Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book & Brew: Bloodsuckers

During September my library is featuring a display I put together where I pair up books with beers based on a theme. We're using it to help advertise an event we're having in October on home brewing called You Can Brew It! I had a lot of fun coming up with the pairings and lists, and I'm sharing a handful of them each week here on the blog.

Out from his coffin, Drac's voice did ring-- seems he was troubled by being left out of the Book & Brew. Luckily I had a couple of good choices lined up to keep the old bloodsucker happy.

(See the end of the entry for thumbnails and links to the brewmarks!)
Vampires are a classic horror monster, although in my opinion, they've gotten the shaft in the last several years thanks to certain fictional works who will not be named. To be fair, vampires have suffered from being overly romanticized for a lot longer. Even the original DRACULA film with Bela Legosi was billed as "the story of the strangest passion the world has ever known!" I'm not a fan of the paranormal romance angle on vampires, I prefer them evil and dangerous. I can tolerate redeemable vampire characters as long as they're used in an innovative way, I am a huge Buffy fan after all. But even that show had rules; they had lines that had repercussions if they were crossed. They might blur them a little bit, but in the end evil was evil.

The two beers I'm featuring are Great Lakes Nosferatu, and Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer. Nosferatu is a gorgeous looking imperial red ale, perfect for any self-respecting creature of the night. It's pretty hoppy too, so if you're into that I'd check it out. It is seasonal though, so you can only really get it around this time of year. Vampire Slayer is a smoked imperial stout made with... holy water. No, seriously. It's also got an 11% abv, so if you sit down with a bomber for a Buffy marathon, I quote one of the library's recent speakers on home brewing: "That's a commitment."

While there are plenty of books with vampires in them these days, I limited myself to the classic "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, and "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova. If you haven't read the latter, it's a take on the Dracula legend that blends history, horror, and adventure. If you're looking for a quicker, more contemporary read, I'd definitely recommend the "American Vampire" or "300 Days of Night" as alternates.

As far as films go, aside from the obvious NOSFERATU, the aforementioned DRACULA, or even the Francis Ford Coppola version, I'd personally choose something like FRIGHT NIGHT, THE LOST BOYS, or FROM DUSK TIL DAWN. If, however, you like the idea of exploring the vampire as a tragedy, of learning more about the person behind the creature, my top suggestion is to see DRACULA'S DAUGHTER. It was made in 1936 as a sequel to DRACULA, in which his daughter, Countess Zaleska, burns her father's body, believing it will free her of her own curse. It doesn't, which leads her to seek the help of a psychiatrist.

I feel it's a pretty underrated film, especially given the fact that it elaborated on the psychological consequences of vampirism and immortality, and included lesbian overtones. For that time, that's somewhat remarkable. It's not a great film-- bits of it haven't aged well-- but I believe it's an important entry in the sub-genre, and deserves more attention than it probably gets.

Barring more unforeseen tragedy in my life, I'll be back later in the month for a timely Halloween Book & Brew!

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