Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, August 03, 2008
      ( 8/03/2008 07:45:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"THIS TOWN WAS BUILT ON SEX AND MONEY, SON." The central idea behind Vampyres of Hollywood (St. Martin's Press), credited to actress Adrienne Barbeau & Michael Scott, is an admittedly amusing one: it's that most of the big names in Hollywood, the glamorous ones who never really seem to age, are in fact vampyres. Many of the legends that Hollywood has concocted about the creatures were created by real-life Tinseltown bloodsuckers (Dracula director Tod Browning among 'em), while even Bram Stoker's original novel was influenced by a lovely vampyress who Stoker called "my Lucy." The increased otherworldly look that many big stars get over time isn't the result of excess plastic surgery but physical manifestations of their vampyre nature becoming more apparent as they age. The reason Orson Welles wore capes during the latter years of his career, we're told, was to hide a growing tail.

The Chatelaine of Hollywood - the one responsible for turning Welles and Browning, Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentine (who chafed at having to fake his own death) - is a sexy genre actress named Ovsanna Moore. Moore has managed the neat trick of "killing" herself and coming back as her own actor daughter twice, thus sustaining a career in the movie biz that goes back all the way to the silent era. That she's been able to get away with this under public scrutiny can in part be explained by the fact that the present Ovsanna primarily labors in self-produced horror flicks with titles like Tell Me What You've Seen and Vatican Vampires. It's not as if she's under a hyper-intense A-List entertainment news spotlight.

That situation changes, though, once a series of murders attached to Ovsanna's movie company, Anticipation Studios, begins. Promising young vampyre actors who were themselves turned by the scream queen start showing up dead for real at the hands of a serial killer called the Cinema Slayer. The increased attention makes more than a few Hollywood vamps nervous, and, when a high-profile homicide detective named Peter King gets assigned the case, Ovsanna is given a deadline to herself solve the murders. As the body count grows, it seems increasingly less likely that our heroine will be able to keep her secret from at least getting uncovered by the hard-nosed police detective.

Barbeau & Scott keep it all moving quickly, troweling on the sardonic movie biz wit and occasionally sneaking in a decent little in-joke. At one point, for instance, the narrating Ovsanna notes of HBO, "I think they lost their touch when they cancelled Carnivale." The book's narration alternates between Ovsanna and our seen-it-all copper, and, though the writers try to spice up the human's part of the story by making him a movie buff whose mother sells movie memorabilia, the fact remains that it's the shrewd vampire businesswoman who keep the story truly moving. If Vampyres had contained a genuine mystery we might have cared more strongly about Detective King, but the writers are more concerned with serving up and skewering Hollywood attitude than they are with inventing a truly twisty whodunit.

That noted, Vampyres of Hollywood proves a diverting zippy read: nicely gory, if not particularly scary, with beaucoup hard-earned industry cynicism. I could see Barbeau's former hubby John Carpenter (who provides the obligatory back cover blurb for the book) having a ball with this material. Perhaps they could pull the undead Orson Welles out of seclusion to play himself?
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter