Vampires have been one of the most beloved and obsessed-over monsters in popular culture ever since F.W. Murnau’s highly influential silent horror film, Nosferatu (1922). The dark-dwelling bloodsuckers appear frequently to this day, from mainstream titles such as Resident Evil: Village and Twilight to lesser-known works like Stakeland and What We Do In The Shadows. In fact, vampires have existed long before these in many aspects of human culture, fantasized about in folklore and depicted in a myriad of mystical and horrifying tales throughout history. Widely reported from Eastern Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries, some surmise that the vampire was born from paranoia of widespread illness, though certain figures have been particularly convincing in the existence of these nocturnal immortals.
New Orleans 19th Century
Cut to 19th Century New Orleans, one of the most prominent places in regards to hauntings, vampire sightings, and cult speculation. Tuberculosis and consumption ran rampant, not to mention syphilis. In a city so accustomed to suffering, fear quickly becomes paranoia, which in turn rapidly morphs into superstition and comprehensive folklore. Among these, and somehow confirmed by the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, is the account of real vampires living in New Orleans.
The city was the inspiration for most of Anne Rice’s gothic novels, most notably in 1976’s Interview With The Vampire whose story was also based there. Many locals would take the tale further, claiming that multiple real vampires reside in their city. Some would reference the brothers John and Wayne Carter who in the 1930s were arrested following a string of peculiar murders. The brothers, it was found, drained the blood of over a dozen victims using some unknown method, and were only caught out when a blood-soaked woman managed to escape their New Orleans apartment. When the brother’s corpses disappeared entirely from their family’s funeral vault, suspicion and surmise only grew as to their true nature, and their true species. Reports of sightings of the brothers occur to this very day.
While New Orleans is by no means the first place to encounter the Louisiana vampire legend, (some instances go as far back as ancient Greek Mythology!) It is definitely the most prominent home of fictional and “real”, documented vampire existence in the world. To explore this we must dive back to 1700s France where a man, if he can so be called, by the name of Comte St. Germain came into the public eye. While this was the first solid evidence of his existence, figures from around the globe such as French historian and philosopher Voltaire, King Louis XV, and Italian writer and adventurer Casanova all professed to have met the timeless individual. He was said to have been an alchemist, one who knew all and never died, who grew diamonds and created beautiful jewels from stones. The alchemist attending the execution of Marie Antoinette was apparently trained by Comte St. Germain, and claimed to have sighted him at the deadly proceedings, long after he was known to have died.
Skip ahead two hundred years to when a French immigrant known as Jacques St. Germain interloped to the US, settling into a place on Royal Street, New Orleans. Coincidence, no? Any right-minded historian would no doubt agree. However, stranger still was the man’s wit, charm and charisma, his seemingly ageless appearance and the painstaking detail in the tales he told of hundreds of years past. He threw parties that would roll Gatsby’s eyes, all while never consuming a single bite of the food he offered his guests. A few tales surround Jacques St. Germain in this period, including guests claiming he tried to bite their necks, bottles of red wine in his house that later were found to be human blood and the fact that he didn’t own a single utensil. By the time baffled police made these discoveries in his home, Jacques St. Germain was gone, never to return.
These days, according to a survey by the Atlanta Vampire Alliance, there are over five thousand people in the US today who identify as a vampire. Over fifty of these live in New Orleans alone, past superstitions making the place a veritable hotspot for dwellers of the dark, immortal or not.
Joe first knew he wanted to write in year six after plaguing his teacher’s dreams with a harrowing story of World War prisoners and an insidious ‘book of the dead’. Clearly infatuated with horror, and wearing his influences on his sleeve, he dabbled in some smaller pieces before starting work on his condensed sci-fi epic, System Reset in 2013.Once this was published he began work on many smaller horror stories and poems in bid to harness and connect with his own fears and passions and build on his craft.
Joe is obsessed with atmosphere and aesthetic, big concepts and even bigger senses of scale, feeding on cosmic horror of the deep sea and vastness of space and the emotions these can invoke. His main fixes within the dark arts include horror films, extreme metal music and the bleakest of poetry and science fiction literature.
He holds a deep respect for plot, creative flow and the context of art, and hopes to forge deeper connections between them around filmmakers dabbling in the dark and macabre.