If you find yourself in Waco, Texas in October 2013 — specifically, on Friday, October 25 — and you’re in the mood to celebrate the Halloween horror season in style, be sure to come join us for the fourth annual Dark Mirror horror film festival. Four classic horror films. Informative introductory talks by vampire expert and religion scholar Dr. J. Gordon Melton, Baylor University film professor Dr. Jim Kendrick, and yours truly. All the junk food you care to buy (popcorn, candy, chili cheese nachos, hot dogs, soda, water). What’s not to like?
It’s an hour-long episode of the radio program Encounter that was broadcast just three days ago by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Encounter “invites listeners to explore the connections between religion and life — intellectually, emotionally and intuitively — across a broad spectrum of topics.” Here’s the official description of this particular episode:
From the legends of Frankenstein and Dracula to films about zombies, witches and vampires, supernatural horror has always captured the popular imagination. Fictional horror scares us because it confronts us with our deepest fears about death and the unknown. It make us tremble, but it also acts as a catharsis. So it’s no wonder then that the horror genre often intersects with religion.
- Jana Riess, author of What Would Buffy Do: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide
- Douglas E. Cowan, Professor of Religious Studies, Renison University College, University of Waterloo, Canada
- John Morehead, co-editor of The Undead and Theology and creator of website TheoFantastique
- Mike Duran, Christian novelist, California
- Ashley Moyse, Research Affiliate, Vancouver School of Theology, Canada
- Philip Johnson, Theologian
I simply can’t say enough good things about this presentation, which delves with unexpected depth into various important aspects of the relationship between religion and horror, including Rudolf Otto’s formulation of the seminal concepts of the numinous, daemonic dread, and the simultaneous attractive and repulsive power of the mysterium tremendum. The list of interviewees is particularly excellent. You’ll recall that John Morehead is a long-time Teeming Brain friend who was one of the panel participants on our podcast about Lovecraft, Machen, and the possible spiritual/philosophical divide between cosmic horror and sacred terror. (Interestingly, the exact same subject, minus any mention of Machen, is broached on this Encounter episode.) And Mike Duran and I have interacted on the issue of religion, horror, and apocalypse in the past.
Do yourself a favor and set aside an hour to listen with full attention. You won’t regret it.
My interview with Dracula-and-vampire expert Ian Holt is now available at SF Signal: “The Vampire Is Always within Us: A Conversation with Ian Holt.”
Ian is the man who co-wrote Dracula: The-Undead with Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew. As you probably already know, the book is the official, Stoker-family-sanctioned sequel to Bram’s classic novel.
Ian’s and my conversation took place shortly before my cyber-sabbatical of January through May, and when I recently transcribed it and readied it for publication, I was reintroduced to just what a treasure trove of interesting thoughts and subjects it really is. We talked about the nature of evil, the question of supernatural reality, the conflicting historical memories of Vlad Dracula that persist in the Eastern and Western European traditions, the Vlad Dracula materials housed in the Vatican archives, Bram Stoker’s lifelong unhappiness, the possible influence of one of his nightmares on the writing of Dracula, Ian’s and Dacre’s motives in changing the Dracula mythos, the divided response among their readers, the relationship of vampires to religion, and the true secret of the vampire’s enduring appeal as a fictional character. Ian is a walking, talking encyclopedia of Dracula and vampire lore, and I think you’ll probably find something of interest in his words. I know I did.