Saturday, August 30, 2008

MONSTERQUEST - Vampires in America

History Channel - Original Air Date: 8/7/08

Did vampires once live in America?  Are they living today?  MonsterQuest has it's usual blend of history and interviews, focusing on the vampire "epidemic" in New England in the 1800s.  It recounts vampire legends through the ages, including Elizabeth Bathory and Vlad "Dracula."  The historical theory focuses on the idea that tuberculosis, or "consumption" was the disease at the root of the New England legends.  One out of every four deaths at the time (!) was attributed to consumption.  Modern vampire killers have usually proved to be mentally ill.  The show's scientists test some modern vampires to see if they have medical abnormalities.  The show points out that many of the vampire legends we know come directly from Stoker's Dracula and Murneau's Nosferatu -- including the sleep in coffins and destroyed by sunlight.

Digging up some of the NE vampires proves that some, or perhaps all, of them suffered from TB.  Other "vampire" traits can be explained by the the- little-understood process of decay after death.  The modern vampire, on the other hand, shows no medical reason to "need" to drink blood.  Thermal and other tests prove another woman normal as well, though she does manage to spike an EMF meter.  Despite the lack of evidence, the show points out that there are people who still believe in vampires today.

Much of this story info is covered by the Is It Real show on vampires -- a pattern which seems to be developing on MQ.  IIR, though, tends to emphasize a less sensational, highly rational approach to the same subjects.  Though there is little new in this show, it's worth seeing for those who want a primer on "real" vampires and can't catch Is It Real.

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