Thursday, 25 October 2012

bunnicula, count duckula

Lore and superstition regarding vampirism, even preceding the imaginations of the writers they’ve inspired, sanction standard horror and a well-developed, though flexible, codex of rules governing the undead, but can also be keenly abstract in their beliefs.
Folklore of some populations in the Balkans, but surely anchored to a place, a patch of land as much as a particular people, created the overall apparition of the traditional vampire but also held the nightmare that inanimate objects, left out in the pall of the full moon, could become vampires. Certain fruits and vegetables were especially prone to being turned, especially melons, squashes and pumpkins still on the vine during this witching phase of the Moon. It is not clear if the vampire produce took on a changed appearance—nor caused much of a bother, other than rolling about and maybe lurching and bumping into things, but they were no longer fit to eat and needed to be ritually destroyed. The notion that gourds could harbour a malevolent, though paralyzed, force is pretty spooky, and there have been some creative and slightly goofy modern retellings. The idea of possession, a curse settling into a plant also made me think of that troupe of evangelizing vegetables from that children’s Christian television show. The practice of making a jack-o’-lantern out of a pumpkin comes from a completely separate string of traditions and folklore from the British Isles—originally, probably from a hollowed out turnip with the practical objective of making a torch whose flame was protected from the winds.