. We do not spam you. We send out typically an email once a week unless there’s something super deluxe going on. And it’s just a listing of all the happenings and shows we’ve released during the week. And now a Campfire story of the week. So I hope you check that out. And another thing I hope you check out is a new podcast we’re going to be doing starting in March with Dar Harold, my wife, and it’s called You Won’t Believe what Happened to Me. And it’s basically like our Campfire show but without the spooky. Let me explain. It is a series of incredible stories as told by our listeners that have happened to them personally. For example, I had my house shot up with an AK-47, okay, when I was in my 20s. That would be a You Won’t Believe what Happened to Me story. That’s not a supernatural story. But it’s certainly amazing. Or maybe someone who got in a plane crash and survived without a scratch, or perhaps somebody who won the lotto and became an instant millionaire. And we can use pseudonyms by the way. So stuff like that. Just incredible things, non-paranormal things that have happened in your life, we would love to hear your stories. And you can sign up for that at won’t`believe.com And I hope that you go over there and submit your story. Again, that’s won’tbelieve.com and that show will be coming in all the usual places and spaces next month. And now I’ll tell you something you will believe, you will believe this is a great show after you listen to it because we have a great guest, Dr. J. Gordon Melton is going to tell us all about vampires. You know, there’s the subject of vampires and most of us know about vampires from movies and TV shows and books. But there is really the serious study of vampirism and vampires and the history and the folklore. And really at the foremost event is our guest today. I’m talking about Dr. J. Gordon Melton. He is the author of many books he’s done but most recent is The Vampire Almanac: The complete history and when he says complete history, this is two or three inches thick. This is a huge book from Visible Ink. They almost do such a nice job. And Dr. Melton, very accomplished. He’s a nationally known author, lecturer and scholar. He is the Distinguished Professor of American religious history at Baylor University and he serves as the director of the Institute for the Study of American religion. He is best known for his work on religious cults, and he’s considered America’s senior scholar in the field of new and unconventional religions, having studied them for more than 40 years. Simultaneously, he has emerged as a leading scholar of vampire and Dracula studies, and previously served a tenure as the American president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. And He has authored multiple award winning books in the field. And he currently resides in Waco, Texas. And that’s where he’s at today, and we’re so glad to speak with him. Dr. Melton. Thank you for joining us today.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 4:56
Oh, it’s my pleasure.

Jim Harold 4:57
I had read in the book where you said that, you know, this started off, you know, way back as an interest, and it’s just become so much, much more. How and why do you think that happened?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 5:12
I’m not really sure. And I think I probably decided not to go exploring because of what I might find. But when I was a teenager, I started out reading science fiction. And then I drifted over into horror, and then I discovered vampires. And then when I got to the vampires, I knew this was where I really felt at home. And so I continued reading vampire novels in my leisure time, through the years and then discovered, as time went on in the 70s, and 80s, that a new field of vampire studies was being created. And I aligned myself with it and was there with the first generation of scholars that began to study vampires in a serious sort of way. And in a connected sort of way. There had been serious vampire studies that had gone on in the early 20th century, but none of the authors of those studies had anyone to talk to about what they were doing. And that was something that changed in the 70s and 80s, that a community of vampire scholars developed.

Jim Harold 6:30
Now, when we talk about the concept of vampires, most people think about, you know, everything beginning and ending with Dracula, and so forth. But how far does the idea of a vampire go back in human history?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 6:45
Well, it goes back to the very first layer of writings that we have, actually from North Africa. The earliest vampire that we know about got recorded was one called the Lamia, which is a North African female vampire who would go out at night and suck the blood of–of recently born babies. And that was a very important part of it. But right there at the beginning of first, writings in human history, textual writings, not rock writings, and, and monuments and things, but the first textual writing, 6000 years ago, here is a vampire story. So it’s, it’s very much a part. And of course, vampire stories we now know are part of human cultures, from all around the world.

Jim Harold 7:47
Now, when you talk about vampires, has it always been the concept of su–or initially, was it the idea of sucking blood? Was it sucking spiritual energy? What form did these early vampires take? Or what was their methodology, I guess?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 8:05
Well, early on, and the study that–the idea of psychic vampires, vampires who suck energy came into being but basically it was about the drinking of human blood. And that became the the kind of initial defining trait. People begin to take notice of this. All in the 18th century, scholars for the first time looked at vampires as a kind of a cultural phenomena that they had to deal with. And it was the drinking of human blood that became the defining characteristic. Then in the 19th century, people began to explore vampires and ask, where did they come from? What are they all about? And it’s among the spiritualists in the 1850s that the idea of psychic vampirism begins to take hold, and begins to spread, they begin to recognize that there are these characters who are sucking up energy–vampires–the blood is the life. The life is the energy that the blood carries. So that was where the connection was made between the two.

Jim Harold 9:26
Now, when you look at the idea of drinking blood, or the thought that there were vampires out there in the early early days of this being recorded, is there ever any evidence that there was actually any blood drinking going on? Or was it somehow people were being accused or conflated with being blood drinking vampires because of health conditions or whatever the case may be?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 9:52
Well, there’s a couple of things that are happening. First of all, humans cannot regularly consume blood, none of us can take a glass of blood, or even a tablespoon of blood and put it in our mouth and consume it. We will regurgitate it immediately. And that’s part of the problem that we have. But in the the stories that were being taken up at this point in time, as civilization is emerging into a written language and culture, the idea of drinking blood was–was taken very seriously, as was the idea of human and animal sacrifice. And it was the spilling of the blood of the sacrifice that was usually the important point. So–so we’re talking about phenomena, that’s very difficult. The closest thing we can come to drinking blood is having a raw steak, or a lightly cooked steak, some–some rare beef, so to speak, but the idea of consuming the blood of your enemy and gaining his strength and the idea of consuming some blood from a sacrifice very much a part of culture, that contradictory nature to the problem, is one of the interesting things to explore as you–as you’re looking at the vampire phenomenon.

Jim Harold 11:36
Now, why do you think there was–and by extension why do you think there is, I guess, such a fascination with the concept of a vampire? I mean, you know, people today are probably just as much or more fascinated by it than those people who did those early depictions in North Africa. Why is it so universal? Why is it–has so much staying power do you think?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 12:04
The vampire is universal because the vampire functioned in pre scientific society to explain some important phenomena. The very first vampire, that Lamia, in North Africa was part of a type of vampire that was used to explain what today we call crib death. You put your child to–your–your infant to sleep, he’s healthy. You come find him in the morning, and he’s dead and appears to be drained of blood, pale. And for a long time, we didn’t know what was–what crib death was all about. It’s only in the, you know, in our lifetime, that we have been able to explain crib death physically as a medical condition. But the vampire was used–the vampire who went out at night and sucked the blood of babies, because of what we call crib death. And then the vampire became the explanation of inopportune death. If you died out of season when you weren’t supposed to, it was because of vampirism. And that person who died away from the village, who died by accident, who died before from some other cause than old age would be a person who would come back as a vampire. That in part dealt with what today we call grief work, and how you deal with the deceased who have not finished their relationship with you before they pass over. So there are all kinds of functions that the vampires serve. And that’s why it became an almost universe–not a universal character. There are traditional societies without the vampire, but it has another character that–that serves the purpose. In our own day, the vampire is an object of entertainment. And that’s what has became so universal in the 20th, 21st century. But the vampire as a character is a very important part of teenage angst and solving the problem of the teenager becoming a adult. That the teenagers are filled with anxiety, they’re searching for sexual identity. They feel they’re immortal, and the vampire just fits right into that in helping the teenager get through these problems.

Jim Harold 15:00
Now I will say though there are people in the current day who take vampire–vampirism very seriously and practice it, as I understand, as a lifestyle. I think of one person who’s been on our programs many times, who has done a lot of work in this area, is Michelle Belanger.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 15:17
Oh I love Michelle.

Jim Harold 15:20
Yeah–she–she’s awesome. She’s awesome. And she, I mean, I’ve known her for years. And she’s probably been on the shows 10 or 15 times. I mean, she’s great. But I mean, it really is a thing for some people, they–they consider themselves vampires of a sort, correct?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 15:36
Oh very much so. There–you may have–have met Father Sebastian as well. In this area, there are a group of people who emerged really in the 1970s and 80s, just as serious vampire studies are happening, to consider considers themselves to be real vampires, and we don’t know how many there are. Most of them are like Michelle who consider the vampirism to be a psychic–

Jim Harold 16:06
Right.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 16:07
–occurence, so the passing of energy as opposed to blood. There are a few that are into blood drinking, I met a few of them at the height of the real vampire craze, so to speak. The the ones who were hangers-on who wanted to be vampires, who want to be, have kind of fallen away and left this core real vampires. Today, there are a few and–and it again, this for them, vampire serves a very real social function, a very real way of dealing with their relationships with other people. And their–the ups and downs of their body energy in the light. And it works for them. But they are–they are a very small group, relatively speaking.

Jim Harold 17:08
Our guest is Dr. J. Gordon Melton, the book is The Vampire Almanac: The complete history, and we’re going to be back with more interesting discussion right after this.

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Jim Hamilton 20:22
Keep up to date with everything at the Spooky Studio. Sign up for Jim’s free newsletter at jimharold.com/newsletter. Now, back to the Paranormal Podcast.

Jim Harold 20:38
We’re back on the show. The subject today is that of vampires, specifically a recent book out, the Vampire Almanac: The complete history. Our guest is a foremost authority on the subject. And I’m talking about the author of said book, Dr. J. Gordon Melton, we’re so glad to have him with us today. Dr. Melton, you know, we think about witches, for example, in history in the Salem witch trials and those kinds of things. In a similar light, have there been cases throughout history, where people who have been accused or falsely accused of being vampires and punished or put to death, that sort of thing?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 21:21
There have certainly been cases of vampires appearing, and a vampire as being identified with the recently deceased. One of the interesting things about vampires in traditional culture, particularly in Eastern Europe, is that they are recently deceased. When they appear, they are dealt with by the village as a whole, and they go away. So you don’t have the phenomena of a vampire who sticks around for a generation, or who is always there doing things. Vampires are fairly short lived phenomena. They constantly reoccur because people die out of season. And there are different diseases that they are affected with. But as a whole, the vampires are there through history, they are largely unnamed until the 17th century. Because they are such short lived phenomena. And once you deal with the vampire that’s immediately at your doorstep. Then he’s gone. And you wait for the next one. And by the way, most of these vampires are males. There–there are not very many female vampires in the–in–at least in the Eastern European context.

Jim Harold 23:05
Um, you can’t really talk about vampires without talking about the granddaddy of them all in terms of popularity and so forth, Dracula. Um, I mean, how much–and it has to be a lot–how much has Count Dracula meant to the continued impact of the idea of the empire–vampire? I mean, how, how big is he?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 23:33
He is the king and is still the king. His only real challenge had come from Buffy.

Jim Harold 23:43
(Laughs)

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 23:45
Buffy, by the way, is the single television show that has had the most scholarly comment about it. So Star Trek is–is not even a close second, far distant second.

Jim Harold 24:00
Huh.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 24:00
But Dracula reigns supreme. I remember when I did my first book on Dracula, I started–or my first book on vampires–I started with Dracula, and dealt with that book, its characters, the movies that had been made from it and–and the book Dracula is the single liter–piece of literature that has been most frequently made into a movie over 40 times.

Jim Harold 24:29
Wow.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 24:30
And the–the challenge is from Sherlock Holmes, and then you get around to Frankenstein and a few other characters, but no piece of literature has been made so many times into a film. And then I said what are the questions that Dracula raises? What is a vampire? How do you kill a vampire? How do you protect yourself from a vampire? What are the characteristics of a vampire? And that’s how I built my first book, was–was simply starting with Dracula and moving out. What came before Dracula? Literature wise, there were a few short stories. But folklore–and Stoker gets into folklore in one chapter, when he begins to describe Dracula’s characteristics and how Van Helsing organizes the characters to defeat him. And all of that is–is Eastern European folklore that he draws up. And then around the world, you–you run into all these other characters, but Dracula becomes the starting point of all this. So he’s very, very important.

Jim Harold 25:58
Well, I think about all the kind of, I guess now we call them almost memes. Or the ideas that you think, you know, you hold up the cross, the coffin, and the bat. And all of the–most of these things have their genesis with Dracula, no?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 26:15
Certainly in the popular culture, they do. And so, remember that Dracula is written by an Anglican in England, in the 1890s. But Van Helsing who brings–is the character that brings the vampire lore into the midst of the–of the setting of the book, is a Dutch Roman Catholic. And when they kill Lucy, he reads from a Catholic liturgy–of the liturgy for the dead. So it’s–it’s a kind of an interesting thing there that’s going up.

Jim Harold 27:02
And the movies, I mean, there’s a wide range of them. I mean, you have everything from the classics and very serious treatment, and Lugosi and so forth, to the comedic, you know, I think of that that movie with George Hamilton. Love at First Bite from the late 70s. I think about it–

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 27:21
I have a Love at First Bite poster in my office.

Jim Harold 27:25
There you go. Yeah, yeah. And Mel Brooks, was it Dracula: Dead and Loving it. I mean, there really has been a wide range of treatments, to your point about the the 40, or the 40 plus movies. It’s really been very fertile ground for Hollywood, right?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 27:44
It has been and it’s very important to remember that that Dracula is one of the very first talkies in terms of the movies. And that is, it is made in two versions simultaneously. In the daytime, the set was used for the Lugosi Dracula. And then overnight, a Spanish speaking Dracula was filmed using the same script, different cast, different director, and as Lugosi’s version became the standard version for Europe and America, and turned Lugosi into the superstar. At the same time, the Spanish version of Dracula went out to South America, the Caribbean, Spanish speaking countries, and created the Dracula myth for them. And of course, the Lugosi Dracula has become our image of a vampire. If you want to make humor about a vampire, you have a character dress up in a tuxedo with a cape and a widow’s peak in his hair and then everyone knows this is a vampire (laughs).

Jim Harold 29:09
(Laughs) That’s true. That’s very true. I think if you Halloweens ago, I do a periodic live stream and I dressed up as a vampire. That was all the–all the Lugosi stuff for sure. And it’s interesting how in popular culture, there seems to be an ebb and flow for example, you’ll have the Lugosi pictures, and then you’ll have something like Dark Shadows and Jonathan Frid and Barnabas Collins. And then you’ll have something like Buffy or the Twilight series that seems to come in vogue every few years, doesn’t it?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 29:42
It does come and go, it peaks in the 30s to begin with and then kind of dies out in the 40s, and there’s a lull after–after Universal drops its horror movies, particularly Dracula. Everyone thinks Universal owns Dracula. They don’t realize that Dracula’s very much in the public domain already at this point. So as Britain is trying to recover from World War Two and the movie industry is going, Hammer comes to Universal actually purchases rights to remake Christopher Lee stuff. So beginning with the horror of Dracula, the end of the 50s, there’s this new spurt of interest. It reaches a low point in the 80s then, makes a comeback with the Anne Rice material. And then we’re in the 90s. We’re aiming toward the centennial in 79. And there’s this unexpected thing called Buffy that comes along. And, and then the Twilight series hits. Each of these have a–have a kind of a different reference point. Barnabas and Dark Shadows was–was a phenomenal thing. The Dark Shadows fan club still meets to this day and still draws 1000, 1500 people every year. Of course, hasn’t met the last year or two because of the–

Jim Harold 31:34
Sure.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 31:35
–of the pandemic. But in 2019, 1500 people showed up for the Dark Shadows fan club, and the–the cast members who are still alive, still show up. Still are mobbed for autographs. It was quite the phenomenon.

Jim Harold 31:58
And I remember when I was–because I wasn’t around for the original run. But then when I was a little kid, it was in syndication. And they would have these videos you know, it was a soap opera, I think on ABC if I remember correctly, and it was shot on videotape. So the quality wasn’t that–that fantastic. But it added to like the creepy factor just that weird kind of videotape look. And then with Jonathan Frid going around as Barnabas Collins, and just–just delightfully creepy, I would say.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 32:31
Well Bar–Frid, of course was–was fascinating guy, he was a trained Shakespearean actor. And after he did the Dark Shadows part and after the series ended, he would have nothing to do with–with Dark Shadows for years and years and years. Because he didn’t want to be typecast. He was afraid that what happened to Lugosi would happen to him. And then at the end of his life, he reconciled himself to that. I was able to go to the last Dark Shadows convention at which he appeared. And he actually had things from his library that he was selling. And I was able to purchase some memorabilia directly from him that he put out, and then he–he makes this cameo appearance in the Johnny Depp version of the movie of Dark Shadows. And between the time when his brief appearance was filmed, and the movie came out, he dies. But I remember going to see the movie right after it came out. And I think I was the only person in that theater at that point, who realized. They opened the door for the vampire and the people that rush in are four people from the cast of the original series, including Frid, and so they have this brief cameo. But he unfortunately died right after that.

Now that’s–that’s sad. That’s very sad, but he certainly made an impact and continues–continues to this day. Now–

He actually–Barnabas is a new type of vampire. He is the conflicted vampire. The vampire–up until Barnabas comes along, all of the vampires have pretty much–are monsters. There is nothing good to be said about them. And but it’s–it’s in Barnabas and then in Vampirella. That in Barnabas, you get the first conflicted vampire, the vampire who wants to be human, but is stuck having to kill people for blood to survive. And the hero–heroine, vampire in Vampirella. Those both appear at the same time at the end of the 60s. And it’s–those are important developments that allowed the vampire to emerge so forcefully at the end–in the last part of the 20th century.

Jim Harold 35:27
Now, I have to ask you, just as a personal note, what are your–I will ask you for two movies you could give us. One is your favorite all time vampire movie and then maybe your kind of hidden gem that people don’t realize but it’s a fantastic vampire movie. Do you have two movies that would fall into those respective categories?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 35:48
Let me answer the last one first. There’s a film that’s been made twice. It’s called to the one point is called To Dance with a Vampire and I think Dance Macabre originally, but it’s–it’s one of Roger Corman’s films. It is the best film–the best vampire film that nobody’s seen, so to speak. Originally a black and white and then when it was remade by Corman’s son as a color film, delightful movie with two characters, a vampire and his victim, and how–well I won’t give away the plot. But it’s a delightful movie if you can track it down. It’s available on–on DVD, and you can get it from Amazon fairly easily. As to the best, I–I vary. I’ve tried to to come out and finally said there’s a whole set of a really top notch–I love them–vampire movies and I watch them over again beginning when the Lugosi’s Dracula. I never could decide on one because it dependended very much on my mood. There’s Vampire Hunter D for example, a Japanese anime film, best cartoon version of a vampire movie, fantastic artwork and a very, very good story. The–I love the Langella version of Dracula that came out in 79. There’s a delightful comedy called Innocent Blood, which I think of the humorous vampire movies, it’s right up there along with the early Jim Carrey one, Carrie and Hutton the one where the young Carrie is is being sought after by Hutton before he has sex because she needs to get some virgin blood (laughs). I could never settle on any given one as–as my best. But those are, are certainly there among them. And–

Yeah, there’s a there’s a lot of great movies out there about vampires so that’s a tough–that’s a tough–that’s a tough question I can appreciate. And I know even in movies in general, it does depend on my mood and things move in and out of my top few movies.

We should make note of the fact that there have been 2500 feature films made about vampires. 2500. And when you start looking at them, you know, you see there that vampires just permeated the culture. These 2500 movies come from all kinds of places from Hong Kong to Germany to Japan, etc. And, but they’re these–they’re really some fantastic movies out there. Even in Korea, they’ve made a couple of very fine movies, there was a Korean movie called Priest. Not to be confused with the American movie of the same name. That was just a fantastic acting. So, Chinese Ghost Story number one, there’s a one two and three. The Chinese Ghost Story number one is a phenomenal movie about a vampire tree that–whose branches reach out and grab victims. But the color–it’s just a beautiful movie. All all the way around so it’s–there’s some really delightful stuff. And–and Tarantino’s movie From Dusk til Dawn is actually one of my favorites. I’m a Tarantino fan.

Jim Harold 40:15
Yeah, me too. Me too. Well, by the way, that movie you were talking about Jim Carrey and Lauren Hutton. That was Once Bitten. That was the name of that one, yeah. Well, fascinating discussion. We’re going to come back for a final segment with Dr. J. Gordon Melton. Subject are vampires and his recent book, The Vampire Almanac: The complete history, and we’ll be back right after this.

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Jim Harold 42:35
And those designs are really something. I gotta say my daughters absolutely love them. And they wear the shirts all the time, they kind of fight over them. So it’s kind of funny here in the Harold household. So where do you get the ideas for these designs?

Jim Hamilton 42:48
So ever since I was a kid digging through the paranormal books at the local library, I can always remember having a curious mind. And even today, I love to find a topic that I can explore deeper and take down the rabbit hole. So what we wanted to do was to give our subscribers that same experience and explore new paranormal stories and old paranormal stories that–that they haven’t heard in a while or that they wanted to explore deeper and learn more about.

Jim Harold 43:20
And you have been very gracious. And you’ve set up a special URL for our audience to get a great deal, right?

Jim Hamilton 43:28
So Jim, if your listeners want to jump on over to www.paraboxmonthly.com/jim. There they can read some of our reviews, and they can also get a promo code for 25% off all subscription plans.

Jim Harold 43:46
Oh, that’s so cool. Jim, thank you so much for doing that. I appreciate it and I know our listeners out there appreciate it too. So you heard the man, go to paraboxmonthly.com/jim. That’s paraboxmonthly.com/jim and get that deal 25% off a ParaBox monthly subscription. I highly recommend it. I think you’ll enjoy it, ParaBox Monthly. Thanks ParaBox. No purchase necessary. To enter the monthly drawing go to paraboxmonthly.com for more details.

Paranormal Podcast Announcer 44:20
Subscribe to Jim’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/jimharold for video Campfire stories, interviews, our paranormal quiz game show, and whatever he comes up with next. And be sure to hit that notification bell when you subscribe so you’ll never miss a video. Now we return to the Paranormal podcast.

Jim Harold 44:38
We’re back on the paranormal podcast. Our guest is Dr. J. Gordon Melton, the book is the Vampire Almanac: The complete history. We’re so glad to have him with us. We’re having such a great time talking about all things vampire. Now another thing that–that’s always fascinating, I’d love to know the kind of academic analysis on this. I know you–I’m sure you can write pages and pages, and probably have on it. But the idea of the vampire bat and the transformation into a bat, when did that come into play? And what is its significance?

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 45:12
Well, that really comes into play with Dracula. The vampire bat is from Latin America, Mexico primarily. It wasn’t discovered until the 19th century, or at least literature about it did not begin to circulate. And it’s actually in the novel Dracula that that particular vampire bat idea is introduced. And it’s interesting, the way it’s introduced. The–the real vampire bat is a fairly small little creature that can drink a tablespoon of blood at night, and generally does. But it’s very small. The vampire bat that is introduced in Dracula is a large bat. Much more like some of the fruit bats that–that show up in different parts of the world. But it’s the–and–and that’s the function of the one American character Quinn–Quincy, who is part of the Dracula story. Quincy, the Texan, is the one who tells people about the existence of the vampire bat, before Dracula shows up in his bat form. So that’s where it comes from. And then it spreads through the movies. If you watch through vampire movies, you know how problematic was the representation, their special effects were not what they are today. Today, you can get vampire bats transforming and demons right before your eyes. But that’s where that all comes from. And, of course, in terms of the scholarly and scientific community, we now have a whole set of vampire animals in our biological catalog. Everything from birds to fish and various kinds of reptiles and the like of animals that live off of blood, and so we can we can deal with that. And it’s–that’s an interesting thing. There are thousands of papers that had been written on vampire bats. They are a real problem. They attack cows and other farm animals. And for people who live where they are a common species, they are real problem and transfer and disease and the like. So it’–it’s–the vampire bat has come and and taken his place.

Jim Harold 48:20
And I–I guess a discussion particularly about Dracula wouldn’t be complete unless we talked a little bit about Transylvania, that–that region in Romania, maybe separate the fact from fiction a bit in terms of what we think of Transylvania.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 48:39
As you might be aware, Bela Lugosi is Hungarian. At the time that he filmed Dracula, he could not speak English, he had to learn his script by rote, and memorize the English lines because he had not yet mastered English. He hails from Hungary, and at the time that Dracula is written, in the 1890s, Transylvania is a part of Hungary. But during World War One, the Austria-Hungary–Hungarian empire, was part of the losers in the war. And as a result of that, the province of Transylvania was separated from Hungary and given to Romania, which was on the winning side of the war. So there was this transfer. Today, Transylvania is one of the three major segments of Romania. And so we have this identification with it. I know when I first started writing, one of the things that I was able to do back in 1994, was to make my first trip to Transylvania and to Romania and got to see it firsthand. It’s a beautiful place and worthy of the visit. If you ever have a chance to go there, quite apart from the vampire connections, but it’s been played up, I got to meet a man named Niki Petter Robert, who had been a tourist guy for Ceausescu.

Jim Harold 50:31
Oh my goodness.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 50:30
Through the 80s. Of course, my visit to Romania was only made possible by the revolution that had occurred that ended Ceausescu’s reign and his life. I remember the first time driving into Bucharest and seeing the–all the bullet holes were still in the walls. And the memorial flowers were still there. It was very, very fresh in my brain. But Transylvania is the setting for the beginning and the end of Dracula. And in the novel it’s still Hungar–Hungary, part of Hungary, but it’s now very much a part of Romania, and due to Nicky’s efforts and those around him, there is a very lively culture in Romania these days about Dracula, the real Dracula, Vlad Tepish, who had been a ruler of Wallachia, which is one of the the other segments of Romania. He had been a hero to the Romanian people because he’s credited with kind of forming the–the country out of the medieval past. And Ceausescu did not like, at least to begin with, did not like the idea of of identifying Vlad Tepish with–with Dracula. He flirted with it a little while and then kind of banished it. But Nicky saw the possibilities. And I remember when I first met him, it was out of a conversation, we had that the Transylvanian Dracula society–society was born. And the first big international conference on Dracula was held in 95.

Jim Harold 52:35
Well, it’s been a great discussion. And I’ve really enjoyed it. And all I’ve got to say is if somebody is interested in the subject of vampires, they need to get this book. So Dr. Melton, the important question is, after this great conversation, where can people get this book and learn more? Because we’ve just scratched the surface.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton 52:54
Well, obviously, you can book the book off of Amazon, but it’s actually being carried in bookstores, as well. But it’s–it’s a fairly new book and so it’s, it’s–it’s available at the same general places. But any–your local bookstore, if they don’t have it on hand, can order it very quickly, or you can go on Amazon, and–and pick it up.

Jim Harold
Thank you so much. I really mean it. What a fun conversation it was. And I’ve learned so much about the subject of vampires, and we’ll learn so much more when everybody reads the book, The Vampire Almanac: The complete history. Dr. J. Gordon Melton, Thank you, sir, for joining us on the show.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton
My pleasure.

Jim Harold
And thank you for joining us on the Paranormal Podcast. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And if you enjoyed this show, and our other shows, please rate, review and subscribe and follow wherever you listen to your podcasts. And we’ll talk to you next time. Have a great week, everybody. Bye. Bye. That was great, sir. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to this edition of the paranormal podcast. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. And I hope that you will tell a friend today about all of the shows, this show the campfire and everything else we do. But if you enjoy this show, specifically, reach out and tell a friend also, make sure please that you are followed or subscribed in the podcast app of your choice. Most people listen on their phones these days. And also make sure that you please rate and review us in those apps that is so important because people are always looking up spooky podcasts. And there’s a lot of them out there admittedly these days, but we always hold like a 4.8 4.9 rating. So we know that makes a difference. But we get to keep the reviews and the ratings coming to stay fresh. stay relevant. Stay up on the charts so we can bring you more free programming like this episode. We thank you so much. We’ll talk to you next time. Have a great week everybody. Bye bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai