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Of Blood Suckers, Horror Movies, and Coming of Age

Horror films may now open for me a chance to enjoy screaming with friends and other audiences in the moviehouse at critically horrific moments in the film. But when I was much younger, Dracula and other monsters of the night really gave me the creeps.

Photo by lakandula

I loved watching horror films on TV or in the cinema houses in the company of my siblings and parents when I was little. Never alone. But I always covered my eyes with both hands at the height of the suspense. I was curious as to what happened and yet I did not want to bear witness to those horrible things that happened in the film which in my innocence I believed all to be true (i.e. reality and fiction were one and the same). I could not sleep easily as I was afraid the horror would continue in my dreams. I grew up sleeping all covered from head to feet by blanket. The cover gave me a sense of security as if it were impenetrable by evil spirits. That strange habit only changed during puberty when I entered high school.

Classic black and white vampire movies shown as retro films were most frightening for me. Perhaps I strongly associated them with stories about the ‘aswang’ or blood sucking monsters of the dark night in Philippine mythology. Unlike Count Dracula who was usually depicted well postured in black suit and cape, the ‘aswang’ is characterized clad in dirty torn clothes with blood of its victims dripping from its mouth.

Christopher Lee, the British actor who also played Saruman, the evil sorcerer in Lord of the Rings Trilogy, became famous early in his career for his role as Count Dracula in series of Hammer Horror films. His characterization of the Count was very effective in instilling fear into my young mind. Good thing I was able to separate the actor from his role when I came of age. Now, I admire the guy for being such a great actor and making his role believable.

Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi preceded Lee in this role and starred in early vampire stage plays and films — long before we have the present craze for Twilight, True Blood, and other modern vampire-themed fiction.

Although I have little recall watching Lugosi since most of the Dracula movies I saw featured Lee as the count from Transylvania, this set of triples are my tribute to these two actors who put to life a role that scared the hell out of me during my childhood.

But the good thing then was that all horror films ended with the triumph of good against evil. Usual Dracula endings would have the protagonist always striking the villain’s chest with a cross, sometimes with the aid of holy water.

Photo by lakandula

After which everything would be restored to normalcy, followed by the film’s closing credits.

Then, my childish misery would begin after watching the film (i.e. struggling how to sleep peacefully without dreaming about the evil characters of the film I just saw and seeing them hunting me for my blood). Just thinking about being bitten on the neck by those sharp pangs like the venomous snakes would send shivers down my spine. Although the possibility of immortality was tempting, I did not want to be living in a coffin during the day and getting pale complexion due to sun-less lifestyle. Then later on, the chance of getting victims with anemia, leukemia, or other blood-related diseases was not a great come on. I never told my parents or my siblings about this acquired fear of mine as a child. I tried being resilient by saying a few prayers before bedtime. It kinda worked especially with the full-body cover. I guess many people went through the same phase of growing up. Looking back, I seemed much braver now as a person.

For this set, I took portraits of existing images of the actors against my DIY pseudo-revolog film. Created the third layer of Manila street vignettes for mere textures and colors.

written by lakandula

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