Vampires From Another World by Simon Bacon (book review).

For this book, ‘Vampires From Another World’, author Simon Bacon in his introduction contests that because HG Wells’ ‘The War Of The Worlds’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ both came out in 1897 that they would have a blood drinking connection. I find that a bit dubious simply because the Martians were here for conquest not a blood-drinking contest. That’s not to say other films haven’t taken that route and over 5 chapters, Bacon examines various plots for this connection. Over a century of films, there’s bound to be some, even if I think some are stretching it.

I’m not going to say I’ve seen every film he goes through here but I can correct the odd detail. Take ‘Not Of This Earth’ (1957), Bacon asserts the new alien on the block after the death of the original alien is from a different planet when he’s from the same planet, Davana, and dressed similarly to his predecessor, out to do the same job.

The problem with doing plot synopsises if you give exact details, then when you get them wrong on familiar films, then it tends to dispute the details on others. With so many films covered, I wasn’t surprised that Bacon might have relied on memory than checking on some of them. With ‘The Andromeda Stain’ (1971), he incorrectly notes that it took a day to get to the bottom of the Wildfire complex, neglecting the fact that the time was taken with a severe decontamination. Hardly something you could miss in the film rather than a slow lift.

The mistakes escalate in his synopsis of ‘Alien’ (1979). He notes only Dallas and Kane and no Lambert going to the alien spaceship. We’ll accept ‘Kane’s sun’ on page 55 as a spelling error but not ignoring Dallas was the captain.

With the second version of ‘The Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers’ (1978), Bacon also seems to think the garbage trucks are getting away the remains of the pods, neglecting that the majority of the grey matter is in fact the husks of all that was left of the humans they replaced. If nothing else, the pod people had a healthy respect for removing rubbish.

I do think Bacon was stretching things far too much and looking for vampires anywhere. I mean ‘Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines’? These aren’t even off-planet, let alone sucking blood or energy. The same with ‘Predators’. It isn’t like either species of hunter were shown to be snacking down on humans. I would also correct that Dr. Edwin was ever depicted as a sexual predator because he was a poisoner, not quite the same thing. Noland trying to kill them all had nothing to do with him wanting to conceal his hideout and everything to do with scavenging their supplies. It isn’t as though if he’d rather not watch the film again and double-checking info on-line. A cursory Wikipedia check confirmed no inaccuracies there.

I do think he’s on dubious ground speculating that the title character and 1922 film ‘Nosferatu’, Count Orlok being Jewish is going to upset a few people. The aged effect look on some vampires is simply that of body decay that gives them that gaunt look.

One major problem with ‘The Thing From Another World’ (1951)/’The Thing’ (1982) is whether the creator was the pilot or whether this was the means the inhabitants of the planet he was last on used this as the means to get rid of it although it’s a grey area. Probably with the second, doubtful with the first. Then again, how the various Triffids detect humans, I think its fairly established that they detect vibrations than infra-red emissions.

I can’t help feel that author Simon Bacon came up with the idea for this book and then had to extensively pad with synopsises to fill it out. A book such as this isn’t so much about extra-terrestrial aliens drinking blood but other species with a taste for it. Even so, you would have to wonder why the 1997 film ‘Mimic’ wasn’t included. Come to think about it, not even an acknowledgement for Vampirella, an alien vampire who does drink blood in both comicbook publications and a film. Worse and this to blood-thirsty plants, he missed out on ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’, both versions from 1960 and 1986 and the blood-thirsty Audrey and although he barely touches on TV shows, in the 1960s ‘The Avengers’ season 4 episode ‘Man-Eater Of Surrey Green’. Bacon covers a lot of ground but still misses so many that are a lot closer to his basic premise.

I’m a little more down than usual simply because of the number of synopsises and Bacon’s choices that weren’t exactly extra-terrestrial. Where he is accurate, then there are some good examples.

GF Willmetts

October 2021

(pub: McFarland. 192 page some illustrations indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: £45.50 (UK), $59.71 (US). ISBN: 978-1-476678-373-3)

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